Heaven Resounds With Praise (19:1-10)

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2006-12-04 11:01.

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With a unified loud voice, a great throng in heaven cried out, “Hallelujah!” This Hebrew expression means “Praise YHWH!” Then John heard this large crowd ascribing salvation, glory, and power to God because his judgments are true (always in harmony with the actual state of affairs) and just, for he had judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her harlotry and exacted vengeance for his slaves’ blood that she had shed. (19:1, 2)

Again, from the large crowd, John heard, “Hallelujah!” Apparently with reference to the permanent nature of the judgment against Babylon the great, the mighty throng added, “and her smoke ascends for ever and ever.” (19:3; compare Isaiah 34:9, 10 and Jude 7.)

The twenty-four elders (representing the congregation of God’s servants) and the four living beings apparently fell to their knees before God and bowed down with their faces touching the floor of heaven, adding their expression of agreement and praise, “Amen [so be it]. Hallelujah!” (19:4)

John then heard a voice come from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, and you who fear him, small and great.” (19:5) As the Son of God is portrayed as being at his Father’s right hand (Acts 2:33; 7:56), likely his voice is the one coming from the throne, inviting all having reverential regard for his Father to praise him.

From a great throng, John heard a united voice that sounded like abundant waters in motion and like the sound of mighty thunder, saying, “‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, has undertaken to reign. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him the glory; because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has readied herself. And it has been granted her to be dressed in bright, clean linen’ (for the linen represents the righteous deeds of the holy ones).” (19:6-8) By executing judgment on Babylon the great, the Almighty manifested his authority as Sovereign and thus revealed that he reigned. Unlike the purple and scarlet of the harlot and her sky-high record of sin, Christ’s bride is dressed in the radiant splendor of bright, clean linen (representative of a record of upright deeds). Her being united to the Lamb is rightly an occasion for boundless rejoicing and giving God glory or praise.

The angel, probably the one initially sent to John, told him, “Write, ‘Fortunate are those invited to the marriage banquet of the Lamb.” No greater joy could there be than to be found divinely approved to share in this grand event. Fortunate, blessed, or in an enviable state of unbounded happiness would all such persons be. The angel added the solemn assurance, “These are the true words of God.” (19:9)

Seized by deep emotion and overwhelmed by what he had seen and heard, John apparently dropped to his knees at the feet of the angel and prostrated himself or assumed an attitude of worship. The angel refused to be thus honored, telling John, “Do not [do that]. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brothers entrusted with the testimony of Jesus. To God, prostrate yourself. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (19:10)

As a messenger in the service of God’s Son, the angel did provide testimony about him. The “testimony of Jesus” evidently is the witness that centers on him and is the testimony with which John and his brothers had been entrusted. (Compare Acts 1:6-8; 4:1-20; 5:29-32; 26:12-19.) As a fellow servant, the angel filled a role like theirs, testifying concerning the Son of God. This testimony about Jesus Christ is the “spirit of prophecy,” that is, its aim or objective. In this case, the emphasis apparently is not on the predictive element of prophecy but on the content of the proclamation. It is a proclaiming of Christ. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “We are not proclaiming ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.” (2 Corinthians 4:5) In the role of a fellow proclaimer of Jesus Christ, the angel refused to accept reverential honors from a fellow slave. His words serve as a strong reproof to all humans professing to be Christ’s disciples but who accept and even require honors that are unbecoming for a servant. (See Acts 10:25, 26 regarding Peter’s commendable example in this respect.)

Note: Basically, the word proskynéo (19:10) denotes “to prostrate oneself.” Forms of this verb occur 24 times in Revelation (3:9; 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 9:20; 11:1, 16; 13:4 [twice], 8, 12, 15; 14:7, 9, 11; 15:4; 16:2; 19:4, 10 [twice], 20; 20:4; 22:8, 9). The context determines whether the ones prostrating themselves are engaging in an act of worship.