“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood…” (Revelation 5:9).
John must have been fascinated by the sights and the sounds of that heavenly vision.
They started small.
At first, he was treated to a heavenly quartet. The four angelic beings–were they seraphim?–of Revelation 4:7-8 burst into song, calling out, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come!”
This was no little chorus they dropped into the Lord’s throneroom. We read, “They do not rest day or night, saying (this)” (verse 8).
Imagine that. An endless song.
These long-winded, six-winged angels with angelic voices take us back to Isaiah 6 where similar creatures are calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts. The whole earth is filled with His glory.”
I heard a preacher say that two huge lessons are given here: One, the holiness of the Lord (His “otherness”) is a bigtime truth, and two, the Lord has no trouble hearing the same words of praise coming at Him continuously.
We should always bear the first in mind as we serve HIm, that “He is holy and so should we be” (I Peter 1:15), and the second we should interpret as encouragement to keep on praising Him, even if it is a fact that our words sound much like they did yesterday and the day before. My words of love to a treasured grandchild sound suspiciously like the words I voiced last time, but no one is complaining.
The quartet becomes a small choir….
Soon, the four heavenly singers were joined by others. “When (the Lamb) had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song….” (5:8-9)
Now, we have a small choir or a large ensemble. Twenty-four male singers blend with the four angels. They sing of redemption and salvation. “You have redeemed us to God by your blood….and have made us kings and priests to our God, and we shall reign on the earth.”
The choir keeps growing…
This is beginning to get good.
“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousands, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice….”
The choir has just blown out all the standards, exceeded all the numbers, overwhelmed everything. Nothing like this has ever been done. Ever.
They’re singing “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing” and about every other thing they could think of, I’m betting. (5:12).
What must that have sounded like? Who has ever heard such a choir? And, if you can believe this, it’s not over yet.
Now, the choir of zillions begins to get really huge….
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea and all that are in them, I heard saying….
Think of this! No one stands back saying “I can’t sing,” or “I don’t have a good voice.” Everyone is singing. Everything is singing.
They are singing out, “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
As the music dies out–this one does not go on endlessly–the four seraphim pronounce “Amen!” and the 24 elders drop to their faces before the One who lives forever and ever.
And you thought your church’s Easter program was something!
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9, quoted from Isaiah 64:4).
That fairly well sums up our impression: We can only imagine. But Isaiah and Paul protest, “No, you cannot. You cannot begin to imagine.” Think of the best choir you’ve ever heard. Now, combine them with the greatest orchestra you’ve ever heard. And then, multiply that times ten thousand, and add in the voices of angels of all types–the human-looking angels, the cherubim, the seraphim–these heavenly creatures who have been serenading Heaven’s courts for aeons.
What must that sound like? I have no idea. My imagination cut out along about the hundred-thousandth choir member.
That’s why only a new song will do.
Neither Watts nor Wesley nor Gaither nor Peterson nor Silbelius nor Bach nor Handel has anything for this occasion. Throughout their wonderfully productive lifetimes, they have all “composed through a glass darkly,” if you will. Now, finally, in the Heavenly realms, they (and we) hear music the way it was meant to be played, choirs as they were meant to be heard.
At last, we are able to praise the way God intended. Now, we worship as we have always longed to.
We must have a new song, because…
1) There has never been a moment like this in history.
2) There has never been a meeting like this ever.
3) There has never been a vision like the one unfolding before us.
4) There has never been a choir like this before.
5) There has never been a celebration like this.
6) There has never been a reason to sing like the one we have now. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).
7) We have never wanted to sing so badly.
8) We have never been able to sing so well. Until now.
Only a new song will match our new voices and the new reality.
That new song will be about Jesus. Everything in Heaven is about Jesus. Everyone arriving there came by His shed blood. Everyone is overwhelmed by love and praise of Jesus.
Anyone unwilling to sing of Jesus will be eternally out of place in Heaven’s concert hall.
Meanwhile, today, back on Planet Earth, choir practice goes forward.
Our circumstances are not exactly ideal for singing. We could have chosen atmospheres more conducive for choir rehearsal than what some of the Lord’s children are enduring.
Some of the soloists have been arrested and are being held in prison and threatened with execution. Pray that they will follow the example of Paul and Silas. “At midnight (in the Philippian jail), Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God….” (Acts 16:25)
Some of the altos and sopranos are being mutilated and molested by Satan’s messengers across this troubled world. Pray that He will give them “songs in the night” (Job 35:10).
Some who are being mistreated and harassed are still expected to sing. Pray they will, and will not follow the example of Israel’s choir members in Babylon (Psalm 137).
God grant that they will never lose sight of the Lord’s promise: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.
Forever and ever.