THE BOOK OF REVELATION
THE CHURCH'S TRIUMPH THROUGH CHRIST
Sermon #53 - The Praise of the Church When God Triumphs Over His Enemies
INTRODUCTION - As we enter this new chapter of Revelation, we are still dealing with the themes which we have studied earlier. Rome and Jerusalem are the great enemies of the church and it seems like they will win, but then we are given that glorious picture of the triumphant Christ on Mount Zion. The Church does not need to fear, for the Lord rules and reigns and she will be brought through the great trial. The judgments spoken of in the book of Revelation are specifically aimed at apostate Israel of the first century. By turning away from the Lord in the rejection and killing of Christ, she would reap the condemnation and justice of the broken covenant. In 70 AD Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed as God turned away from her and as the Savior triumphed over His enemies. Chapter fifteen continues that theme of judgment, yet it also reflects the glorious triumph of God's people, the Church, the true Israel of God. The main theme of the chapter is seen in the Church's song.
1) THE CHURCH SINGING THE SONG OF MOSES - The plagues and the judgment poured out in Revelation are intended specifically for apostate Israel. The reason we know this is because of a song which the Church sings in view of this judgment. In Revelation 15:3, we are told that God's people sing "the song of Moses…and the song of the Lamb." We already understand the Song of the Lamb to be the triumphant hymn of Christ's ascension to the throne of God. He is the Lamb who has taken the scroll, who rules and reigns, and who has been given the nations as His inheritance. Yet, what is the Song of Moses? It is important for us to know what this song is, for this gives us the basis for interpreting the judgments which follow. It is the Church which sings this song. When we turn to the Old Testament, we shall see that this song was sung against Israel. It was a song of judgment if they turned away from the Lord. It is the Church of the New Testament which picks up this hymn and sings it as Israel of the first century is judged. We must realize that the early church and Israel itself would know this song very well. It was a warning given in the Old Testament that judgment would fall on the nation of Israel if she turned away from the Lord. In the first century, she had become apostate, and so, the song is sung by the true Israel of God, the Church. The bowls of wrath which are poured out in the latter part of Revelation 15 must be seen in this context - they are the judgments of God, not poured out on the world, but poured out on first century apostate Israel. This is the context of the singing of the Song of Moses. Where do we find the Song of Moses in the Old Testament? We need to turn to Deuteronomy 31 and 32.
In Deuteronomy 31:19-22, God tells Moses to write down this song for Israel. It is not a joyous song, but a message of judgment. It was a song of warning to Israel that God would send them plagues of judgment if they turned from Him. Moses then sings that song to the people, warning them of the coming days of their apostasy and what God would do to them in judgment. Deuteronomy 31:30 is the introduction to the song, and the next chapter contains the text. In Deuteronomy 32:1-4, the Lord is described in all of His holiness and perfections. He is the God who is right, holy and just. Then the theme turns to the children of Israel. In verses 5 to 13 we see how God took Israel from the wilderness and turned her into His nation. In His grace, He made Israel His people. God blessed them in His grace and provided for His people (verses 13,14). Yet then we see Israel rebelling against the Lord (verses 15-21). They turned to idols and rejected the God who had been so gracious to them. The judgments of God against this nation come next (verses 22-36). If they turned against Him, they would be destroyed, but those who were faithful among Israel would be delivered from this judgment. God's wrath is shown (verses 37-42) against apostate Israel - the same theme which we have noted in Revelation. Finally, the Lord speaks of grace to the Gentiles, atonement for His land and people, and vengeance upon His enemies (verse 43). This was the Song of Moses which John is referring to. It is a song of warning against Israel of the judgment which the Lord would bring against them if they turned away from the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:44-47). This is how we must interpret the judgments of Revelation 15. These are not bowls of wrath poured out upon the world, but are specifically intended for apostate Israel, as the song of Moses tells us. Now, let us return to Revelation 15, and concentrate specifically upon the words which God's people sing in this passage.
2) THE PRAISE OF THE CHURCH WHEN GOD TRIUMPHS OVER HIS ENEMIES - Revelation 15:3,4 - These two verses show us the praise of the saints which God triumphs over His enemies. There is a magnification of God's holiness and justice. This is the praise of the Church today as God continues to magnify His glory and honor in the world. The first thing we see in this hymn of praise is -
A) THE MAGNIFICATION OF ALMIGHTY GOD IN THE SONG OF THE CHURCH - In verses 3 and 4, we are shown that the Lord is great, His works are marvelous, that He deserves all of our praise and adoration for He is the King of the saints. Israel of the Old Testament was the chosen people of God. It was the greatest joy of Christians in the Old Testament that God would be their God and they would be His people. The nations around them were lost in idolatry, but God's people were blessed with the revelation of His glory and Word. How grieved was Moses when he saw the fall of Israel! Thus, he sings of their judgment if they bowed to false idols. We are, therefore, to take warning from Israel of old. The hymn of Revelation 15 tells God's people to make God and God alone the sole object of worship. It is possible for us to turn to idols (I John 5:21), and so we must make God our supreme affection. It is easy for us to make idols of the things we have been given by God in this world. All the good and blessed gifts of God can become temptations to idolatry. None of these things are to rule our hearts nor become the center of our lives. If we make God the supreme object of our worship, then we shall never be disappointed and will have strength to go through life just like the church of old. God is to be the supreme object of our worship. Next, we see in this song -
B) THE SAFETY OF THE GOD'S PEOPLE AS THEY SING TO THEIR GOD - In Revelation 15:2, the people of God are pictured as victorious over their enemies. The people who sing here are the ones who were under the persecution of Rome and Jerusalem. Yet here they are described as victorious! God has been a refuge to His people. Christ has cared for His church. They have victory over those terrible enemies. This is still the theme of the church today for there is nothing which can triumph over God's people (Romans 8:35-39). Though enemies try to dislodge us, God's people will always stand in victory in Christ for the Lord will never forsake us. This is the confidence and safety which God's people sing about. Do you need a reminder of that victory again today? Then go to the throne of grace and pour out your griefs to God. In Him you will find rest, refuge and safety from your greatest enemies. Death, temptation, persecutors, everything has been overcome in Christ. The Church sings of her safety and victory! Finally we see -
C) THE SONG OF THE CHURCH WHICH MAGNIFIES THE JUSTICE OF GOD - The pervading theme of the chapter is the justice of God. God is going to come and judge Israel. This is the theme of the Song of Moses. It is the theme of the church's song. She sings of God whose ways are "just and true" (Revelation 15:3). The works of God in the past chapters have been His judgment of evildoers, and so the church praises God for this justice. The church sings of the holiness of God manifested in His judgments (Revelation 15:4). The wicked will not stand in His sight and the church loves this theme. Let us therefore take a warning from this song of the saints. Are we right with God? Have we found salvation and forgiveness in the work of Christ at Calvary? If not, we must understand that we will fall under the justice of God one day. Every knee shall bow, all the nations will bow before Christ. Yet will you bow before Him as your Savior and Lord, or will you bow under His rod of wrath, to receive His just punishment against rebellious sinners? May you be able to join the church in the glorious hymn of triumph and strength found in the Lord!