St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

The Sweetest Music We Will Ever Hear

Sermon on Revelation 5:11-14

Text: Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

What is your favorite type of music? I would imagine that everyone here this morning has their own idea of the best type of music, and what one person likes, another person might think is a lot of noise. One person might like classical music, while another thinks of it as music to sleep by. Often, there are particular songs that make you feel good, when you hear them. It feels good to the ears, it lifts your spirits, it gives you a sense of peace in a hectic world. There are many songs that are recorded in the Bible, as well. For example, the book of Psalms is a collection of Old Testament hymns. Another place where songs are recorded is in the book of Revelation. This morning, we will look at one of the hymns and, in doing so, we will hear THE SWEETEST MUSIC WE WILL EVER HEAR. 1. The Song Of The Triumph Of The Lamb and 2. The Song Of The Redeemed.

We remember that the book of Revelation is what God told John to record as he saw visions of the future and of heaven itself. Just prior to our text, a scroll is introduced on which is recorded the future. There were seven seals securing the scroll. No one in heaven or on earth was worthy to break the seals on the scroll. But, then a Lamb, which is often a picture of our Savior, takes the scroll. What we have hear in our text is the second hymn of praise to the Lamb, who alone was worthy to break the seals on the scroll, where the future was recorded.

John writes, “I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.” Verse 11) John was in the throne room of the most high God. In the center of the room was the throne. This throne was surrounded by so many angels that John couldn’t even begin to count them. This fact must have been encouraging to the church of that day. I’m sure that, at times, they felt so small, especially in the face of the persecution that they were undergoing. How comforting to know that, no matter how small the church or how tough the going, God’s forces will outnumber the forces against his church. God sends his angels to help and protect his own. As it is written in Psalm 91:11, “he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”

The heavenly choir begins to sing the praises of the Son of God. “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Verse 12) Remember these songs dealt with the worthiness of the one who was able to break the seals on the scroll. There is only one who is worthy and that is the Lamb. This obviously refers to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We remember John the Baptist pointing out Jesus to his followers by saying, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Indeed, every lamb that was sacrificed in the Old Testament was a picture of what Christ would do.

Just as those lambs were killed on the altar, so also the Lamb of God was sacrificed on the altar of the cross. The song speaks of “The Lamb, who was slain.” How could the fact that the Lamb was slain be something to sing about? It looked as though death had won. In one of our Easter hymns, we sing, “The foe was triumphant when on Calvary, the Lord of creation was nailed to the tree. In Satan’s domain did the hosts shout and jeer, for Jesus was slain, whom the evil ones fear.” (CW #143 v.2) It may have seemed like all was lost, that sin, death and the devil had won again.

However, don’t forget the next verse of that hymn: “But short was their triumph; the Savior arose, And death, hell and Satan he vanquished his foes. The conquering Lord lifts his banner on high; He lives, yes, he lives, and will nevermore die.” (CW #143 v.3) What may have looked like a victory for Satan quickly turned to defeat when Jesus rose from the dead. He is the conqueror. He is the Savior. He is the Son of God. As Paul writes in Romans 1:4, “[He] was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead.”

Since this is true, he is worthy to receive all the things that angels sang about. #1 Power and Strength — he could take the power that was evident at creation and had shown itself in Satan’s overthrow, it is the power that belongs to God alone. #2 Wealth — Jesus set aside the full use of his power as the Son of God when he became a human being. Now that he had again taken up the full use of his heavenly power and glory, all things in heaven and earth are under his control. #3 Wisdom — As God, he knows all things. #4 Honor — the high regard and reverence that is due him as the Son of God. #5 Glory — all the credit that is due him for all that he has done. #6 Praise — Songs of triumph to the conquering hero. This is the Song of the Triumph of the Lamb.

Now another song fills the heavens. “I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them.” (Verse 13) All creation joins in the hymn of praise to Jesus. This is the fulfillment of Paul’s words in Philippians 2:10&11, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Because Jesus is victorious, all creation joins in a hymn of praise.

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb” (Verse 13) — Note that equal honor is given to God the Father and God the Son. Jesus said, “All may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” (John 5:23) The song continues “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Verse 13) All creation repeats the hymn of praise sung by the angels. To this song of praise, we read, “The four living creatures said, ‘Amen.’” (Verse 14) The four living creatures are a special order of angels called “cherubim.” We see this from the book of Ezekiel. These cherubim say “Amen,” which means, “May it be so!” According to the Greek, these angels say “Amen” again and again.

Then we read, “The elders fell down and worshiped.” (Verse 14) In this throne room, between the thousands of angels and the throne of God are twenty-four other thrones, on which sat these twenty-four elders. These refer to the believers of the Old and New Testament times. In the Old Testament, you had the twelve tribes of Israel, which is often a picture of the whole gathering of Old Testament believers. In the New Testament, there were the twelve disciples, the foundation of the New Testament church, which would also include you and me. Twelve from the Old Testament plus twelve from the New Testament equals the believers of all time. All fall down and worship. What a thrill it will be when we can join the heavenly choirs, singing the praises of Jesus Christ for all eternity.

You might ask, ‘What does this text have to do with me here and now? Yes, I look forward to heaven’s bliss, but what do these words have to teach me about my life right now?’ First, remember why these songs were sung. They were praising the conqueror, Jesus Christ. He is our champion, too. Without him we would be lost forever. Our sins, which are too numerous to mention, had earned for us a place in hell. This includes even those sins which we think no one saw. Be assured. God saw them. As a righteous God, he would have sentenced us all to hell. But, Jesus Christ, the Lamb, was slain for us. He was put to death on the cross so that your sins and my sins would be paid for. Jesus conquered sin, death, and the devil, when he died and rose again. He shares that victory with all who believe in him. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:57, “thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We no longer need to fear death nor sin because they have been defeated.

The fact that Jesus did this for us, also, gives us a new outlook on life. Christians have every right to be the happiest people on earth, because of Jesus’ love for us. Does this mean that we are not Christians, if we sometimes get down, or things seem to overwhelm us? Of course not. We will have our good days and not so good days. But we have something that many people do not. We have God’s promise of help and protection, love and comfort. We also know that the things of this life are only temporary, that even the worst things of life can only last so long. Again, Paul writes in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

With that in mind, then, we don’t have to wait until we are in heaven to sing our Savior’s praise. We can do so now. We do so, not only in our songs, but also in our words and actions. Let everyone see how thankful we are to God for all his blessings, especially the blessing of eternal life. Let your praise to God be heard by all those around you.

When a team wins a state championship, there may be a parade to celebrate. Bands welcome home the conquering heroes back home. Today, in our text, we see a welcoming for our Conquering Savior. Let us listen to the Song of the Triumph of the Lamb and let us join our voices to theirs in hymns of praise, both now and forever. Amen.