WORSHIP SONG SEVEN
Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended.
And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations!
Lord, who will not fear
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your judgments have been revealed.”
See the bottom of this post for how to use this daily devotional
READ ALOUD Revelation 15:1-4
The Bible is tantalizing in its restraint of what it tells us about heaven. Perhaps the restraint is because heaven is beyond words and comprehension: “…what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Yet the Bible does tell us that we will be worshipping in heaven. Nothing will so satisfy our new natures as worshipping God and singing His glory. No worries there about “I don’t have a good voice”, or “I can’t carry a tune”.
Today’s text pulls back heaven’s curtain to reveal martyred saints singing, “standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.” Richard Bauckham describes heaven’s scene for us:
Their passage through martyrdom to heaven is compared with the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea, for the sea of glass in heaven is now mingled with fire of divine judgment. They stand by the sea, praising God for the victory he has wrought for them, just as the people of Israel, led by Moses, sang a song of praise to God for his deliverance of them from Pharaoh’s army. (The Theology of the Book of Revelation)
God has brought them victorious through the sea of martyrdom and landed them safely on heaven’s shore. They suffered the power of the empire by refusing to worship the beast. They would not wear the beast’s mark or image, even under the threat of death. They suffered savage deaths but now heaven’s light reveals them as victors. “It was the very fact that they died that made them victors; if they had remained alive by being false to their faith, they would have been defeated.” (William Barclay, Revelation: Daily Bible Study) The early church commemorated the day of a martyr’s death as his day of victory.
Heaven reveals that we win by losing. Christ overcame the world by the way of the cross and so do we! Jesus taught, “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll both find yourself and me” (Matthew 10:39, The Message).
John sees heaven’s victors standing by the sea of glass singing praise to the “God of the nations”. Cambridge scholar Henry Barclay Swete writes about heaven’s joy of self-forgetting and worshipping God:
In the presence of God the martyrs forget themselves; their thoughts are absorbed by the new wonders that surround them; the glory of God and the mighty scheme of things in which their own sufferings form an infinitesimal part are opening before them; they begin to see the great issue of the world-drama, and we hear the doxology with which they greet their first unclouded vision of God and his works. (The Apocalypse of St. John)
It has been rightly said that our worship here is a dress rehearsal for worship in heaven. As the glorious “living creatures” never tire of singing “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God Almighty”, so we will never tire of singing “the song of Moses…and the song of the Lamb”. In the midst of earth’s empires, beasts, and tribulations, it is comforting to know that we will have parts in that choir beside the glassy sea! Our worship here is getting us ready for worship there!
READ ALOUD Revelation 15:1-4
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.