July 3, 2019
"I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11-12). As I read through the book of Revelation, working on our summer sermon series, I can't help but hear the melodies of praise songs and hymns based on these words. Revelation 1:8 brings to mind Israel Houghton's "Alpha and Omega." Revelation 4:8 echoes in the classic hymn "Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty!" Revelation 5:12 comes to life as the bridges of Chris Tomlin's song "I Will Rise" and Phil Wickham's song "This is Amazing Grace." More personally, Revelation 7:10 stirs memories for me of singing "Salvation Belongs to our God" in Thai when I taught English in Thailand for the summer of 2003. I also have warm memories of worshiping with close friends in Pittsburgh, using a song written by our friend Shea Cole, "The Spirit and Bride Say 'Come'," which blends lyrics from chapters 7, 12, and 22 of Revelation.
Why are there so many powerful worship songs that draw on Revelation? Precisely because it is a vision of heavenly worship, the worship that goes on in heaven as angels and saints who've gone before us bow down and sing praise to God and to the Lamb. They sing (as is described nine times in the book) because singing is more powerful than merely speaking. To sing is to involve one's whole self, one's body and mind and multiple senses, in the praise of God. I believe this gives us a clue to how to understand the book of Revelation: the book's portrait of the entrance into heaven is meant to be experienced through worship, prayer, and song. Intellectually analyzing these dramatic visions might help us understand the Revelation's message, but worshiping with its songs can help us experience the encouragement, comfort, and conviction which the Lord has for us. What song from Revelation might you use to enter into prayer today?
There's Grace and Peace,