WORSHIP SONG EIGHT (Part 1)
After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
Salvation and glory and power to our God,
for his judgments are true and just;
he has judged the great whore
who corrupted the earth with her fornication,
and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
Once more they said,
The smoke goes up from her forever and ever.”
And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying,
And from the throne came a voice saying,
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
and all who fear him,
small and great.”
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready;
to her it has been granted to be clothed
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
See the bottom of this post for how to use this daily devotional
READ ALOUD Revelation 19:1-8
“If he were half the God he claims to be, he would leave his heaven and come here to do penance in the presence of a suffering that he as God obscenely permits.” (Quoted in “Conversations with an Atheist”, Religion Online) So said Michael Harrington, political theorist, activist, and professor as he struggled with the suffering, injustice and oppression in our world.
The clear message of The Revelation is that the end of suffering, injustice and oppression does not come through education, economic initiatives, legal reform, or summit meetings. Evil will only be brought to an end when God comes to judge the world. That is why Christians so fervently pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” That is why we pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as in heaven.
Today’s worship song rejoices in that day God comes to put an end to evil forever. The song celebrates the destruction of Babylon the Great, the symbol of all the powers of evil aligned against God and His Kingdom. Here is a “great multitude in heaven” responding to the command of Revelation 18:20 to rejoice in the destruction of Babylon: “Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints and apostles and prophets! For God has given judgement for you against her.” Then the “great multitude” is joined in celebration by the “twenty-four elders and the four living creatures” in worshipping God for His destruction of symbolic, evil Babylon.
The image of Babylon in The Revelation is timeless. Babylon stands for all of this world’s political, social, economic, and religious systems apart from God. “Babylon stands not for a specific power but more generally for world power in opposition to God – the empire where God’s people live in exile.” (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, edited by Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III) John’s first century Christian readers would read Babylon as Rome, as Babylon was a code word for ancient Rome (1 Peter 5:13). In the Old Testament Babylon is the archenemy and oppressor of God’s people. This image of godless power is carried over into The Revelation. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 586 B. C. and carried the people into exile. The Romans did essentially the same in A. D. 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the people. Rome is Babylon all over again. Babylon represents all the world’s powers arrayed against God and His people.
After God’s destruction of Babylon (Revelation 17), John hears the “great multitude in heaven” rejoicing and saying, “Hallelujah!” “Hallelujah” is one of a few Hebrew words to be established in ordinary religious language. “Hallelujah” means, “Praise the Lord”: “Praise” (Hallal) + “the LORD” (Jah or Yah, a shortened form of Yahweh). Although this shout of praise occurs frequently in the Psalms, this is the first time it occurs in the New Testament. It is only used in this passage to celebrate God’s victory over Babylon and all evil. Hallelujah!
While Babylonish evil permeates every human kingdom, no human kingdom to date has been the Babylon of the last days. The final emergence of Babylon, archenemy of God, occurs at the end of history when God comes to judge the world and overthrow all evil.
God reigns supreme over history. World rulers reign through coercive power, rigid control, and threats of punishment and death. But Jesus reigns in a Kingdom of human freedom where we can decide to be His friend or foe. The future belongs to those who follow the Lamb!
READ ALOUD Revelation 19:1-8
HOW TO USE THIS DAILY DEVOTIONAL
This daily Lenten devotional takes up eight songs of worship from The Revelation. It is significant that this is the only book in the Bible promising a blessing on those who read it, specifically: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy” (Revelation 1:3 NRSV). Each section of this devotional presents a song for your audible reading, reflection and worship. Each day you will:
- PRAY asking God to bless this time you devote to Him
- READ ALOUD the worship song and text for the day
- REFLECT on the daily reading
- READ ALOUD again the worship song and text for the day
- WORSHIP God each day in a way that is meaningful for you. The way in which you worship might vary day to day. Depending on the day, you might choose to talk with God about what you are thinking and feeling about the song, or meditate on the worship song, or intercede for others, or sing, or be silent before God. Ask God to guide you.
We pray that God use these worship songs of The Revelation to reveal His glory to you and bless you as you center your life in Him.