The Song of Moses and the Lamb

“I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name. They were all holding harps that God had given them. And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvellous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.””
Revelation‬ ‭15:2-4 NLT

In his vision, John saw a “marvellous event of great significance” and here we have the End Time martyrs standing before God singing a song, the first line of which goes, “Great and marvellous are your works, O Lord God”. This was the “song of Moses” and the “song of the Lamb”. Moses was very much a part of the Old Covenant, the foundation of the pre-Christ Jewish nation. Jesus, the Lamb of God, brought in the New Covenant. The essence of the Old Covenant we can find in Deuteronomy 30:15-16, “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.” The Epistle to the Hebrews links the two in 8:9-10, “This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” But in naming this song after both Moses and Jesus, in some way the two covenants are being brought together.

The song the martyrs sang didn’t include any references to the terrible times and earthly deaths they had experienced at the hands of the beasts. It was totally God-focused, the words “you” and “your” mentioned seven times. It was a song dedicated to God, in whom they had the victory. They, of course, had been victorious over the beasts because they had arrived in Heaven and were in God’s presence. The one thing the beasts were trying to stop had happened regardless. We saw it with Jesus at Calvary. The devil and his forces thought they had conquered the very Son of God, but soon found out that when Jesus rose again, the devil’s defeat was announced and resulted in his public humiliation. 

We pilgrims are assured that, regardless of what plans the devil may try and concoct against us, we are on the winning side. Jesus, through His sacrifice at Calvary, defeated death itself. We transition, at the end of our lives, into experiencing Eternal Life in God’s presence. The End Time martyrs found that their transition happened earlier than it would have done otherwise, but the result was the same. And if we know of anyone who isn’t on the winning side, we double our efforts to make sure they know all about our wonderful Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father. We thank You that through You we are winners. we are so grateful. Amen.

The Martyr’s Testimonies

“Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.””
Revelation‬ ‭12:10-12 NLT

The devil seems to have little going for him. Because of his sin he was thrown out of Heaven, and now on earth he is again defeated by God’s people, who have accepted the saving grace and protection of the “blood of the Lamb” and established through their testimonies the devil’s defeat.

The pilgrims who have defeated the devil in John’s vision, however, paid a heavy price. The ultimate price. They paid for their victory over the devil with their lives. In John’s vision we see that their secret weapon was their willingness to put their faith in God above personal safety. In Western societies, the battle with the devil and his minions doesn’t impact our lives directly but is waged on a different level. But in some parts of the world, the battle is generating many martyrs, people who have taken the ultimate stand against our enemy, the devil. According to “Open Doors”, an organisation in the UK that helps persecuted Christians in over sixty countries, nearly six thousand people were murdered for their faith last year. Their statistics are sobering, reporting that one in seven Christians suffer persecution of one kind or another. According to their latest information, the most life threatening countries in which to be a Christian are Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia. The strap line on the “Open Doors” web site says, “Over 360 million Christians suffer persecution and discrimination. They follow Jesus, no matter the cost”. But these are the pilgrims, our brothers and sisters, who John could see in his vision. And he went on to say that all who live in Heaven are rejoicing about them. 

Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” In Hebrews 11, that great chapter about faith, we read about Moses, “He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.” (Hebrews 11:26). 

Why do Christians suffer such persecution? We are motivated by love and compassion for our fellow human beings. Christian organisations and charities everywhere work tirelessly to help those less fortunate. The drug addicts, the poor, those struggling with all sorts of issues. The list is endless. I heard recently from a Christian lady who has successfully worked for some years running a youth project in the town where she lives in Norfolk, England. The charity for which she works does much good work amongst a marginalised segment of her society. And yet Christians are reviled and persecuted, even in societies that are more peaceful and accepting. But the reason is simply that the devil hates anything to do with the One he hates the most, God Himself. God’s people can be an easy target for him.

As pilgrims, we will all, sooner or later, have to face into persecution of one type or another. But one day we know that we will join our wonderful Heavenly Father in our eternal home. And we will find there the great heroes of our faith, who have paid the price for following God and not the devil. So we pray for all those who are being persecuted, that they will stand firm, regardless of the cost.

Dear God. Thank You for the opportunities we have to reach those who are less fortunate than us in our societies. Help us we pray to be salt and light in our communities, our families. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

The Fifth Seal

“When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before You judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?” Then a white robe was given to each of them. And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters—their fellow servants of Jesus who were to be martyred—had joined them.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭6:9-11‬ ‭NLT

The fifth seal was broken and John saw an altar in Heaven. It’s not clear what it looked like in detail, but one thing for sure – it was nothing like the altars we find in our churches and other religious buildings. This one had a special place underneath, and here we find the souls of the Christian martyrs. Men and women killed for nothing more than believing in the Word of God and being faithful, holding onto their beliefs and testimony in spite of threats and mistreatment. Quite rightly, they wanted to see justice, and they called out to God for Him to intervene and punish the people who had abused them. In response, they were each supplied with a white robe, but why was that? Note that this happened before the second coming of Jesus, so at this point the martyrs would not yet have received their new bodies. The martyrs would have been disembodied spirits, but because of their mortal sacrifice, they were fast tracked into Heaven. And the robes were supplied to give them substance and parity with the other Heavenly beings. They were encouraged to rest and be patient, because there were more martyrs to come. Notice that in Heaven, they straight away worshipped God, with “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true”. Their focus was on God, as it had been in their lives on earth.

Christians have been martyred almost continuously to the present day, starting with Stephen. We can read the account of his martyrdom in Acts 6 and 7. Today, with better global communications, we can discover where Christians are being killed for their faith. Open Doors, a UK-based organisation founded by Brother Andrew in 1955, regularly reports on Christian persecution, and on-line videos can be found that detail up to date topics for prayer. They reported that in 2021, 5,898 Christians were murdered because of their faith. And that’s the people they know about. 

A passage of Scripture that I find most encouraging is in Acts 4, where the early church prayed for boldness in the face of persecution. We read in verse 29, “And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word…”. This was the early church’s response to persecution, and the boldness they displayed in the face of persecution led to Christianity quickly spreading all over the civilised world at that time.

We pilgrims today must pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters. And together we must stand firm with them, also being a living testimony to our faith. Perhaps one day we will get the opportunity to talk to some of the Heavenly martyrs, finding our more about their sacrifices, but in the meantime we are encouraged by the fact that in our witnessing they are cheering us on, as we know from Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne“. 

Dear Heavenly Father, we pray together for our brothers and sisters who are facing persecution in countries like Afghanistan and North Korea, where even having a Bible in their possession can lead to incarceration and murder. Please strengthen their faith, and be with them in their times of trial. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.