Newer is always better–at least that’s what most advertising agencies want you to believe. With yearly updates to smartphones, ever-changing fashion trends, and the constant onslaught of new movies, music, and books, it is to the world’s advantage to pit the old against the new. They do this because if you become convinced–even subconsciously–that newer means better, then you’ve become a reliable customer for life.
For the Church, ‚Äònewer means better’ can lead to a number of issues, such as consumerism and discrediting Church fathers. Another possible error we have to be especially wary of is valuing the New Testament (NT) more than the Old Testament (OT). Few Christians, if any, would explicitly say that the OT is less important or less valuable than the NT. However, if none of the verses you memorize, none of the sermons you hear, or none of the books you read are from the OT, then you’re treating it as such.
Ironically, one of the best ways to appreciate the importance of the OT more is by reading the NT well. When you do so, you’ll realize that the NT writers quote, reference, and respect the OT in a way that shows it is far from being outdated or irrelevant. In fact, the OT and NT support one another in the mission of revealing God and His glory–a truth that’s exemplified well in the song found in Revelation 15.
One Unified Bible
Right before John witnesses the bowls of wrath be poured out upon the earth, he gets another brief glimpse into Heaven. When he does, he sees faithful Christians, who were “victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name.“ These believers, who will likely be martyrs of the Great Tribulation, will sing, “the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.“
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Your ways,
King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy;
For all the nations will come and worship before You,
For Your righteous acts have been revealed.”
This song is found in Revelation 15:34, and it’s a beautiful combination of the OT and NT. The song is referred to as both the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb–each of which are actual songs recorded in Scripture.
The song of Moses is recorded in Exodus 15:119, and it takes place right after God delivers the Israelites from the Red Sea by paving the way for them and then drowning the Egyptians. Overwhelmed by God’s protection and the Israelites’ newfound freedom, Moses can’t help but worship God, with phrases like, “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?” The song of Moses is a song of praise and deliverance that sings about the power and glory of God.
Then, the song of the Lamb can be found in Revelation 5:814. Throughout Revelation, Jesus is consistently referred to as the Lamb, and this is a song that will be sung in Heaven worshiping and exalting the Lamb. The praises include, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” Again, the song of the Lamb is one that declares the honor and worthiness of God.
Now, here in Revelation 15, the two songs are synthesized together. The result is slightly different than its two originals. But, the mixture is one with the same purpose and message as the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.
One Unified Purpose
If simplified enough, there is an overarching theme to all three of these songs. Furthermore, it’s also the theme of the whole Bible and all of human history: God is glorious and worthy of praise.
God works in ways that are more marvelous and righteous than we can even begin to imagine. God rules as the King of all the earth. God alone is holy. And God is the One whom every nation, kingdom, and person will come and worship
If we believe those things to be true of God, then we can full-heartedly affirm that God is glorious and worthy of praise.
When we consider how great our God is, it can be overwhelming. We know our songs will pale in comparison to His majesty. Our art will only capture the smallest glimpses of His beauty. Our lives dedicated to Him will surely be broken and imperfect.
But take heart; you are not alone in glorifying God. You are accompanied by the wonders of the universe and every tribe, tongue, and nation as you glorify God. He has been praised from Creation and Old Testament to the end times and the New Testament. We are simply called to join the song and keep singing.
We’ll sing old songs. We’ll sing new songs. Neither better. Neither worse.
We’ll be singing of the glory of God for all of eternity–and even then, we’ll only have scratched the surface of His splendor and power.