What stirs you? In a divided and broken world, what are the things that remind your soul it was made for more? For me, one of those things is music. A well-blended acapella four-part harmony gives me goosebumps, and feeling God’s presence during a worship song often brings tears to my eyes. How fitting, then, that the final book in the bible is full of worship. In Revelation 4, the focus is on God and his throne, with the imagery of rainbows, lightning, and a crystal-clear sea. The creatures and the elders worship God continuously, and their words can be found in many well-known hymns we sing here on earth.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty! (written by Reginald Heber) is one example (emphasis added):
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.
Rev 5 goes on to describe the image of the Lamb who was slain taking the sealed scroll from God. Not only is he the only one worthy to open the seal, but he is worthy to receive seven things symbolic of complete and perfect worship: power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessings (Rev 5:12).
Agnus Dei by Michael W. Smith echoes the words of the angels from verse 12: “Worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the Lamb.” I especially love the image that verse 11 describes:
“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.” (Rev 5:11 NIV)
If you’ve ever heard a really large choir sing, then you’ll be able to imagine what this would be like. The sound is rich and full, with no tiny spaces between individual voices; and there is a unity and power to it unlike the timbre of any other instrument. Experiencing this on earth is moving, bordering on overwhelming; a heavenly host praising God in this way is an eternal mystery and wonder I look forward to. Handel’s Messiah draws from the book of Revelation too, with the words of the Hallelujah chorus taken from the King James Version, and the conclusion of Messiah bringing us back to Rev 5:
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,
and hath redeemed us to God by his blood,
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom,
and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Blessing, and honour, glory and power,
be unto him that sitteth upon the throne,
and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.
In addition to the wonderful elements of music and worship in Revelation, chapters 5 and 7 describe the church as its meant to be: global and multi-cultural, with every tribe, language, people, and nation represented (Rev 5:9; Rev 7:9). How wonderful that we have this beautiful unity to look forward to: “the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:2). Revelation also gives us the promise and hope of the new creation:
“‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” (Rev 7:16–17 NIV)
“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (Rev 21:4–5 NIV)
God’s alternative to our current crisis is one with no more hunger, no more death, no more tears, no more darkness. His new creation is perfect, with the river of life flowing through the city of life (Rev 22:1–2), which is lit by the glory of God himself (Rev 21:23).
With these messages of hope in mind, let’s join in in worshipping God and the Lamb, remaining faithful and doing our best to embody the beautiful images in Revelation during our time here on earth.
If you’d like to study Revelation further, how about:
- watching Michael J. Gorman’s full SATS symposium on Revelation; here
- reading an introduction on how to approach reading the book of Revelation; here
- having a look at Gorman’s recommended reading list; or
- contacting SATS for further information.
Short Bio: Carrie Milton is a veterinarian and language practitioner. After completing her Bachelor of Veterinary Science and working with a variety of animals for a number of years, she reawakened her love for the written word. Accredited by the Professional Editors’ Guild, she has tried her hand at everything from theses to fiction