(3) And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! (4) Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Here the faithful saints prophesy in song. Some might say that they sing two songs, but the text identifies it as only one. The song of Moses and the song of the Lamb are one song; they have the same message. Moses sang a song of deliverance following the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 15), but that is not the “song of Moses” that is referred to here. Toward the end of the book of Deuteronomy we have the record of God giving Moses a song to teach the children of Israel. The content of the song is in chapter thirty-two, but it is critical to see God’s instructions concerning the song’s purpose, which are recorded in chapter thirty-one.
“Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 31:19).
At first, when we think of a song that God gave to Israel, we think this must be such a pleasant hymn; but that’s not the case. Rather, God told Moses that the song stands as a witness for God against Israel! Then, God reveals to Moses the very information that we need in order to understand why this song of Moses is referenced in Revelation.
“For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. (21) And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” (Deuteronomy 31:20-21).
The song was designed to “confront” the people when they turned against the Lord and played the harlot with false Gods, just as they are doing with the beast and his image. The song was a witness against them just as the Law was (Deuteronomy 31:26-27). Even Moses speaks up on this occasion, and says to the elders of the people,
“For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.” (31:29).
The song of Moses begins with the greatness of God, his faithfulness, his power, and his redemption. Though he did great and awesome works for Israel, the song prophesies that the people are corrupt,
“They have dealt corruptly with him; they are no longer his children because they are blemished; they are a crooked and twisted generation.” (32:5)
These words are reflected in what Jesus and his disciples had confronted the Jewish nation with in the first century (Matthew 16:4, 17:17; Acts 7:51; Philippians 2:15).
The song continues by reminding Israel once more of what the Lord had done for them, but follows with the actions of Israel in the worship of beasts and images.
“They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger. (17) They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded. (18) You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth. (19) “The LORD saw it and spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters. (20) And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness. (21) They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” (32:16-21)
Therefore, the Lord God turns against them in great wrath, to bring plagues upon the people and destroy this miserable harlot.
“For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. (23) “‘And I will heap disasters upon them; I will spend my arrows on them; (24) they shall be wasted with hunger, and devoured by plague and poisonous pestilence; I will send the teeth of beasts against them, with the venom of things that crawl in the dust.” (32:22-24).
It is significant to recognize that Revelation’s reference to the song of Moses is in the introduction of the seven last plagues to be brought upon the old covenant people (see comments on 15:1). The song is a witness to the people that all these things befall them because of their wickedness. They have no one to blame but themselves. The Lord had given them ample warning and had spoken long ago of the things which would befall the crooked generation. As we see these last plagues completing the wrath of God against the house of Israel, the Lord reminds us in this vision that God is faithful to his word, the song of Moses is a witness to it.
The unfaithfulness of Israel is compared to the sexual immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah.
“For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison; their clusters are bitter; (33) their wine is the poison of serpents and the cruel venom of asps.” (32:32-33)
Jerusalem was labeled with the name Sodom in an earlier vision (Revelation 11:8, see also Ezekiel 16:53-55). Israel’s rejection of the Lord to serve beasts in idolatry is like the unnatural and vile desires of the Sodomites, who were destroyed with fire from God.
Then we hear the great and famous words, “Vengeance is mine, and the recompense” (32:35). This is what God reminded the faithful Romans (Romans 12:19), and what the Holy Spirit repeated to the Hebrews, saying, “For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” (Hebrews 10:30). God promises to repay the house of Israel for their sins, and in doing so, he promises to vindicate those who endured in faith toward him, saying, “For the LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.” (32:36). Are we seeing how the song of Moses is so connected to the message of the book of Revelation and the Lamb’s actions? The song is not just about vengeance, but restoration (you can’t have one without the other). John’s days were the “days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written” (Luke 21:22), and with the days of vengeance came the days of restoration of “all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” (Acts 3:21). And here we are seeing it all unfold in the visions of Revelation, “in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.” (Revelation 10:7).
The song of Moses finalizes with the avenging of the blood of the faithful, as does the book of Revelation. Notice how the song of Moses concludes with,
“Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people’s land.” (32:43).
This message rings out loud and clear in the song of the Lamb and the visions of Revelation.
“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, (2) for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” (19:1-2).
“Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!” (18:20).
“And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.” (18:24).
“For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!” (16:6).
“And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly” (17:6).
How close the connection is to the song of Moses and the book of Revelation! And what is the reason for this? Because they are dealing with the same thing! Moses spoke about it long ago, now Revelation repeats it, but with one difference, these “things must soon take place” (1:1, 22:6).
“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!” The particular words of the song which John records are not actually from the song of Moses but are a culmination of many truths scattered throughout the Old Testament record. The figure that this is the “song of Moses” is meant only to convey the same ideas of the song. The connection with the “song of the Lamb” details the consistency of God’s message. What God promised would befall the people through Moses is accomplished in the Lamb of God.