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Rev. VanderWal is pastor of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Redlands, California.

The song had not been heard before. Heard before was only a question: Who is worthy?

An important question indeed! At the center of the question is a book. Not just any book. This is the book that is held in the right hand of Him that sitteth upon the throne. It is the possession of the almighty God. He is its sole author. This book is comprehensive. It contains all the events of the universe. It is about the stars in the heavens above. It is about the mountains, the forests, and rivers. It is about men and nations. It is about angels and devils. It concerns judgment and mercy. This book is powerful. It is not a record. It is not a history. It is not even a foretelling of things that are to come. The book, written within and on the backside, is the counsel of God, His wisdom ordaining all things from the foundation of the world. The loosing of its seals brings all things written therein to their execution and completion.

But this book is closed in the hand of Him that sits on the throne. It is sealed with seven seals. It must be received from the hand of Him that sits on the throne. It must be opened. Its seven seals, one after another, must be loosed. Only then will its events come to pass. Only then will the glory of God be vindicated. Only then will the redemption of the elect be accomplished.

Who is worthy? A great question!

A search is undertaken. A mighty angel asks the great question with a mighty voice. Who is worthy? Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

To this question there is no answer. There is only silence. For there is none worthy. None worthy in heaven. None worthy in earth. None worthy under the earth. None is found able to open the book, neither to look thereon. No one steps forward to take the book, to loose its seven seals, to open it, and to look upon it.

In the silence following the question, one voice is heard. Not a voice offering to take the book from the right hand of Him that sat on the throne. Not a voice proclaiming its owner’s worth or merit. But a voice of unworthiness. The voice belongs to one who knows his unworthiness. It belongs to a child of God, the apostle beloved of the Lord.

The voice is the voice of weeping, even of much weeping.

The voice weeps much because of the silence. It weeps because none was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. It weeps because this child of God longs for the vindication of God’s glory. It weeps in longing for the redemption of the elect of God.

But that weeping must fall silent. In its place must come instead laughter. The mourning must be changed to gladness and joy. The voice must be lifted up with shouts of acclamation and praise.

For there is one that is worthy. Not one in heaven, nor in the earth, nor under the earth. This one is in the midst of the throne of God. In the midst of the four beasts and in the midst of the elders He stands. He is the Lion of Judah’s tribe. He is the Root of David. He is the Lamb that was slain.

He is the one that stands forth in the midst of the silence. He is the one that must still the weeping voice of the apostle. Having stood forth in the midst of the silence, He proceeds to the throne. He takes the book out of the right hand of Him that sits upon the throne.

This Lion of Judah has prevailed! The Lamb that was slain is worthy to take the book. He is worthy to loose its seven seals, worthy to open it, and to look thereon.

How? How is He worthy? How has He prevailed?

Hearken to the new song. Hear the words that now fill the silence and take away the weeping. The new song is glorious, its words exalted: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!

Hear the new song as sung by the four beasts and the four and twenty elders about the throne of God. “Thou art worthy…for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood….”

He is worthy!

Worthy not by fortune, not by riches measured by silver or gold or precious stones. Worthy not by earthly conquest or dominion, the gathering of nations into a mighty empire. Worthy not by fame given by adoring multitudes.

Worthy He is by His blood. Worthy He is by being slain. Worthy by sacrifice, making redemption by His blood, laying down His life unto death. This lamb is accounted foolish and weak by men. But He is accounted worthy before God.

Worthy for us! Hear the joyous tidings of the gospel in this new song. “Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood … and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” His worthiness is our worthiness. His blood is the full price of our redemption. By His blood we are made kings and priests unto our God. By His death we shall reign on the earth.

Worthy is the Lamb!

Hear the new song as sung by the voice of many angels, the mighty host numbering ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.”

He is worthy! Worthy of all this glory—for all things in all the creation, of heaven and earth and the sea, are His. Even as He spoke upon earth, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” so is it in heaven, before the throne of the Almighty, and at His right hand.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!

Along that deepest, darkest way He went. The Lamb bore the shame and reproach of men. Their scorn and mockery filled His ears. Accursed of God in the shedding of His blood, slain was He on the wood of the cross. To the depths of hell He went. There is His worth!

Worthy is the Lamb, worthy of power and riches. By His blood, He is worthy of wisdom and strength. Slain, He is worthy of honor, and glory, and blessing. To the Lamb, who has emptied Himself, must be given all fullness.

Worthy is the Lamb!

Hear the new song as sung by all creatures in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them. “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”

He is worthy! Worthy of all this praise and all this exaltation. Worthy that every creature should have these high words of adoration in their mouths and upon their tongues. No glory may be held for the creature. All glory for the Lamb, to be given unto Him who alone is worthy.

That praise belongs first to Him that sitteth upon the throne. He is the thrice-Holy One, the Lord God almighty. He created all things. For His pleasure they are and were created. Before Him the four and twenty elders have fallen down. To Him they give their worship. To Him they say, “Thou art worthy to receive glory and honor and power.”

Now that same praise must be given to the Lamb. To the Lamb be blessing. To Him be honor, and glory, and power. For He Himself is of God, the only-begotten Son, the one that stands in the midst of God’s throne.

Worthy is the Lamb!

A new song!

He is worthy to take the book. By that worthiness, He came to the throne, to receive the book from the right hand of Him that sat on the throne. The Lamb looses its seven seals. The Slain opens the book. Worthy by His blood, He looks thereon. Exalted to the highest glory, He has the power and authority to execute what is written within and on the backside. It belongs to Him to vindicate the glory of God, to accomplish the full redemption of the elect He purchased with His blood.

All that work He does in the midst of this new song: Thou art worthy!

That new song is given to the church. It is given to him that hath an ear to hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. It is given to us who are the redeemed, who are made by His blood kings and priests unto our God. It is given to us who shall reign on the earth.

The new song is given to us, to fill the silence of our wondering hearts, our questioning minds. It is given to us in our mourning, when we see God’s glory trampled underfoot. It is given us in our weeping, as we long and groan in hope for our promised redemption.

This new song we keep in our hearts as a most precious treasure. To it we tune our voices. With our tongues we echo its words. To Him we sing, “Thou art worthy!”

Worthy is the Lamb!

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!