Each Christmas, people all around the world flock to churches, recital halls, and concert venues for a performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. If you were to attend one of those concerts, you’d find yourself rising to your feet during the opening notes of the “Hallelujah” chorus.
According to legend, the tradition of standing for the chorus began when King George II stood up during the 1743 London premiere of Messiah. As the story goes, the king was so moved by the music that he stood up to show his reverence. And since it was considered bad manners to sit when the king stood, the audience followed his lead.
I’ve heard some say the king only rose to his feet because of a bad case of “pins and needles” or gout. But to that disenchanted opinion, I say, “Bah Humbug!” In my view, the legend rings true. You see, that moment in the oratorio is about Christ’s enthronement. With the words of Revelation 11:15, Handel declares that Christ is our Lord and King forever: “Hallelujah… for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. And he shall reign forever and ever.” The “Hallelujah” chorus is based on that declaration from the book of Revelation, but Christ’s enthronement is a thick biblical theme.
In 2 Samuel 7, the forever king is promised. David looked to build a house (the temple) for God, but instead, God promised to build a house for David. It would not be a physical structure but an eternal dynasty through one of David’s descendants. God declared, “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2Samuel 7:13).
In Isaiah 11, the forever king is prophesied. In Isaiah’s time, God cut down arrogant and wicked rulers. But where nothing but a stump is left, the Branch grows, ruling to ensure justice for the meek and poor (Isaiah 11:1). Out of judgment, the great king would bring hope.
In Matthew, the forever king arrived, though some weren’t sure He was truly the long-awaited Messiah: “Could this be the Son of David?” (Matthew 12:22–23). Even the leaders of Israel could not accept that Jesus was the forever king God had promised, the preexistent and eternal king who was both the Son of David and David’s Lord (Matthew 22:41–46).
Finally, in Acts 2, the forever king was declared when, filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter proclaimed Jesus as King through resurrection. He is the living and exalted one who “was not abandoned in Hades, and his flesh did not experience decay” (Acts 2:31).
May our hearts stand and honor Jesus Christ, the forever King. He is the Son, the radiance of God’s glory “and the exact expression of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). He is the one who sustains all things by the power of His word, and “after making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (v.3). And He shall reign forever and ever!
Written by Jared Kennedy