Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Revelation 4-5

August 14th, 2010 by Vic

August 15, 2010

“The Great Crescendo of Praise”

John believed that in the midst of suffering, the best thing to do is look to God.  Get a view of reality from God’s point of view.  He’s the conductor of your life.  Before any symphony all the instruments tune to a standard pitch.  Our lives are in chaos until we tune to a standard pitch.  Listen and follow the conductor of the symphony.  The conductor can bring the best out of you.  Only He sees the whole picture.  He has the full score.

John was worshipping in the spirit on the Lord’s Day.  He had just finished writing letters to 7 churches.  He probably thought he was finished.  Maybe he was wondering about sitting with Jesus (3:21) on His throne and how that relates to God sitting on His throne.

Rev 4:1

Chapters 4-5 repeat at least 14 phrases from Daniel 7 and has common words from Ezekiel 1-2, 9, 28 and Isaiah 6.  Evil kings will come, but they are powerless before the Almighty.  A major lesson from this chapter is that reality contains more than meets the eye and God rules over all.

John sees a door standing open in heaven.  God opens the door to Truth and spiritual reality.  God has provided access into His presence.  God has opened the door so we can know and love Him.

He hears a familiar voice (1:10) like a trumpet.  John obeys the voice of Jesus.  There was no debate.  The voice says there is more to come.  Keep your heart tuned.

God knew that before we can understand the visions in Revelation, we need to spend some time in the throne room.  Before we can understand the events in our lives, we need to spend some time with God.  A door is open into the very presence of God to help us understand life.

4:1  Jesus invites us to come into His presence.

Come Thou Almighty King

Come into His presence

Enter His gates

We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise

Rev 4:2-8 All at once John found himself in the Spirit again (1:10).  Time is irrelevant.  God can lift us out of our harsh rocky islands.  No matter where you are in your spiritual journey or physical circumstances Jesus is knocking and inviting you to come to Him.

Notice what John sees first.  The center of all is the throne.  The throne is mentioned 47 times in Revelation, 17 of those in Chapters 4-5.  A true perspective of history has a throne, an absolute in the center, above and over all.  As we read Revelation, our attention is always brought back to the throne.  There is a throne over Caesar’s throne.  God’s throne is the center from which everything has its source and to which everything will ultimately return.  There is a standard.  There is a moral tuning fork that offers harmony in our world.  Sin is a rejection of the standard that God has established.  Sin robs us of harmony.  Sin is turning your back to the conductor of Creation.

All eyes are on Him who sits on the throne.  He is seated!  He is undisturbed by any conflict.  He is not pacing the floor, tweeting on the phone, shouting loud commands, adjusting His monitors.  He sits undisturbed with authority, dominion, and control.

Rev 4:3 The next 6 verses describe what John saw, then he tells us what he heard.

How would you describe God?  John does not suggest any shape or form.  He describes Him as light.  There is little beauty without light.  God is like the light of jasper (diamond) and a red carnelian (sardius).  The red light reminds us that we see Him only through the blood.  Then around the throne was a circle or rainbow of emerald green.  Green was the color of mercy and life.  John sees no form, only brilliance and beauty.  John does not see walls, ceilings, floors, pillars, people, fixtures, or flowers

Rev. 4:4 The 24 elders or ministers of God represent the 12 tribes of the O.T. and the 12 disciples of the NT  They represent the whole Church, all the saints, and all God’s people of all time.  King David divided the priestly descendants of Aaron into 24 groups.  Each family group had different functions in the Temple.  This was the royal priesthood or kingdom of priests in the O.T.

The 24 elders represent all believers, the royal priesthood clothed in white garments of righteousness with golden crowns.  The robes are priestly; the crowns are rewards.  These are victor’s crowns won in competition or war.  These 24 represent the ones who have finished their course triumphantly.  They don’t have kingly crowns, but Olympic gold metals.

Rev. 4:5 The focus comes back to the throne.  Lightening, voices, and thunders are similar to God’s presence at Sinai.  Have you felt the vibration of heavenly thunders?  It means peace to the pure and rest to the righteous, but wrath to the wicked.  God communicates His power.  We do not discover God by our cleverness, but God makes Himself known.  And the majesty of His presence is peace to the Christian.  Like the thundering waves of the sea, there is rest in the rhythms of God’s grace.

7 lamps again represent the Holy Spirit in completeness and fullness.  Fire illuminates so the eye can see and purifies so the heart can see.  Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things.  He will purify our hearts by faith so we can see God more clearly.

The number 7 symbolizes perfection or completion.  Nothing can be added because nothing is lacking.  We have already seen 7 churches, candlesticks, stars, angels, and spirits.  We will see 7 seals, trumpets, bowls, horns, eyes, thunders, heads, crowns, mountains, 7 beatitudes, 7 times that prophecy, keep, and patience are mentioned in the book.

4:6 John sees clearly and what he sees is like a sea of glass as clear as crystal.  Clear glass in ancient days was as precious as gold.  The Egyptians during the construction of the pyramids invented glass.  Legend says that when the Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon she picked up her skirt as she approached the throne because the floor was thick glass that looked like water.  Many kings had moats around their thrones and controlled access with small bridges.

The stormy sea also represented evil.  Evil powers are now silent.  The sea in 15:2-4 will be replaced by the river of life in 22:1.

In John’s vision the sea of glass is solid because God is approachable.  Jesus has provided access to God.  He has calmed the chaos of the sea.  The honor and privilege of coming to God is very precious, more precious than gold.  John does not run up to shake God’s hand and have a friendly chat.  God is worthy of our respect and reverence.  To come to God, we walk on something that is very costly and very precious.

The crystal sea was between John and the throne.  In the center and around the throne were 4 living creatures like cherubim full of eyes.  They are watchful and all seeing.  The number 4 often represented the world with 4 directions of the compass and the 4 winds.

Rev 4:7 These living creatures represent all God’s creation.  Let all that hath breath, praise the Lord.  Let the rocks cry out and the trees clap their hands.  All life is improved by praise.  These creatures are the closest to the Throne and they are the worship leaders.

Numbers 2 gives the instructions of how the children of Israel were to camp in the wilderness.  The tribes immediately around the Tabernacle had the banners of the lion, the young ox, the man, and the eagle.  These flags were their symbols of protection and point of identity.

4:8 Here John does not tell us what they were doing with their wings, but it suggests complete mobility.  They could go anywhere, do anything and they chose to be near the Throne.  John is really impressed with the eyes.  They know what is going on throughout the earth.  They know what is happening in hell.  They know what is happening in heaven and they praise God.

Let’s learn from these heavenly creatures.  They never grow weary of ceaseless repetition of praises.  Let’s come closer to God and say HOLY!  Praise God for who He is.  A quartet sings.

O Worship the King

Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy Ground

Rev 4:9-10

The action is all spontaneous and coordinated.

They worship by casting their crowns before Him.  Their crown was a prize or a sign of great achievement and merit.  But in the presence of God, all my good works, all my awards, all my achievements, and all my honors will become uncomfortable for me to carry.  I need to return all glory to God.

Rev 4:11 He alone is worthy.  This phrase, “Worthy Art Thou” was a chant used when the Roman Emperor rode in a triumphal procession on his white horse with all the trumpets, singers, pageantry, and pomp that we have today with the queen of England.  In contrast to that and in defiance to the Romans, John saw the King of kings on the throne and heard a quartet sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy” then the choir of 24 joins in to sing, “Worthy Art Thou, our Lord and our God”.

I Worship You Almighty God

Rev 5:1-8

“In His right hand” reminds us of strength, comfort, and security.  The right hand is a common metaphor signifying power, authority, and a place of refuge and protection.  All time is in God’s hands.  No one can take it from Him.  God is still seated and in control.  The things that must take place are in God’s control.  He alone knows the future.  This is the beginning of the end for Satan.

“The scroll” is a significant object.  It symbolizes much more than just a book (codex).  Besides the Scriptures and sacred writings, scrolls with seals were common forms for business transactions and legal documents.  This scroll could be a message, a will, or a deed.  The writing on the back could be a summary of the contents, it could suggest complete or comprehensive like ‘seven’, or it could be a reflection of Moses’ 2 tablets of stone that were written on the front and back side.

1. A sealed scroll could be an important message.  If someone very important were sending a message to another very high official he would write out his message and seal the scroll at that point.  If there was more paper left, he might add some instructions to the lieutenant or the official’s executive secretary and seal it at that point.  If there was room, he may add some instructions to the runner or doorman or mail clerk and seal the message again at that point.  A document with 7 seals would mean it had to be going to a very high ranking official because he would have to have 6 levels of command under him.  There were severe penalties for tampering with the mail by breaking someone else’s seal.  A person had to be worthy or authorized to break the seals.

2. A scroll could also be a will.  According to Roman law, 6 witnesses had to sign a will and the 7th seal could be the owner.  The will could not be opened unless all of the 6 or their representatives were present to break their own seal and confirm that it had not been tampered with.

The original owner of the world is now alive and can claim His inheritance as a son of Adam (man).  No other member of Adam’s family has been or is worthy or able to reclaim the inheritance.  Jesus is the 2nd Adam.  He is worthy.  We call it the Old Testament and New Testament.  Jesus is both the executor and living heir of the promise.

3. This scroll in God’s hand could also represent a title deed to property.  Deed were made in duplicate.  The open copy was for public records.  The owner kept the sealed copy.  One to 7 strings were tied around the scroll with a seal placed on each knot.  The witnesses or their representative who sealed the document had to be present to settle any property disputes.

In Daniel 6:18 the king sealed the lion’s den with his seal.  That meant no one could open it without the king being present.  When Jesus was buried, the tomb was sealed and could not be opened by man without permission.

In some mystery religions, a seal was used to prevent access to the gods except at the designated times.  The pagan priest would put a seal over the mouth of their idol so that he would not speak without the priest being there.  No one could hear from his god except the priest.  The pagan festivals would often begin when the priest broke the seal on their god’s mouth.  Then after their worship the seal was replaced.

I think the scroll that God holds is most like a title deed.  At creation, God put man in charge of all things, but the original owner passed his copy of the deed to Satan.  Man sold his birthright for a bowl of porridge.  This deed and courtroom setting suggests a property dispute.  And if anyone legally representing the original family was found able to buy it back, the seals would be broken, the original will be read and the verbal claims of Satan will be thrown out of court.  There will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Satan has been claiming dominion of the world.  There has been a dispute and court is now in session.  Adam, by disobeying God, had given his copy of the deed to Satan.  Satan has been claiming the world as his own.  He had the deed and if there were no heirs, the world was his.  But God has the original sealed copy.  There is a living heir.  The final year of Jubilee has come.

A STRONG angel with a LOUD voice challenges all creatures in the universe.  “Who can fulfill God’s requirements of justice?”  Who is worthy to reclaim this planet for God?

Rev 5:3 There is no answer to this universal call.  The long‑disputed title deed is now available for redemption.  Where are the big names?  Pick any name.  There is no name great enough to step forward to the throne.  Satan is nowhere to be found.

Rev 5:4 John began to weep.  In the silence following the loud solo challenge, John’s heart was broken.  If the scroll is not opened Satan’s claims could still be heard, there would be injustice for God’s children in a wicked world.  There would be no salvation for the faithful and no judgment for the wicked.  Satan would continue to strut and boast.  This is a dramatic moment of the turning point of all history.

The angel was calling for someone to claim the title deed back from Satan.  He may have been making this call every Jubilee year since the sin of Adam.

Jubilee was supposed to be every 7 7’s of years.  Jubilee was the year of celebration following 7 Sabbath years.  Every 7th year was a sabbatical year; a year of rest intended to benefit the land, the laborers, the animals, and strangers (Lev 25:4‑6).  The Jubilee year was the year after 7 Sabbath years.  This was the year when all slaves were freed and all property returned to the original family.  All property disputes were settled.  Seven sevens meant freedom to all.

Jewish land always remained with the original families.  Even if I sold you my land and gave you a deed you could only use that land until the year of jubilee.  Unless of course you killed my family and me and left no heir to make a claim in court, you could continue to use the land.  Satan did that.  He killed all the sons of Adam.  But the sinless one was resurrected from the dead.  Now a strong Angel is calling Satan to court in heaven.

Jubilee was God’s plan to prohibit corporate conglomerates from gobbling up all the land and making everyone slaves to the large landholders.  The year of Jubilee was good news to the poor, the blind, the captives, and the downtrodden.  This was the favorable year of the Lord that Jesus announced (Is 61; Lk 4).  It was not good news to the rich large landholders.  It is not good news to Satan, but it is good news for the family of God.

5:6 When John finished weeping, he looked and expected to see a lion, but he saw a lamb.  The Lamb is standing as if slain.  The Greek could imply that the Lamb appears with a wounded neck as if he was still being offered.  He still lives as the perfect sacrifice for all men for all time.  He is still our sacrifice and still comes to us in ways we do not expect to see Him.  He does not always fit our molds.

Another paradox is the word for lamb.  This is not the normal word for a farm animal, but more of a family pet.  This lamb is little, meek, mild, helpless, but has 7 horns that suggest complete power.  It also has 7 eyes that suggest complete knowledge.

5:7 The Lamb came and took the scroll out of the hand of God.  Can you feel the silent drama?  There is the silence of anticipation.  God gives Jesus the title deed to the world and all history.  God remains seated on the throne, but will govern the world through the Lamb.  The qualifications of the Lamb to take the scroll and break its seals are acceptable to the one on the throne.  The future is now in Christ’s hand.

This verse is the climax of this present drama.  If you were making a video you would slow the action down and in the solemn stillness while all creation waited to see who would claim the title deed of the universe.  The Lamb claims all that Adam lost to Satan in the garden.  The world is not Satan’s.  Jesus is the rightful heir.  Satan claimed rulership, but he is strangely silent and absent during this drama.  He offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world, but it was a paper promise.

As soon as Jesus takes the scroll there is a remarkable burst of praise and adoration.  The tension breaks.  The drama has climaxed.  A 28 voice choir begins the praise.

5:8 The group around the throne fell down before the Lamb.  It is an act of submission to a supreme authority.

The golden bowls of incense express the preciousness of prayer.  Like incense our prayers rise to heaven as a sweet fragrance of love.  Our prayers are answered in God’s time.  Prayers are a form of sacrifice.  These bowls are full.  Now it is time to praise.

5:9 The quartet and choir sing a new song.  In heaven there is joy because Satan is defeated.  His claim of ownership has proved to be hot air and bluff.

We Bow Down

Jesus, Name Above all names

His Name is Wonderful

Hallelujah, Praise the Lamb

Rev 5:11 It seems like the people that live closest to the Lord, sing the most praises.  In 5:9‑10 we sang a new song because Jesus did 3 things:  He died for us, He redeemed us, and He gave us authority as his body, the church.

Now in Rev 5:11, when one choir stops, another begins.  This one has an incalculable number of angels.  These angels cannot sing about redemption, because they have never sinned, but they can sing about the majesty of Jesus and God the Father.  Even though the numbers are increasing, they sing as one voice.  Can you imagine this large choir singing with one voice?  John heard the words clearly; the voice is singular.  Here is majesty.  When you hear a big choir and can understand every word clearly, that means everyone is in harmony with the conductor.  A single voice indicates unity and harmony of emotion and purpose with the Conductor.

Are we willing to sing this song?  “Jesus you are worthy to receive all my power, all my riches, all my wisdom, all my strength, all my honor, glory and blessing.”  When I hear myself saying something like, “I have my right”, or “I deserve a break today”, at that point I remember that I need to give all my rights to Jesus again and remember it is not me living, but Christ in me.

Thou Art Worthy

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy, You are Worthy

I Exalt Thee

Rev 5:13 The crescendo continues in praise to God and the Lamb.  In chapter 4 we sang 2 songs to God.  In chapter 5 we sang 2 songs to the Lamb.  Now we conclude with a song to both the One on the Throne and the Lamb.  The living, the dead, the 28 voice choir, the angels, plus every created thing join in the singing. The rocks and hills cry out.  All that hath breath and even that which doesn’t will praise the Lord.  The universal dimension of this scene is breathtaking.  Everything will acknowledge the worth of the Lamb, even those who crucified Him.

I have been on the mountain top and heard the mountains and the wind praise the Lord.  I have been by the sea and have heard the rocks clap their hands.  I have seen the trees wave their praise and heard the aspens give a gentle applause.

Our God and our Lord are praised as one.  This song is literally: THE blessing and THE honor and THE glory and THE dominion.  Identifying each item adds emphasis to the praise.

All creation is singing.  Worship is spontaneous in the presence of God.  This song of praise is throbbing throughout the universe.

To Him Who Sits on the Throne

Majesty

We will glorify

Rev 5:14

After the spectacular, John’s attention goes back to the throne and those closest to the throne are still singing, “Amen”.  As the curtain of this vision of heaven closes, the Amens keep echoing in John’s heart.  The 4 were the 1st to praise and they give the final Amen.  May God’s praises keep echoing in your heart.  May your eyes stay on the Conductor and your heart stay tuned to sing God’s praise.

O Come Let us Adore Him

Alleluiah

Hallelujah, Praise the Lamb

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