Then I heard something like the sound of a great crowd, like the sound of many waters, and like the sound of strong thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! The Lord our God, the Almighty, has become king!” ~REVELATION 19:6
Did you know that the word hallelujah occurs only four times in the entire New Testament? And that all four of those instances are found right here in Revelation 19?
Well now you do!
Hallelujah is the transliteration from a Hebrew liturgical formula which means “Praise Yahweh”. Like Hosanna, it is one of the few Hebrew words which have established themselves into everyday religious vernacular.
A little more “Did You Know?” The Greek word translated as “Almighty” in this verse is used only ten times in the New Testament, nine of which are in Revelation. The only other instance is in an Old Testament quotation in 2 Corinthians 6:18. That word is Pantokrator, meaning “the one who holds control over all things” is “the ruler of all”.
The significance? This shows us the characteristic theme of Revelation: Yahweh is the ONE in ultimate control of all things whatsoever, and thus is worthy of our complete and unending praise. Basically, you really should join and stay on God’s team no matter what.
Let’s go another layer deeper into the significance of all this. Revelation was written to a people and at a time of some of the worst and most intense persecution of God’s followers that we know of. As William Barclay put it:
“There was never a time in history in which such forces were drawn up against the Church as when the Revelation was written. There was never a time when the Christian was called upon to undergo such suffering and to accept so continually the prospect of a cruel death. And yet in such times John calls God pantokrator. Here is faith and confidence; and the whole point of this passage is that that faith and confidence are vindicated.”
As C.S. Lewis said, “We need more reminding than instructing.”
Revelation gives us the most cosmic of reminders–that God created everything, controls everything, and is the hands down, no doubt Victor in the end. God will mete out pure and righteous judgment upon all those who, like Rome in the first century, have committed the worst of sins (teaching others to sin (v.2), and killing God’s people (v.2)–two very big no-nos), all the while refusing to turn from those ways and to turn toward Yahweh. It is in the roughest times that we need these Spirit infused reminders of what is really true, of who is indeed in charge of all things. We do not have to comprehend all things or know every single “why” of each situation. But we are called to be faithful.
It is important to begin each day with praise and gratitude towards our Maker, for it aligns us appropriately for the day ahead, and puts us in our proper place where we were designed to exist and abundantly live. Over the years I’ve talked with several people who said they would begin their day by turning on the news. Now as you know, that can be rather depressing and keenly fear-based. It is not the way I would suggest for anyone to start their day, unless they’re just a little too happy with themselves and need to be knocked down a notch or two.
Instead, each day for us who believe needs to be initiated with some spirit calibration, attuning ourselves anew each day to praising our God, the Almighty, the Pantokrator. Then we need to remind ourselves, throughout the day, of the truth of who holds everything together no matter how it may look at the moment. When our mind is rightly ordered, we exude praise and are manifestly aware, at least on some level, of God’s permeating omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence. One way we can know if we are a bit off center is if the cares of this life are crowding out thoughts of God’s greatness, if the thoughts of this world are overriding our circuits and facilitating fear and disgust more than praise and gratitude. How we need to remind each other of the theme of Revelation! Sometimes we do of course see the Kingdom in action and spreading, and we rejoice. But other times we seem to only see evil getting ahead, and that is probably when we most acutely require the encouragement which comes from praising God simply for who He is, and expressing gratitude for every good gift from above, of which there are a plethora.
And don’t forget, God wins.