Worthy is the,
Lamb who was slain
Holy, Holy, is He
Sing a new song, to Him who sits on
Heaven’s Mercy Seat
Every time I hear this song, I get goosebumps. The language is so vivid and captures glimpses of the story of Revelation. For those of you who don’t know, Revelation is the last book of the Bible and rightly so, as it is the story of the end of the world as we know it. Now before you drop everything and rush to read it, know that it is shrouded in imagery and many Christian scholars do not agree among each other as to what exactly this imagery means. Having said that, let me warn you that I will do my best to explain some of the stuff that Revelation talks about in light of this song.
The author of the book of Revelation is traditionally known as John, the apostle. He was one of the original 12 disciples that walked, talked and lived with Jesus. More modern Bible scholars think it was a different guy named John. Regardless, this guy named John was exiled to an island called Patmos for his Christian faith under Emperor Domition around 95AD. The whole book is a description of a vision of heaven he had while in exile. Imagine trying to explain the unexplainable to your friends. This is what John is tasked with doing! He is trying to explain modern Hollywood-like effects and scenes with 95AD language. So if his descriptions seem a little vague it’s probably because things are going so fast and he is doing his best to explain this awesome scene with limited language. Think about a time you just didn’t have the words to describe something and magnify that by a thousand.
Let’s look at the first verse of the song. Jesus is the Lamb. Back in the days of Jesus and before, lambs were often used for sacrificial sin offerings. When someone sinned, they would take a lamb without any defects to the priest. He would say a prayer and do some rituals and the sin of the person was transferred to the perfect lamb. Then the priest would kill the lamb who bore the sin and the person would be counted as sinless or righteous. Jesus became our sacrificial lamb when he died on the cross. Our sins were transferred to him and we are counted as sinless or righteous if we are Christians. The song doesn’t make reference to this but in the book of Revelation, John sees a scroll with 7 seals on it and he desperately wants to know what is in this scroll “but no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it,” (Rev. 5:3). John weeps and weeps because there is no one worthy enough to open this scroll! Then he sees the Lamb, but not the cute, cuddly lamb we think of in spring. This lamb is bloody and bruised because it has been slaughtered! (Rev. 5:6) It was dead but now it is alive, despite it’s wounds (this Lamb is Jesus!). It stands in the middle of 4 very strange looking creatures and 24 elders and the creatures sing a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God
and they will reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10)
Jesus is worthy because he was slain and bought us with his blood! This is why the crucifixion was so important!
Revelation Song continues, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, Holy, holy is he!” Holy means set apart for something special. God’s holiness means that he is perfect, set apart from all that is imperfect. Imagine a giant chasm with no bottom- God and his Perfectness are set apart on one side and everything that is sin is on the other side. This is why we need Jesus- because we have no way to cross the chasm to get to God and his Holiness! Jesus bridges this giant chasm and we now have access to this holy God and therefore we become holy, or set apart, too if we accept his gift of grace. We are set apart to be “a kingdom [of God] and priests to serve our God,” (Rev 5:10). I could spend a whole post just on this Bible verse alone! We are set apart to be God’s and to serve God. That is what we are created for!
“Sing a new song.” This concept of singing a new song is rooted in the Old Testament. It is often associated with deliverance from enemies or hardships.I think here it may mean deliverance from Satan and sin. After all, that is the story of Revelation- God’s ultimate victory over Satan and sin. There are two times in Revelation where a “new song” is sung; one time, the 4 creatures sing about the Lamb being worthy to open the scroll and the other time is when the 144,000 (presumably martyrs) sing a new song before God (Rev. 14:1-5). When was the last time you sang a new song? I’m not talking about making up something on your own, although you could. I’m talking about praising God not for everything he’s done for us, but praising him just because he deserves praise! I love Revelation Song because it does that. It praises God because he alone is worthy of our praise. It’s not because he saved us, it’s not because of what he’s done for us, though these are good reasons to praise God. It simply praises him because he is God and he alone is worthy of our praise!
Revelation can be hard to read and even scary at times. This is not by far an in depth look at Revelation, just a mere glimpse of a glimpse of history yet to be. I hope that at some time you read the entire book of Revelation on your own. It is a fantastic book! Until tomorrow, this is …