And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues…
The life of the redeemed is here represented as a service of song. This will not seem surprising if we reflect on the function of song. There has never been a time in which music has played so large a part in the general life as it does to-day. What is music? It is not the mere pastime of an idle hour, or the mere sensuous gratification of an artistic mind.
1. It is a language, the highest, except poetry, that we are acquainted with, if indeed, in fundamental particulars they can be separated the one from the other. It is often the only language that can give expression to the highest thoughts of the mind or the deepest feelings of the heart. It is also to be noticed that all life, as it approaches perfection, becomes melodious. The life of heaven, then, is a service of song, not after any idle or sensuous fashion, but because the life of heaven is life perfected. Man in complete accord with his surroundings, man moving in absolute harmony with the will of God, man redeemed from all imperfections, and cleansed from all sin by the very constitution of his nature, is man melodious.
2. It is worth noticing, further, that there is no music like the music of triumph, and no songs like those which celebrate deliverance. And I take it as beautifully significant, that the burden of this song should be what it is, and that it should be called "the song of Moses and of the Lamb." Moses, the much tried servant of God, the heroic leader of a stiffnecked people; and the Lamb, the eternal symbol of sacrificial suffering and sorrow. For it is a mistake to suppose that noble sorrow nobly borne silences the voice of song. Shelley says, "Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts." It is partly true; it is mainly sentimental. But this is wholly true, that sorrow nobly borne is impotent to hang or keep the harp upon the willows. Song breaks from it as the phoenix from the flames. The most triumphant poem of this century is "In Memoriam," and we know the sable circumstances of its birth. It is even so. Some birds sing best in the dark. And in the gracious providence of God beauty is not far away from ashes. The oil of joy exudes from mourning, and the garment of praise often covers a spirit of heaviness.
3. It is further suggested by this vision of the redeemed, that the conquerors of all ages take part in this song. The conflict varies from age to age. The beast that has power to make war against the saints assumes many forms. And the radiant hope here "set before us," is that all who have overcome, will unite in the eternal song. For there is no power which can unite the hearts of men like music, as they know full well who march to battle with the beating of the drum or the notes of the pibroch. Now think of a society gathered from all ages and lands, filled with a life of which song is the only natural and adequate expression, and you have a picture of "the better land" as John saw it in his prophetic dream. It is likely that it occurred to him in this form, as he watched from his lonely rock some sunset glories blazing far and wide across the blue Mediterranean. Out there, on the very verge of the horizon, he catches sight of the faithful ones, no longer groaning beneath the oppressor, no longer struggling with the beast, and no longer divided among themselves: one perfect society, telling in unending song of the wondrous works of God, proclaiming the eternal vindication of His just and righteous ways, and reminding us that the confusions of time are only in appearance, and that the essential harmony will be made manifest by and by. Conclusion:
1. Let us expect conflict. "No cross, no crown."
2. Let us look for victory from the right source. "Looking unto Jesus," etc.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.