Together with the many images presented in Revelation, we see songs of praise detailing the power of Jesus, the Lamb of God (Rev. 5:9; 14:3; 15:3-4). Such songs have always accompanied the salvation which God brings to His people (Ex. 15:1-21; Judges 5:1-31). The term “new song” is used multiple times in the Psalms, especially in relation to a time of deliverance (Ps. 33:3; 40:1-3; 96:1; 144:9-11; 149:1). Each fresh victory called for a song adapted to the occasion. Isaiah also used the term “new song” to speak concerning God’s Servant, the Promised Messiah, and what He would accomplish (Isa. 42:8-10). It’s a fitting title because, in a sense, salvation through the blood of the cross is the newest thing in all creation (Acts 2:22-24; 1 Pet. 1:10-12).
Focusing on Revelation 5:9, the new song first highlights the Lamb’s worthiness. Only He possesses the right to take the scroll and open its seals. The word for “worthy” means having a weight comparable to the thing measured. So, who measures up to this standard? Who deserves titles such as Immaculate, High Priest, and Redeemer? Emperors and various other strong men throughout history have tried to fill a divine position and have taken inappropriate religious titles for themselves, but this song declares the eternal truth. There exists only one possible answer to the question, “Who is worthy?” (Rev. 5:2). Jesus, the Lion of Judah, the Root of David is worthy (Rev. 5:5). False teachers claim that Jesus should not be worshipped. Some today even suggest that Christ refused man’s worship. This is not the case. Jesus accepted worship both before and after His resurrection (Matt. 8:2; 14:33; 28:9; John 9:38; 20:28).
The continuation of the song shows the Lamb’s chief accomplishment. His worth is seen in more than just His identity. Christ was slain and has redeemed the faithful by His blood (Rev. 5:9). This sacrifice has long been told in prophecy. He is the Seed of woman whose heel was to be bruised by the serpent, though He would bruise the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). He is the Man of sorrows, whose hands and feet were pierced (Ps. 22; Isa. 53; Zech. 12:10). He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8) and our perfect, once-and-for-all sacrifice (Heb. 9:25-26; 10:12). This sacrificial death served to purchase a new and everlasting kingdom, the church (Matt. 16:18-19; Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:4). We are “bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 8:9). God has plainly shown redemption can only be found in His Son (Acts 4:12; Col. 1:13-14; 1 Pet. 3:18).
The final, crucially important, piece of this song describes the scope of the Lamb’s salvation. The redeemed come from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). No family, language, social, or ethnic group is excluded. This also is the fulfillment of prophecy (Gen. 22:18; Isa. 2:2; Jer. 3:17; Joel 2:28; Acts 2:16). As Peter learned, “…God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35). Gentiles, as well as Jews, have access to repentance unto life through the Lord Jesus (Acts 11:17-18; Rom. 3:29). Why then do we read that the new song can only be sung by the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth (Rev. 14:3)? This symbolic number for the redeemed, first mentioned in Revelation 7:4, is made up of twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. These are physical pictures used to illustrate a greater spiritual truth—not a literal number of male Jewish virgins (Rev. 14:4). I believe the point is that the new song can only be learned and sung by those who have truly been washed in the Lamb’s blood and have experienced the victory firsthand. While time remains in this life, anyone may be added to the redeemed if they will only come to Him in submissive obedience. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life… Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:14, 17).
Perhaps you have heard how the book of Revelation can be summed up in two words, “We win!” It is certainly true that through Christ the faithful will overcome Satan and the darkness of sin. This writing comforted Christians under trials and persecutions at the close of the first century, letting them know that Christ’s church will have the final victory over all the forces of evil. The supremacy of Christ and the ultimate victory of those loyal to Him has been revealed for us as well, so let us all be bold to serve and praise Him.