Shelby G. Floyd
What a beautiful day for all of us to come out to worship God, to sing these beautiful hymns, and to study God’s eternal word. Thank you for coming and we hope that you will enjoy and profit from our study today. I am speaking to you on the topic: “Sing a New Song!” From the 1930s to the present day I have always attended worship. My mom and dad made sure that we were there every time the doors were open, and I have been singing songs written long ago and songs that are new to us today. We like some new songs and old songs. The old songs ties us to the church in the past and the new songs anchor us in the church of the 21st century.
David said in Psalms 40:3, “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.” So even David in the long ago enjoyed singing a new song that God had put in his heart and in his mouth! All of us here at Heartland enjoy good congregational singing. We sing some of the old songs and we sing some of the new songs. And we need to sing some new songs because our experiences today are not the experiences that our parents and grandparents had many years ago. It requires patience and practice to sing a new song. Once we learn the lyrics and the melody in our minds, the song is not that difficult to sing, and you did a great job in singing all these hymns today.
MOSES, MIRIAM, AND THE ISRAELITES SING A NEW SONG!
First, I want to talk about the fact that Moses who was the great leader of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, didn’t think that he could do a good job of leadership. God said, “I have selected you to lead my people to the promised land,” and so Moses went down to Egypt, and finally the time came for him to lead the children of Israel out of their bondage and their slavery after the death Angel passed over and all the first born of the Egyptians died. But in Israel the first born did not die because they had the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes. They were ready to escape that bondage and so they fled from Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, and God opened up the sea for them. The Egyptian army came right after them and then God closed the sea upon them, and Israel stood on the opposite shore ready to take their trip toward the promised land. And that calls for a new song because they were not slaves any longer.
Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying:
“I will sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!
2 The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
3 The Lord is a man of war;
The Lord is His name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea;
His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.
5 The depths have covered them;
They sank to the bottom like a stone. (Exodus 15:1-5 NKJV).
I really like that last statement: “They sank to the bottom like a stone!” And then Miriam, Moses’ sister also joined in and sang a verse of this new song:
“Sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!” (Exodus 15:21).
Now they could not sing that new song while they were down in Egyptian bondage because they had to be out there working every day making bricks and then they even later had to go and gather the straw in order to make the bricks. So they could not sing that song until after they had actually escaped. And they could not sing that song until after they had seen the Egyptian army hurled into the sea and the waters enclosed over them. They could not sing that song until they stood over on the other shore and looked forward to the promised land of Canaan.
The same thing is going to be true of us! We will not be able to sing the new song that I’m talking about today until after this life is over and we stand before God, and he welcomes us into our eternal home. Then we can look back on our life on this earth with all our toils and the troubles that we have overcome. And then we will cry out and sing our new song just like Moses and Miriam. And we will have escaped a bondage that is even greater–the bondage of sin. Jesus by his precious blood shed on Calvary has released us from the guilt and from the power of sin. Then we will be able to sing that new song after we look back on our life on this earth. We will be able to do that because the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world and makes us free. What a glorious day that will be! Now let us take a look at the Lamb of God.
THE LAMB STANDING ON MOUNT ZION
Now I want you to notice in the next place that John is the author of the Book of Revelation. He was in exile on a little island called Patmos off the coast of Asia and God revealed to him the Book of Revelation. This is a book written in symbols and a symbol stands for something else other than the symbol. “Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads” (Revelation 14:1 NIV). John what did you see? “I saw a lamb standing on Mount Zion.” Mount Zion was the city of Jerusalem. David took that city from the Jebusites, and he established it as the city of God. It was the place where the temple was built and where God’s people came to worship. It is the place that Jesus visited to worship God when he was on the earth. John saw on Mount Zion this Lamb that represents “the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He was God’s sacrificial lamb without spot or blemish to redeem us from our sins.
John also saw 144,000 people conveying to us a symbolic picture of the people that would be saved at the last day. The symbolic 144,000 people with the Lamb’s name and the Father’s name written on their foreheads is a definite number that stands for an indefinite number of people that will be saved at the last day!
WE ARE MARCHING TO MOUNT ZION IN HEAVEN
Now I want to emphasize that we are not marching to Mount Zion, Illinois, or Mount Zion in Israel. The Mount Zion that John saw is symbolic of Mount Zion in the heavenly city of Jerusalem. There are a lot of preachers running around loose that are telling us that the kingdom of heaven is going to be set up over in Jerusalem, Israel. There is one thing wrong with that! It is not true. It is false as false can be! How do we know that it is false? Because the Bible teaches just the opposite.
The book of Hebrews was written to encourage Jewish Christians to remain faithful to Jesus because Mount Zion in heaven would be their eternal home:
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24 NKJV).
Isaac Watts conveyed the biblical journey to heaven when he wrote the song, We’re Marching to Zion!
Come, we that love the Lord,
And let our joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord,
And thus surround the throne.
We’re marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.
Let those refuse to sing,
Who never knew our God;
But children of the heav’nly King
May speak their joys abroad.
The men of grace have found
Glory begun below;
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
From faith and hope may grow.
The hill of Zion yields
A thousand sacred sweets
Before we reach the heav’nly fields,
Or walk the golden streets.
Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry;
We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground
To fairest worlds on high.
I hope that everyone here today is a part of that great band that is marching to Mount Zion in heaven.
JOHN HEARD A SOUND
John the apostle experienced many wonderful things while he was on the isle of Patmos. And now he describes to us something that he heard:
“And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps” (Revelation 14:2 NIV).
Take note of the fact that John said, “I heard a sound from heaven….” John what did you hear? I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters.” John, did you hear rushing water? No, I heard a sound that was like the roar of rushing waters. John, did you hear a loud peal of thunder? No, I heard from heaven a sound that was like a loud peal of thunder. John, did you hear Harpers harping on their harps? No, I heard a sound from heaven that was like that of harpers harping on their harps.
So let us look at the English grammar of these sentences. “I” is first person singular denoting John. I “heard” is the verb expressing action. I heard “a sound” is the direct object of the verb “heard.” “From heaven” is a prepositional phrase modifying their word “sound.” John say it again, “I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder.” “The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.”
John, did you hear the roar of rushing waters? No, I heard a sound that was like the roar of rushing waters. The sound that John heard was something like the roar of rushing waters over Niagara Falls. The sound that John heard was something like the loud peal of thunder in a rainstorm. Again, the sound that John heard was like the beautiful sound of harpers harping on their harps. I remember attending a wedding and there were a group of harpists harping beautiful melodies on their harps.
John Heard the Sound of Perfect Rhythm
John heard a sound that was like the roar of rushing water in perfect rhythm. Congregation singing in worship is better when all of God’s singers join in with perfect rhythm.
John Heard the Sound of Perfect Volume
The voice that John heard was like the sound of the peals of thunder. The voice he heard was perfect in volume. Many young people today will drive up beside you in their car and the volume on their stereo is so loud that you can feel your car vibrate. They like the loud volume. Most people like some volume in their music. I like some volume also. I do not enjoy visiting a congregation where the singing is so quiet that very few are singing out for fear that they will embarrass themselves with a sour note that is off key. Some songs are to be sung softly, but a spirited song should not be sung like one is going to a funeral. We hardly think that the song sung by Moses, Miriam, and the congregation of Israel was sung like a funeral dirge. Don’t you think it had some volume? If there were any Egyptians left on the other side of the Red Sea, I think that even they heard that song of gladness and deliverance. The sound that John heard was perfect in its volume.
John Heard the Sound of Perfect Melody
Finally, the voice that John heard was not the voice of harpers harping on their harps. The voice he heard was “as” or like the voice of harpers harping on their harps. And what kind of sound was that? “As” is an adverb of manner and describes the manner, method, and message that John heard. The sound John heard was the sweet sound of perfect melody.
JOHN HEARD A SINGING SOUND OR VOICE!
You may now agree that the sound or voice John heard was like many waters, like loud thunder, and like harpers harping with their harps. But then, what was the voice that John heard? May I suggest to you that the voice John heard was a singing voice:
“And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth” (Revelation 14:3 NIV).
This scripture teaches me that there will be congregational singing in heaven. There is no instrumental music in this verse. They were singing this new song acappela, which means, “in the style of the church.” Singing is the only kind of music authorized in the worship of the church:
“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:17-20 NIV).
If we do not praise God with our hearts as well as our lips, our worship is in vain. If our heart is not in the worship then our worship is in vain: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”(Matthew 15:8-9).
This voice that John heard was a singing voice; it was a congregation of 144,000 people—a definite number for indefinite number. If a relatively small group of people can fill our building with beautiful singing, making the rafters reverberate, filling the room with beautiful melody, rhythm, and volume. Can you imagine what it is going to sound like when we get to heaven and stand over there on yonder shore across the Jordan River and all of God’s redeemed singers lift up their voice in praise, adoration, honor, and respect to God the Father and to the Lamb that redeemed us from our sins? This is wonderful to contemplate is it not?
THE HEAVENLY CONGREGATION SANG A NEW SONG
If you desire to sing that new song, then you must be on the road marching to Mount Zion to be with the Lamb who stands to welcome his people home. We will not be able to sing that new song until God teaches it to us. Like the children of Israel, we will not sing that new song until we have passed on to the other side and in our resurrected glorious bodies we stand on the heavenly Mount Zion and join that mighty chorus and sing the new song of Eternal Redemption:
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. 5 No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless (Revelation 14:3-5 NIV).
Why not become a member today of that mighty army marching to Mount Zion’s celestial shore? Choose today to Trust and Obey!
Copyright © 2022 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon April 3, 2022 at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 west Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142