I. Because of what he has done
II. Because of how blessed we are
Revelation 19:1-9 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” 3 And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” 4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!” 5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!” 6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” In the name of Jesus Christ, who is worthy of our praise all our earthly and eternal days, dear Christian friends, The fairways and greens of Augusta, where the Masters golf championship is being played this weekend, are still as lush and beautiful as they normally are, but something about them is dramatically different this year. There are no fans on them lining the routes to shout “get in the hole” or “you da man!” after a great swing by one of the professionals. It was pretty quiet in the stands when the Dodgers won the World Series a few weeks ago and the Lakers won the NBA Championship weeks before that, a stark contrast to what usually happens with mob mayhem after a baseball or basketball champion is crowned. College and professional football stadiums do not have the same ear-splitting level of volume and raucous atmosphere as is usually seen and heard at this time of year. And our limited attendance in worship in these COVID-restricted days SHOUT HALLELUJAH (PRAISE THE LORD)! I. Because of what he has done II. Because of how blessed we are 2 limits the joyful sound we produce as a group of God’s people gratefully singing his praises. Thankfully, COVID restrictions have not limited who can enter the hallowed halls of heaven nor the hallelujahs shouted there! Thankfully, we can gather in God’s house, or in our own house via online worship, and rejoice today that over the past year fourteen of our Grace members have received “the goal of their faith, the salvation of their soul” (1 Pt 3:9) and they are now shouting hallelujah as they surround the throne of him who rules over them and who rescued them! Thankfully, we also can join with them from our place on earth and SHOUT HALLELUJAH (PRAISE THE LORD)! I. Because of what God has done! II. Because of how blessed we are! As often as we use the word “hallelujah” in our worship services, it is found only four times in the entire New Testament, all of which are in this reading. All of these shouts of praise are coming from the heavenly host which includes the twenty-four elders— a term that describes all believers— and the four living creatures— a term that describes all created things, including the angels. All of these shouts of praise are directed toward one object— our Lord God Almighty— because of what he has done which includes: True and just are his judgments. Whatever he decides is correct. Whatever he decrees is fair. As much as we want our new Supreme Court justice and all her partners to be true and just in all their judgments, this simply won’t happen because they are sinful human beings. How comforting to know we can count on our perfect God to judge perfectly! He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants. The Bible calls “the Church”, that is, all believers, the bride of Jesus (Eph 5). The great prostitute must refer to those who pretend to be the bride, in other words, those who act like the Church but are unfaithful. This would make her the false church and her adulteries are all her false teachings which she flaunts in the face of the faithful in order to deceive and destroy us. But God has conquered and condemned this deadly enemy once and for all, so that the smoke from her goes up for ever and ever. And so, our Lord God Almighty reigns! By judging those outside the Church and condemning those inside the Church who do not belong because of their unbelief, he shows his power and wisdom. By forgiving us all our sins through the law-abiding life, the blood-soaked death and the miraculous rising from the grave of his one and only Son, he shows his love and mercy. We join with those who are in heaven and shout hallelujah, that is, praise the Lord, because of what he has done! We also shout hallelujah because of how blessed we are! Now, because the great prostitute has been defeated, only one bride remains to be wedded to the Bridegroom Jesus, who is, the Lamb— “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” You are that bride! I am that bride! All who believe in Jesus for forgiveness and salvation are that bride! This is not polygamy! This is each of us and every other faithful Christian comprising the Church, who is therefore the Bride of Christ. 3 All of us are ready for the wedding because we have been given the right clothes to wear. What is translated here as fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints is better translated as “the righteous verdicts of the saints”, which emphasizes what God has done rather than what we have done. We, and all believers, will be declared not guilty of our sins because Jesus has given us his blood and righteousness to be our glorious dress, covering over our sinfully torn and tattered garments. Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” How blessed we are! We are not only invited to Jesus’ wedding supper, but we are even going to be seated at his right, for we are his bride and we are going to receive all the riches and rewards reserved for the redeemed! Right now, we can only join with all those in heaven from a distance and shout hallelujah along with them. Someday, we will join with them again in worship, even as we did here not too long ago, when God calls us to our heavenly home when he knows the time is right. Someday, we will reunite with all our loved ones who have died trusting in Jesus as their Savior from sin. Based on their earthly gifts, I am guessing Carol, Ruth, Don, Emily and Getta are members of the heavenly choir, using the beautiful voices they had on earth to continue their songs of praise to God in heaven. No one will be looking at them awkwardly for hitting a wrong note or singing louder than anyone else. We will join them in their perfect pitch and in their robust rejoicing! I picture Herb, Walt, and Dale serving well as members of the greeters group at the door to heaven, using their gregarious grins and their winsome personalities to welcome all believers with a smile and a handshake and a hug, which will be perfectly acceptable actions there even though they currently are not here now. We will join them in welcoming others into the hallowed halls of heaven! Marion, Rosalie, Larry, Marilyn, Quentin and Siegfried are probably serving the Lord and his people day and night with the same selfless attitude they had here on earth. Their gifts of hosting people, readying the food and the house, repairing the broken items and restoring the old are being put to use in their new heavenly home and someday we will work alongside of them! I am so looking forward to the day when we will all gather again in God’s house at Grace and fill each seat and shout our hallelujahs to our Lord God Almighty because of what he has done and because of how blessed we are! I am confident that day will come again. I am also looking forward to the day when we will all gather in God’s house of heaven and fill the seats at the wedding supper of the Lamb and shout our hallelujahs to our Savior God along with all the angels and all the other saints. I am even more confident that day will come because “these are the true words of God.” Whether it is today or in eternity’s day, listen to the great multitude of heaven and follow their godly instruction: let us rejoice and be glad and give [God] glory! Hallelujah! Amen!