The Way It Happened

Revelation 19:3, Alleluia!

Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!”

//Does any word in the Bible evoke a stronger expression of joy than the word alleluia? Surprisingly, it occurs only once in the New Testament. Do you imagine that its use is to describe the day of Jesus’ birth? His resurrection? The day of his ascension?

No. It’s in Revelation chapter 19. Heaven erupts in praise and unspeakable joy: The voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” And what is the emotion which inspires this great cheer?

It is vengeance. God has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.  She is utterly destroyed, and her smoke rises forever and ever. Alleluia!

Much as I love the book of Revelation, it can be a challenge to understand how Christians draw inspiration from it.


  1. The word “Alleluia” or “Hallelujah” (from Hebrew הללו יה), literally means “Praise ye Yah” or “Praise Jah, you people.” For me, the key to this are the words, “… and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants …”, which answers the question earlier, “How long, O Lord, how long…?” It is inspiring as it declares, however bad things seem, ultimately we win. This must hace been inspiring to the early CHurch.

  2. It’s really hard for we who have never known any real war in our homeland to relate to the deep longing for justice that pervades much of the Bible. If it were not for the suffering of the Hebrew nation, our Bible would not be the same. However, it still seems the mark of a Christian to overcome the desire for justice and to love our enemies; Revelation is a throwback.

  3. Though it was not in my “homeland,” I have been to war twice, and prepared and trained for it another 20 years. Jesus told us to love our enemies, but he did not say we should pretend they are not enemies. Sometimes the greatest form of love is t say, “No, you can’t do that.” Perhaps justice and love are not so incompatible.

  4. You say in one of your comments that “Revelation is a throwback.”, indeed it may be; however it is more of a joyous look forward! 

  5. Yes, it is, Leon! But I tend to read scripture from a historical-critical perspective, and from that view, technically, only half of it is a “joyous look forward.” Revelation is half history and half prophecy. That is, half of the book had already happened right before John’s eyes by the time he wrote…which is surely why he felt so confident that the rest was coming soon.

  6. Thanks Lee, your comments don’t automatically show up on your blogger to G+ and visa/ versa, having said that I’m back at this blog checking out you comment, thanks again I guess you are right about the half & half stuff

  7. I’ve never understood how Christians can draw inspiration from any book in the Bible. I’ve yet to find a single book in it that leaves a genuinely positive taste in the mouth. Though Revelation is indeed probably one of the bleakest, as it paints a particularly terrifying portrait of God.

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