Myriads Making Music Unto the Lord
After singing of the new song about Jesus, Who holds the future of all things in His hands, Who alone is worthy and able to open each of the seals on the scroll and read its contents, and Who has made redemption possible for all people everywhere, the entire cosmos broke loose.
Then I beheld and I heard a sound of many angels round about the throne and of the living creatures and of the elders, and the number of them ten thousands (myriads) of ten thousands (myriad) and thousands of thousands,
And they were saying in a great voice, “Worthy is the Lamb Who was has been slain, to receive the power and riches and wisdom and mighty power and honor and glory and blessing,”
And every creature that is in heaven and upon the earth and under the earth and upon the sea and all the things in them, I heard saying, “To the One sitting upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and be honor and be glory and dominion into the ages of the ages.”
Then the four living creatures were saying, “Amen.”
And the elders fell prostrate and worshiped.Revelation 5:11-14
This is the conclusion of Chapter Five, a moment of unrestrained praise, passionate and unreserved worship for the Lamb Who Was Slain and Lives That All May Live.
How are we to understand what is being revealed to us in this final scene before the Apocalypse is to begin?
Of special interest to historicist commentators, is realizing Jesus is worshiped as God in this vision, God who is not known because of supreme and sovereign power (though that is true) now because of pure, righteous, and unstinting justice (though that, too, is true), but rather known because of the richness of grace and lavishness of mercy.
The entire cosmos praises, honors, and worships Messiah—the redeemed on earth, every living thing that exists, and the heavenly host. And all have gathered at the feet of Christ, trembling with joyous adoration and anticipation for what the Lord will reveal at the opening of the scrolls seals.
Scholars with this view note the building of the songs to Christ.
The first song was offered up by the twenty-four elders only.
The twenty-four elders will fall before the One sitting upon the throne, and they will worship the One living into the ages of the ages, and they will throw their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are You, O Lord, and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, for You created all things, and through Your will they were existing and they were created.”Revelation 4:10-11
For the second song, the elders are joined by the living creatures.
And when He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell prostrate before the Lamb, each having a harp and broad shallow golden bowls being full of incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones―
And they sing a new song of praise, saying
“Worthy are You to take the scroll and open the seals of it, for You were slain and You redeemed for God within Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and ethnicity,
“And You created them, for our God, a kingdom and priests, and they will reign upon the earth.”Revelation 5:8-10
By the third song, the entire cosmos joins with the elders,
“Worthy is the Lamb Who was has been slain, to receive the power and riches and wisdom and mighty power and honor and glory and blessing,”Revelation 5:11
Progressive revelation portrays Christ alone as worthy
- to take, open, and read the contents of the scroll.
- to receive His due as divinity.
- to enact the judgments contained within the scroll.
To these theologians, the myriads of angels represent God’s faithful angels, who are beyond counting, in contrast to the fallen angels, whose numbers and abilities are limited. They are reminded of Daniel’s “Son of Humanity” vision,
A stream of fire issuedDaniel 7:10 (NRSV)
and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
And the Psalmist’s description of God’s vast army of angels,
With mighty chariotry, twice ten thousand,Psalm 68:17 (NRSV)
thousands upon thousands,
All the songs of heaven are a prophetic proclamation of Christ’s Second Coming, which will be in great power and majesty.
In fact, the Psalmist also wrote of the entire universe’s concert of praise to God,
The heavens are telling the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth
and their words to the end of the world.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills,Psalm 19:1-4 and 148:7-10 (NRSV)
fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!
Theologians with this viewpoint show the contrast between John’s imprisonment on Patmos and the glorious scene unfolded for him in the heavens. Heavenly reality gives us courage when our physical, earthly reality is heavy, and hard to bear.
There are those who do not praise God. Of course—the fallen angels, people who reject God. And if the entire created order does worship and obey God in its way, it is to be read as poetic rather than literal that all creatures are singing and speaking. But the sense of the scene is of harmony between and within the spiritual and physical realms, that Christ alone has brought this about the reconciling work of the cross.
An Ending and a Beginning
It reads like an ending, does it not? This is how the curtain might fall on the final act of a Wagnerian Opera, the stage vibrant with rich colors, a shimmering backdrop of gold and iridescence as the rainbow radiating from the magnificent throne of God. Four awe-inspiring Seraphim, the twenty-four elders, and of course a chorus on risers spanning the entire scene, the myriads singing glory and honor. The orchestra in the pit below, perhaps angelic beings on wires singing as the fly overhead.
But, this is also the beginning, for at the very center is not only the Lamb but the Scroll and its seven unbroken seals.
Months ago, I laid out an outline of Revelation. Here is what we have covered so far:
- Salutations from John and Jesus (Chapter 1)
- From John (1:1-10)
- From Jesus (1:11-20)
- Word of the Lord: Letters from Jesus (Chapters 2-3)
- Ephesus (2:1-7)
- Smyrna (2:1-11)
- Pergamum (2:12-17)
- Thyatira (2:18-29)
- Sardis (3:1-6)
- Philadelphia (3:7-13)
- Laodicea (3:14-22)
- HEAVEN REVEALED (Chapters 4-5)
- Worship at the Throne (4)
- Worthy is the Lamb (5)
When we turn the page, the first seal will be broken, and the first oracle delivered.
The four perspectives taken from Revelation: Four Views Parallel Commentary, edited by Steve Gregg