This is my favorite line in the passage: “nobody can learn the song except for the 144,000…”
As before, the 144,000 are meant as a symbol—not a statistic—of God’s redeemed people. They are the firstfruits of for God and the Lamb, which is to say that they have been given pride-of-place in heaven because of their unwavering commitment to their King in opposition to the tyrannical forces of the dragon and its beastly counterparts.
But the part I think is cool is that bit about a song no one else can learn. God’s first resurrected followers can learn it, presumably for three reasons. First, they’ve suffered and died for the sake of Christ. Second, they’ve proven themselves faithful in the midst of that suffering. Finally, they’ve followed the Lamb in purity and in preparation.
Don’t get head-faked here by the reference to “celibacy.” It was a regular preparatory feature of both temple worship and just war that the participants had to abstain for a predetermined time beforehand. This is less about sex and more about consecration. It’s about readiness. It’s about absolute passion, commitment, and focus on following the Lamb.
Sometimes, in my travels and ministry with other leaders, I hear songwriters complain that it’s difficult to come up with new material.
Sometimes, in my work at The Winds, I hear church-folk complain that it’s difficult to think of something to pray.
Sometimes, in my own life, I find it hard to worship on my own.
But in those moments—and in many others just like them—we are reminded what it takes to offer up something new to God. It takes sacrifice. It takes faithfulness. It takes consecration. The songs don’t come from TV or the prayers from comfort, distraction, and ease. They burst forth from a life fertilized by struggle and fecund with faith.