After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power to our God, for his judgements are true and just; he has judged the great whore who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’
Once more they said,
‘Hallelujah! The smoke goes up from her for ever and ever.’
And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who is seated on the throne, saying,
And from the throne came a voice saying,
‘Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.’
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder-peals, crying out,
‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready; to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure’—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’
Isn’t heaven noisy? The voice of a great multitude – the hubbub of a huge gathering. And yet this is supposed to be a time of worship.
‘Hallelujah’ – praise the Lord – is the repeated refrain punctuating troubling and awesome descriptions of God, confirming shared faith, affirming promises. And the focus is kept firmly on worshipping God by the angel guiding our witness to this scene, John.
So noisy – like the sound of many waters and the sound of mighty thunder peals. Almost as bad as an all age service when the babies are squealing, the kids are giggling, the teens are shouting, and the hearing aids are squeaking. How glorious! With the songs and prayers in these as much as in the more formal words and music giving glory to God.
For this is indeed the great all-age altogether worship of heaven – with both great and small exhorted to praise God and serve God, to be holders of the testimony of Jesus together. After all this is a wedding party, which is the joining together of multigenerational family: the Groom’s and the Bride’s, the saints and the servants.
‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb’ – it is going to be quite a party. I’m so glad all ages, all stages, all cultures, all races, all shapes, all sizes, all colours, all genders, all abilities, all types are on the invitation list – and will be a blessing to each other as they share the celebration of the marriage of the Lamb together. Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power to our God, for his judgements are true and just. Praise our God, all you his servants, small and great. Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Amen.
Dr Sam Richards, serving as Head of Children’s and Youth Work, member of mayBe Community, Oxford