The newness theme is reflected throughout Scripture. Isaiah prophesied of a new order that would bring new blessings to the people of God. This new order with its attendant blessings is expressed by the climax of the newness theme in the New Testament Book of Revelation: a new name ( 2:17 ; 3:12 ); the new Jerusalem ( 3:12 ; 21:2 ); a new heaven and a new earth ( 21:1 ); and "all things new" ( 21:5 ).
The death of Jesus is a cosmic turning point, introducing the new creation ( 2 Cor 5:17 ; Gal 6:15 ). It is he who focuses and culminates newness. The new song of Revelation 5 praises the Lamb for his worthiness to carry out God's redemptive plan, employing motifs from the exodus of Israel. This redemptive work includes four qualitative aspects: (1) it is for God; (2) it is accomplished through Christ's blood; (3) it is universal (every tribe, tongue, people, and nation); and (4) it establishes God's kingdom or rule. The new song therefore encapsulates the theology of Revelation: the redemptive work of Christ is the sine qua non for the establishment of God's kingdom.
The new song of Revelation 14:3 is sung by the 144, 000 who have been redeemed from the earth. Despite the intense debate over the identity of these 144, 000, the emphasis is the same: praise for God's (Christ's) redemption. The controversy over the singers should not obscure the importance of the song! The debate has been complicated by a textual problem in 5:9-10 and the symbolism of 144, 000 (a multiple of seven, a highly symbolic number in Scripture). In spite of our ignorance of specifics, of utmost importance is the praise God's creatures bring to him for his mighty redemptive Acts. These redemptive Acts are rehearsed and celebrated in the hymnic portions of Revelation ( Revelation 4:8 Revelation 4:11 ; Revelation 5:9-10 Revelation 5:12-13 ; Revelation 7:10 Revelation 7:12 ; Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:17-18 ; 15:3-4 ; Revelation 19:1-2 Revelation 19:3 Revelation 19:5 Revelation 19:6-8 ; 22:20 ). One could say that there is one new song but this song has many stanzas. All of God's redeemed will add stanzas to that song throughout eternity as they praise him progressively and continually for his mercy, love, and grace to the children of men in both the exodus from Egypt and the cross of Calvary.Carl B. Hoch, Jr.
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
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Bibliography InformationElwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'New Song'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology".