Harry Whittaker
Revelation - A Biblical Approach

Chapter 36 - Hallelujah (19:1-10)

The judgement of the great harlot is rounded off by the singing of a mighty triumph song, which also forms the proper introduction to the final sequence of seven visions: “And I saw...” It is a song of “much people in heaven” - not (be it noted) the redeemed in the political “heavens”, for the song goes on to celebrate the imminence of the Marriage of the Lamb (19:7-9). These are described as being “in heaven” because they belong to the heavenly sanctuary, they are associated with God’s eternal covenants, they are in heavenly places in Christ.

The song they sing and the song of the twenty-four elders begins and ends with Hallelujah:[72] “And a second time they say, Hallelujah” (v. 3, 4, 6). This emphasis immediately invites comparison with the twelve Psalms, which have the same structure (105,[73] 106, 111, 113, 116, 117, 135, 146-150). Out of these, the first two stand out as being specially appropriate to the circumstances of the Hallelujah in Revelation 19. For Psalm 105 celebrates the faithfulness of God in fulfilling all the covenanted blessings which were promised to the Fathers, whilst Psalm 106 describes the inveterate apostasy of Israel in response to the loving kindness of the Lord. Revelation 19:1-9 has the same two themes in reverse order. First: “True and righteous are his judgements: for he hath judged the great whore...” then: “the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” Confirmation of this equation of the apocalyptic Hallelujah with these Psalms is discernible in the fact that verse 4: “they worshipped God ... saying, Amen; Hallelujah,” is identical with 1 Chronicles 16:36 where the two preceding verses quote the beginning and end of Psalm 106.


It is appropriate that there should be a special hymn of thanksgiving to God for His inexorable overthrow of evil. The words written here for nearly two thousand years are the believer’s guarantee that God rules in the kingdoms of men and will not always tolerate human perversion of His ways. How stirring, then, is this Hallelujah, with its “Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God”, in contrast to the helpless lament of the kings of the earth: “Alas, alas, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgement come” (18:10).

These words imply that worldlings and redeemed alike recognize that this destruction is from Heaven. “True and righteous are his judgements, for he hath judged the great harlot.” Yet according to 17:16 it is the ten kings allied to the Beast who ravage the Scarlet Woman. But they do so only because “God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will ... until the words of God shall be fulfilled” (17:17).

“True and righteous are thy judgements,” sing the great multitude, appropriating highly appropriate words from the temple hymn book: “The judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:9), where the context speaks of “the Bridegroom coming forth out of his chamber, rejoicing as a strong man to run a race ... there is nothing hid from the heat thereof” (19:5, 6).

Here, then, is clear evidence that at least some part of the divine judgement in the Last Days will be through the unwitting medium of mortal men (cp. Zechariah 14:13; Isaiah 9:4 and 24:19, 20 Hebrew; Haggai 2:22; Ezekiel 38:21). As God used ruthless ambitious Jehu to work out His purpose with the harlot priestess Jezebel, who sought the lives of prophets and faithful men, so He will again harness selfish men of power to the final destruction of a corrupt system.

As the hymn of triumph rises up, so also does “the smoke of her burning ... “. It is a graphic figure to indicate the lasting character of this overthrow. By contrast with which the prophet has an awe-inspiring pen-picture of a smoke-like column over New Jerusalem: “And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night ... and there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge” (Isaiah 4:5, 6). This is not the smoke of destruction, but the Shekinah Glory of God - the pillar of cloud and of fire which protected Israel when the nation was saved out of Egypt (Exodus 14:20, 24).


A voice is now heard (v. 5) leading further praise to God from all His servants. This voice, coming forth from the throne of God Himself (v. 4), is the voice of the Lamb who shares the heavenly glory with his Father. Here, in this exhortation to further praise of God is the clearest of several allusions to Psalm 22 where that astonishing and moving prophecy of Messiah’s sufferings merges into the story of his greatest glory - the redemption of the Israel of God.

Revelation 19
Psalm 22

4: The four and twenty elders.
22: In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

4: and the four living creatures.
21: Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns (the cherubim in the sanctuary).

5: Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
23: Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

6: The voice of a great multitude.
25: My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows (marriage vows?) before them that fear him.

6: Hallelujah, for the Lord God Almighty reigneth.
22: I will declare thy name unto my brethren.

7, 9: The marriage supper of the Lamb.
26: The meek shall eat and be satisfied ... your heart shall live for ever.

The parallels set out here serve to illustrate the detailed fulfilment of one aspect of the prophecy. “I will declare Thy Name” becomes a re-statement of all the specially significant names of God:

Hallelu - Yah
The Covenant Name


The great throng who thunder out their Hallelujahs as with the voice of God Himself do so in words which the Lamb had used for their comfort. “Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and give honour to him” (v. 7). This is the last of the Beatitudes, given to strengthen afflicted disciples: “Blessed are ye, when men-shall revile you, and persecute you ... for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11, 12). The citation of these words is appropriate at a time when a crucified Messiah comes into his glory and the blood of his servants is avenged (v. 2).

“Rejoice and be exceeding glad!” In no better way could the happy consummation of the redeeming work of Christ be alluded to than in the lovely symbolism of the marriage of the Lamb: “his wife hath made herself ready. And to her it was given (a Hebraism for ‘appointed’) that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (v. 7, 8).


Here is a contrast with Psalm 22. That matchless psalm ends with these words: “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted unto the Lord for a generation (that is, God’s own family). They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness (with which they have been clothed) unto a people that shall be (new) born, that he hath done this” (Psalm 22:30, 31). In this present time of imperfection it is appropriate that emphasis should go on the gracious divine provision of righteousness for those who know that they can do little more to improve themselves. But in the day to come it is equally fitting that the efforts of the saints to be worthy of him who has called them to be his Bride should have mention in phraseology apt to the symbolism of marriage and also to the consecrated lives of saints in Christ: “she hath made herself ready ... she arrays herself ... the fine linen is the righteousness done by (not, for) the saints.” The Messianic marriage ode in Psalm 45 stresses the same theme: “The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework” (vv. 13, 14). Yet it should never be overlooked that the Bride is not chosen by the Lamb because of the loveliness of the garments, which she wears!

The angel’s emphatic witness to this part of his message reads rather strangely at first: “These are the true sayings of God.” Was there any special need to vouch for the divine truth of this part of the message more than the rest?

The answer to this difficulty lies in the word “true”, which does not mean “veracious” in contrast to that which is false, but instead means “reality” in contrast to that which is type or prophecy (e.g. John 6: 32; 15:1; Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:8). Thus the angel signified that even though the figure of marriage was being employed and the words of psalms and prophecies were being woven together in the vision presented to John, it was imagery behind which a sublime and imminent reality was to be discerned.


As though in acknowledgement of the wonder of the revelation as well as of the glory of the being through whom it was made known, John prostrated himself before the angel in awe, only to receive immediate correction: “See thou do it not: I am a fellowservant (that is, along with other angels whom you have seen in this great Apocalypse) of thee and of thy brethren who have the testimony of Jesus (who bear witness regarding him)”. This angelic declaration, properly understood, asserts an awe-inspiring truth, that in the purpose of God the status of the saints in Christ is higher than that of angels: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” It is a truth, which follows logically from the sustained argument of Hebrews 1: If the Son is so much greater than the angels, the same must also be true in some degree concerning those who are in Christ. So the angel dissuaded John: “Worship God: for witness regarding Jesus is the spirit of this prophecy” - that is, the testimony concerning Jesus is a work in which we are all engaged, you and I and they, my angelic fellow-servants.

And without further delay the next and last set of seven visions began to be unveiled.

[72] The peculiar and less satisfactory N.T. spelling Alleluia is explained by the absence of H as a printed letter in Greek.
[73] The Hallelujah at the beginning of Psalm 105 has very evidently become attached (mistakenly) to Psalm 104. When it is restored to its proper place, both Psalms 103 and 104 are seen to begin and end with: “Bless the Lord, O my soul.”
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