WORSHIP SONG SIX
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Messiah,
for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down,
who accuses them day and night before our God.
But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.
Rejoice then, you heavens
and those who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath,
because he knows that his time is short!”
See the bottom of this post for how to use this daily devotional
READ ALOUD Revelation 12:10-12
Today I grieve for report of yet more Christians who are tortured and put to death for their faith. Here is news of 12 Syrian Christians who were tortured, beheaded and nailed to crosses. The twelve martyrs included a 12 year-old boy whose pastor father was made to watch his son’s execution because he would not renounce his faith in Jesus. The news story notes that all of the 12 crucified recited the Lord’s Prayer and lifted their heads towards heaven commending their lives to Jesus. (Daily Mail, Oct. 14, 2015) In the words of today’s text from The Revelation, “they did not cling to life even in the face of death.” They now worship with the redeemed saints before the throne of God.
News reports like this call to mind the great host of martyrs who have followed Jesus to their deaths. George Weigel is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center who writes about the long history of the persecution of followers of the Lamb:
We have been living, and we’re living now, in the greatest era of persecution in Christian history. More Christians died for the faith in the twentieth century than in the previous nineteen centuries of Christian history combined. (First Things, “Rediscovering Martyrology”, Feb. 2, 2014)
Church Father Tertullian lived through horrid days of Roman persecution, but chided his persecutors: “Yet your tortures accomplish nothing…We become more every time we are hewn down by you: the blood of Christians is seed.” (Apology for the Christians) Roman persecutors soon discovered God’s law of spiritual thermodynamics: the more heat the world applies to the church, the greater its expansion. The more persecutors try to extinguish Christian faith, the faster and farther it spreads.
Today’s Scripture is an outburst of praise in heaven, “a loud voice”, celebrating the victory of the slaughtered Lamb and His faithful followers. This loud voice hails “our comrades” who chose death in this world and life with Jesus. They “conquered by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…”
The Revelation is an apocalypse, an unveiling of the way things really are. Here is the truth of things, how events taking place on earth look from the perspective of God’s throne. We see that “The blood of the martyrs, rather than signaling the triumph of Satan, shows instead that they have gained the victory over the dragon by their acceptance of Jesus’ Cross and their obedient suffering with him.” (Tremper Longman III, David Garland, Hebrews – Revelation)
The apostle Peter appointed a man named Ignatius to take his place in leading the Syrian Christians in the city of Antioch. Some years later Ignatius was arrested for his witness to Christ and taken in chains to Rome to die in the arena. On his way to Rome Ignatius wrote to Christians in the city of Tralles, Asia Minor, exhorting them: “Remember the church in Syria in your prayers…Farewell in Christ.” (“Epistle to the Trallians”, Early Church Fathers, edited by Cyril Richardson)
Remember the Christians in Syria today! And remember brothers and sisters of Christ around the world facing persecution for the sake of the Lamb. “Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured” (Hebrews 13:3). They are “our comrades” who conquer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony!
We worship the Lamb who gives us the victory!
READ ALOUD Revelation 12:10-12
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.