And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:9–12)
Songs come and go in our culture — new releases to billboard lists to classic hits to oldies. Musicians rise and fade; genres come in and out of style; instruments, mediums, and technology are all evolving all the time. There are few, if any, songs or artists that really connect with people in every generation with the same power.
There are great songs, though, that will last. They won’t necessarily be played on the radio or over the internet in the twenty-second or twenty-third centuries. These are songs that will be heard, loved, and sung over and over again into eternity. Revelation 5 gives us the lyrics of one of those songs. It’s written for the Lamb of God — his name is Jesus — and its chorus is, “Worthy.”
Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:9–10)
A Song for the Slain
The one worthy of our worship was one slain on our behalf. “You were slain” (Revelation 5:9). It’s a shocking, even offensive image. The God who deserves the worship of every person on our planet in the history of our planet was killed. How could that be? Why would one so great, so immense, so infinite, and so strong subject himself to death, especially a death like his? It’s inconceivable that God could die. But he did, and his death demonstrates his love and worth in a dramatic way.
The Son of God, sent to save his people from their sin, went to a cross to receive in his body the punishment we deserved. Salvation cost a sacrifice, and only one could pay a price that high. He laid down his life, bore the right and just wrath of God, and so made it possible for us to be welcomed back to God through faith as children. We sing, “Worthy!” to the Savior of our souls, the Lamb who was slain in our place.
A Song for the World’s Ransom
The one worthy of our worship didn’t come to save a few people from a few places on earth. No, we know that the ransom was offered to redeem people, “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). God is worthy of the worship of the whole world, and because of Jesus, he will have it.
Not everyone will be saved, but the group gathered in worship around the throne on that last day will be as diverse as the world of people God has created. When we stand there, seeing the one slain for us, we’ll look around and make out hundreds of thousands of men and women wonderfully different from us, all declaring, “Worthy!” in their own way. And that in itself will be one more reason to worship God ourselves.
A Song for Eternity
The song we — those from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation — sing to the Lamb who was slain for us is a song for the ages. The tune will never get old. The lyrics will never stop freshly and powerfully affecting us. We’ll sing with ever-increasing love, awe, and gratitude. We will never get tired of singing these words to our God, King, and Redeemer. In one sense, all of our singing in this life only prepares us to lift our voices to him in worship before the throne for forever.
At the sound of this name — the name of Jesus — the lost are saved, fears are cast away, the weak find strength, the sick are healed, the dead are raised, and so we, the redeemed, sing with all our hearts and all our joy, “Worthy, worthy, worthy!”