Bibliotheca Sacra 156 (January-March 1999) 72-84.
Copyright © 1999 by
CHORUS: AN INTRODUCTION
TO THE SEVEN "LAST THINGS"
David J. MacLeod
In his play entitled Saint Joan, George Bernard Shaw tells the
story of Joan of Arc and how she left her home to inspire her fellow
second scene the young heir to the throne, Prince Charles, age
twenty-six, is whining and complaining because Joan, obedient
to her heavenly vision, is rebuking him for his softness and cow-
ardice. As she rebukes the prince he responds, "I want to be just
what I am. Why can't you mind your own business, and let me
mind mine?" The peasant girl, filled with the urgency of the sit-
uation, speaks: "Minding my own business is like minding your
own body: it's the shortest way to make yourself sick. What is my
business? Helping mother at home. What is thine? Petting lap-
dogs and sucking sugarsticks [i.e., lollipops] . . . I tell [you] it is
God's business we are here to do: not our own. I have a message to
you from God; and you must listen to it, though your heart break
with the terror of it."1
These words of Joan of Arc reflect, in a way, the urgency of
apostolic Christianity. This urgency grew out of the apostles' be-
lief in the return of the Lord. Belief in the Lord's return, they
taught, should produce purity in life (1 John 3:1-3), forbearance
and patience toward brethren (Rom. 14:10), comfort in sorrow (1
Thess. 4:13-18), urgency in service (1 Cor. 3:10-14; 2 Cor. 5:10),
and vitality or vibrancy in worship (Rev. 19:1-5).
J. MacLeod is a member of the faculty of
*This is article one in an eight-part series, "Expositional Studies of the Seven ‘Last
Things’ in the Book of Revelation."
1 Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan: A Chronicle Play in Six Scenes and an Epilogue
(New York: Brentano's, 1924), 43-44.
Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus 73
Revelation 19:11-22:5 is the New Testament's classic pas-
sage on Christ's return. These chapters set forth seven major
motifs of biblical eschatology,2 "the
Last Things," as
Farrer calls them:3 the second coming of Christ (19:11-16), the
defeat of the Antichrist (19:17-21), the binding of Satan (20:1-3),
and his final defeat (20:7-10), the last judgment at the great white
throne (20:11-15), and the new heavens and new earth (21:1-
The first ten verses of chapter 19 are an introduction to these
great subjects. Besides introducing the seven last things, this pas-
sage focuses on worship and awe before God and gives Christians
reason for looking eagerly for the coming of the Lord. God is to be
praised for His judgment on this world because that judgment is
both deserved and fair, and He is to be praised for His benefits be-
cause of the glorious destiny of the people of God.
GOD IS PRAISED FOR HIS RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT
Revelation 17-18 John described the destruction of
last great empire to dominate the earth before the second coming
of Christ. It will be a vast commercial, political, and religious
system that will serve as the capital of the Antichrist.4 Like Baby-
lon of old, it will be the source of collective rebellion against the
Lord. It will be overthrown just before the Lord returns, and the
whole earth will mourn its loss. The world's business leaders
will all lament, " 'Woe, woe,' . . . and they were crying out as they
saw the smoke of her burning" (Rev. 18:16-18).
THE VOICE OF THE MULTITUDE (vv. 1-3)
The response of heaven is different from that of the merchant
class of the earth: "Rejoice over her, 0 heaven, and you saints
and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment
2 Cf. Alan F. Johnson, "Revelation," in The Expositor's Bible Commentary (Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 12:573.
sity Press, 1964), 196.
hold at least five interpretations of the identity of
lon. For a defense of the view adopted here, see Harry Goehring, "The Fall of Baby-
lon—Historical or Future?" Grace Journal 2 (winter 1961): 23-34; Kenneth W.
"The Rebuilding and Destruction of
and Charles H. Dyer, "The Identity of
Bibliotheca Sacra 144 (1987): 433-49.
74 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / January-March 1999
for you against her" (18:20). And so, in chapter 19, the atmosphere
is one of exultant worship, and not lamentation,
fall. "Shadow yields to light," Kiddie has written, "above the
smoke clouds from the ruined
brightness opens out. The silence of the ruined city gives way to
the shout and thunder of eager rejoicing."5
"After these things," that
is, after the fall of
attention turned to heaven, where he heard "the voice of a great
multitude." Some understand this to be a throng of angels.6 The
same expression is used, however, in 7:9 to describe the martyred
Gentiles of the Tribulation, so it is more likely that the great
multitude here is that group of martyrs.7
They shout, "Hallelujah" (a[llhloui*a<). This expression is a
word taken from Hebrew (h.yA Ull;ha), which means "Praise Yah,"
that is, "Praise the Lord." This term appears only here in the New
Testament, where it occurs four times. In the Old Testament the
two Hebrew words introduce ten of the psalms, where the words
are translated "Praise the LORD!" (Pss. 106, 111-113, 135, 146-150).
Psalms 113-118 are called the "Hallel psalms" or "the Hallel
They were regularly sung by the Jews at the Passover to celebrate
the deliverance of
and His disciples most likely sang the Hallel after Passover on
the night in which He was betrayed. Because of the close connec-
tion of the Hallel with Passover and the death of Jesus, the Lamb
of God, the early church incorporated it in their Easter celebration
of the triumph of Christ, "our Passover" (1 Cor. 5:7), over sin, Sa-
tan, and death.8 So in a yet future day the Tribulation martyrs
5 Martin Kiddie, The Revelation of
tary (New York: Harper, 1940), 375.
6 For example H. B. Swete, The Apocalypse
of St. John (
1906), 238; R. H. Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation
Morris, The Revelation of
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 224; George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the
Revelation of John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), 244; Robert L. Thomas, Reve-
lation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1995), 355-56. It is argued
that they must be angels because most earlier songs of thanks in Revelation involve
angels (4:8-11; 5:11-14), and human believers are called to add their hallelujah in
7 Cf. G. B. Caird, The Revelation of
Commentary (New York: Harper, 1966), 232; John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of
Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody, 1966), 268; Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revela-
tion, New International Commentary on the New Testament, rev. ed. (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 341.
8 Johnson, "Revelation," 12:570.
Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus 75
will sing the Hallel to God for His deliverance from the
Antichrist, the tyrant of Babylon.9
Because of the occurrence of the word "Hallelujah" here in
Revelation 19, this passage has been called "Heaven's Hallelujah
Chorus."10 It has also been called a "Te Deum" ("You God") by a
number of commentators,11 for it is a hymn of worship. The mul-
titude will worship God for both His attributes and His actions. He
is praised for His attributes, which include (a) "salvation," that
is, He is a God who safeguards His people and delivers them into
the kingdom; (b) "glory," that is, His moral excellence, which is
seen in His judgment of sinful
might, which is seen in the overthrow of wicked civilization.12
These things should awaken worship on the part of believers to-
day too. His salvation should awaken gratitude; His glory should
awaken reverence; His power should awaken trust.13
Also God is praised for His actions. The word "because" in
verse 2 introduces the reason for the great outburst of praise. God
has executed a fitting ("true") and deserved ("righteous") judg-
ment on "the great
harlot," that is,
eral city in the end times. In the Bible it also stands as a metaphor
for the world and its opposition to the things of God. The world was
ologies, her false religions that adulterated and opposed God's
Word, her pagan doctrines, and her deceitful practices that harm
the human race.14
The gospel will be preached to all the nations during the
Tribulation. Many, however, will worship the Antichrist, and
will rejoice over the death of the witnesses for Christ (Rev. 11, 13).
dom of God on the earth.15 Fraud, immorality, and violence will
9 G. R. Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation, New Century Bible (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 271.
10 Ford C. Ottman, The Unfolding of the Ages (New York: Baker & Taylor, 1905),
11 This title is taken from the description by Arethas of the passage in his com-
mentary on Revelation. Arethas was bishop of Caesarea in
See Swete, Apocalypse, cxcv, 238.
12 William Barclay, The Revelation of John, rev. ed. (
1976), 2:169; and Walter Scott, Exposition of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, 4th. ed.,
13 Barclay, The Revelation of John, 2:169.
14 Thomas F. Torrance, The Apocalypse Today (London: Clarke, 1960), 154.
15 Kiddie, The
76 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / January–March 1999
be obliterated, and those in heaven will cry, "Praise the Lord!"16
The reason for the praise in heaven should be noted. The
multitude in heaven will praise God for His destruction of
wickedness. People like to think of praise in the sense of George
Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," in which "hallelujah" is the tri-
umphant worship of the reigning King. Such a chorus will be seen
in Revelation 19:6, but first there will be the equally triumphant
rejoicing over the downfall of evil at the hand of God.17 Many
Christians do not want to hear of God's judgment and wrath.
want to hear only of His love and kindness. But
"smoke rises up forever," that is, she will be totally destroyed (v.
3). Heaven's estimate of things differs from this world's. The
things the world loves most fondly are the objects of God's most
Believers should be struck by the reverence and awe of
heaven. Unfortunately many have lost that sense of wonder, says
Warren Wiersbe, and wonder is the basis of worship. Wonder
means amazement, surprise, astonishment, bewilderment, ad-
miration, awe, and fascination.19
THE WORSHIP OF THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS
AND THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES (v. 4)
In verse 4 the twenty-four elders, that is, the glorified church,20
and the four living creatures, probably cherubs who serve before
God's throne (cf. Rev. 4:6-7),21 reappear. In 5:6–10 they fall down
and worship the lamb and sing of His worthiness to break the
seals of the scroll He had taken from the right hand of God. Here
they perform the same act of worship, this time honoring God for
His righteous judgment.
16 Significantly the first occurrence of "Hallelujah" in the Bible is in Psalm
104:35, where the context is also judgment (E. W. Bullinger, The Apocalypse, 3d ed.,
17 J. R. Love, 1
John—Revelation, Layman's Bible Commentary (
18 Joseph Seiss, Lectures on the Apocalypse, 9th ed. (New York: Cook, 1906), 3:199.
20 The identity of the twenty-four elders is one of the great interpretive problems
of the Book of Revelation. Most modern commentators identify them as either an
exalted angelic order or as a redeemed company of people. For a helpful summary
of seven views on the identity of the twenty-four elders, see David Anne, Revelation
1-5, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, 1997), 288–92.
21 C. R. G. Hall, "Living Creatures in the Midst of the Throne: Another Look at
Revelation 4:6," New Testament Studies 36 (1990): 609–13.
Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus 77
THE EXHORTATION OF THE CHERUBS FROM THE THRONE (v. 5)
At this point John heard a voice from the throne, encouraging all
to "Give praise to our God." Some say this voice was that of
Christ.22 However, it is very unlikely that Christ would say, "our
God." It is more likely that the voice is that of the four living
GOD IS PRAISED FOR THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB (19:6-8)
Verses 6-8 have been called "the wedding march of the
Church."23 Here John heard the "great multitude" of martyrs
again. Their praise turns from celebrating the judgment of Baby-
lon to rejoicing over the marriage of the Lamb. The sound of the
praise in John's ears was like the din of a vast, thunderous water-
fall and the sharp cracks of thunder.
PRAISE FOR THE IMPENDING KINGDOM (v. 6)
"Hallelujah [Praise the Lord]! For the Lord our God, the Almighty
reigns." The martyrs in heaven know that the fall
means that the age-long prayer of God's people, "Thy kingdom
come" (Matt. 6:10), is being realized, and the time of reward is
about to begin.
Domitian, the Caesar who ruled at the time Revelation was
written, conferred on himself the title "Our Lord and God"
(Dominus et deus noster).24 But the praise recorded in 19:6 points
out that God, not Caesar, is "the Almighty" (o[ pantokra<twr), the
One who holds all things in His control.25
JOY OVER THE LAMB'S WEDDING (vv. 7-8)
No aspect of the Christian's hope is more radiant and reassuring
than the disclosure made here by John concerning the marriage
of the Lamb and the feast that follows.26 In Ephesians 5, Paul
counseled husbands and wives about marriage. Having empha-
sized oneness in marriage, he concluded, "This mystery is great;
but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church" (v. 32).
Revelation 19:7-8 also speaks of the relationship between Christ
and His church as that of husband and wife.
22 For example, G. H.
Lang, The Revelation of Jesus Christ
24 Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars, Book 8: Domitian 13, trans. J. C. Rolfe,
Loeb Classical Library (New York: Macmillan, 1914), 2:367.
25 Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 346.
26 A. Skevington
Wood, Prophecy in the Space Age (
78 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / January—March
In marriage a man and a woman are united in a relation-
ship for companionship, fellowship, intimacy—the sharing of
thoughts, purposes, and life. When the Bible pictures the relation-
ship of Christ and His people as that of a husband and wife, it is
expressing the truth that there is a covenant or bond between
them,27 an everlasting union.28 As Charles put it, marriage
"denotes the intimate and indissoluble communion of Christ with
the [believing] community, which He has purchased with His own
blood."29 It also contains the notions of love, joy, and fidelity.30
The Bridegroom. The bridegroom is identified as "the
Lamb." It is significant that the heavenly wedding is not called
"the marriage of the Creator," "the marriage of the Lord," or "the
marriage of the King."31 The title "Lamb," more than any other,
draws attention to the fact that "Christ . . . loved the church and
gave Himself up for her" (Eph. 5:25). He is "Christ our Passover,"
celebrated by the singing of the Hallel psalms.
The bride. The bride,32 as most commentators agree, is the
church, the company of the redeemed.33 Dispensational commen-
tators specifically identify the bride as all saints between Pente-
cost and the rapture of the church.34 Revelation 19:7 actually says
"wife" (h[ gunh<) and not "bride" (h[ nu<mfh).
In the New Testament the bride/wife metaphor is used of the
church in two kinds of passages. In
6:17) the church is seen as the wife married to Christ. In others
(e.g., 2 Cor. 11:2) she is seen as a virgin and the marriage is fu-
27 Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation, 273.
Kiddie, The Revelation of
29 Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the
30 Barclay, The Revelation of John, 2:173.
31 Robert T. Ketcham, "The Marriage Supper of the Lamb," in Understanding the
Times, ed. W. Culbertson and H. B. Centz (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956), 171-79.
32 In the Old Testament,
was put away (Hos. 2:2) but one day will be reunited to Him (2:19-20; cf. Isa. 62:1-5).
33 Not all agree, however. Those who hold to a partial pretribulational rapture say
the bride is made up of a select group of believers whose Lives have been character-
ized by dedicated discipleship and watchful preparedness (Robert Govett, The
Apocalypse: Expounded by
Conley & Schoettle, 1981), 4:167; Seiss, Lectures on the Apocalypse, 3:213-19; Lang,
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, 315-16). Ultradispensational writers argue that
the wife of Revelation 19 is
(Bullinger, Apocalypse, 589-91).
34 For example Scott, Exposition of the Revelation of Jesus Christ; 380.
35 The choice of term (i.e., “wife” instead of "bride") is probably not significant (cf.
The Revelation of
Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus 79
The preparations. "His bride," John said, "has made herself
ready" (Rev. 19:7). This is no reluctant bride. Her making her-
self ready suggests the repentance and faith that each person must
exercise to become one of God's people." Her wedding gown of
fine linen is described as "the righteous acts [lit., ‘righteous-
nesses’] of the saints." That her wedding garment was given to
her pictures the fact that faith is the gift of God.
Scholars have debated the expression "the righteousnesses of
the saints" (ta> dikaiw<mata tw?n a[gi<wn, v. 8). Some say it refers to
the doctrine of justification, whereby a person is acquitted or de-
clared righteous in God's courtroom.37 It speaks, they say, of the
church's holy state before God.
Others say John referred to two kinds of righteousness, justi-
fication and sanctification. One is the righteousness believers
have the moment they exercise faith in Christ. The other is the
righteousness believers acquire as they respond in daily obedi-
ence to the heavenly Bridegroom.38 This view has been illus-
trated by the custom in the Roman world of wearing two robes.
The inner garment was a tunic, and the outer, loose-fitting gar-
ment was a toga. "Both of these garments, the inner garment that
Christ gives us, and the outer garment, the weaving of our own
works, we shall wear in the beautiful, consummating day of our
Lord. . . . There is a positional righteousness [and] a practical
Still others say the "righteousnesses" should be viewed in the
context of rewards. They point out that the rapture of the church
and the judgment seat of Christ will have taken place. They see
the bride clothed in her rewards or awards.40
Other expositors say the "righteousnesses" refer to the innu-
merable acts of faithful obedience that characterize the bride. In
other words it speaks of the good works ("righteous deeds of the
saints")41 performed after salvation, good works enabled by the
36 Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation, 274.
37 For example Henry
Alford, The Greek Testament (reprint,
1958), 725. Alford says the plural is distributive, implying not many righteous-
nesses for each believer, but one state of righteousness for each of the saints.
38 Seiss, Lectures on the Apocalypse, 3:223–24; cf. Beasley-Murray, The Book of
39 W. A. Criswell, Expository Sermons on Revelation (
40 Bullinger, The Apocalypse, 593.
41 G. Schrenk, “dikai<wma,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 2
(1964), 222; Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, 272; and Thomas, Revelation
8–22: An Exegetical Commentary, 370-71.
80 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / January-March 1999
indwelling Spirit of God.42 The fact that the same noun
(dikaiw<mata) is used of God's righteous acts in 15:4 favors this
fourth view. The bride receives the garment as a gift, but she must
put it on.43 A transformed life is the proper response to the call of
the heavenly Bridegroom.44
The marriage. Jewish marriage customs in Bible times in-
volved three stages.45 The first was the negotiation or betrothal
stage. Parents would contract to marry their children, and a
dowry would be paid to the father of the bride. The couple was then
considered husband and wife (cf. Matt. 1:18-19), and only a di-
vorce could sever the contract. Between the betrothal and the wed-
ding there was an interval or waiting period to demonstrate
chastity. The second stage involved a procession and the wed-
ding. The groom would go to his bride's parents' home and take
her to the home of his parents, where the marriage would be con-
summated. The third stage was the wedding feast, in which the
festivities could last up to seven days.
These three stages can be seen in Christ's relationship to the
church. The first stage (negotiation or betrothal) answers to the
Cross where the price—the dowry—was paid. Samuel Stone ex-
pressed this truth in his hymn "The Church's One Foundation":
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.46
On another level it refers to the work of evangelism and the
moment of faith when a sinner embraces Christ as Savior. While
the actual union of believers with Christ is yet future (they are liv-
ing in the interval between betrothal and wedding), it is their pre-
42 Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 348.
46 Robert Wall, Revelation, New
International Bible Commentary (
Hendrickson, 1991), 222-23.
44 Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 348.
45 On Jewish marriage customs see Marcus Cohn, "Marriage," in Universal Jew-
ish Encyclopedia, 7:372; Raphael Posner, "Marriage," in Encyclopaedia Judaica,
11:1032-34; Joachim Jeremias,"nu<mfh," in Theological Dictionary of the New Testa-
ment, 4 (1967), 1099-1101; Ralph Gower, The New Manners and Customs of Bible
Times (Chicago: Moody, 1987), 64-69; William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1939), 215-17; and Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus
46 Samuel J. Stone, "The Church's One Foundation," in Hymns of Truth and
Praise (Fort Dodge, KS: Gospel Perpetuating, 1971), 226.
Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus 81
The second stage (procession and wedding) will take place at
the rapture of the church, when the Lamb will take His bride to His
Father's home, where she will be united to Him forever. Paul
wanted the church to be prepared for this event. He was concerned
lest the bride be defiled on earth by false doctrine or immoral be-
havior (Eph. 5:27).
Bible teachers differ widely over the symbolism of the third
stage (the wedding feast, or "marriage supper of the Lamb").47
Several factors suggest this will occur in the millennial king-
dom. This is the feast of which the Savior spoke when He said, "I
will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day
when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom" (Matt.
26:29). He said of the Passover Feast, "I shall never again eat it
until it is fulfilled in the
also spoke of the day when "many shall come from east and west,
and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in
the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 8:11). That the feast will be mil-
lennial is also suggested by Luke's parable of a wedding feast
(12:35-37) in which the Lord serves supper when He returns from
ASSURANCE OF THE CERTAINTY OF THESE THINGS (vv. 9-10)
THE INVITATION TO THE WEDDING
In verse 9 an angel (probably the angel of 17:1) told John to write
of the blessedness of those who are invited to the marriage supper.
Some commentators say the word “wife” looks at the church col-
lectively, while the invited guests describe the church as individ-
uals.48 "The guests and the Bride are one and the same."49 Propo-
nents of this view note the fluidity of metaphorical language. For
example, in Revelation 7:17 the "Lamb" and the "shepherd" are
one and the same.50 Others distinguish between the bride and the
invited guests. They argue that the guests are the saints converted
47 There are at least three views: (1) The marriage supper is millennial (Seiss,
Lectures on the Apocalypse, 3:230–31; Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation,
275). (2) The marriage supper will take place after the millennium in the eternal
state (Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St.
John, 2:126-29; and Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 348). (3) The marriage supper
will take place in heaven before the return of the Lord to the earth (Renald E.
"The Marriage and Marriage Supper of the Lamb,"
1991, 9–12). Texts such as Isaiah 25:6–8 and Luke 12:36–37 seem to support the first
The Revelation of
49 Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the
50 Ibid., 2:234; and Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, 250.
82 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / January-March 1999
during the tribulation and possibly also Old Testament saints.51
In any case it is a blessed thing to be invited52 to this wonderful
meeting with Jesus Christ. The very word "invited" implies that
access to the wedding feast is not gained on one's own merits. The
initiative in salvation always lies with God (Matt. 22:3).53
THE BASIS OF THE BELIEVERS' CONFIDENCE
Is this invitation to participate in Christ's glorious kingdom a
delusion? No, for the angel assured John, "These are the true
words of God." The Lamb, who was slain that sins may be for-
given, is in heaven today preparing a place for His people. He
will return someday for His people, and there is in store for them
a banquet with Jesus Christ in the kingdom of heaven. There is
no room for doubting.
THE DIGNITY OF THE BELIEVERS' MESSAGE
John was so awed by the message he heard from the angel that he
bowed down to worship him. John did this again (Rev. 22:8-9),
and in both instances the angel rebuked him and asserted that
God alone must be worshiped. Why did John record these failings
51 Cf. William Kelly, Lectures on the Book of Revelation (London: Morrish, 1874),
392-98; and Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, 273. Proponents make the
following observations: (1) Psalm 45:13-14 and the parable of the virgins (Matt. 25:1-
13) distinguish between the bride and her companions. (2) In Hebrews 12:23 the
church is distinguished from "the spirits of righteous men made perfect," that is,
the Old Testament saints in the eschatological city to come. (3) In Revelation 21:24
the nations are distinguished from the bride (Seiss, The Apocalypse, 3:232).
dispensationalists make a sharp distinction between
church. They argue, for example, that the Bible distinguishes between two hus-
bands (Father and Son) and two wives (
ble-marriage idea solves the dilemma of two distinct peoples both being married to
the Lord. "The company that constitutes the bride of the one marriage would consti-
tute the guests at the
other. When [God] shall take
Himself, the Church shall be there as ‘the called.’ When Christ shall take the
into a like eternal union,
Unfolding of the Ages, 411; cf. Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation: An Expository
A modified dispensationalism recognizes more continuity than discontinuity
between the people of God in each age and concludes that the New Covenant people
of God as a whole (including both redeemed
church) is the bride of Christ. The marriage supper in the millennium will cele-
brate the union between
Christ and His people, that is, the church and
L. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism
Zondervan, 1993], 184-85; and Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, 248-49).
52 The verb kale<w is also used of the effectual call to salvation, that is, election
(Rom. 8:30; 2 Thess. 2:14). Here, however, it seems to have the idea of "invited" with-
out suggesting election. In the parable of the wedding feast (Matt. 22:14) kale<w is
clearly used of a general call or invitation (Johnson, "Revelation," 572).
53 Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, 250.
Heaven's Hallelujah Chorus 83
on his part? The lesson is twofold: He wanted to show his readers
how idolatry can infiltrate one's life through even innocent
means. John was about to turn a messenger of the truth into an
idol. Idolatry is more than burning incense before a man-made
statue. It is giving absolute worth and devotion to anything or
anyone other than God, even a good cause.54
In Revelation 19, however, the lesson is not so much that John
was demeaning God's glory. Rather, he was demeaning his own
prophetic office.55 The "testimony of Jesus is the spirit of
prophecy." The phrase "of Jesus" is an objective genitive, mean-
ing that the message is about Him. The message about Jesus—His
death, resurrection, and soon return—is at the heart of all
prophecy.56 The angel is not the object of the prophetic word. On
the contrary, angels, together with John and other prophets, bear
witness to Jesus. They are no more than fellow servants with the
saints in their relationship to Christ. By bowing to the angels
John was ignoring the fact that he had an office equal in dignity
to that of any angel. He was a prophet who proclaimed the truth
A number of important lessons for Christians may be seen in
Revelation 19:1–10. First, the passage teaches the inescapable
consequences of sin. Will God allow the world to persist in its un-
righteousness? No. A day is coming when God will make right
all the world's wrongs. The punishment of
the punishment of all sinners will demonstrate God's justice.
Second, God's judgment is true and righteous. His punish-
ment will fit the crime. God is perfect in His judgment for He
alone can see the inmost thoughts and desires of any person, He
alone has the purity that can judge without prejudice, and He
alone has the wisdom to choose the appropriate judgment and the
power to execute it.57
The Revelation of
55 Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the
56 Morris, The Revelation of
nents of Christianity are trying to make its adherents deny that Jesus is the Mes-
siah, curse Christ, say that Caesar is Lord, and swear by the tu<xh? [Fortune] of Cae-
sar . . . is the setting for the angel's assurance that it is the prophetic Spirit which
inspires every confession of Jesus, and, conversely that the form which inspired
prophecy takes in this struggle is testimony to Jesus" (G. W. H. Lampe, "The Testi-
mony of Jesus Is the Spirit of Prophecy [Rev. 19:10]," in The New Testament Age,
ed. William C. Weinrich
57 Barclay, The Revelation of John, 2:169.
84 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / January—March 1999
Third, some people will escape the judgment of God. They
will be blessed by participating in the marriage supper of the
Lamb ("Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper
of the Lamb," v. 9).
Fourth, this passage points up some important lessons about
the nature of worship and its relevance to the Christian life. Wor-
ship in heaven has great dignity; it will include every believer
(no one can say, "Well, I can't sing"); and heaven's songs are
theocentric. Everyone will be offering praise to the Lord for His
glory,58 not for their own entertainment.
Several observations can also be made about the worshipers
in heaven. First, true worshipers accept the will of God. When the
twenty-four elders say, "Amen" (i.e., "So be it, Lord") they are ap-
plauding the judgment of God. Second, true worshipers are com-
mitted to God's purposes. Those in heaven are delighted at the
prospect of Christ's kingdom ("the Lord our God, the Almighty,
reigns," v. 6). Third, true worshipers will discover joy in fellow-
shiping with God. They will rejoice (v. 7) because they are be-
trothed to Him now and soon will be united to Him at "the mar-
riage of the Lamb." Fourth, true worshipers will rest in the assur-
ance of God's victory, knowing that He is "the Almighty," the One
who holds all things in His control.59
58 Bill Wymond, "The Music of Heaven's Worship," Table Talk, December 1991,
59 James Stewart, The Wind of the Spirit (Nashville: Abingdon, 1968), 47-55.
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