Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 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!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
I started my ministry in a small parish in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. The town was dominated by the LDS church, with over 90% of the population professing to be Mormons. It was hard enough to be a Pastor in such a place, but I think it was even harder for the young people in our congregation. Peer pressure can be intense and in the middle and high schools of that area it could be relentlessly intense.
I had told my confirmation students that there were more Lutherans than LDS in the world. But I cannot imagine that such knowledge really sunk in for them, until, that is, we visited the National Youth Gathering. When we walked into the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, I remember my little group gasping when we saw nearly 30,000 Lutheran youth. One of my young men turned to me and said, “Pastor, are all these kids Lutheran?” I smiled. “Yes, Zach, they are!” I think in that moment my assertion that there really were a lot of Lutherans in the world finally sank in.
John wants you to have a similar feeling. He starts us out at the very center of the universe, the throne of God. The Lamb is there. He is surrounded by living creatures and 24 elders who are all singing a new song. They sing a new song because the Lamb has broken the seals to the book of life which means the names can be read. Your name is in that book. But then John starts backing out of the scene. First, he sees multitudes of angels singing the song. Then it takes another step back and one sees that creatures on the earth, under the earth, and in the sea are also singing this song.
Do you recognize the song? It is “This is the Feast” which many Christians sing, especially in this Easter season. John wants you to know that no matter how small your congregation is, or for the matter, even if you are all alone, sitting in some dungeon under the ground, God hears your song. You are part of a mighty and heavenly host when you sing. Some of John’s hearers may well have been in dungeons underground. That is why he says that even creatures under the earth sing this song.
Are you feeling alone sometimes? It can happen. When you do, sing a verse of a song which praises Jesus. You are suddenly standing in a mighty host of God’s servants. You are never alone.