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Thursday, April 19 2012
Last week, we saw what goes on in heaven at the throne room of the Almighty God; Worship. The four living
creatures ceaselessly saying "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was and is to come. The 24 elders,
representing us, responded by falling down on their faces in worship by casting down their crowns saying, You are
worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they
are and were created." Today, our study will focus on the Lamb of God and His eternal place concerning things to come.
"And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon"
Chapter 4 began by focusing our attention upon a throne; chapter 5 begins by drawing our attention to a scroll. In God the Father's right hand John saw a book (a "scroll"). What more profound way of picturing God's ultimate sovereignty over all history could be found than this picture of the scroll resting in His hand? However strong evil becomes, however fierce be the satanic evils that assail God's people on earth, final history still rests in God's hand.
God's "right hand" refers to His authority to translate the contents of this scroll into action. This scroll is the focus of John's attention in this chapter, and it contains the detailed plans and purposes of God for subduing the enemies of Christ and establishing His reign upon the earth. This scroll is so full of words that John could see writing on the inside as well as the outside of the scroll (Ezek 2:10). Writing on both sides indicates the detailed and important nature of the judgments. It also emphasizes their ability to accomplish the purposes of God. The seven seals are suggesting the profound nature of the revelation it contained. It may represent the book of prophecies God instructed Daniel to seal until the end times (Dan 12:4, 9). The perfect number of seals ("seven") may also hint at the absolute sacredness of the scroll. The seals inform us that while this plan has been settled in the eternal counsels of God, it has been concealed and only one, who is duly authorized, may open it to read and execute it. The period of grace and God's long-suffering has now come to an end.
John is mesmerized by God the Father and the scroll in His right hand, and an unnamed, strong angel asks the question of the ages: "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?" One with sufficient authority and worthiness was necessary to open the scroll and by breaking its seals to unleash the judgments on the world that it contained. Any prophet could have revealed this information but it took someone with adequate power to execute the events foretold, as well as to reveal and bring them to pass. This strong angel goes on a universal search and discovers that no angel, no created being (Phil 2:10), no human being, no creature, no spirit, and no one could open the scroll. This indicated that everyone one of us have documented history with God.
"And one of the elders said to me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, see, in the middle of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the middle of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne"
One of the 24 elders comforted John with the news that Jesus Christ would open the scroll (Luke 7:13; 8:52). He had achieved victory over all God's enemies and therefore had the authority to open the scroll and to release its contents. This is an encouragement to all that are mourning that our King worn the battle over death, Hell and Satan. Our weeping should turn to joy.
The "Lion that is from the tribe of Judah" and the "Root of David" are Old Testament titles of the Messiah who would fulfill the promises of salvation and would rule. The tribe of Judah was the tribe of David from which the kingly line proceeded (Gen 49:9-10). It was this tribe that the promise was given of a Son whose throne and kingdom would endure forever (2 Sam 7:13, 16). The title "the Root of David" means the Messiah would come through the lineage of David as a greater son of David (Luke 1:32-33). He who came after David as the offspring of David was also before him as the root (Rev 22:16). As God's ultimate Anointed One, Jesus alone possessed the authority necessary for this task. He overcame Satan, sin, and death so He could implement God's purposes for the future that this scroll revealed. Only Christ can carry out God's final purposes on earth.
Eagerly, John turns his head to see this "Lion-King". But the apostle is not prepared for what he sees. Expecting to see a kingly Lion, the apostle sees something totally different: John saw "between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth" (5:6). Notice four things in 5:6.
a) First, John sees the Messiah as a "Lamb." The "Lamb" is a symbol of Jesus Christ at His first advent, meek and submissive to a sacrificial death as our substitute (Isa 53:7; John 1:36; 21:15). The Lion is a symbol of Jesus at His second coming, powerful and aggressively judging the world in righteousness (Ps 2). John saw the Lamb, now in the center of all the creatures and elders gathered around the throne, as the central character and most important personage in the entire heavenly scene (Rev 3:21; 4:6; 7:17).
b) Second, the Lamb had been slain. The word "slain" means to cut up and mutilate an animal sacrifice. It speaks of a violent, bloody sacrifice. It describes the gory crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thorns pierced His skull. A whip lacerated His back. Fists bruised His face. Nails gouged His hands. A spear tore His side. Blood and water came gushing out. Christ paid the ultimate price for the salvation of mankind.
c) Third, the Lamb is "standing." This slain Lamb, who was violently slaughtered and put to death, is now actually standing! Having been killed, He is alive again, and He is standing in the innermost circle next to the throne.
d) Fourth, the Lamb is awesome with His seven horns and seven eyes. The number seven represents the fullness of Christ's power in defeating His foes. The horn is a biblical symbol for power and authority.
The seven eyes represent the fullness of Christ's divine wisdom and discernment (Zech 4:10). His eyes are the seven Spirits of God (i.e., the seven manifestations of the Spirit) that communicate to Christ all that transpires (Isa 11:2-4). The Lamb is all-knowing as well as all-powerful. This is one Lamb who can't have the wool pulled over His eyes! There is no more dreadful thought than to have to face the "Lion" in judgment because you have rejected the "Lamb." The purpose of the Lord's first coming was gracious. He came to "seek and to save those who are lost" (Luke 19:10). But the purpose of His second coming is different. Then He comes to deal with His enemies and to fulfill His promises of blessing to His own. We must not reject the grace of God. There comes a time when all men must deal with the "Lion," either as the One for whom we have watched and worked and prayed or the One whom we have rejected.
What we have in Revelation 5 is a vision of Christ (5:1-7) and the expanding, concentric circles of His worship in heaven. First, we see the worship of Jesus Christ in heaven by those immediately around the throne (5:8-10); then we see worship throughout all heaven (5:11-12); finally, we see worship throughout the entire universe (5:13-14). Like a "wave" at a football game, it spreads to all creation.
"And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be to him that sits on the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that lives for ever and ever."
This transfer of the scroll resulted in an outpouring of praise for the Lamb because it signaled that Christ would begin judging (Rev 6-18). While the four living creatures and 24 elders prostrated themselves in worship, they had harps and golden vials. They used the harps to praise God in song (Ps 33:2; 98:5).Throughout the Bible, the harp is an instrument of joy and gladness. In fact, the harp is used in Scripture more than any other instrument to praise God (Ps 71:22). All types of instruments will be used in heaven to worship God. Here on earth, we must do the same (Ps 150:3-6).
John explained that the golden vials contained the prayers of God's people that are as the fragrant aroma of burning incense to Him (Ps 141:2; Luke 1:10). In the Old Testament the offering of incense was a priestly duty (Num 16:6-7) so they were functioning in a priestly capacity.
In 5:9-10, As a result of the Lamb's authority from God to advance God's plan of the ages, the living creatures and elders sang a "new song" (Rev 14:3). This song represents new praise for deliverance about to take place. In this song the Lamb receives honor as being worthy in view of four things. The first is His death. He was "slain."
The second reason the Lamb is worthy is because He "purchased" (redemption) for God, by His death, people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. This represents divisions of humanity based on lineage, language, race, and political orientation. Together these terms describe the universal nature of Christ's people. It is important to note that this, however, does not teach universalism. Every person will not ultimately be saved. But people "from" every people group will be in heaven. How will people from groups that never heard the Gospel be in heaven? First, Jesus said that the Gospel will be preached to the entire world by the end of the age (Matt 24:14). This includes all people groups who will eventually be reached for Christ (Rev 14:2-3; 15:2-4). This assurance should motivate us as a church and as individuals to fulfill our responsibility for world evangelization.
Third, the death of Christ not only saved men, it also made them priests and kings so that they would share in His kingdom (1 Pet 2:5, 9). Priesthood involves immediate access into God's presence for praise and worship as well as the privilege of priestly service.
The fourth is the blessing of His people by allowing them to rule on the earth (during the millennium). This is man's ultimate end; he will worship God by fulfilling God's ordained responsibilities on a new earth, for all eternity.
The company of worshippers expands to include all the angels of heaven. A second choir of worshippers joins now with the first choir and all heaven breaks loose! In 5:11-12. An innumerable host of angels now joins the four creatures and 24 elders in ascribing worth to the Lamb (Dan 7:10; Ps 68:17-18; Matt 2:13). The Greek word for "myriad" (miros) means 10,000."Myriad of myriad" would mean 10,000 times 10,000. That's 100 million! But this is in the plural?"myriads of myriads"?meaning hundreds of millions times hundreds of millions. The number is easily in the billions. But then John records that there are still "thousands of thousands" in addition to the billions. One thousand times one thousand is one million. But again, this is in the plural ("thousands of thousands"). So there are multiplied millions spilling over the billions of worshippers already counted. This staggering number exceeds the limits of human language and our ability to comprehend. Multiplied billions are in this heavenly choir worshipping in heaven. We should all look forward to joining this heavenly choir.
In 5:12, the angels use seven expressions (the perfect number is probably significant) to indicate the wonder of the Lamb.
(1) He is worthy to "receive power." Power (dunamis) is mentioned first perhaps because the immediate situation calls for the need of great power to accomplish His purposes in the earth. He alone, as the perfect God-man Savior, is worthy of such power for He alone will and can use it with perfect justice and equity (Isa 11).
(2) "And riches" (ploutos) refers to the wealth of the universe. All this is His by creation and now by redemption and reclamation.
(3) "And wisdom" (sophia) refers to the Lord's omniscience and its wise use in carrying out the purposes of God in the world.
(4) "And might" (ischuos) refers to working might or power in action and stresses His omnipotence to carry out God's will.
(5) "And honor" (time) refers to the esteem, the value and respect which is due to Christ because of who He is and what He has and will accomplish to the glory of God, and the benefit of the world. He deserves public distinction.
(6) "And glory" (doxa) refers to the tribute and public display of adoration that should accrue to Christ, and again this stems from His person and work, both past, present, and future.
(7) "And blessing" (eulogia) refers to the praise that should be given to the Lord because of His wonderful acts of redemption and reclamation.
Our passage closes with universal praise to the Father and the Son (5:13-14). John writes,
"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.' And the four living creatures kept saying, ?Amen.' And the elders fell down and worshiped."
In this vision John "heard" "every created thing" giving praise to God and to the Lamb. The crescendo to this symphony of praise is all creation, everywhere and everything worships the Father and the Son. The stones, the birds, the animals, and the fish finally cry out?all creation had been groaning under the futility of the curse, now they know that they are about to be set free (Rom 8:18-23).
In Revelation 4 and 5, the sequence of praise shows that the first two are addressed to God, the next two, to the Lamb, and the last one to both. It is God who is praised as the Creator, in Revelation 4 (4:11). It is the Son who is praised in Revelation 5, as the Reconciler of creation (Col 1:20). Thus, every living creature praises both Father and Son. God the Father and God the Son are both equally to be worshipped forever and ever. One of the weaknesses today is that many people want to worship "God" but they don't want to worship Jesus. Yet, the Father has said that there is no life apart from Jesus (John 3:35-36).
My prayer today is that all of us will be at the throne room to be with the Father and His Son forever and ever.
Contributor: Alex Alajiki