The Worship of the Lamb
Revelation Lesson #137
January 6, 2008
“Father, in Your grace You have revealed Yourself to us. In the Old Testament that revelation often included a personal appearance. There were personal appearances in the Garden of Eden. There were personal appearances to Abraham, to David, and to many others. You spoke through the prophets of the Old Testament, and often they heard Your voice.
Father, today You speak to us through the Word that You have revealed in the past. It is no less real, no less powerful, and no less significant simply because Your presence is not physically before us. It is Your thinking as described in the New Testament. It is the thinking of Jesus Christ.
If we are to know reality and to understand reality, then we have to understand Your thinking, how You think and how You have created all things and how You think about all these things which You have created in which You have spoken to in Your Word. As we orient our thinking to Your thinking, then we are truly oriented to reality.
As we resume our study in Revelation 5 today we pray that You would help us to see the significance of the principles we will learn that although they refer to future events, and events that are to take place in the heavenlies, they have direct personal application to our thinking today. We live today in light of eternity and each decision we make today, tonight, tomorrow, and the rest of our lives impacts our future in Your presence and in the kingdom and in eternity.
We pray that we might be able to concentrate and focus this morning and the Holy Spirit will enable us to put together the things that we study today with that which we have studied in the past. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Revelation 4:1. We have taken a detour, a doctrinal sidetrack, for about the last six months. We are now in Lesson 137 in our study of the Book of Revelation, and somewhere around lesson 104 which would be 33 lessons ago, which is 33 hours ago, we departed into a study of angels, because angels are so significant in the revelation that God gave to the apostle John with regard to the future period known as the Great Tribulation.
That period of time within the book of Revelation actually begins in Revelation 4:1. The church, which was the subject of Revelation 2 and 3 is not mentioned or indicated again until we come to Revelation 19 and the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth. We are among those who accompany Him to the earth. The church is not present during on earth during the Tribulation because we have been evacuated to Heaven.
Both those who have died in Christ and those who are alive are taken instantly from the earth in an event known as the Rapture of the church. At the Rapture of the church and in the blinking of an eye, the dead in Christ rise first, and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with Him to be with Him forever in the clouds.
We are then taken to Heaven for an event known as the Judgment Seat of Christ or the BEMA seat. This is described in passages such as 1 Corinthians 3:10–15 and following as well as in 2 Corinthians 5:10. There will be a judgment for all Church Age believers. This is not a judgment to determine where we will spend eternity, but it is a judgment evaluation to determine how we will spend eternity and what our role will be serving in the Kingdom of Christ as indicated in Revelation 4 and 5.
We will serve as kings and priests to our God in the Millennial Kingdom and on into the future. This is a motivation for every believer because today we are in training. If our life on earth is threescore and 10 years or so, then God gives us a time for to prepare ourselves in terms of our capacity and in terms of our understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father, the Holy Spirit, grace, our salvation, and the dynamics of the spiritual life.
As we come to understand all of these things it builds capacity in our souls for our future responsibilities. That has been a major theme in the evaluation judgment letters to the seven churches covered in Revelation 2 and 3.
Each one ended with an incentive clause to change, a challenge to repent, which means to change, followed by the incentive clause to him who overcomes. That is the one who changes and who follows the admonitions in these corrective letters. “To him who overcomes I will grant something.”
These things that are promised are various types of rewards and privileges that will be given to believers who are victorious in advancing to spiritual maturity in this Church Age. Each is followed by an admonition and exhortation. “He who has an ear” is any believer positive to the Word. “Let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
That is, these epistles weren’t simply to be addressed to the churches at Ephesus, Sardis, Pergamum, Smyrna, Thyratira, Laodicea, and Philadelphia. The messages in these seven were intended for all believers throughout the Church Age.
Then we come to Revelation 4:1 before we can continue in chapter 5 we have to go back and have a little summary today to bring everybody back to where we have been in Revelation 4 and 5. It is unfortunate that these chapters were split as chapters because they describe one integrated theme in Heaven before the Throne of God.
Revelation 4 sets the stage and chapter 5 describes the action of the scene, but it is one integral scene. You can’t really separate them out. They are all described in one event. That event takes place after these things, John says. These things is the evaluation of the churches, Revelation 2 and 3.
He says that after the Church Age he looked and behold a door standing open in Heaven. “The first voice that I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me saying, ‘Come up here and I will show you things which take place after this.’ ” It’s not indicated who the voice is. It’s very likely the command from the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a picture of the Rapture when he sees the door open in Heaven. John then goes to Heaven. He’s taken bodily or spiritually into Heaven. We don’t know which. Then he is there before the throne of God. This is the beginning of this scene.
We are introduced to this scene and we are introduced to the first personage that he sees in Revelation 4:2. It is one who is sitting on the throne. In Revelation 4:3 we read, “And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance and there was a rainbow around the throne in appearance like an emerald.” So it’s a greenish rainbow that surrounds the throne.
Often in the Scripture when you study the appearance of rainbows it is an indication of the presence of God and the majesty of God. The One who is sitting on the throne is not the Lord Jesus Christ. The one sitting on the throne is God the Father. As we look at this whole scene, the Lord Jesus Christ is not evident yet but He is there. He is said, when we come to Revelation 5, to be in the midst of the throne as the Lamb, a second personage.
We have to make sure we see the distinctions here between the Father and the Son. Circling the throne of God we have several groups of people. The first group that is mentioned when we come to Revelation 4:4 are the twenty-four elders that are surrounding the throne.
These twenty-four elders are described in Revelation 4:4. “Around the throne twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting clothed in white robes and they had crowns of gold on their head.” We spent a good deal of time studying this issue and who these twenty-four elders are.
Some say they’re angels. Some say they’re men. The Scripture is very clear through the vocabulary used and through the description of them in the next chapter that the twenty-four elders cannot possibly be angels. The twenty-four angels must be the resurrected, raptured, rewarded Church Age believers.
We know this because of several things. First of all, they are wearing robes of white. The wearing of white robes and this terminology is specifically promised as part of the rewards for overcomers in the seven letters to the seven churches. Secondly we know from the text of Revelation 5:9 that it can’t possibly refer to angels.
In Revelation 5:9 we read, “And they sang a new song …” That is the twenty-four elders are singing. It’s not clear, perhaps, in the text when it says, “Now they” because it’s referring to the whole group before the throne. You have the twenty-four elders and the other group I haven’t spoken of yet, the four living creatures.
Revelation 5 talks about the four living beings, four living beings, twenty-four elders, all who bow down before the throne and they sang a new song saying (Revelation 5:9), “You are worthy [speaking to the Lamb who has now appeared] to take the scroll, and to open its seals thereof: for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
If you’re using a NIV or a NASB version or a New Century Bible or an English Standard Bible or a New English Version, any of these modern versions that are based on the eclectic textual theory of textual criticism or the Westcott-Hort theory based on what is known as the Critical Text, then you don’t have a wording that looks like that.
What you have is wording that says “You have redeemed …” and then you’ll see the word men in italics. It looks to you that this could be angels speaking because it’s talking to God about ‘You redeemed men’ as another party. [Men is supplied by the translators as it is not in the original.] Now there’s a problem with this in the original Greek text in the Book of Revelation. That is called a textual problem. We have a variety of these in Scripture and they don’t affect any major doctrines or significant doctrines. Usually with a little study we can come to a fairly confident conclusion as to what these are.
On occasion, though, and this is one of those when people come to a conclusion because the framework of doctrine they have helps to inform their choices. They’re missing a few important ingredients. One of the important ingredients that many translators miss is an understanding of the doctrine of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church. When they look at the majority of documents and they read that there’s no “us” there, there’s just a blank, “You have redeemed”, they say it has to be men because if the ones singing this are redeemed, then they would be men and we haven’t had a resurrection yet.
For most in Christendom, the Rapture or resurrection of believers doesn’t occur until after the Tribulation. They can’t figure out from their theology why any human beings would be before the Throne of God at the beginning stage of the Tribulation. So their theology causes them to completely dismiss and to make a very poorly informed decision in terms of textual criticism.
I realize this kind of thing gets a little technical for a lot of people but I’m going to make it very simple for you. This really has nothing to do with the various intricate arguments related to the Majority Text versus the Critical Text versus the Westcott-Hort or all the various theories of textual criticism that have been set forth over the last 150 years or so.
It’s very simple. There are twenty-five excellent, ancient manuscripts that contain most of the Book of Revelation. That’s twenty-five. We have numerous parts, pieces, references, and quotations from church fathers. We have translations made from these in Latin versions, in Syriac versions, in the Ethiopic version and other translations. When you go through all of that, what it boils down is that there is one
One! I can’t say this often enough. There is only one ancient document called the Codex Alexandrinus that doesn’t have “us” in the text. Some of the others have “us” in them, but the word order is a little different. Of the twenty-five complete or mostly completely complete ancient copies of Revelation we have, twenty-four include the word “us” as the object to the verb “redeemed”. Only one omits it!
It doesn’t put “you” in there. It doesn’t put “men” in there. It just drops out the word “us”. This is probably why it got copied over into one translation from several centuries later, Ethiopic version. So when you take all the manuscripts that have the word “us” versus one that doesn’t, scholars who can’t figure out why human beings would be praising God for redemption before the Throne say, “Hmmm. Twenty-four to one. Let’s take the one.”
That’s what they’ve done. As a result in your Bibles that follow the eclectic text of the Nestle-Aland text [they] add men in italics so it appears that the twenty-four elders are angels as well as the four living beings but that just doesn’t fit the text very well.
In fact, what we see is a tremendous example in Heaven. There’s another textual problem in Revelation 5:10. I’ve corrected this in this particular slide, but what we actually have is antiphonal singing between two groups of people that are there.
The first group are the four living creatures and the other group are the twenty-four elders. The reason there’s twenty-four is that we know from the Old Testament that the priests served in groups of twenty-four and they had these various cycles as they served in the temple. So the number twenty-four has a significance.
Church Age believers, after they are raptured and rewarded, serve as priests and kings, so it follows that same kind of pattern as the Old Testament series that included twenty-four at a time. So they are representatives, not symbols, but representatives of the mass of believers. Every so often another twenty-four takes their place and we cycle through the whole body of believers serving before the Throne of God.
There is this antiphonal singing. There are many examples of antiphonal singing throughout Scripture. The first group of twenty-four elders sing, “You [referring to the Lamb] are worthy to take the scroll, and open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us [the twenty-four elders] to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”
This indicates that by the beginning of the Tribulation, because the Tribulation doesn’t begin until the Lamb opens the first seal, the Church has been raptured, resurrected, and rewarded. Some people say, “It’s going to take ages to go through the Judgment Seat of Christ.” How do you define ages in the timeless environment of Heaven?
What may appear to us in the timeless environment of Heaven to be ages in the time-bound environment of creation may just take a few seconds. So what we see at the beginning of the Book of Revelation is a raptured church, a raptured and rewarded church. It’s a great passage to demonstrate the truthfulness of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
After the twenty-four elders sing, then they are answered antiphonally by the second group, the living creatures. They say, “And have made them [referring to the twenty-four elders] kings and priests to our God; and You [the Lamb] shall reign on the earth.”
The focal point of the Book of Revelation is the preparation of planet earth and humanity through true judgment and purification for the coming of the Lamb of God as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to take His place as the rightful Davidic ruler over the nation Israel and to establish the kingdom upon the earth.
The primary title [and one of my favorite titles] for the Lord Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation is not the Lion who comes to conquer. That’s how He’s introduced initially in chapter five, but the Lion of the first part of chapter five becomes the Lamb later in Revelation 5. Thirty-two times in the Book of Revelation the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords is referred to as the Lamb. Specifically, He’s called the Lamb who was slain for our sins. That’s a fabulous image that is loaded with all manner of nuance.
It is the Lamb Who will reign upon the earth.
Now that we know who these twenty-four elders are who have appeared in Revelation 4:4, we continue the scene. We read in Revelation 4:5, “And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”
The term “seven Spirits of God” comes out of imagery in Zechariah indicating the fullness of the Spirit’s presence. It’s not based on Isaiah 61, which I have pointed out many times, which is a common reference. There are only six spirits in Isaiah 61. You have to go to Zechariah in order to find this.
One of the things that we pointed out in the past as we’ve gone through the Book of Revelation as much as we have is that many of the symbols, most of the symbols we find in the Book of Revelation, have their source in Old Testament imagery. As we go into the Tribulation we’re also going to spend a lot of time going back to Zechariah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and especially Daniel in order to understand the symbols, the types, and the representations we have in the Book of Revelation.
You can’t come along in the Book of Revelation and start assigning new meaning to these symbols and events that have been already identified in the Old Testament. That’s why God in His wisdom did it this way. He introduces these symbols and these events in piecemeal fashion throughout the Old Testament so that when you get to Revelation, everything comes together. Everything pulls together. It’s not new revelation. It’s simply tying together things that have not yet quite been put together for us in the Book of Revelation.
So in Revelation 4:6 it says, “Before the throne is a sea of glass.” Actually, it’s a sea like glass. Some translations say a glassy sea. It appears to be glass because it is so smooth but what it does is separate God from His creatures, reinforcing the Creator/creature distinction.
In the midst of the throne and around the throne circling the throne we have the four living creatures, full of eyes in front and eyes in back. They’re described in Revelation 4:7 in terms that remind of the serifs, the seraphim, if you will [“im” is the Hebrew plural] of Isaiah 6. They also remind us of the cherubim who appear in the vision to Ezekiel [Ezekiel 1 and Ezekiel 10] where they are actually referred to as living beings. They have a different number of wings and different faces.
They’re described in Revelation 4:7. “The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.” These function as an honor guard of praise to God, surrounding His throne, the same way the seraphim did in Isaiah 6. They are singing a very similar song recorded for us in Revelation 4:8.
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come.” Let me pause a minute to remind you of something of the significance of this. Sort of the knee-jerk reaction that many of us have is when we read back in Revelation 1, this reference to the One on the throne as the One who is to come. There are those who say, “Oh, the one who is coming is Jesus. That’s who is coming in Revelation 19. So maybe the One on the throne is the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Wrong! We have to study the usage of these terms that are so precise in the Book of Revelation. “Lord God Almighty” in the Book of Revelation is a reference to the Father. Every time it’s used it’s in reference to the Father. As we see here, the Lamb appears in Revelation 4:5, but is a different personage. “Lord God Almighty” is a technical term in Revelation for the Father. Every time it’s used it’s talking about the One who is where? On the throne.
The only one who sits on a throne in the Book of Revelation is God the Father. That fits with what we studied at the end of Revelation 3 in the letter to the church at Laodicea. There is a final statement in Revelation 3:21 where Jesus said, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne.”
Wait a minute. See, He’s on a throne. No, He’s not. It is a future statement, saying “To him who overcomes, I will, in the future, grant to sit upon my throne, when I have one at the Second Coming.” It adds, “As I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” See in the period known as the “Session”, the seating from the Latin word SESSIONUM, the seating of the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of Father shows He is not sitting on the Father’s throne now. He is not sitting on David’s throne now. He is not sitting on His throne of any kind now. He is sitting on the right hand of the Father’s throne waiting, as is pictured in Daniel 7, for the Ancient of Days to give Him His Kingdom.
That occurs through the process of the opening of the seals, this judgment on the earth, which prepares the earth for His return in Revelation 19. He does not take His throne until He returns bodily into the earth at the end of Revelation 19.
We come to this last phrase, “the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come”. I hear somebody saying, “See, what are you going to do about that? Jesus is the One who is to come.”
Ahh, you’re right, Jesus is the One who is to come, but He’s not the only one who is coming. In fact, if we look at Revelation 21:3 we read, “And I heard a loud voice from heaven.” This is in the new heavens and the new earth. “I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold the tabernacle [that is the dwelling of God] is with men.’ ”
God is a term in Revelation for the Father. “The tabernacle of God is with men, and He [not the Lamb, but the Father] will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will be no more death, no more sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things have passed away.”
It is only later in this chapter that the Son is introduced. The Father is coming. The One who is and was and is to come is a title for the Father. He is coming. In fact all three Members of the Trinity will have their physical dwelling here. They will tabernacle among men in Revelation 21, which says there will be no need to have a temple on the earth. In fact, there will be no need for a sun or a moon during the time of the new heavens and the new earth because the universe and the earth will be illuminated by the glory of Their presence.
Revelation 4 tells us that the throne is surrounded by the twenty-four representatives of the church. They are the rewarded, raptured, resurrected church, and the four living beings. This isn’t the last we see of them. They are not simply to praise God, but they will play a vital role as witnesses with the Lord Jesus Christ when the first four seal judgments are opened.
In verse 9 we read that whenever the four living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever and cast their crowns before the throne. We see a clear indication here of worship, worship depicted and described in Revelation so that we are not left to our own subjective feelings as to what worship is.
Now that is a challenge to our modern evangelical church today in America because of the influence of post-modernism. 98% of Christians think worship has to do with your attitude when you come to church as opposed to external guidelines, external objective guidelines, that are given in Scripture.
In other words, they say worship is not what you do in submission to God. Worship is how you feel about God and that is nothing more than mysticism and paganism. It is this belief that entered into modern Christianity in America through the charismatic Pentecostal movement and changed the way church was done in a revolutionary manner.
We’ve gone over this before. Starting in the 1970s it changed the way music was done in church. Music began to be called worship and the study of God’s Word was no longer called worship. The pastor is no longer the worship leader. It is the song leader that has become the worship leader.
This is a devastating, devastating and heretical shift that has taken place. You can go to 99% of the churches in this city and they’ve all made that shift. What it does is that it changes the center, the focal point of worship from the throne of God to the enthroned self who seeks to worship his own emotional idol that he has constructed in his soul and labeled as Jesus.
So the music is designed to produce a certain emotion that is then called worshipful. It is only if that emotion, that mindset, or even a physical posture is generated that that is worship.
I’ve heard this for years. People have come to me and said, “I really felt like I worshipped today.” Or at the same service someone else said, “I didn’t feel like I worshipped today. I just feel there was too much teaching.” Many of you have not heard that before. You’re fortunate but that is standard operating procedure today.
We must always come back to the Bible to define worship and so these passages are integral to understanding what worship is. In fact, our own English word “worship” is built on an English word that is used here in Revelation 4:11 and again in Revelation 5. That is the word worthy, AXIOS, worthy of worship, that which has met a standard and is valued. The Old English word was worthship, to ascribe value or honor to someone or to something.
That is where our English word derives. The Greek word for worship, PROSKUNEO, has to do with kneeling or being in obedience to someone’s authority and recognizing that authority in law and in life.
The Old Testament words have the same concept. It is to recognize the authority of God and God’s Word in your life and to submit and to subordinate every area of life: business, money, family, leisure, what you read, and your entertainment, to submit everything in life to the authority of God and His Word.
This is because of two things. That’s what we see in Revelation 4 and 5. The first has to do with the fact that He is the Creator of all things. This creation/evolution conflict that has plagued Western civilization for the last 150 years is a core assault on the doctrine of worship in Scripture. For we worship God first and foremost as the elders and living beings say here in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”
This is attributed to the Father because we’re talking about the One who is on the throne. The Lamb doesn’t come in yet. He’s still sitting, obscured in John’s vision. He hasn’t appeared yet so this is an ascription to the Father. “You are worthy because by Your will You created all things.”
The first and foremost reason we worship God is because He is the One who created all things and He is the One who created us. There may be some of you who are saying, “Wait a minute. I’ve read other passages in Scripture which indicate it was the Lord Jesus Christ who did the creating.”
There actually are passages which indicate His role as the instrument of creation, but the ultimate Creator is the Father. Let’s look at one passage to make sure we get this right. Colossians 1:16 begins, “For by Him all things were created [talking about the Lord Jesus Christ in context] that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.”
Those terms all indicate the various ranks of the angelic hierarchy. “All things were created through Him [the Lord Jesus Christ] and for Him. And He is before all things [that is, in priority and in time], and in [by, an instrumental usage in Greek] by Him all things consist.”
A couple of important observations here. First of all, a key thing to understand in any Greek passage in the Bible is to identify your main verb. The main verb is KTIZO, translated created, and it is an aorist passive verb. Passive is what we need to focus on. Passive verb means that the one who performs the action is indicated not as the subject of the verb, but usually by a phrase beginning with “by”.
For example if I say John hit the ball, John is the subject of the verb. Hit is the verb. Ball receives the action. But if I say John hit the ball with a bat, “with the bat” is the instrument. Now in English I could also say John hit the ball by means of the bat or by the bat. It may seem awkward, but it still communicates.
If I change that from an active voice verb, John hit the ball, to a passive voice, we say, “the ball was hit by John by the bat.” See, in English we indicate the agent of the action, the one who performs the action, in the passive verb construction we use the preposition “by”. That’s how we know it’s passive. We say “the ball was hit by John” so John is the agent of action. We know that because of the preposition “by”.
We get to a verse like this in the Greek. In the English it says “by Him all things were created”. In English the “Him” would be the one who performed the action, but that’s not what the Greek does. Not at all. What we have here in the Greek is the preposition EN plus the dative. EN indicates the instrument used by the one who performs the action. Just like English has a preposition “by” that indicates the agent of the action, Greek has a preposition that indicates the agent of the action, the one who performs the action.
So that an active voice verb, that would be indicated by the subject. When you change to a passive voice you indicate the agent of the action with the preposition HUPO. You don’t have HUPO here. If you had a HUPO clause here it would be HUPO THEOS, by God all things were created through Jesus Christ.
See the performer, the true subject agent of the verb, is not mentioned in the passive, only the instrument that the Father used, the one who carried out the action, the one who is the Creator is the Father. Because Jesus Christ carries out the action as the Instrument of God, He’s also fully involved, He can also be called the Creator.
What we see in Revelation 4 by the Greek of Colossians 1:16 and 17, it is the One who is sitting on the throne as Revelation 3:21 indicates is the Father on the throne, who is the ultimate Creator of all things.
Now we get into Revelation 5. Revelation 5 gives us the action. “And I saw,” John says, “in the right hand of Him who sits on the throne a scroll.” It’s laying on His hand. It’s not gripped in His hand. It is a scroll that’s written inside and on the back. John can’t read the writing but he sees that it is written, writing inside and also on the back. When it’s been scrolled up he can see some of the writing on the back and it’s sealed with seven seals.
You have to break each of the seals before you can eventually open the document. This was typical of many legal documents in the ancient world. The indication here is that this is a covenant, a contract, and it is that which gives the Lord Jesus Christ as the God/Man the ruling rights to the earth.
The original Adam was created as God’s image to reign over the earth, but he failed. Now the Lord Jesus Christ, the second Adam, is going to take the position as the Son of David, the Son of Man, because He passed the tests that Adam failed, to rule in His Kingdom over the earth.
This scroll then functions like a title deed or contract for the earth. At this time there is a dramatic scene that breaks out in Heaven. There’s this mighty angel there. There are three strong or mighty angels that appear in the course of the Book of Revelation. He proclaims, KERUSSO, a term that often indicates officials in a courtroom. We would say this is the function of the Sargent-at-arms who makes an announcement.
He is looking for someone. “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loosen the seals?” No one. No one anywhere. That’s why it says in Heaven, on the earth, or under the earth. This is a merism in Hebrew which means that no matter where you can think of, anywhere in creation, in, on, or under, anywhere there’s no one, no creature that can be found worthy to open the scroll or to look at it.
This produces a strong reaction in the apostle John. He breaks out weeping loudly. The Greek indicates he’s wailing. He’s so emotionally distraught that no one can execute this document. Why is he weeping? Because without the execution of this document, sin and suffering, death and destruction, will continue in history. He weeps because no one is found worthy to open the scroll, to read it, or to look at it.
But, one of the elders says to him, “Do not weep.” Stop weeping. “Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” This is when we first see the Lord Jesus Christ enter into the presence of the throne room.
John says, “And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns [omnipotence], having seven eyes [omniscience] which are the seven Spirits of God [the fullness of the ministry of God the Holy Spirit] sent out into all the earth.”
“Then He came …” The Lamb comes forward and takes the scroll from the right hand of the Father, “Him who sat upon the throne.”
“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders [the resurrected, raptured, rewarded Church Age believers] fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
The presence of these musical instruments indicates that even though the text in Revelation 4 and 5 uses the word “saying” that word LEGO can also indicate singing. That’s what this is. There is singing in Heaven. Singing is very much a part of worship as we’ll see in the next couple of weeks.
They are going to sing another praise. The first praise had to do with praising God because He is the Creator of all things. Now they are praising because of redemption.
“And they sang a new song saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” It is praise for the Lamb for what He has done and for what He will do. “And has made you kings and priests to our God; and you shall [future tense] reign on the earth.”
It’s not a present tense. Jesus Christ is not reigning on the earth today. There is not an absentee spiritual kingdom on the earth today as the amillennials and post millennials would have it. He will only reign [future tense] when He returns at the Second Coming.
Then in Revelation 5:11 John says, “I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels.” This is where we stopped to focus on the angelic conflict. This is the first time we realized that surrounding the four living beings, surrounding the twenty-four elders, are myriads upon myriads of angels.
“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.” This is an innumerable host of angels. Finite but innumerable. They sing around the throne.
They are “singing with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory.”
The reference to the myriads and myriads and thousands and thousands of angels is an allusion to the throne-room scene in Daniel 7:10 where you have a similar counting of the number of angels.
What we see is a statement regarding the worthiness of the Lamb. It could be restated like this: Worthy is the Lamb who was killed. We should praise Him because of His power, His wealth, His strength, His wisdom, His honor, His glory, and His blessing.
We will come back next time now that we’re caught up to focus on the attributes of Christ as the basis for praise and worship. As we get into Revelation 5:13 we will get back to the doctrine of worship. Earlier this year we studied worship in music. We’re going to come back and I will hit those again, adding things I did not teach last time. Yes, indeed, we’ll have more “show and tell”, sound, audio, and visual, especially when we talk about the music aspect.
It’s important to understand worship because so often we restrict our concept of worship to simply the study of God’s Word and yet we have different kinds of worship mentioned in Scripture, all of which are important even though that which informs everything else comes through the study and teaching and application of God’s Word. It leads to the other areas of worship, the worship of singing and praise and thanksgiving. Also the worship of giving and the worship of communion and above all, the importance of just studying the Word. We’ll begin on the doctrine of worship next time and conclude with music when I return from Kiev.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to be refreshed and encouraged by Your Word and to be reminded that there is a plan. We see that that which occurred in the past sets the stage for that which will occur in the future. We praise You for the fact that You have created all things.
You have created us and even though You created us with free will and we failed, You have also redeemed us. It is through the Lord Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross that we have been bought with a price; therefore, we are not our own but we are Yours.
We are bond slaves to the Lord Jesus Christ who owns us. We are to serve Him with our lives as part of our worship.
Father, we pray if there’s anyone here this morning who is unsure of their salvation, uncertain of their eternal destiny, and they are in a life without purpose, without meaning, and without hope that they will take this opportunity to recognize that as a creature of Yours, there is meaning and hope. That comes only through faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ died on the Cross for all of your sins. They’ve been paid for. The issue now is whether or not you will accept that free gift, that free gift of His sacrifice on the Cross. You do that by trusting in Him, by believing that He died on the Cross for you.
As you trust in Him alone, at that instant God the Father in His omniscience knows that You have trusted in Christ alone, in that instant, you are given the righteousness of Christ. You are declared to be just. You are given new life in Him that can never be taken from you. You become a new creature in Christ.
You are born again. You have eternal life and that can never be lost.
Father, we pray that You will challenge us with what we have studied today that we might be reminded that we are living each day today in light of eternity. We pray this is Christ’s name. Amen.”