Verse 1 begins,
“Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb”
John looks and there on Mount Zion is the Lamb; not the deceiving beast with horns like a lamb, but the True Lamb, Jesus Christ appears on Mount Zion. The author of Hebrews described Jesus and Mount Zion this way in Hebrews 12:18-24
“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
Mount Zion is in the City of New Jerusalem which at this point in Revelation is still in Heaven, it represents Mount Sinai, where Moses met face to face with God (Exodus 19). Zion came to be the name of the Temple of God in Jerusalem, synonymous today with Jerusalem and New Jerusalem. Zion was the name of the fortress in the City of David, where David lived, where no blind or lame could enter (2 Samuel 5:6-10).
So John saw holy Jesus standing on that holy mountain in that holy city, a place where only the saved may enter and be face to face with God. But Jesus was not alone. The rest of verse 1 through verse 5 reads,
“and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.”
This is the second time the 144,000 are mentioned. They were first mentioned in Revelation 7:3-8 when they are sealed and protected from the dangers of the trumpets. Whether they are the same 144,000, I do not know. Whether the number is literal or symbolic, I am unsure. This is what I know. They are redeemed from the earth, yet Jesus has not yet come for his people in the narrative. They sing a new song only they can know. They are described as faithful and blameless (saved) virgin men and they are the firstfruits of the redeemed (raptured) from mankind.
This leads me to conjecture then that they are special martyrs from the tribulation. Jewish men who came to know Christ and who are killed by the antichrist and the false prophet during the antichrist’s war on The Two Witnesses. Perhaps even the men who were killed for not worshipping the image of the beast. They get to go to New Jerusalem before Jesus gathers the rest of the redeemed, the dead first and then the remainder of the believers. (This is my personal interpretation and supposition).
Whoever they are, they are with Jesus and their worship is so great that it sounds like the roar of many waters and like thunder and harps. 144,000 voices raised together in adoration of Jesus would make such a great sound. John doesn’t share the song they sing. It is a song very specific to who they are as they worship the Lord. And isn’t that what our personal worship of the Lord should be? Shouldn’t our adoration come from the overflow of our hearts? Psalm 96:1-3 reads,
“Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!”
True worship is singing a new song because we tell of what He has done day to day, how He saved us today and yesterday, what great works He is doing and has done. It is not thoughtlessly repeating an old song, mindlessly echoing someone else’s lyrics, nor robotically copying a song specific to someone else. My song is new, because He is doing new things every morning! Even through the worst suffering and the most horrible tribulations, we can praise and worship God because He is always working in us and through the suffering we experience. Lamentations 3:19-24 says,
“Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
If we have nothing in our hearts to thank God for, then I suppose we will mechanically sing old songs, mindlessly and routinely speaking words that have no meaning to us. Mindless and ritualistic worship is like calling Jesus Lord but not obeying Him. But if our hearts are full of The Holy Spirit, the love of God, and appreciation for what He has done then our speech, worship and lives will prove it. In Luke 6:43-45 Jesus says it this way,
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
I have recently been making an effort to literally sing a new song to the Lord every day. I take my prayer and my praise and I sing it out loud to my Lord. I don’t doubt it is not beautiful, but it is sincere. And as I freely express my love to God, I also do not doubt that He loves the fragrance it brings to Him. As I sing, be it ever so haltingly or off-key, I bring to mind all the reasons I have to love Him, I remember scriptures, names of God, and attributes of my Lord and sing them to Him. While I attempt to bless the Lord (and I trust I am), He blesses me more so. I encourage you to give it a try.
There is nothing wrong with singing a song someone else wrote to the Lord as long as you do so with your heart and mind in the song, as long as the song is true to you and your experience. Singing How Great Thou Art yet not believing He is great is not worshipping in truth. Singing It is Well With My Soul yet being angry because of your circumstances rather than joyful in Christ is not worshipping in Spirit. When you sing We Will Not Be Shaken but you pay no mind to the words, you are not passionately worshipping the Lord, you are tepidly singing a song to the worship leader.
So Believer, I encourage you today to sing a new song to the Lord. I exhort you that whenever and however you worship that your prayer come from your heart and understanding of God, that it be genuine, and that it will be new every morning just like God’s mercies.