John next describes a sound. He seems to describe this sound with great difficulty, because his descriptions do not easily match with each other.
Firstly, he says that it was like the sound of many waters. That is, like the waves of the sea, or like a powerful river, or like water that falls from a great height. Then he says that it was like loud thunder, in other words, the loudest noises during a great storm. Clearly, it was an extremely loud noise. So we do not expect Johnís next description of the same sound. It was like the sound of people who play on their harps. In other words, a beautiful gentle sound. The harp is a quiet musical instrument with strings. It was quiet enough for the musician to sing as he played it.
Perhaps we will find our explanation in the type of song that the 144,000 people were singing. The harp is a personal musical instrument, and their song was a very personal song: only they, and nobody else, could learn it. These 144,000 people have a very close relationship of love for Christ, that goes beyond their love for anyone else (verse 4). Therefore, their song seems to be a love song. They are expressing their personal love for Christ, who has saved them from the earth. That would explain why their song sounds like music on the harp: beautiful and gentle.
However, love is also very powerful. It is a more powerful force than almost anything else that we know. Song of Solomon 8:6-7 compares love to a fire that nothing can put out. It adds that many waters cannot destroy love. So it should not surprise us if the music of love is greater and more powerful than even the loudest thunder.
Next part: About the 144,000 people (Revelation 14:4)
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© 2016, Keith Simons.