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Sun, May 06, 2007

108 - Redemption for All [b]

Revelation 5:8-10 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:54 mins 39 secs

Redemption for All; Rev. 5:8-10

 

Revelation 5:9 NASB "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 {men} from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." The phrase "new song" is found a number of times in the Scripture. The word KAINOS [kainoj] means new as in recent, something that was unknown previously. It is a counterpart to the Old testament word that is used here, chadash, meaning something new or fresh. We find the phrase "new song" in several passages in the Old Testament: Psalm 33:3; 40:4; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1: Isaiah 42:10. In each of these cases the idea is of something new, not in the sense of something new for a new generation but in the context it is something new because there has been a new manifestation or new revelation of God's person or character. There has been some fresh work of God in the history of Israel that calls upon them to write a new psalm to memorialise this new event in history where God has been gracious to them. So it is not the idea that we have to have a new kind of music but because God's mercies are new every morning.

 

Then we come to the content of the song. It is important to look at the words that are written. There is a development of thought here that is based upon an understanding of two important doctrines. If begins with the focus on the Lamb: "You are worthy." The word worthy is the Greek word AXIOS [a)cioj], which has the idea of competent, someone who is qualified for a particular role, someone who is appropriate for the task, deserving, entitled, suitable. In other words, someone who meets certain qualifications. That had been evaluated and have passed the evaluation exam; they are now qualified to engage in a particular. So it begins by focus on the fact that the Lamb is worthy. Remember, there was this search that took place back in verse 2 where the strong angel came forth and said: "Who is worthy, who is qualified to open the scroll?" Throughout all of creation there is this search and no one is qualified, and it is so scary for the apostle John because he recognizes that this scroll is going to bring about the final judgment of sin and evil, and he is so afraid that there might not be someone who can resolve the problem of evil in the universe he begins to weep. He is rebuked by one of the elders for weeping because the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seals. It is the Lion of the tribe of Judah who is worthy to open the scroll, the only one in the universe because of His distinct work on the cross, and that is the second line: "for You were slain." The word that is translated "for" means because. It is the Greek word HOTI [o(ti] and it means because. He is giving a reason why He is worthy.  He is worthy because He was slain.

 

That directs our attention to His humanity, that element of His hypostatic union, the union of full undiminished deity with true humanity in one person forever. It is because of what he did in His humanity in going to the cross, and on the cross He was slain. This is the Greek word SPHAZO [sfazw] meaning to kill, to slaughter, to slay, and it is usually used of a sacrifice or ritual slaying of an animal. So it directs our attention to this imagery of the Lamb who was sacrificed. We have seen passages like 1 Corinthians 5:7 talking about "the Lord is our Passover," taking the imagery all the way back into the Old Testament, understanding that it is the Old Testament that gives meaning and content to the New Testament ideas.

 

Then we come to the next phrase: "and purchased" or "have redeemed us." The slaying of Jesus wasn't just a criminal action because they thought He was a radical rebel against Rome, He had to die a certain way. He couldn't have just had a heart attack and paid the penalty for sin; He couldn't have just been run over by a chariot and paid for sin, there had to be a penal death, a particular kind of death that took place. He was slain for the purpose of redeeming us to God by means of His blood. The word there translated "redeemed" is the aorist active voice of AGORAZO [a)gorazw]. The word SPHAZO was in the passive voice, which means the subject receives the action of the verb. Jesus was slain because He was the victim of the justice of the Romans and the Jews. The trial was completely illegal according to both Rabbinical law as well as Roman law. But redemption is in the active voice, which means He performed the action of redemption. The word "redemption" means to buy or purchase something. That is the core semantic meaning, it means to pay a price.

 

In the New Testament there are a number of different words used for redemption and each one of these words focuses on a slightly different aspect of this act that takes place on the cross. Redemption isn't simply that Christ paid the penalty, there is more to it than that. Whenever the word was used with someone like Paul or Peter it would bring up into their minds various pictures in the Old Testament. It was the same with any Jew.

 

Understanding redemption begins with an understanding of sin. If we don't understand the depths of sin, if  we don't understand the complexity of what happened when Adam disobeyed God, then we can't understand the complexities of what God does He saves us. That is why when people have a low view of sin they have a somewhat diluted view of what takes place at salvation. What happens at salvation is a top-to-bottom, inside-out transformation that the apostle Paul describes as becoming a new creature in Christ. It is so radical, so complex, so extraordinary that to even think that it is reversible would be beyond comprehension. Sin entered into the human race as the result of a decision that Adam made in the garden of Eden.

 

The idea behind the fruit in the garden was the question of whether Adam was going to trust God and obey God or whether he was going to try to interpret the creation on his own, independently from divine authority and become his own authority in place of God. That was the issue. It was an innocuous act to eat a piece of fruit, yet this was the most evil sin ever committed in human history because it not only affected Adam it affected and infected the entire human race and it affected all of creation. It was not just a spiritual thing.

 

In Genesis 3:14 the Lord begins to outline to Adam and the woman and the serpent what the consequences were for the disobedience. They didn't die immediately, physically; they did die spiritually. There was a separation between Adam and the woman and God. When the Lord came looking for them in the cool of the day they ran and hid. That indicated that the separation was already there and they are completely exposed, and God begins to outline the consequences. First He talks to the serpent and says: "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life." He didn't say the serpent was cursed and the cattle weren't. The implication there is that the cursing on the serpent was to a greater degree than that which the cattle felt. The word cursing in Genesis has to do with the judgment of God. So what God is saying is that as a result of this spiritual decision of rebellion on the part of the man that all of the animal creation is affected and changed. The animal world is now going to be different. There will be conflict; there will be violence now within the animal kingdom.

 

Genesis 3:15 NASB "And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." This is the first indication that there will be a salvation, that there will be a seed of the woman that will be at enmity with the seed of the serpent. This, of course, was played out on the cross and again in the book of Revelation.

 

Genesis 3:16 NASB "To the woman He said, 'I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.'" Now there is going to be an element of sadness and pain in childbirth. But prior to the fall the man and the woman were to multiply and fill the earth and there would have been no pain, and in carrying out the plan of God there would have been no difficulty. Now carrying out any endeavour in the world there is going to be physical pain. So Adam's sin didn't just have this affect on the spiritual realm, it affects the uterus and everything involved with that in every woman since Eve. So it is not just a spiritual thing, it affected the animals and it affects the whole procreation system and biology of the woman. Then in a sinful way the woman would want to control and dominate her husband. The Hebrew word there is only used a couple of times in the Scripture. It is not a desire in terms of lust, it means the woman wants to dominate and control the man and wear the pants ion the family. That is the idea in the next chapter where God uses the same word to warn Cain that sin wants to dominate him. This is a judgment saying, it isn't something positive.

 

Genesis 3:17 NASB "Then to Adam He said, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, "You shall not eat from it"; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.'" So the ground is now cursed. All of creation comes under judgment because of Adam's sin.

 

Then we come to Romans chapter eight where there is recognition of this. Sin is extensive and damaging to everything in the universe. Spiritual death relates to Adam but it has consequences throughout all of the universe. Romans 8:18 NASB "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. [19] For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God." He personifies nature here and says creation looks forward to the coming of Christ and the manifestation of the church in glory. That is what he means by the revealing of the sons of God. [20] "For the creation was subjected to futility [emptiness], not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope." When did this happen? Not when it came from the hand of God but when Adam sinned. [21] "that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now." In other words, all of creation suffers consequences because of sin. So the redemption that Christ is going to pay not only solves the sin problem for man but it lays the foundation for what the Bible calls the future redemption of creation.

 

The word redemption is used numerous times in the New Testament not to refer back to what happened at the cross but to refer forward to that which occurs when Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God, as the future King of kings and Lord of lords, comes to the earth. And that is when the earth is redeemed. Redemption is not just a past event related to the cross but a future event related to the King, the Lamb, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, coming to destroy the enemies of God, taking control of planet earth, and bringing it into the kingdom and beginning to roll back the curse eventually and completely with the creation of the new heavens and the new earth. So redemption is not a narrow concept related to the cross. The cross is the foundation but this term brings in all of history from the fall in Genesis chapter three, through the Old Testament to the cross where the price is paid, and to the ultimate sealing and completion of the transaction when Jesus Christ returns at the second coming.

 

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