Revelation - 9
24th February 2008
Lord, thanks for the opportunity to gather in Your presence – it is all about You – the heart of our service and our worship – as we look at Your word, and come into Your presence to hear from You – prepare our hearts to teach us the things You want us to know and to receive from You all that You have to give to us. Help us not to miss it, or be distracted by other thoughts.
Revelation 4 and 5
Tim Keller – Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC – mid-60’s – quiet preacher – one of my favorites to listen to (RedeemerPres)
This is the story of the blind men and the elephant. You’re familiar with it? No?
There is a guy who has the trunk – it is like a snake – it is wiggly, and long – it is a snake.
Tail: Tight – like a rope –
Body – Like a wall
Legs: Like a tree
They are all describing the same thing in different ways. When we focus on religion, each one would say – they are partly right, but are partly wrong. This fits in really well with the American culture and scene today.
In America, when it comes to religion – all religions are seen as equally valid – as long as a person is genuine, and good, and sincere, he will get to God. There are no absolutes or exclusive truth. That is a generally held view in the US.
This is not a tree, snake, rope, or wall. It is an elephant.
Metanarrative – the big story that all stories belong to and come out of. There is an overriding story in the world. This is where Biblical Christianity clashes with our culture. It says, there is ONE story – HIS Story – the Judeo-Christian story – the Biblical story.
Think of our creeds – there is one Father. One Lord. One Baptism. One Church. It is very exclusive. To the outsider – it can seem arrogant. Especially in a world that is into being inclusive and tolerant of all things. It creates a problem for us who believe in Biblical Christianity. We are working with and living around people who believe that all truths lead to God.
Do you realize that the US is the most diverse religious nation in the world? If you go most places – Middle East – Mostly Muslim. India – Mostly Hindu. Europe – mostly atheists – but here, it is everything.
Christians seme to greatly overplay the difference between their faith and all the others. Though millions say they have encountered God, and had lives changed – Christians say they are the only ones going to heaven. That their religion is the only one that is right and true. The exclusivity of this is breath-taking and appears to many to be dangerous.
If we believe in Biblical Christianity and that Christ iis the only way to God – it is important to understand – people will not appreciate that view and will look with suspicion upon anyone who holds that view.
Second, we must be able to defend, intellectually, philosophically, theologically – to tell and defend the story accurately. Many don’t really know the “Metanarrative”
We need to be able to tell it confidently.
We need to be able to tell it with Grace and Kindness. Too often, it has not been told that way.
“For the Bible tells me so” does not work in the outside world. We need to be able to defend it – APOLOGETIC – clearly defend with kindness and gentleness. Too often, we are unable to do that.
Revelation – the entire story of redemption. Is not just about end times. First given as instructions of the faith – a theological perspective. Second – it is a calendar of events – we must first look at it as theological
Revelation 4: 3 And He who was sitting [was] like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and [there was] a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. 4 And around the throne [were] twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones [I saw] twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceed flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And [there were] seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; 6 and before the throne [there was,] as it were, a sea of glass like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. 7 And the first creature [was] like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature [was] like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, [is] the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come."
The firs tthing about this story that we belive is found right here – who was and is and is to come. We believe in a God – ONE God – who is eternal – before there was anything – there was God. Even better, God was. When there is nothing – God will be there. He is outside – separate from creation. Outside of time and space. He is transcendent. He is outside of all of this – He is independent – exists apart from everything. He is the writer of this story. He is the one who steps back and says, it is an elephant – He sees the whole picture.
That is the first part of this story – it begins there.
Second – Rev. 4:9
9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 "Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created."
So part 2 – we have a God who is eternal – who has always been – no beginning and no end. And He is the creator of all that there is. That is where we conflict with science. We come in and say, He has created all things. Time, space, the universe – all of life – are here because God created it. Not only did He create all things – but because of Thy will they exist. – He created everything with a purpose. IT is not random or a matter of chance. It didn’t JUST HAPPEN. What it tells the world – how old is the earth? Is there evolution – it tells them – You are here for a reason. God specifically made you with a purpose in mind. It is also important to understand – for Christian orthodoxy
ExNihlio - Out of nothing. In the beginning was God – who was and is..
I love watching these science shows on TV. There is a tremendous amount of truth there – It has become clearer and clearer – they are trying to get to the root of it – smaller and smaller – have gone away from the Big Bang – If technology gets to the point that they can discover it, do you know what they will find? Nothing! He SPOKE – Let there be light! Where did it come from? IT doesn’t have to come from somewhere.
That is part 2 of the story.
Revelation 5:1 And 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. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?" 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.
What does it contain? Some would say it is the book of life. Others say – it is the mysteries He is about to reveal. The seals start to break off in the next chapters.
4 And I [began] to weep greatly, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look into it; 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."
He looks up, expecting to see the King of the Jungle – and what does he see?
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.
God, eternal – creation – and he goes to the central character of the story – the Lamb that was slain. He continually goes back to the Lamb. All of history revolves around this slain, sacrificed lamb. We’ll see the purpose for this lamb.
The book of Revelation is not chronological! It is like one of these movies – where they put up the phrase, 30 years earlier – that is kind of how it is.
Revelation 12:1 – A great sign – A sign – symbolic, things to learn.
12:1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2 and she was with child; and she ^cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.
What is this about? The birth of Christ. He is bringing us back to the center – the focal point of this great story.
3 And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads [were] seven diadems. 4 And his tail ^swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. 5 And she gave birth to a son, a male [child], who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness where she ^had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
Who is the dragon? The devil. Now, again, the devil does not look like this – that is not the point. It is a sign. This is probably speaking about the original fall of Satan. When Satan rebelled, he supposedly took 1/3 of the angels with him.
Isaiah 14: 10 "They will all respond and say to you, 'Even you have been made weak as we, You have become like us. 11 'Your pomp [and] the music of your harps Have been brought down to Sheol; Maggots are spread out [as your bed] beneath you, And worms are your covering.' 12 "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! 13 "But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 14 'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' 15 "Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit
Before the Fall of Man – Satan wanted to be like God – there was a heavenly war – we won’t look there – but in Revelation 12, 7-9 – we see the battle from the other side.
The next time this serpent appears is in the garden. There comes a point – God, who created all things – why? With purpose – that we might live in relationship with Him. Everything He created is fantastic and wonderful, but nothing compares to us, because we are created in His image to have a relationshpoi with Him – that He might demonstrate His love and kindness. God created man to experience His goodness – and no other reason. What do we do? We are like the devil – we rebel. Adam and Eve – eat from the tree and rebel against God. They are separated from God.
Imagine this perfect world – no sorrow – imagine this – we don’t know how long they were there – but then they sin and God takes this animal – and for the first time in history, something is killed – an animal – something to clothe them. It must have been a horrifying thing to those who had never seen death. It brings us back to this Lamb in Revelation 5:9
9 And they ^sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood [men] from every tribe and tongue and people and nation
Just like God took this animal in the garden to clothe these folks who were naked – now Christ, in the center part of history – His blood has to be shed that He might cover us all, that we might be brought back into relationship with God.
We started with this thing – all roads lead to God – and those are nice thoughts, but the reality is that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. Unless you appropriate that to your life, a person cant’ get there on his own. You will never be good enough to make it on your own. You will always come up short if you are depending on God – You must come to God through this sacrifice lamb. God begins to open the seals – he is the only one with access to this.
In closing – as Christians, we have not done a good job of telling this gstory – if you talk to the typical outsider – I have read this book – They like Jeuss, but not the Church.
He went out and got to know a bunch of people at a coffee shop and began to have friendships with all these outsiders. He discovered that they had great thoughts about Jesus, but hate the church. This book is interviewing people – what they don’t like. A big part of the problem, we as Christians don’t understand our faith as we ought – and not able to express it or teach in such a way that people can understand. That is what Jesus did. What you see when you read about Jesus, the average person ‘got it’.
We need to be able to give an apologetic – that people can understand it clearly – and then to give an apology – for how we haven’t lived and demonstrated Christ to the world the way Christ would have us demonstrate Him.
Lord, we thank You for this great story – You have allowed us to be a part of it. Help us to understand it and to glory in it – to leave this building thinking I am a part of the greatest story on earth – I have been called into the story – and to preach it. We have been called to tell the story to those who need You. In Your name we pray. Amen.