Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,17 saying,

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
    and begun to reign.
18 The nations raged,
    but your wrath came,
    and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
    and those who fear your name,
    both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

Revelation 11:15-18 [ESV]

Several years ago a fellow pastor uncovered a profound lesson about thankfulness. Thanksgiving was right around the corner. We pastors were meeting for our monthly circuit meeting. He shared a message about thankfulness. He made the point that thanklessness was a key sin to which Paul points in Romans 2, saying,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, [emphasis added] but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:18-21) 

I had not previously realized that thanklessness is a sin as grave as it apparently is. Failing to honor God by giving thanks to him completely misses the mark. Thanking God for his gifts, his grace, his kindness is an essential expression of faith. Not only is thankfulness an expression of faith – the reality of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen – it is the abiding action of the redeemed in heaven. Thanksgiving is not reserved for people in this life and this world today. We will continually express our thanks to God even when we have realized the fullness of his love and salvation.

This says something about thanksgiving. It’s not a feigned expression of appropriate appreciation so that we may be shown to be worthy of the gifts we have received. It is not something we do so that we may be sure to receive more. True thankfulness is something we do because we are convinced of God’s kindness to us and the richness of his grace given to us. 

This praise flows from the redeemed of God who have nothing to gain by being thankful. They express their thanks to God so completely and fully that they fall on their faces before God. They are fully and wholeheartedly thankful. 

So the question for us, is whether we are now willingly and wholeheartedly giving thanks to God. We’re going to be doing it for quite some time – throughout all eternity. There it will never be feigned. Here it may be too quickly abandoned in the press of life’s challenges. But we can thank God now and through all eternity for his faithful love, lavish grace, abundant forgiveness, and eternal salvation. 

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,17 saying,

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
    and begun to reign.
18 The nations raged,
    but your wrath came,
    and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
    and those who fear your name,
    both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

Revelation 11:15-18 [ESV]

Daisies | St. Louis, Missouri | July 2021

My friend, you may recall, would say, “Eternity lasts a long, long time.” His observation was that our time here on earth is momentary. We’re here today and gone tomorrow. By the most literalistic reckoning, if the earth is less than 10,000 years old, 100 years is one one-hundredth of that time. We haven’t even scratched the surface of eternity by that measure. 

Furthermore, we tend to think of eternity in the future sense. We think in terms of time going on and on into the infinite future. And that’s not untrue. But eternity stretches both ways. As the hymn above says, 

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.”

It is clear that the eternal nature of God, stretches from before the foundations of time to beyond time’s end. And the vision here is of the beginning of God’s reign in a new way. He reigns in glory and perfect completion. 

The only thing lacking in that reign today is our realization of it, and the end of all war, sin, death, rebellion, and unbelief. There will come a time when every mouth will be silenced in awe of the majesty and glory of God. But every mouth will also be loosed in praise of God’s glorious grace.

John was given a vision of that reign. We will one day see it to…in eternity, and for eternity. The one who was and is will have come to us and we will celebrate his glory forever and ever. That is an eternal truth that will be celebrated in eternal praise of our God, our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer and our King. 

 

Join me in praying these psalms on this Lord’s Day. He loves us so much!

Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And lift them up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory! Selah

Psalm 54

O God, save me by your name,
    and vindicate me by your might.
O God, hear my prayer;
    give ear to the words of my mouth.

For strangers have risen against me;
    ruthless men seek my life;
    they do not set God before themselves. Selah

Behold, God is my helper;
    the Lord is the upholder of my life.
He will return the evil to my enemies;
    in your faithfulness put an end to them.

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
    I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
For he has delivered me from every trouble,
    and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
    to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
    my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
    ever singing your praise! Selah

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
    they make it a place of springs;
    the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
    each one appears before God in Zion.

Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
    give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
Behold our shield, O God;
    look on the face of your anointed!

10 For a day in your courts is better
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.
12 Lord of hosts,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Psalm 114

When Israel went out from Egypt,
    the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became his sanctuary,
    Israel his dominion.

The sea looked and fled;
    Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
    the hills like lambs.

What ails you, O sea, that you flee?
    O Jordan, that you turn back?
O mountains, that you skip like rams?
    O hills, like lambs?

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
    at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into a pool of water,
    the flint into a spring of water.

Psalm 144:1-4, 9-11, 15

Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    and my fingers for battle;
he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
    my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
    who subdues peoples under me.

Lord, what is man that you regard him,
    or the son of man that you think of him?
Man is like a breath;
    his days are like a passing shadow.

I will sing a new song to you, O God;
    upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
10 who gives victory to kings,
    who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
11 Rescue me and deliver me
    from the hand of foreigners,
whose mouths speak lies
    and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

15 Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!
    Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission.
All rights reserved. 

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:9-14 [ESV]

Dark B&W Treatment of Former Sugar Mill Photo | O’ahu, Hawaii | April 2022

The story is barbed, fictional, but instructive. Not all scientists are atheists. But this story has an atheist scientist challenging God: I can create life. We’re on the verge of doing it. I will prove it. God, indulgently says, OK. Have at it. The scientist picks up some dirt he proposes to use to make his point. Wait just a minute, God interrupts. Get your own dirt!

Scripture is clear on this: “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1). His are the cattle on a thousand hills. The gold is his. The mountains are his. He sets the boundaries for the raging sea. Check out Job 38 and following if you want a reminder of the far-reaching implications of all that.

But in these verses from Revelation, all this has been realized. John is showing us what reality truly is, and will be shown to have been from before the foundation of the world. There is no gloating here. There is no need for comeuppance toward those who deny God’s existence or sovereignty. But note well what is celebrated! Just as St. Paul speaks of in Ephesians 1:6, God’s glorious grace is celebrated here. This is not a told-you-so moment. This is a celebration of God’s goodness, love, mercy, kindness, and salvation. All praise to him for sharing these gifts!

Consider the list: Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might. They all belong to God. And he gives them freely to those who love him, who trust him, who serve him, who have faith in him. 

And that’s a good thing. For we don’t always fear, love, and trust in God above all things. We fall short. We sin. That’s why the blessing of salvation is so important. The multitude before the Lamb remind us: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 

That salvation is God’s rescue of lost sinners. It’s God’s redemption of wayward fallen creatures. It’s God’s ransom from the devil, death, and the evils of the world. It’s all the doing of God. The lamb was slain for us. He won our salvation by taking our sin, sickness, and rebellious self-defeating actions upon himself. He took it all into his being, and it killed him. But now he reigns. And the salvation that belongs to our God is his gift to all. 

Sadly not all want this gift. They want to live under the delusion that they can chart their own course. They don’t want to be accountable. They do not want to admit they need a Savior. We can do nothing about that except continue to proclaim the truth of God’s majestic might and his glorious grace. In the end his might will be fully realized by all, and his salvation will be enjoyed by all who believe. 

“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” That’s a brutal lesson for atheists, but the joyful confession of we who believe!

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:9-14 [ESV]

Monkey Pod Tree | O’ahu, Hawaii | April 2022

I was listening to a commentary by Steve West, Perspective of a thousand years, on The World and Everything in It podcastHe made the point that living 1000 years would give someone a sense of eternity. I guess that’s right. But 1000 years doesn’t even touch the edge of forever. Like a friend of mine used to say, “Eternity lasts a long, long time.”

That gives new gravitas to hymn of praise. “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” If these acclamations of blessing, glory, wisdom, honor, power, and might are to be eternally expressed and realized, the nature of both the One receiving the praise and those who praise him must be perfectly in sync. God must be worthy of this. Those who praise him must delight in giving him that praise; and never flag in that delight. Eternity lasts a long, long time. 

Recent conversations about heaven and loved-ones who have died have tended toward delighting in seeing their loved ones who have gone on before. There is great comfort in that anticipation. My sisters would be 58 and 67 years old if they were still alive. My mom would be 99 and my dad would be 101. I look forward to seeing them and feeling great joy and love with them. We would have so much to say to each other. But I wonder whether that conversation would last 1000 years. Maybe it would. I don’t know. 

But the main focus of these hymns in Revelation point us to an eternity of praise to God. And in that space and place we will never grow weary of doing that. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). There will be a new cause for praise to God each new morning in heaven. and our focus will be fixed on God. 

The hymn, Behold a Host Arrayed in White expresses beautifully the joy of singing the praises of the One who is worthy of all blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might forever and ever! Amen!

Behold a Host, Arrayed in White

Behold a host, arrayed in white, Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright!
    With palms they stand; Who is this band Before the throne of light?
These are the saints of glorious fame, Who from the great affliction came
    And in the flood Of Jesus’ blood Are cleansed from guilt and shame.
They now serve God both day and night; They sing their songs in endless light.
    Their anthems ring As they all sing With angels shining bright.

 

Despised and scorned, they sojourned here; But now, how glorious they appear!
    Those martyrs stand, A priestly band, God’s throne forever near.
On earth they wept through bitter years; Now God has wiped away their tears,
    Transformed their strife To heav’nly life, And freed them from their fears.
They now enjoy the Sabbath rest, The heav’nly banquet of the blest;
    The Lamb, their Lord, At festive board Himself is host and guest.

 

O blessèd saints in bright array Now safely home in endless day,
    Extol the Lord, Who with His Word Sustained you on the way.
The steep and narrow path you trod; You toiled and sowed the Word abroad;
    Rejoice and bring Your fruits and sing Before the throne of God.
The myriad angels raise their song; O saints, sing with that happy throng!
    Lift up one voice; Let heav’n rejoice In our Redeemer’s song!

Text: Public domain

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:9-14 [ESV]

Woman in a Red Dress | O’ahu, Hawaii | April 2022

There is great danger in  celebrity Christianity endorsements. If they are genuine in their faith, and point people toward Jesus as their hope and Savior, well and good. But we tend too easily to turn a celebrity’s testimony into something about the celebrity. Isn’t he great to claim faith in God, we think. Like somehow fame and stardom render us a more precious catch for God, and a greater impact in witnessing. And if they fall, their fame can leverage a great outcry of derision for the faith. 

The devil knows this. That’s why he tempted Jesus as he did, “If you are the Son of God” (and who could be more famous than that?!?) “Throw yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple.” Make a show of your grand identity. Let everyone see just how great you really are. Be famous! You’ll surely gather a crowd. 

Only Jesus didn’t want merely to gather a crowd. He was not at all interested in fame. He had no use for grandstanding gimmicks. He is the Son of God. He had no need to prove it. So when anyone acknowledges him as such, it is actually merely appropriate. Famous people don’t do God any favors by endorsing Jesus. And ordinary or even forgettable people have no less impact than the famous. In fact there is a heavenly party whenever one sinner repents (cf. Luke 15, and the PC&D Youtube video below). 

Nevertheless when we see this picture of heaven with living creatures, elders, angels and multitudes of people falling down in worship of the Lamb, it makes an impression. Every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth. And every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (cf. Philippians 2:10-11). And not only do they fall down in worship, they fall on their faces in worship. This is no half-hearted acknowledgement. This is from the core of their being honor being bestowed on our Lord.

Next time you gather with others in worship, think of this scene. And join with the heavenly host, the great and small, the famous and infamous in majestic humility, praising God. For he alone is worthy. And whether or not you are famous, your worship of him is a delight to me, your brothers and sisters in Christ, the whole host of heaven, and to God himself. 

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:9-14 [ESV]

Waikiki at Night | Honolulu, Hawaii | April 2022

Your daughter falls and skins her knee. She runs to you for comfort. You kiss her knee, put on some salve, a bandaid perhaps, and send her back on her way. Soon she’s forgotten all about it. 

Your son breaks up with his high school sweetheart. He is heartbroken. You spend time with him over a Coke and listen. You tell him of how you dealt with that when you were his age. You listen. You tell him he’ll probably meet three or four more girls before he meets the right one. Hope begins to return to his eyes, replacing the held-back tears. 

You sister suffers from cancer – a second occurrence after a five year absence – and this time the cancer wins. She dies and you feel the loss more strongly than you thought you would. You turn to God for comfort. His word gives you hope. You think of Jesus and the resurrection. You remember that God is good and his steadfast love never fails. The promise of eternal life lets you breathe again. 

All those are difficult situations, and opportunities for the milk of human kindness and the balm of Gilead to be poured into the cracks and crevices of the pain and loss. In the throes of such pain and loss comfort of that kind is most welcome. 

How much greater relief and comfort must be that which the Lamb provides to those who have suffered for the sake of his name. The tales of brutal torment visited upon the early followers of Jesus are beyond imagination. The chronicles of their suffering and torture make me shake my head this very day. What evil lurks in the hearts of men!

But what kindness, love, mercy, and grace informs the heart of God! We’re all born in sin. We’ve all fallen short of God’s glory. We all need a Savior. Those who have given their lives for the sake of the Gospel, however are given special comfort by the Lamb of God himself. He wipes the tears from their eyes. I wonder if those tears include even tears of despair of his grace. No matter, his grace reaches across our despair and whatever suffering and pain we have experienced.

From skinned knees to cancer’s cruel injury to the worst unimaginable injustice, God’s mercy and grace overflows. He comforts us with his love. Whatever we must face we can know his goodness will prevail and we will be comforted because he is faithful. He is worthy of all honor and praise. 

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:9-14 [ESV]

Sunset | Honolulu, Hawaii | April 2022

Revelation 7 is one of my favorite Bible passages. I discovered it when I was in college and encountered some Jehovah’s Witness so-called kingdom workers who claimed that there would be only 144,000 in heaven. It was remarkable to me that they also said they didn’t want to be in heaven! Their contention was that only the Jews from the 12 tribes would be in heaven. Never mind the remainder of this chapter (the verses above)!

Indeed the first verses of Revelation 7 lists the 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes as sealed – and therefore in heaven. But, then “I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” And they are all singing God’s praises, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Salvation belongs to the Lamb who shares it with peoples from all nations, tribes, and languages. And somehow their languages are melded into one hymn of praise. 

When I first joined the Lutheran church I made the comment about Lutheran music, something to the effect that it needed some help; it wasn’t all that great in my mind. Since that time I’ve come to love the substance of Lutheran hymnody. Some is more challenging to sing than others. But what some consider to be difficult many find edifying. And in heaven there will be no barrier to hymnic appreciation. All the peoples of all the languages are singing this hymn. It must surely be an angelic sound!

And just so we’re clear on this, the elders and living creatures offer their antiphon of affirmation, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 

These hymns acknowledge a reality of God’s sovereign and gracious character. They acknowledge God’s gift of salvation – something that is his alone to give. They glorify God by these acknowledgments. And it’s not that God needs it for the sake of his ego. And though he commands that we honor him as God and our only good, it is not to stroke his ego. It’s not to prop up a petty fiefdom. It is to give witness to the world of God’s glory. It is to allow our joys to be expressed. It is to let out what we feel inside and tie it to the reality of God’s true glory, might, power, and grace.

Sometimes we state the obvious and it seems completely unnecessary. It sure is hot. This is Monday. But in this case the obvious in heaven is spoken as a reminder to us on earth. These hymns give testimony to us who are yet on earth and who must live by faith, not by sight. Their hymns not only glorify God, they edify us. They not only flow from hearts overflowing with joy and grace. They encourage us to look forward to joining that hymn. And even if you don’t think you can sing, it’s an invitation you will certainly be blessed to accept.

Join me in praying these psalms on this Lord’s Day. He is with us wherever we go.

Psalm 17:6-9

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
    incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show[a]your steadfast love,
    O Savior of those who seek refuge
    from their adversaries at your right hand.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
    hide me in the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who do me violence,
    my deadly enemies who surround me.

Psalm 47:1-7

Clap your hands, all peoples!
    Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared,
    a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
    and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
    the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah

God has gone up with a shout,
    the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
    Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
    sing praises with a psalm!

Psalm 77:11-15

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph.

Psalm 107:1-3, 9, 43

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
    whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
    from the east and from the west,
    from the north and from the south.

For he satisfies the longing soul,
    and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
    let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

Psalm 137:1-6

By the waters of Babylon,
    there we sat down and wept,
    when we remembered Zion.
On the willows[a]there
    we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
    required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
    “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How shall we sing the Lord‘s song
    in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
    let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
    if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
    above my highest joy!

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission.
All rights reserved. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dbr-podcast-link-graphic-e1650918496934.jpg

David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

5:6 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. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 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. 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.

Revelation 1:1-3; 5:6-14 [ESV]

Cloud, Sky, Sand, and Sea | North side of Oahu, Hawaii | April 2022

It’s Not Over is the name of a video we used several years ago at Easter. Don’t try a simple Google search for this video – the results will lead you to a totally different kind of video. The one I’m talking about highlights a football game that was down to the last seconds and the team that was so very far behind pulls off a miraculous win. Then another example, and another, of people who were counted out only make a come back or win in the last seconds, or prove in one way or another that even when it seemed it was all over, actually it was not all over. Then it showed Jesus on the cross. In the grave he lay. Sad disciples lamented his doom. But it wasn’t all over. Jesus rose from the dead. The greatest comeback story of all time. The very greatest.

The Lamb who was slain has, by his blood…

…ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
[He has] made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

Because of that, the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, sing, 

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

The Lamb was slain for our sins. He has purchased and won us from sin, death, and the power of the devil. He has redeemed us and ransomed us from death and the grave, from an eternity of regret and hopelessness. He did that by his death.

But he is no longer dead. He is alive, and declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the grave (Romans 1:4). He reigns on high, far above all rule and authority in heaven and on earth. Every tongue will confess that he is Lord. Every knee will bow. Every sneer will evaporate in humility and submission. Every curse, dismissal, despisal, and notion of disdain will be shown to have been so totally vapid and futile. And all the while the whole company of heaven will be singing the Lamb’s praises.

In the meantime, we have songs of praise to sing as well. With delight we call this Lamb our worthy Lord and God. We delight in his good will in our hearts and lives. We rejoice in his mercy that is new every moment. We praise him for his love, and see his reign even now by faith. 

These hymns express something we do not yet see, but which we believe. For now Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, rules our hearts by grace through faith. We delight in him and look for his influence in our lives and the lives of our families and friends, our neighbors near and far.

Psalm 22:3 says that God is enthroned on the praises of Israel. So let us enthrone him now in our praises and worship. He is worthy. And we are all the better for his reign here and now, and for all eternity.