The last Christmas

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 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." And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who was seated on the throne, saying, "Amen. Hallelujah!" And from the throne came a voice saying, "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great." Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.

-- Revelation 19:1-6, ESV

As surely as there was the first Noël, there will be a last Christmas. If this was going to be yours, could you honestly say you are ready to meet Christ, face to face? What will you say to Him? The best word I can find is, "Hallelujah!"

"Hallelujah" is a sacred Hebrew word that has been transliterated from Hebrew to Greek to English. It is a compound word formed from the words "praise" and the personal name for "God" -- "Yahweh." It is translated "Praise the Lord" in the Old Testament. However, in the New Testament it is simply transliterated "Hallelujah." Oddly enough, the word only appears four times in the New Testament, all in the book of Revelation, all to be spoken after the last Christmas has passed.

Religions should be scrutinized to see how each defines salvation. In virtually every case study of every other religion except for Christianity, salvation can be achieved by self-help, determinative action, or some other means by which mere mortals can satisfy the requirements of the gods. Salvation exists, and salvation must be earned, according to religion.

Christianity is remarkably different. Salvation is a gift from God and cannot be bought nor earned by any human effort. You can say, "Hallelujah!" if you have received the gifts of repentance toward God (ref. Acts 11:18) and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (ref. Ephesians 2:8). It came to you not by the energy of your own mind and body, but by the power of God's Spirit (ref. John 3:1ff; Titus 3:5). Hallelujah!

The figurative source of this smoke in the revelatory words of John is identified as "the great prostitute." This is not the world champion of the world's oldest profession, but the grand sum of the great damage that secular humanism and world religions have posted on this planet. The lives of people who would not acknowledge sin and the lives of people who try to pay off God to absolve their sin will all go up in smoke. Yet the death of the wicked and the unbelievers is no reason for rejoicing.

We do not praise the Lord when sinners are punished. We praise the Lord when sin is no more. At that time we will realize that we are free from the penalty of sin by the price Jesus paid on the cross. At that time we will realize that we are free from the power of sin by the glorious transformation of our bodies to be like the body of Christ. At that time we will realize that we are free from even the presence of sin, for we will live in a new world where sin will be no more. Hallelujah!

When my earthly father died, I was at peace with him. The last conversation we ever had occurred on Christmas Day 1998. It was our last Christmas, our last day, to talk, although neither one of us knew at the time he would pass away a few days later. We didn't always say it, but the very last words we said to each other on that last Christmas were, "I love you." Hallelujah!

Today you can be at peace with your Father, your Heavenly Father. Who knows, but Him, if this will be the last Christmas of your life? Nothing matters more than having peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Tell God you love Him, believe in Him, worship Him, and serve Him. Tell God the one word that praises Him now and glories Him forever: "Hallelujah!"

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].

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