Joy isn’t merely one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. It’s the dominant emotion expressed by God’s people when they consider who God is and what he’s done. The new heavens and the new earth are going to be filled with joy.
If there’s one word in the Bible that captures this, it’s the word “hallelujah.” As I’ve traveled to different parts of the world, it’s interesting how this word is common in worship services regardless of the language. It’s a statement or shout of praise to God. That’s the meaning.
But the sound of the word—hallelujah—has roots in the Hebrew language. It literally means “praise the Lord,” and it sounds in English and in Greek how you would say it in Hebrew. It’s what individual people said to God and how it sounded when they were filled with joy.
I find it fascinating that the Hebrew word is preserved. I wonder if part of the reason is because the sound of joy is connected to the meaning of joy. In other words, joy isn’t just a word. It has meaning, but it also has a sound. Joy is holistic and all-encompassing. Hallelujah!
Joy and Revelation 19
The book of Revelation is meant to encourage and strengthen you. It’s designed to give you hope. We see this specifically in Revelation 19, especially with regard to our joy and what it means to live lives of joy that is found in Christ.
In verse 1, John’s vision turns from the fall of Babylon to the “loud voice of a great multitude in heaven.” What follows is an incredible anthem of joyful praise connected to three words:
- Salvation – God rescues people. God is gracious.
- Glory – God is full of perfection, holiness, and beauty.
- Power – God is mighty.
Notice that these are not merely statements about what God does. This is who God is. Salvation, glory, and power belong to him. God’s people do not merely praise God for what he does. They praise him for who he is. The worthiness of God is directly tied to his essence, not just his activity. Getting this right is really important.
By the way, the same should be true of how you think about yourself. Who you are before God defines what you do. Identity informs activity. But the world and our selfish desires tell us that activity (what I do) defines my identity. Salvation, glory, and power belong to God. And they are the basis of our joy.
Verses 2-3 connect joy to God’s deliverance through his just and true judgment.
“…for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever” (Rev. 19:2-3).
The overthrow of Babylon is complete and eternal. Never again will God’s people have to endure her schemes, seductions, and oppression. The corruption of Babylon is over. The wicked spell has been broken.
Can you imagine a world with no temptation, greed, lust, envy, or manipulation? No oppression, anger, or injustice? Imagine a world where evil has lost its power. This reminds me of a moment in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when Father Christmas appears after a long time of continuous winter but never Christmas. His appearance, along with the melting snow, signals that Aslan is on the move. The children find themselves joyful, but they don’t fully know why. It’s the joy of realizing that everything has changed—for the better. Because Aslan is on the move.
Verse 4 takes us back to the twenty-four elders and four living creatures that we read about in Revelation 4-5. The joy is like a wave that comes out from the multitude, returns to the throne room, and then goes out again. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.
And the final statement is an invitation.
And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great” (Rev. 19:5).
The appeal is meant to be universal. It’s the reverse of the curse where the creation worships itself. This is a joyful realignment with the way life was meant to be.
Purchased for Joy
Christian, this is the future that Jesus purchased for us, planned before the foundation of the world:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Eph. 1:3-6).
Joy is rooted in what is true about God and what is true about us. It’s not connected to circumstances. Christian joy is something God does in you because of Jesus.
Do you know this? Do you feel this? Do you embody this? Revelation invites us to remember that Jesus makes us joyful.