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HYMNS OF HEAVEN, PAGE 5: THE UNIVERSAL SONG
by Philip Owen

            The first time I was in the midst of several thousand voices praising the Lord in song was a magnificent experience.  The unity, harmony, and power of so many men and women singing together seemed overwhelming.  But no earthly chorus compares with today’s song from Hymns of Heaven.

            The Prelude.  The “myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands” of angels along with the four living creatures and the elders will have just finished singing that great anthem—“Worthy Is the Lamb”—when a new chorus begins, one never before heard and wholly unimaginable apart from God’s revelation.  What a chorus!  Nothing comparable has ever existed.  The choir comprises every breathing being in the universe.  According to the inspired words of John:  “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard . . .” (Rev. 5:13a).  It will be the fulfillment of the command in Psalm 69:34,  “Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them,” which is echoed in the concluding command in the Psalms:  “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord!” (150:6).

            The Paean.

To Him who sits on the throne,

And to the Lamb,

Be blessing and honor and glory

And dominion forever and ever.

                                                 Rev. 5:13

            Two new “notes” have been added to this song.  The first is praise for the “dominion” of the One “who sits on the throne” and of “the Lamb.”  Dominion speaks of “power,” not latent power or power that one merely possesses, but power that one exercises.  The first song sung by all created voices will praise God that He has chosen to exercise His omnipotence, to reign in such a way as to put down all sin and destroy all rebellion—to absolutely and demonstrably dominate, if you will.  The second note will exalt in the “forever and ever” aspect of that dominion.  God is eternally sovereign, reigning supreme in all eternity.  All sin and rebellion will be destroyed, and perfect peace and its concomitant blessings will be the order henceforth forever.  Not one dissonant note, not one rebellious act, not one discordant thought will occur ever again.  “To God and the Lamb be the glory,” we will sing.

            The Postlude.  Watching this future panorama unfold, John (who, along with those of us in the New Testament church, soon will be participating in what he foreviews) recounts:  “And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen.’  And the elders fell down and worshiped” (v. 14).  Some modern hymnals conclude with “2-Fold,” “4-Fold,” “8-Fold,” or even more, “Amens.”  Their brevity reveals our limited capacity to honor the Lord.  Following the universal chorus, the “four living creatures” will keep saying “Amen!”—that is, “so be it,” or “let it be so.”  Apparently a meagre “8-Fold Amen” will not suffice before the throne of God, for eternal beings will not so quickly tire of honoring the Lord as we humans do today.  And as this angelic music fills the vault of heaven, we (represented by the elders) will fall down and worship the One who sits on the throne and the Lamb.  Though angels bow their heads, fold their wings, and wait patiently before God, it is curious that the Bible never mentions angels as falling down in worship before Him—that position is seemingly reserved for redeemed sinners, who began in depravity but through grace have been made sons of God.

            Perhaps most amazing of all is the context in which the five songs heretofore noted will be sung:  the next thing John will see is the Lamb opening the seven-sealed book that begins the unspeakable judgments poured out by God on mankind during the tribulation.  Praise—including for horrendous judgment—is God’s just due.  And He will receive it.  Have you joined the chorus?

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