“The Hallelujah Chorus!” – Revelation 19-20
Easter 6 – May 6, 2018
Introduction: A Revelation Movie
1972 movie: “Like a Thief in the Night” – saw it as a teen: “scare the hell out of people” in a
very literal sense… scaring them about hell enough to scare them into heaven. Don’t agree with
that tactic. About all the middle stuff (images, beasts, numbers, etc.) in Revelation. About the
rapture, the tribulation, the millennium. “Thief in the night” imagery is from 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
25 years later – broadly successful Left Behind series of books and films. The title Left
Behind echoes the refrain of Larry Norman’s theme song for A Thief in the Night, “I Wish We'd
All Been Ready,” in which he sings, “There’s no time to change your mind, the Son has come
and you’ve been left behind.” Again, questionable theology, questionable motivation – fear!
The truth is… the world is deteriorating. Evil seems to be ramping up. Not Humboldt (not evil),
but Toronto (yes, evil). Drugs, gangs, shootings, stabbings, decline of the church’s influence,
moral compass of society not pointing any particular direction and certainly not in a Biblical
direction. What are you afraid of?
You know what I’m afraid of? There won’t be a Lutheran pastor or church around in 30 years to
bury me. Christians will be challenged and persecuted for holding Biblical views of marriage and
sexuality and creation and morals, and they will give up swimming upstream against society’s
values and adopt them hook, line and sinker. My grandkids will grow up in such an evil world
that it will draw them away from Jesus. Evil will spread and pervade other parts of the country
and other countries where Christianity still has a solid presence. These are the kinds of things
that that middle section of Revelation deals with in very graphic and specific terms.
1. The middle (scary) stuff – Chapters 8-18
So, what’s in that middle stuff, the scary stuff? Don’t worry, I’ll speak in general terms, not
a. Cycles of seven things…
Seven Seals broken and opened: Images of war, conquest, famine, death, with God’s faithful
people wondering how long until the end.
Seven Trumpets blown: Images similar to the plagues of Exodus – hail, blood, poison water,
darkness, locusts and the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Seven Signs uncovered: Image of the cosmic battle between the Messiah and the dragon. Image
of the earthly battle complete with military power and economic controls associated with the
number 666 (more later).
Seven Bowls poured out: God’s wrath, more exodus plagues, and an image of the final battle –
Armageddon, referring to the town Megiddo in northern Israel where other Israelites battles had
b. Devil – counterfeit of God’s things!
The counterfeit must come close enough to the real thing, to the truth to be plausible. Money,
The dragon, the beast, the false prophet – counterfeit of the Trinity.
Beast – an unholy warrior compared to Christ as the holy warrior.
Babylon the harlot as a counterfeit to the church as the bride of Christ.
Men worshiped the dragon / beast / devil, but only God is to be worshiped.
Fatal wound that had been healed. Counterfeit resurrection.
Beast – 10 crowns, compared to Jesus’ many crowns.
Beast performed great signs, but not like Jesus’ signs.
Beast “once was, now is not, and yet will come” not same as God’s “was, and is, and is to
666 on right hand or foreheads (13:18) – not being able to buy anything without the number! But
just a counterfeit of God’s perfection. And of God’s name being on foreheads of believers.
The danger is that the counterfeit can be mistaken for the true. Idolatry, as a counterfeit of true
worship, is close enough to the truth to attract people and ensnare them. But idolatry doesn’t lead
to God, and victory, and heaven.
Purpose: To deceive and to lead the elect astray.
c. The 1,000 years
Need to deal briefly with the ideas of the Millennium and the rapture.
Millennium – only in Revelation, never from Jesus or Paul. [Oh, 1000 years = day in Psalm 90,
and quoted in 2 Peter 3.]
Rapture – only in 1 Thessalonians 4 where the verb “taken up” or “caught up” is turned into a
noun and an event.
Jesus returns… rapture… tribulation… 1000 years… Jesus returns again final judgment. OR
World is Christianized… at some future point peace for 1000 years… Jesus’ second coming.
We believe the Bible’s testimony of the end is clear. Since the 1000 years doesn’t have other
Biblical support, we believe it to be a symbolic number (as with other numbers in Revelation),
not a literal one. The fullness of time. It began with Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, as he rules
over the church with love. However, instead of seeing the world Christianized, all along
followers of Christ will experience temptation, persecution and tribulation, and then, at the end,
Jesus will return once, in judgment and salvation. No rapture, no millennium. The end is the end.
No second chances… just a separation of the faithful believers from the unfaithful – as per Jesus
in Matthew 25.
2. The end of the story
Revelation 8 – 18… the middle of the story; Revelation 19 & 20… the end of the story. The
beast and the false prophet were captured and thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Satan
was bound and thrown into the abyss (the bottomless pit, the underworld, the abode of demons).
Devil also thrown into lake of burning sulfur to be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Death (intangible event) and Hades (indeterminate place) were thrown into the lake of fire =
second death. Not physical death, but spiritual death.
3. The Hallelujah Chorus
Revelation 19 – last week, I mentioned the Great Hymn of Praise that filled ch. 4 – 7, in ch. 19 it
continues and loudens! Great multitude, 24 elders, 4 living creatures…
“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are His
judgments.” True – not counterfeit. Just – not deceptive.
Jesus, who is called Faithful and True, rides out on a white horse with the armies of heaven.
Banner on Jesus’ robe and thigh: “King of kings and Lord of lords!” He comes out to wage war
against the beast and the kings of earth, and He WINS!! That’s the reason for the Hymn of
“Hallelujah! The Lord God Almighty / Omnipotent reigns.” Handel’s Messiah, the Hallelujah
The town is Dublin, Ireland; the date is April 13, 1742; the place is Neal’s Music hall. A choir
rises and HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH fills the auditorium. A great crowd
has gathered to hear the premiere of what is destined to be the most widely known musical in the
Fortunately for Handel, King George II of England decided that this work was worthy of being
attended and supported, and this in turn led to one of the most interesting traditions connected to
this masterpiece. When the Hallelujah chorus began to play in the performance the King abruptly
stood up, apparently as a way of indicating he personally recognized that Christ was the King of
kings and Lord of lords. Now it was normal protocol that if the King stood at any time, no one in
his presence sat, and so the entire audience stood for the performance of the Hallelujah Chorus.
This tradition has been maintained even until today.
[Handel also wrote the melody for “Joy to the World.”]
4. Don’t need to be afraid:
The story line…
No matter what the devil counterfeits… Jesus is the original, the authentic, the truth.
No matter what evil the devil concocts… Jesus wins!! Jesus has already won! And that’s why we
join in that Great Hymn of Praise, let’s stand for this unique version of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”