The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 141

The King Triumphant

(Revelation 19)

     The great conflict of the ages is almost over.  Babylon is gone forever, and the nations of the ungodly are retreating to their final stand at Armageddon.  The dragon and the beast and the false prophet are themselves en route to lead their followers into the last great battle of the long warfare between heaven and hell.  They have dispatched their legions of wicked spirits (Revelation 16:13, 14) to gather all the kings of the earth and their armies to the climactic confrontation at the great day of God Almighty.  The hordes are assembling in the tremendous column extending across Israel, from Armageddon to Edom, and there have already been sieges and skirmishes throughout the land, especially at Jerusalem (see discussion on Revelation 14:18-20).

     Preparations for the battle are also underway in the heavens.  The holy angels are there, and the raptured saints are there, and all have been watching the terrible judgments on the earth, knowing that they very soon will also march forth to follow their King as He returns to earth.

The Fellowship of Praise

     John, in the spirit, is also there.  After observing and recording all the awful plagues on earth, and then the final fiery holocaust at Babylon, it is with great relief that he turns now to see the heavenly throng, exulting and rejoicing at the throne of God in the temple in the city in the heavens.

Revelation 19:1.     And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God.

     Often before had John heard the heavenly multitude sound forth in a great chorus, but never quite like this.  This is the mighty “Hallelujah Chorus,” when the innumerable host in the heavens spontaneously break forth in a great response of praise.

     “Hallelujah,” like “Amen,” seems to be one of those words which is the same in many languages.  In Hebrew it comes from hallal (“praise”) and Yah (short for Jehovah), thus meaning “Praise ye the Lord.”  It is used twenty-two times in the Book of Psalms and, in particular, is both the opening and closing exhortation in each of the last five psalms.

     In the New Testament it occurs only in this one chapter, being used four times in verses 1 through 6.  It may well be, in fact, that this unique occurrence in the New Testament, when there is so much else in the New Testament that could warrant the same doxology, is intended specifically to tie these “hallelujah psalms” to the same great scene in the heavens which John is describing here.

     The context would certainly fit.  The Book of Psalms is divided into five “books,” each of which ends with an epilogue in the form of a doxology (see Psalm 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; 106:48; 145:21).  Then, the last five psalms correspondingly provide a beautiful epilogue to the entire Book of Psalms, exhorting men and angels and all creation to praise the great Lord and Savior.

     In any case, there is much for which to praise the Lord in this great assembly in the heavens.  They have already praised Him for His creation (Revelation 4:11) and for His redemption (Revelation 5:12, 13).  Now they can praise Him for complete deliverance and salvation as well.

     When praising Him for His creation, they ascribed to Him glory and honor and blessing.  When praising Him for His redemption, they ascribed to Him power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.

     Now, finally, they are able also to praise Him for salvation.  Not only is the redemption price paid but they know beyond any further uncertainty that Babylon is fallen and the whole satanic empire is collapsing before their eyes.  Therefore they cry out that salvation, as well as glory and honor and power, belong to the Lord.  This great cry had already been heard by John much earlier in the tribulation period when he had been given the vision of the tribulation’s end, with the multitude of tribulation saints praising the Lord for His salvation (Revelation 7:10, 12).  Now the vision is rapidly being fulfilled, with the souls of these martyred saints joining with all the resurrection saints and the angelic hosts, in the great song of praise.

Revelation 19:2.     For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.

     The ascription of praise continues with the testimony that God has acted in perfect righteousness and truthful judgment in His awful vengeance on Babylon.  There are no doubt many of squeamish temper and equivocal discernment who would recoil today at the ferocity of the divine anger against Babylon, not understanding or caring about the atrocities inflicted on God’s people by Babylon nor her blasphemies against His holy name.  Of similar character are those in this present dispensation who moralize against capital punishment for cold-blooded murders.

     But these who have experienced both Babylon’s wickedness and God’s holiness have no such supercilious reservations.  They know that God has already been almost infinite in His longsuffering and that His plenteous mercy has been both unwanted and unrequited.  Babylon and all her inhabitants are eminently deserving of every last dreg of the bitter cup of judgment they have been compelled to drink, nor would any further mercy or call to repentance have availed an iota.

     Again there is a last reminder of Babylon’s spiritual harlotry, corrupting and destroying nation after nation, age after age, with her deadly apostasy and rebellion against the Creator.  Unnumbered multitudes of lost souls, inhabiting the eternal lake of fire, will be there because of the seductions of Babylon’s man-exalting, nature-worshiping, evolutionary pantheism.

     And the long plea for God to avenge his own elect (Luke 18:7, 8) has finally been heard and answered.  “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” the Lord had promised (Romans 12:19).  The impatient saints had cried, “How long?” (Revelation 6:10), but God alone has known when His patient long-suffering would no longer avail against the stubborn hearts of men.  The time has finally come, and nothing is left for beast-marked earth-dwellers except “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:27).

Revelation 19:3.     And again they said, Alleluia.  And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.

     The second “Hallelujah” resounds throughout heaven.  The brief but deeply felt doxology thus begins and ends with the hallelujah cry, just as do the five hallelujah psalms (Psalms 146:150).

     While the heavenly multitudes are still rejoicing over the fall of Babylon, John interjects the sad observation that the smoke of the burning city will continue ascending eternally.  The literal city was indeed burned with fire (Revelation 18:8), but its own literal fires will not burn forever.  In fact, as noted in the preceding chapter, the ruins of Babylon will eventually disappear beneath the encroaching sea.

     While it was burning, however, the plume of smoke rose to great heights in the atmosphere.  Like the water vapors ascending from the falling water levels, ascending high above the troposphere to reestablish earth’s primeval vapor canopy, the column of smoke, heated more and more by the intensified radiation of the sun, will be propelled finally above the statosphere and into outer space, its particles never falling again to earth.  Babylon is to be so completely wiped from earthly memory that even the particles of soot produced in her burning are to be translated ever farther away from earth.

     In a secondary sense, the statement also applies to Babylon’s inhabitants.  When these, along with other unsaved souls, are resurrected for the last judgment, they will be cast into the lake of fire, there to burn forever.  The Lord Jesus Himself said, and repeated it twice, that in that fearful destination, “their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44, 46, 48).  Of those who would worship the beast and receive his mark, and this company certainly included the Babylonians, the angel had already warned that “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever” (Revelation 14:11).

     They also, like the ever-ascending smoke of Babylon’s burning, are to be translated to the farthest reaches of the universe, “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).  Before this dreadful day comes – and it will come, exactly as John has written – let everyone still residing in Babylon, that is, in “Mystery Babylon,” the false religion of the apostate world, no less than in the future literal restored Babylon, capital of the beast’s world empire, heed the urgent warning of the mighty voice from heaven: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).

Revelation 19:4.     And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.

     As the hosts in heaven finish their great testimony of praise, all their leaders prostrate themselves before the glorious presence on the throne.  The twenty-four elders represent all the redeemed saints, and the four cherubim represent all the holy angels, so all in heaven worship God through them.

     To worship, in the Bible, means to bow down to the will of God, acknowledging that what He says is true and what He does is right.  Many and long had been the years when it seemed that God didn’t care about the sufferings of His people nor about the blasphemies of Babylon, and many had even claimed that God was dead.

     How often has a discouraged believer, pressed hard by bitter circumstances and unable to see the way out, cried out to God in tears, seeking to understand the mysteries of His will and the reasons for His seeming silence.  Such a time is designed for true worship, bowing down in obedient faith, even when the way is dark and the reason fails.  The will of God may be difficult, but the will of God is best, and one day God’s will is to be fully manifest in all its perfect wisdom.  Finally, when God’s gracious long-suffering has run its full course, Babylon will vanish, all prayers will be answered and his kingdom will come.  And in that glad day, with tears of joy and songs of praise, will every last saint in heaven worship God.

     Nor could any words be more fitting or more heartfelt as an expression of universal worship than the two universal exclamations, Amen, Hallelujah – “So be it – praise the Lord!”  No longer can there ever be any question that God’s will is perfect.  He is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, but the day of the Lord will come! (2 Peter 3:9, 10).  The Hallelujah Chorus in the heavens continues, and is rising now to a grand climax, as the realization of what is about to happen surges through the multitudes.

Revelation 19:5.     And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.

     The voice out of the throne is most likely that of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  The “voice from heaven” of Revelation 18:4, calling to “my people,” was certainly that of God, though it may not be certain which of the three divine Persons of the Trinity, as was the “voice from the temple” (Revelation 16:1) and the “voice from heaven” of Revelation 11:12.  Here, however, the voice comes from the royal throne itself, where God is seated (see the previous verse).  The Lamb is said to be seated on the throne, with the Father (Revelation 3:21; 5:13; 7:15, 17; 22:3).

     The identification of the voice as that of the Savior is further confirmed by the command to praise God. In the Book of Psalms, the great “praise book” of the Bible, the first occurrence of the verb “praise” (Hebrew hallal) is at Psalm 22:22, right at the very climax of the suffering of Christ on the cross, as described prophetically in that great messianic psalm.  At this point, the suffering Lord cries out, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.  Ye that fear the Lord, praise him” (Psalm 22:22, 23).

     In the midst of “the great congregation” will the slain Lamb thus become our great “praise leader,” exhorting all the servants of God, those who fear Him , those who are His spiritual seed (compare Psalm 22, 25, 30) to praise Him.  All the redeemed will be “His servants” there, no matter how great or small had been their position in their previous earthly lives; and His servants shall “serve Him” in that new earth which He will create, forever (Revelation 22:3).  But first there will be a great time of praise in His presence, and then the wedding, where they will be established to “ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Revelation 19:6.     And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

     John then hears, in response to Christ’s exhortation to the great congregation, a mighty chorus of praise resounding through the heavens.  The words “great multitude” here are the same Greek words as for “much people” in verse 1 (also the same as in Revelation 7:9).

     Their praise now is not merely for their own personal salvation and deliverance from Babylon.  No longer focusing on themselves, they rejoice in the very fact of God’s glorious person and His rightful place on the throne of the cosmos.

     The voice of the Lord had been like the sound of many waters (Revelation 1:15; 14:2) and like mighty thunderings (Revelation 14:2), and now the sound of the praises of His redeemed hosts displays the same majestic quality.  The saints have been made like Him (1 John 3:2, 3; Philippians 3:20, 21) and even the very tones of their united voices echo the same beautiful doxologies.

     This is the fourth and final “Hallelujah” of this chapter (and of the New Testament).  The great testimony that follows the “Hallelujah” speaks of the kingdom of God and the marriage of the Lamb.  Similarly, the five great hallelujah psalms which climax the Book of Psalms, each beginning with “Praise ye the Lord” (that is, in Hebrew, hallelujah), also have as their primary themes the coming eternal reign of God over the universe and His unending union and fellowship with all His creation, especially the redeemed saints.

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