A woman began the grand tradition. It was the first time she had heard Handel’s Messiah. It happened when the great piece reached its triumphant culmination, and the choir sang out, “And He shall reign, for ever and ever!” Victoria, the Queen of England, deeply moved, stood in honor of her great King, Jesus, Ruler of the universe itself.

And ever since, as the “Hallelujah Chorus” is played, audiences have stood in awed respect.

Here in Revelation 11, we see the source of that great piece of music. As the seventh trumpet sounds, and judgments continue to dash themselves against an unrepentant earth, the choir of heaven shouts:

The kingdom of this world

has become the kingdom

of our Lord and of His Christ,

and He will reign forever and ever.

When the choir shouts out its joy, Christ does not yet stand on a subdued earth. Evil is not yet purged. The Antichrist continues to exalt himself, and Satan struggles mightily. Mankind spits out its hostility against God and displays that hatred by killing God’s servants. Yet in heaven, the hymns of praise reach a loud crescendo. All heaven knows that “You have taken up Your great power and have begun to reign.”

We live in a day when God has set aside the open exercise of His mighty power. He works now through providence, so subtly that the lost laugh at the notion of divine sovereignty and pass all things off as chance or happenstance. One day God will openly take up His mighty power, and then His rule will be unmistakable. And that day is coming, soon.

Until then, we must remember that when things look darkest on the earth, the songs of heaven are the most triumphant. You and I, limited to our physical eyes, may not see what is so clear in heaven. But we can still rise up and shout it out with the angels.

God reigns!