WORSHIP SONG THREE
Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
and they will reign on earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
“To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might
forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
See the bottom of this post for how to use this daily devotional
READ ALOUD Revelation 5:1-14
Once I visited a woman in the final hours of her Alzheimer’s disease. She could not remember that the woman with us in the room was her daughter, but she did remember every verse of the song “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”. I have often visited patients in a hospital ICU and heard them singing hymns to get through a dark night. Early Christians often sang their way to death in the arena. We are not surprised that The Revelation shows us heaven as filled with singing. Our singing here is a rehearsal for the real thing, an appetizer for the thrill that awaits us.
In today’s worship song from The Revelation the little slaughtered Lamb is at the epicenter of heaven’s worship. There are the elders, living creatures, and thousands and thousands of angels singing with full voice the worthiness of the Lamb. “The sevenfold ascription of power, wealth, wisdom, might, honour, glory and blessing are intended to set the slain Lamb in right perspective. He is no symbol of weakness, but a symbol of strength through suffering.” (Donald Guthrie, “The Lamb in The Structure of the Book of Revelation,” Vox Evangelica)
Strength through suffering! This is the story of the little Lamb and all who follow Him. We learn to say with the apostle Paul: “I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). “Christ’s suffering witness and sacrificial death are, in fact, as we shall see, the key event of God’s conquest of evil and establishment of his kingdom on earth.” (Richard Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation)
It is through His blood that the little Lamb conquered and “made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on the earth.” He ransoms for God “saints from every tribe and language and people and nation”, and makes them part of His kingdom that will come to earth. Centuries earlier the Hebrew prophet Daniel was granted to see in a vision what is revealed here:
The kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them (Daniel 7:27).
The little Lamb conquers through His sufferings, and we conquer through our sufferings. Victory is ours as we follow the Lamb in the way of the cross and sacrifice. “All must bear patient witness to Jesus, thereby ‘conquering’ the evil forces that surround and threaten them.” (N. T. Wright, Revelation for Everyone)
As the apostle John writes to encourage Christians facing the wrath of Emperor Domitian, the apostle Peter had earlier written to encourage Christians facing the wrath of Emperor Nero:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange is happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Perhaps we are surprised when we do encounter ridicule, rejection, or downright opposition for our faith in Jesus Christ. From the time people first followed Jesus in ancient Galilee and Judea they have faced opposition and persecution. But followers of the Lamb can know that it is first the cross and then the crown, the battle then the victory, sharing with Christ in his suffering and sharing with Him in His glory.
READ ALOUD Revelation 5:1-14
HOW TO USE THIS DAILY DEVOTIONAL
This daily Lenten devotional takes up eight songs of worship from The Revelation. It is significant that this is the only book in the Bible promising a blessing on those who read it, specifically: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy” (Revelation 1:3 NRSV). Each section of this devotional presents a song for your audible reading, reflection and worship. Each day you will:
- PRAY asking God to bless this time you devote to Him
- READ ALOUD the worship song and text for the day
- REFLECT on the daily reading
- READ ALOUD again the worship song and text for the day
- WORSHIP God each day in a way that is meaningful for you. The way in which you worship might vary day to day. Depending on the day, you might choose to talk with God about what you are thinking and feeling about the song, or meditate on the worship song, or intercede for others, or sing, or be silent before God. Ask God to guide you.
We pray that God use these worship songs of The Revelation to reveal His glory to you and bless you as you center your life in Him.