May 17 2020 Revelation is a Presentation of the Gospel
18th May 2020
We’ll be communicating where we are – will set up a Zoom meeting to discuss future plans.
Lord, we thank You so much for this opportunity to worship – thank You for what Joan shared – Fear can grip our lives in times like this – help us to trust in You – that You are on our side and You are working on our behalf. We are learning from You – help us to continue to hear what You would say to us.
Revelation 5:1 I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals.
John is sharing his vision. There are turning points – transition points – where John brings us along – and says – I saw…
. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?"
Who is worthy? No one.
3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. 4 Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it;
They had an understanding of a 3-tiered universe – the stars/sky/universe – the top tier.
Then there was the earth – a place for humanity
Under the earth – demonic place – those who dwell under the earth.
He is showing that all of the Greco-Roman gods – Caesar himself, no one is worthy.
5 and one of the elders said to me, "Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals."
There are these images of the Messiah – a Lion – Conquering, strong individual.
Root of David – Conquering King – and that was the impression of the Messiah among the Jews.
And he starts to look to see this conquering King – this Lion of Judah – and there is not a Lion… he sees:
6 And I 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.
A lamb is the opposite of a lion. This is a gospel presentation – a vibrant presentation!
I talk about Philippians 2 as my favorite gospel presentation – but that section mirrors this section in Revelation 5! Go through it sometime.
One thing the gospel does – and Revelation is a complete and perfect picture of the gospel – which confronts the view of power and might and victory in the world with God’s view.
In Rome – they gained power through the military – their technology – their wealth and influence.
Jesus said the rulers of this world lord it over you – but not so with you – real power is humility that serves.
We go to Philippians – Have this humility of mind – regarding others as more important – have this same mindset of Jesus – who existed in the form of God and did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but gave himself up…
And that is what we see in Revelation 5.
Israel was expecting a victorious warrior king – a mighty lion – but when Jesus came and was not that (at least in their minds) – they rejected Him.
John sees a Lamb – standing as if slain. Something that was dead that came to life. Something seen as weak that was strong.
What the world sees as weak, foolish, and shameful, God sees as powerful, wise, glorious – and filled with anger.
John sees something again – seven horns, seven eyes – which are the seven spirits of God sent out into the earth.
It goes from this Lion – to this lamb – this slain lamb which is standing – with 7 horns – a warrior lamb! I think this is indicative of the incarnation. God becomes this humble, broken, crucified man. And somehow – through all eternity – He will always be fully God, but He will always have some aspect of His humanity to carry with Him.
He calls us His brothers and sisters because He has shared fully in what we are – according to the book of Hebrews.
This lamb has ascended to the throne – as a lamb, but not just as a lamb.
Seven spirits sent out into the earth – and this is seen in chapter 4.
7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
So we have this exact same worship image as in chapter 4. In chapter 4, worshiping the one who sits on the throne – and in chapter 5 – worshiping the Lamb.
Seven eyes and spirits with the one on the throne in chapter 4 – is the same as in chapter 5! This is a picture of a trinitarian worship community – all three – Father, Son, Holy Spirit, being worshiped as God.
Some say the 24 elders represent the 12 tribes + 12 apostles – others say there are 24 priestly functions – we don’t really know – but they are holding harps – and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints – so there is this huge worship going on in heaven – and because of the Lamb, a new group is brought in – the saints – people who have put their faith in Jesus – with all of these other ;’creatures’ involved – The Lamb has opened the throne room to all of us.
We as followers of Christ participate as God’s partners in making what is done in heaven be done on earth.
Chapters 6-22 are just the earthly outworking of chapters 4-5. We are ushered in as partners in worship.
9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."
This passage talks about what the human part of the worship community will look like and what the church is to be now.
And we see people from every tribe, tongue, people and nation – a very diverse people – from every which way – brought into His community.
The problem is – in a specific location it is difficult to do this – because our tendency is to gravitate toward those we are like – it is a sad reality and difficult to break through. But we will be THIS way through all eternity! It WILL HAPPEN! We might look and say – it is just the way it is so don’t do anything about it – but it is important – and Paul places the breaking down of these barriers throughout his letters.
Race, education, economics, social position, political barriers –
We tend to hang with those of the same economic position – but Paul makes it the theme of Galatians, Ephesians, and Romans – to break down those barriers.
Those letters are built to break them down! 1 and 2 Corinthians and Philemon are about breaking social and economic barriers.
James – economic barriers.
He calls this new community a kingdom and priest to our God.
This kingdom of priests was initially applied to Israel – Exodus 15:6 – and this is transferred to all people and all nations within the church – what once belonged to that one nation now belongs to all nations in this new community – the church. Things that were focused on just Israel – are now focused on everyone – as Abraham was to be a blessing to all nations.
Most likely you will be sitting next to someone of a different race or political persuasion the rest of eternity – so get used to it here! – Cindy tells me!
These worshipers are interceding for the people of the world – those who don’t know Christ.
Third – to be a witness to the Lamb – and all believers hold those important positions – in this kingdom – we see it here as a contrast and counter-nation to the kingdom of Babylon/Rome. This is in opposition to that kingdom. Revelation tells us that the church will always be a contrast and counter-kingdom to the nations and kingdoms of this world. All of them always.
Even those nations that are the very best and have tremendous Christian influence in them – the church will never be able to fully align with any nation – it will always be required to be a contrast and counter-nation to this world.
11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."
How did He get power and riches and might? By being slain! That is where it comes from. No other place.
The cross is not a symbol for general human suffering; rather, it is a sign of when one takes the god-account of reality other than Caesars. When we view the world how God views the world – the result is the cross.
The way you are doing it – is not God’s way, Jesus said. Even His people were not doing it God’s way. When He did it God’s way – it resulted in the cross.
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." 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped.
What we have here – is the doxology – All creatures of our God and King. – Er, Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise Him all creatures here below.
Revelation is not a book to be decoded, but a book to be lived out. This is a presentation of the gospel.
“The gospel is to be proclaimed, performed – and to be done faithfully in the presence of persecution”
What revelation is doing – speaking to the seven churches that are struggling to remain faithful witnesses under great pressure to conform
In order to remain faithful, they must understand how the lamb who is slain is the way to transformation and power.