Creation Sings in 4-Part Harmony
When the question arose in the divine Council meeting: “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” the answer was: “Behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah.” The Lion was worthy, but the Lamb took the book and opened it. This seems to suggest that the Lion was Jesus Christ by Himself, but that the Lamb (arnion) was a new entity—the Head and body of Christ.
The response from the twenty-four elders and the angels came as an Amen. They were in agreement, and this was the theme of their songs. The twenty-four elders sang, “Worthy art Thou,” and the angels sang, “Worthy is the Lamb.” Both cited as proof the fact that He “was slain,” for this qualified Jesus—and secondarily, His body—to open the Book of Creation and to know the divine plan and God’s intention for creation.
After the twenty-four elders and the angels finished singing their songs, all creation broke out in a song of rejoicing, for the broken seals had revealed that all creation would benefit from the death of the Lamb. Rev. 5:13 says,
13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
This scene has puzzled Bible teachers for centuries, because many cannot comprehend its sheer magnitude. Since the concept of the restoration of all things was lost back in the fifth and sixth centuries, the Church has adopted the view that only a few will be saved, and the rest consigned to eternal flames in hell.
But verse 13 entirely contradicts that teaching, for it shows “every living thing” in heaven, earth, under the earth, and in the sea praising and glorifying God. By no stretch of imagination can we say that any of these are being tortured in hell while they praise God.
In fact, this song of creation was prophesied in Psalm 66:4,
4 All the earth will worship Thee, and will sing praises to Thee; they will sing praises to Thy name. Selah.
Was this mere wishful thinking? Was this a hope that stood beyond the power of God to fulfill? Will His New Covenant oath prove to be more than God was able to fulfill? In the end, is man’s will stronger than God’s will? Did God lack the power and wisdom to devise a plan that would fulfill the desire of His heart to save all? God forbid!
Comments from Theologians
The Expositor’s Bible, Vol. VI, page 854, explains Rev. 5:13,
“What a sublime conception have we here before us! The whole universe, from its remotest star to the things around us and beneath our feet, is one—one in feeling, in emotion, in expression; one in heart and voice. Nothing is said of evil. Nor is it thought of. It is in the hands of God, who will work out His sovereign purposes in His own good time and way. We have only to listen to the universal harmony, and to see that it moves us to corresponding praise (v. 14).
“The redeemed creation is once more singled out for special mention. At chap. iv. 8, 10, they began the song; now we return to them that they may close it. All creation, man included, cries, Amen. The glorified Church has her heart too full to speak. She can only fall down and worship.”
The glorified Church, indeed, is full of praise at the divine plan which has succeeded in achieving its goal of universal reconciliation. But much of the present-day church chafes and grumbles at such an idea. I have observed over the years that a great many people in the church are incensed at the idea that Christ’s death on the cross might be effective for the whole creation.
I recall one preacher drawing himself up with indignation, saying, “One of the greatest pleasures in heaven will be when I look upon those sinners burning in hell!” He obviously had not read the book that Jesus opened in Rev. 5:5, nor, would it seem, did the love of God dwell in him (1 John 3:17).
Because man is required to respond in order to be reconciled to God, many Christians do not think that God is capable of causing them to respond. They have more confidence in the will of man than in the will of God. This view is largely based on their assumption that the end of one’s earthly life is the deadline for salvation, when in fact it is only the deadline before the final judgment, where every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him as Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).
These are the key truths that most Christians have not understood since the first few centuries of the Christian era. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Holy Bible (page 463) comments on Rev. 5:13 as well, saying,
“This glorious song, thus begun by the church, and carried on by the angels, is echoed by the whole creation; all the creatures adore that great Redeemer, who delivers the creature from that bondage under which it groans, through the corruption of man, and the just curse denounced by the great God upon the fall. . .
“Happy those who shall adore and praise in heaven, and who shall eternally bless the Lamb, who delivered and consecrated them by his blood. How worthy art thou, O God, thou and thy Son, that all creatures should proclaim thy greatness, and adore thy majesty! Let every spirit abase and humble itself before thee, and pronounce an Amen of confession and acknowledgement of the holiness and sovereignty of thy being; of adherence to thy will and pleasure, of approval, praise, adoration, and admiration of thy works; of the wisdom of thy dispensations, and of the relation every creature has to thy designs concerning Christ and his church.”
These commentators cannot help but acknowledge the plain truth of this Scripture, telling us that all of creation will one day praise Jesus Christ in the manner that John saw. Matthew Henry tells us that this is the fulfillment of Rom. 8:19-21,
19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Such hope is only possible if God intends to reconcile all creation to Himself. It is NOT possible, if God intends to consign—or even to allow—the greater part of humanity to end up in an everlasting torture of hell with no hope of redemption.
The Meaning of Eternal
Perhaps the greatest impediment to seeing creation set free is bound up in the word “eternal.” This word comes from the Hebrew word olam and the Greek word aionian. If these words can only mean “unending time,” then we must of necessity treat “aionian judgment” as being everlasting.
However, a study of biblical language shows that this is NOT the case. The word aionian comes from the word aion, which means “eon, or age.” For this reason, Dr. Robert Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible translates the word “age-during,” which is ultra-literal. Rotherham’s The Emphasized Bible renders it “age-abiding.” Thus, the judgment to come is not for all time, but is limited to the duration of that particular age.
Likewise, the aionian life that believers hope to attain is not immortality itself, but life in a particular time frame that is not available to most others. This is life in the Tabernacles Age. Their promise is to inherit the first resurrection, rather than waiting until the Great White Throne to receive their reward of immortality. Those few who inherit life in the first resurrection will have “life” during the great Sabbath Millennium. That is the special reward given to the overcomers. Paul refers to this in 1 Tim. 4:10,
10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
In other words, He will save all men, but there is a special salvation and reward for believers that the unbelievers will not receive. That reward is to receive immortality long before the rest of creation. For a more complete study of this word and what Bible commentators have to say about it, see chapters five and six of my book, The Judgments of the Divine Law.
The Limits of Divine Judgment
God’s judgments are based upon His law, which expresses God’s character. Within the law are limits to the amount of judgment that can be meted out for sin. The law mandates a Jubilee for felonies (Lev. 25:10) and no more than 40 stripes for misdemeanors (Deut. 25:1-3). In fact, Paul’s teaching in Romans 8, where he foresees all of creation being set free, is based upon the law of Jubilee. Lev. 25:10 says,
10 You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family.
The whole earth was sold into bondage because of Adam’s sin. But the day will come—that great day of Creation’s Jubilee—when every man will be released from that bondage and will “return to his own property” and “family.” Judgment will have run its course, and every creature described by John in Rev. 5:13 and 14 will give praise to Jesus Christ and acknowledge that His plan was very good.
In the covenant that God made with Noah and “all flesh” in Genesis 9, He promised not to destroy the earth again by flood. He will instead send another kind of flood, a flood of the Holy Spirit so that His glory covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. God Himself took an oath in His own Court, saying in Num. 14:21,
21 But indeed, as I live [God’s oath], all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.
This oath binds God to fulfill it. If He were unable to do so (in view of man’s will), then He should never have made an oath that was impossible for Him to fulfill. But God bound Himself to overcome the power of sin and to fill the whole earth with His glory.
In his last words of the final psalm of the Exodus Book of Psalms, David recalled God’s oath and repeated it as a prayer. Psalm 72:19, 20 says,
19 And blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen. 20 The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.
The prophet Isaiah too had this revelation from the throne room. Isaiah 6:3 says,
3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.”
Again, in Isaiah 11:9, we read how even the animals will be reconciled in some way:
9 They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain [i.e., Kingdom], for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
The waters cover the sea about 100 percent. Hence, the glory of God will cover the whole earth as well, leaving no portion in darkness or ignorance. When the earth is “full of the knowledge of the Lord,” then will God’s New Covenant oath be fulfilled, for Heb. 8:11 says, “all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.”
Habakkuk 2:14 agrees, saying,
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
The Great Amen
Rev. 5:14 tells us that four living creatures, representing all of creation, say “Amen,” not only in response, but in agreement with the divine plan that was written in the Book. According to the Commentary on the Whole Bible, page 567,
“As in ch. 4.11, the four and twenty elders asserted God’s worthiness to receive the glory, as having created all things, so here the four living creatures ratify by their “Amen” the whole creation’s ascription of the glory to Him.”
The importance of this ratification by the four living creatures is apparent, because without it, the whole foundation for the restoration of all things might be doubted. But this double witness establishes by law the final purpose of God for the earth—that all living creatures will be reconciled to their Creator. All will glorify and praise His name when they finally come to the knowledge of who He is and what great work He has done in the history of His universe.
This is the Song of Creation, sung in four-part harmony.