Monday, May 9
Reader: “Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name?”
Response: “For you alone are holy.”
Scripture: Revelation 15:1-4
Then I saw in heaven another marvelous event of great significance. Seven angels were holding the seven last plagues, which would bring God’s wrath to completion. I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name. They were all holding harps that God had given them. And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:
“Great and marvelous are your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you,
for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”
As you know, the Revelation of John concerns the role of Jesus, the Lamb, in bringing human history to a close culminating in the final judgment of the nations and peoples of the world. In this particular passage, John sees another vision of seven angels and seven plagues yet to come as God’s wrath against his enemies comes to completion. The devil is destroyed and cast into the pit of hell forever. The plagues described have a great similarity to the plagues of Egypt at the Exodus. A reminder, seven is the number of completion and perfection and appears throughout the book of the Revelation.
Sometimes it’s a little hard to step into the middle of a larger picture with just a few verses. To help give these few sentences a little context, the people mentioned had remained faithful to God and had been victorious over the beast’s attempt to destroy them. The glass sea mixed with fire may be symbolic of their victory through testing; the fire could also signal impending judgment. The harps symbolize a final eternal peace and were often used in celebration and in worship. Contrary to popular thought, this description does not mean we will sit in heaven and play harps throughout eternity!
The reference to both the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb is interesting. You’ll recall following the crossing of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s entire army, Moses wrote a song of victory. (Exodus 15) Here the similar but greater Deliverer has brought the ultimate victory over a similar but greater foe with another song of triumph. God connects and unites the old and new covenants. The songs celebrate the redeeming acts of God concerning the Israelites and the saints in heaven. As the redeemer Moses triumphed over Pharoah so the greater Redeemer Christ triumphed over death, evil, and the devil.
The text of the song itself is a magnificent affirmation of our Lord with virtually every line coming from one of the psalms or writings of the prophets. (E.g. Ps 11:2; Ps 86:9; Jer 10:6-7; Amos 4:13; Mal 1:11) In addition to his glory, (the “weightiness” of God,) his ways of truth and justice are foundational to humanity. Who wouldn’t fear and glorify God? The obvious answer to this rhetorical question is no one. In the end, all nations will recognize that God’s righteous deeds are just and true.
What are we to glean from this passage? God will judge all wickedness and evil. No one gets away with evil, even if it seems like they do in this life. The day of reckoning is certain. There are no hung juries. Everyone will stand before God; he is not fooled nor is justice mocked. Every knee will bend before God. The believers in Christ have nothing to fear. The blood of the Lamb has covered them and they have been passed over and eternally redeemed. The righteousness of Jesus has been imputed to them and for that we sing, “Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations.” In uncertain times, there is great certainty in our Savior and in our future. Your harp is being tuned!
Music: “Rex Tremendae” Berlioz Philharmonia Orchestra John Nelson conducting
Another setting of the Day of Judgment. This is part of the Berlioz Requiem.
Rex treméndae majestátis,
King of terrifying majesty,
Qui salvándos sálvas gratis,
Who freely saves the saved:
Sálva me fons pietátis.
Save me, fount of pity.
Confutatis maledictis Jesu
When the cursed are confounded, Jesus,
Flammis acribus addictis
[and] Consigned to the fierce flames
Call me [to be with the blessed]
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. ―Revelation 1:5-6