Enoch already spoke of it against the wicked world of his day. And the souls under the altar cry for it day and night. All the history of the world looks forward to this day. Is it conceivable, then, that only a small part of the people of God are standing here at the sea of glass, now God is about to reveal His righteousness and power over the Antichristian enemy, to sing this song of victory? No, we do not believe this. All the saints, all those that have been faithful, from Abel to the last witness, in the kingdom of God on earth shall stand there at the sea of glass to join the victorious crowd in singing their song of Moses and of the Lamb. And as we shall see presently, this is supported by the fact that the song they sing is that of Moses and of the Lamb, combining therefore the Old and the New Testament in one.
They stand by the sea of glass. We have met with this sea of glass, shining like crystal, before in the fourth chapter of this book. You remember how there it was pictured as being part of the dispensation of perfection that is to displace this dispensation of sin. Especially did it symbolize the truth that in the new creation the glory of God shall be reflected in all His works. Well, here we meet with the sea of glass once more, though from a slightly different point of view. It tells us, in the first place, that these singers are no more on earth. In the days when the seven vials shall be poured out and destruction shall be completed God shall have His people with Him. It is the church in glory. And the sea of glass is here mingled with fire because it reflects the wrath of God as He shall presently reveal it over the wicked world and for the salvation and glory of His people. And thus the entire scene reminds us of the children of Israel standing at the border of the Red Sea, looking back upon that sea that had become the sea of wrath for the enemies, but at the same time the sea of their own salvation. Even as the children of Israel stood by the sea, reflecting the wrath of God, so stand these victorious ones by the sea of glass mingled with fire. Even as that sea in the case of Israel had become the cause of destruction for the enemies of God, so also this sea of glass symbolizes the reflection of God’s wrath that will destroy the Antichrist and his kingdom. Even as in the case of Israel the same sea that was instrumental in destroying the power of opposition was their own salvation, so also shall these victorious ones enter into their full inheritance if God shall have caused the vials of His wrath to be poured out over the wicked world. And even as the children of Israel at the Red Sea sang of victory, so do these victorious ones exalt the arm and the righteousness of the Lord, the God of their salvation.
Let us then for a few moments pay attention to their song. In the first place, it may not escape our attention that they sing their song on harps of God. That is, God Himself had given them their instruments of music. He is the author of their harps. He is at the same time the author of their song. Never would they have sung this song were it not for the grace of God. Never would they have remained faithful unless God through Jesus Christ had sustained them by His grace. Never would they therefore have been able to sing this song, were it not that God Himself had formed them to be His people. They have harps of God. In the second place, it may draw our attention that their song is designated as being the song of Moses and of the Lamb. Evidently this does not imply that this multitude is singing two songs, one of Moses and another of the Lamb, but that the same song is at the same time the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. Once more, it points to the fact that history repeats itself, and that one phase of history in Scripture is typical of the other, so that it may be said that Israel of the old dispensation already sang the song of the Lamb, and vice versa, that the people of the Lamb of the new dispensation also sing the song of Moses. Old and new dispensation shall be one. There is no break, no difference between them in glory. They form one multitude, and they sing one song. And that one song, sung by one multitude, is the song of Moses and of the Lamb. And therefore, also here the miserable world-conception of those that postulate an eternal difference and separation between Jew and Gentile is condemned. Jew and Gentile, one in Christ, sing the same song, the song of Moses and of the Lamb.
As to the meaning of this expression, it cannot be difficult to understand it. As we have already indicated, the whole vision plainly refers to the passage through the Red Sea by the children of Israel, which constituted their final deliverance from Egypt. They had been oppressed by the mighty arm of Pharaoh, but by a still mightier arm they had been delivered. But the enemy pursued them and aimed at their destruction. At the Red Sea arrives the critical moment. Through that sea God causes His people to pass in safety. But by the same instrumentality He destroys the enemy. Just as the flood was both a means of salvation for God’s people and a means of destruction for the wicked world, so was the Red Sea the means whereby God saved Israel and at the same time destroyed the pursuing enemy. And as the enemy is destroyed and the people are safe on the other shore, Moses composes this song of victory, in the which he exalts the arm of Jehovah, sings of joy over the destruction of Pharaoh and his host and because of the salvation of God’s people. Cf. Exodus 15. Now this entire incident is typical of Christ and His salvation. Moses as the mediator of the Old Testament is type of Christ, the Mediator of the new dispensation. Even as Moses, so Christ leads His people out of the house of the bondage of sin. Even as Moses and his people, so Christ and His people are the object of the pursuing wrath of the enemy. But even as Moses, so also Christ leads His people safely through the waters of separation and of wrath, strikes those waters of the wrath of God, so that they become at the same time a means of salvation for His people and a means of destruction for the enemy. Now then, at this moment the people of Christ stand at the sea of glass, all delivered from sin and from the oppression of the enemy. And they see how God will pour out His wrath upon the enemy. Yea, they already see that wrath poured out and the enemy destroyed. They place themselves upon the standpoint of the completed and full wrath of God. And therefore, their condition is now exactly like that of Israel after they had passed through the Red Sea and had seen the destruction of their oppressors. And for that same reason they now sing the same song, exalting the power of Jehovah, the salvation of His people, and the wrath visited upon the wicked power of opposition. Truly, the song of Moses is the song of the Lamb. Even as Moses taught his people to sing his song, so the Lamb taught His people to sing this song. And essentially they are alike, sing of the same theme, the one being merely a type of the other.
What then do they sing? “Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are thy ways, thou King of the ages. Who shall not fear, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy righteous acts have been made manifest.” Let us briefly note the main features of this song. In the first place, it cannot escape our attention that there is nothing in this song of man, but that it is from beginning to end an exaltation of the greatness and power and glory of God. It is God’s greatness, God’s truth, God’s righteousness, God’s holiness, that is here celebrated. In the second place, it must draw our attention that from the very contents of the song it becomes plain that these singers already live by sight, not by faith. Here upon earth we also glorify God’s greatness and His power and righteousness and truth and holiness. But it is a glorification by faith, that is an evidence of things unseen. These attributes of God Almighty have not yet been fully revealed. But now it is different. God’s greatness is now clearly manifested in all His works. His truth and righteousness is now distinctly displayed in all His ways. His holiness has been revealed. It has all been realized. In this dispensation it seemed that the devil and the Antichrist were mighty, were true, and, in fact, were righteous, and that God would not have the victory, but suffer defeat. Long was the period of longsuffering. And often the people of God asked with the poet of old, “Is there no knowledge with the Almighty?” But when the vials of God’s wrath shall have been poured out, it shall be publicly manifest, and that before all the world, that God Almighty sits in heaven and laughs and realizes all His counsel in spite of the workings of Satan and his servants. His truth and His righteousness and His power and holiness shall then be revealed. And, in the second place, we may notice too that these multitudes also sing of the final fulfillment of all prophecy, namely, of this, that now all nations should fear Him and glorify His name. It seemed for a time as if all nations should glorify and fear the Antichrist. But now it is all different. They were not the nations that feared Antichrist; they were the branches of the nations that were to be cut off and cast into outer darkness. The nations have been preserved, and they are in this multitude, represented by it. Presently the new heavens and the new earth shall appear in glory, and then all nations shall fear and glorify the mighty acts and name of the Lord God Almighty forever and ever.
We too, while we are still in this world, may indeed sing this song of Moses and of the Lamb, though not yet in perfection. We are still in the world. And in the world we are still in the midst of battle. But by the grace of God we can listen to the song of the redeemed, and learn it, and look forward to the day when we all shall stand by the sea of glass, delivered from sin and oppression, delivered from the enemy that always surrounds us, free to serve and glorify the God of our salvation, in order to sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. May our faith cause us to look forward in hope and teach us to sing this song of victory in the midst of the present battle.