The Throne Room
RevealedPastor Jerry Gillis - October 4, 2015
No matter how chaotic the world gets, there is only One who is seated on the throne.
Community Group Study Notes
- If we understand who God is - that He is Ultimate Power, Matchless Beauty, Enduring Faithfulness, and Sacrificial Victory - how does that change how we respond to the world around us? In what ways should that give us peace and confidence for the future?
- Why is it important we are a faithful witness in our circles of influence? How does this reflect the image of Jesus that we see in Revelation 4-5?
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being. (Revelation 4:11)
Sometimes we need to have our perspective altered a little bit. I'm not talking about little things, even though it's certainly right when you, if you have a child or you've had a child who's real small and they break a toy and then you try and tell them, look, it's one toy. You have like eight million toys, right? Don't get so upset about the one toy, which, just as a head's up - rationalizing with a two year old is never a good idea. It just never works. But we're trying to give them perspective, right? That they've lost a toy but they've got a bazillion different toys. The truth is, is that we need perspective on bigger things than that.
In what we're talking about today we need perspective. You see the world that we live in seems like a scary place. It seems like every single time, because we are highly sensitized in the world that we live in to everything that's going on around us, and we have real time information that happens all over the world, and we see every bad thing that happens in our community, we see every bad thing that happens all over the world, and it begins to cause us to take a certain perspective. We hear reports out of the Middle East about what ISIS is doing to people who are followers of Christ and what they're doing to small children and we just can't believe what we're reading or we're seeing or we're hearing. Or we hear about gunmen that are going into a college campus and shooting people, and we just can't believe what we're seeing and what we're dealing with and it begins to shape our perspective. We begin to have a view of the world, and we start to ask questions even in our own mind. Can there ever be justice, you know? Will evil just run unchecked forever? Is the world and everything about it completely off the rails and out of control?
These are the places that we live in our mind, and sometimes what we need is we need a perspective that is different from the one that we're holding. That's what we get today in Revelation chapter four and chapter five. We get a different perspective.
In fact, it's a perspective that for us, really for John first and foremost - John gets an opportunity to see the world that he lives in, which at the time, the world that he's living in is an empire. It is the most powerful empire in the world, the Roman empire. And the Roman empire does what it does, however it wants to do it by force, by coercion, by oppression. Even though there is a semblance of civility about it, it is still those things. John lives right in the midst of that and what he's going to have the opportunity to do in Revelation four and five is to actually view this oppressive system, view this oppressive empire and all of the sinister forces that are underneath it and are holding it up - he's going to get to view that from the control room of heaven. From the very throne room. It is an awesome vision that John has the opportunity to be able to behold and it is going to be of great benefit to us because as relevant as it was in that time, it is still just as relevant for us.
Now, what we have to realize is that here in chapter four and chapter five, this vision itself is not a final state of things type of vision. Even though we are getting a look into the throne room of God, we're not looking into what the final state will be. We're looking at a real time picture of what is going on in what we call the throne room, or the control room of God.
Now, to handle these two chapters in one setting is a lot. And I know that last week you were going that was a lot. Well, good luck this week. It's a lot, so you're just going to have to put your big boy britches on (unless you're a girl, then you put your big girl dress on or whatever it is you do), all right? And we're just going to have to..sometimes I realize it's like drinking from a fire hydrant. It's not the easiest thing to do, I got it. But, you'll need to stay with me, because here's how I'm going to approach these two chapters. Here's what I'm going to do in our few minutes together. I'm going to begin by giving us a running commentary through chapter four and chapter five. I'm not hitting every verse but I'm going to give us a big picture running commentary of what' going on - the major symbols, the major signs - that are going on in these two chapters. And then I'm going to highlight a big idea from Revelation four and five that I want us to remember and I'm going to unpack that for us so that we can see how it impacts our perspective. O.k.? So that's where we're headed.
So let's begin. If you've got a place to open, if you've got something in front of you, I think that's best, but we also will have that on the screens as well. But let's begin.
After John has an opportunity to see a door in heaven in his vision, caught up in the Spirit, he hears the voice that sounded like a trumpet back in Revelation chapter one tell him come up here and I will show you what must take place after this. Then notice what is says in verse two: "At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne."
So, the first thing that we are confronted with is a throne and someone sitting on it. This is the first vision that John has. Now, this is not something that would be uncommon in ancient thought. In the ancient world, the idea of a throne and someone sitting on a throne is a pretty common thing to think about. It's not really kind of the way in a paradigm that we think about power these days, so to speak, but it's very common to the readers of the ancient world. So, the first thing they're confronted with is a throne with one who is sitting in power on the throne.
But the description of the one who is sitting on the throne in power is not a description that you would anticipate. It's a description using precious stones. The appearance of the one who sat on the throne was like jasper and ruby, and there was an emerald kind of refraction encircling the throne. This is the words that the author uses to describe the one who sits on the throne.
Now, for those that would be reading with any kind of Jewish bent, that were reading this, they would have immediately recognized some of these precious stones because it said something to them. Because in Jewish faith and in Jewish heritage, precious stones means something to them. In fact, the high priest, when he was outfitted in what he would be wearing, was wearing a breastplate, and on that breastplate there were twelve precious stones - one for every tribe in Israel. Each of those stones was assigned a tribe and each of them came in a particular order as revealed by God to the high priestly line of Aaron.
What's interesting is that Jewish rabbis and commentators talk about the very first stone that was represented, and the very last stone that were represented were jasper and ruby - the first and the last. This is something that you heard already in Revelation chapter one, because God has revealed himself as the first and the last, and here he says I see the appearance of one who is like a jasper and ruby. In other words a first and a last. And then there is an emerald kind of rainbow behind, and the idea for emerald was attached to the fourth stone, and the fourth stone was attached to the tribe of Judah. That's going to be important for us in just a minute because we're going to see where the lion hails from in chapter five but that's the beginning portion of this.
Look with me and pick up with me in verse number four. "Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing." This is the seven-fold Spirit of God, or the seven spirits of God. "Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal." We'll come back to that. I'm not going to explain that yet. I'll come back to it. "In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.'"
So, the first thing that we run in here is, in verse number four is, surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. Now, you go, o.k., who are the twenty-four elders? Well think about this. How were they dressed? They are dressed in white and they have crowns on their heads. You know what this is significant and sounds like? Royal priesthood. That's what it sounds like. Royal priesthood.
Now, the reason that that is significant is because the number twenty-four comes from Aaronic priesthood line. I'm not going to read that passage to you but it's in 1Chronicles chapter twenty-four and you can see how each of the lines of Aaron, the priestly line, are listed out and they are twenty-four of them. Now what's also significant about this number twenty-four, is it is a combination because we are called to be priests of God, and Revelation begins to flesh that out later on, even in these two chapters, and so this is kind of representative of a priesthood of sorts.
But what does that priesthood compose? Well there are twenty-four, and it's significant that there were twelve tribes of Israel, there were twelve apostles who founded the church. By the way this will be very important when you finally get to the latter part of the book of Revelation and you see the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles. What you have there is you have twenty-four, representative of the completion, the wholeness of the people of God who are in a priestly line as a kingdom of priests. So this is what I think you see when you're seeing the twenty-four elders who are seated around the throne.
And then it starts to talk about that there's lightning and thunder and all of those kinds of things and it brings your mind back to Mount Sinai when Moses was receiving of the ten commandments. And any time in Revelation when you see lightning and thunder claps and those kinds of things, what you can expect is great revelation is about to occur. Just like at Sinai, great revelation would occur with these things, so too in Revelation when we see this happen through the course of the chapters in Revelation, we will see great revelation being unfolded.
Then it says that there were living creatures - four of them. Had a face like a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. You go, o.k., this is going to get good, here, Jerry. The eagle means United States, right? Um, no and stop being weird. But Jerry, I've read that before. Stop reading weird people. That's not what it means. What this is, is actually when you see the four living creatures and then you see that they have wings, multiples, and you see that they have eyes all over their body - this is metaphorical, right? We're not just trying to describe something - this is some kind of incredible symbol that's being described, and it is a fusion of two visions, both from Old Testament prophets. Ezekiel chapter one is the first vision, because that talks about the vision Ezekiel saw, and he saw living creatures - ox, lion, man, eagle - it's all there in Ezekiel chapter one. You can go back, make a note, and you can go back and read that. And then Isaiah chapter six, in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and lifted up and the train of his robe filled the temple, right? And there were all of these seraphim and cherubim that were crying out, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come" and they had eyes all over them, right? So you've got this combination of Ezekiel's vision and Isaiah's vision woven into one. And it is a reminder here that while there are twenty-four elders representative, I think, of the completion or the wholeness of the people of God, these living creatures are basically the ever watching and ever worshiping created order of all things. That it's representative of those things.
You could look at it this way: that the lion is the wild animal, the ox is the domesticated animal, man is the crown creation of God in the context of the world, and the eagle is the one who flies above in the air. This is kind of the idea. It's representative of the entire body of living creatures that are also showing allegiance to the one who is on the throne and who made everything.
Now, after the living creatures begin to worship the one who is seated on the throne, the Bible says that the twenty-four elders fall down and lay their crowns before the one who is on the throne, and they sing along with them in verse number eleven these words: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." So all of the created order in this sense is worshiping God.
So, we might expect what we saw in chapter number four that there's a throne of power with one who is seated on that throne. But when we get to chapter five, there are some things that happen that are interesting to us, and changes the paradigm just a little bit. Here's what it says in verse one and following. "Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?' But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept, because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look inside."
Man, when you begin to look at this, you see first of all a scroll, right? And it's in the right hand of the one who is seated on the throne. Now again, we know that God is Sprit in this sense and these are called anthropomorphisms - we're ascribing human characteristics to God just so that it can be described. But he's holding a scroll in his right hand that's written on front and back indicative of the fact that he is the one who authored the scroll itself and it's all sealed up. What is the scroll? Well the scroll is actually the destiny of humanity and the consummation of God's sovereign will in the universe. It is that scroll. The one that holds everything in the future in his hand.
And so that scroll is sealed up and then there is an angel that cries out something in a loud voice, but notice what the angel does not cry out. The angel does not cry out in heaven, "Who wants to open the scroll?" The angel does not cry out, "Who is the scroll addressed to?" The angel cries out, "Who is worthy to open the scroll?" And you can't hear any response. No one in heaven, or on earth or under the earth can answer that question. No one is worthy and it causes John to break down and begin weeping and sobbing because there is no one who is worthy to open the scroll. The one that has the destiny of humanity in its hands. No one is worthy and John weeps and weeps and weeps.
But then he hears a voice. Verse number five: "Then one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.'" What great news for him! It's as if he's crying and he's weeping and then one of the elders says, "See! The Lion of the tribe of Judah. The Root of David has triumphed and he is worthy to open the scroll."
Now what's interesting here, is that he's clearly describing the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, right? These are messianic titles. The messianic King had these titles as the Root of David and as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, which we saw signified an emerald in the first chapter. But here's what's happening here. What John hears and what John sees is one of the greatest fusion of symbols you're ever going to experience. It is one of the great paradox conundrums in all of literature, when you begin to read this because here's what he hears. "See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah", but what does he see when he turns? Look in verse six: "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven-fold Spirit of God sent out into all the earth."
So he hears Lion, he sees Lamb. This is a startling picture when we begin to embrace it, because it almost doesn't compute in our minds, right? See, the Lion and I look and it's a Lamb. That seems confusing. But it's not, because it's actually teaching us something that we'll learn in just a moment.
But what the Lamb does, after this, is the Lamb takes the scroll, and when the Lamb takes the scroll, all of the living creatures and the elders fall down in worship of the Lamb. Notice that the only one that was worshiped in this passage was the One seated on the throne, but now the Lamb who is standing on the throne is worshiped by the living creatures and by the elders and then after they begin to worship, all of the angels jump in. They say thousands upon thousands, ten thousand times ten thousand begin to worship the Lamb who is worthy and has the scroll in his hand.
And then after that, all of heaven and on earth and under the earth join in the worship of the Lamb in verses thirteen and fourteen. "Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!' The four living creatures said, 'Amen,' and the elders fell down and worshiped."
You see, this is a running commentary of what's going on in chapter four and chapter five. And the reason it's so precious to us, and the reason that it matters so greatly to us is because it begins to reshape our perspective of God. And this is going to be critical for us, once we begin reading further in Revelation when the scroll gets opened. We need to understand the character, and the personhood, and the way in which God actually rules, if we want to understand the things that we will see unfold before our eyes in the Revelation itself.
So, the big idea from these two passages, these two chapters is this: The Lion who is the Lamb teaches us about who God is and how God rules. The Lion who is the Lamb teaches us about who God is and how God rules. Let me unpack that statement for us in four different ways. You could add maybe three to my four. You could add ten to my four, but I've only got time for four. That's what I'm going to give to you.
The first way that God is revealed and the way that God rules is by ultimate power. This is how the Lion who is a Lamb teaches us about who God is and how God rules. We see ultimate power when we begin reading in chapter four and chapter five. Stay with me here.
The first thing that's revealed to us in chapter four is a throne, right? And it's a throne with One who is seated on the throne, a throne of power that is surrounded by twenty-four thrones and those who are seated on those. Now, if you go back into the ancient world, to an ancient mind, because we're living here in 2015 and trying to think in Western terms about these things, we have to go back to an ancient mind to understand what's going on here. For John, for the readers of this letter called the Revelation, the first thing that's going to come into their heads when they see this picture of one seated on a throne and there are thrones around the throne - it's the Roman empire. They're going to see Caesar. The idea of Caesar seated on a throne, surrounded by all of his counselors and advisors. And an even greater sense surrounded by senators, in the way that their governments were structured.
What you and I have to understand is what's being communicated here to John, is that even though in the world that you live in, John, there is an empire that is oppressing and is trying to take over things by force, and is even persecuting those who don't embrace their pantheon of gods that are no gods at all, but instead are persecuting those who actually follow hard after Jesus Christ - who are walking with the Lamb into new creation - you need to understand something. That even though you see a throne of power with Caesar who's on it - by the way, who is worshiped as god, and by people around the throne who are also committing to worship Caesar as god. God is saying to John that is just a parody. There is a different reality. This is not the reality. It's a parody. They will never ever be the ones with ultimate power.
You see, we need that word for our day and age. We need that perspective for the time that we live in, because sometimes we feel like the world is going crazy. And sometimes we are looking too far into the halls of worldly power, because we may believe that somehow that's going to solve all our problems. God is saying we need to re-shift our perspective because there is One that is greater who has ultimate power. He is the reality. The other things are a parody.
That's why, by the way, it says that before the throne there is a glassy sea, clear as crystal. You're going, yeah, man, I can't wait to get there and fish and do whatever. This is not, as I told you, this is not a picture of the final state. This is real time. John is getting a vision into the real time throne room, not the recreated order.
So why is there a glassy sea? Why is that picture before the throne? Well, first of all we have to understand what "sea" means. What is that even talking about? To the ancient mind, the sea stood for chaos and danger. This is what it stood for. In fact, you can read so many of the Old Testament books, and you can hear it described in that way. And by the way when you begin to unfold Revelation, further and further along you see "sea" that is used in a number of ways in a number of ways, in this regard - danger, violence, chaos. In Revelation 13 by the way - what comes up out of the sea? The first beast. In Revelation 15, what do you have an opportunity to observe there? Believers who are standing on the shore of the sea as if in an Exodus narrative who have safely made it through and somehow defeated the beast - coming out of the chaos and the danger through that and having stood on the other side of the shore, very much an Exodus kind of picture.
But what do you see in Revelation 21, 22? There is no more sea in the recreated order of all things. Now it doesn't mean that there won't be any bodies of water so just ... it's a picture, it's a symbol. There will be no more sea. No more chaos. No more danger.
So it's pictured before the throne and listen to this, as a glass sea, clear as crystal. Have you ever been water skiing before maybe? Or maybe just out on the water? If you go out on a boat, sometimes they'll say the water is like glass, right? What does that mean? It means it's not chaotic. It means it's smooth as it could possibly be, right? Those are the best places to try and water ski. You want to ski on the glass water. Well the reminder here is that before God, in his sovereignty, the one who sits on the throne, who is representative of ultimate power - there is a glassy sea. In other words, the chaos to him is smooth. Not an issue for him. What looks like all the world to everybody else is chaos, it is glass to him and by the way, you know what else? Clear as crystal. He can see into it.
It is not a scenario where you and I, when we go out in the sea, it causes great consternation to us like it did to John. Because John was on an island called Patmos and the sea of danger and violence was separating him from everything that he wanted to be a part of. But instead there's a glassy sea. Where we get into a sea and we can't see the bottom and it scares us, what's floating around down there, right? God can see everything, and it is smooth as glass to him because he knows what he is doing to unfold his plan in the world. He is ultimate power. This is what the Lion who is a Lamb teaches about who God is and how God rules. He's not nervous. The scroll's in the right hands.
That's why we see his ultimate power unveiled in so many things in these two chapters. The lightening and the thunder demonstrates that God is in fact over the elements of the world. The fact that the Lamb has seven horns - horns stand for power. You're see that in Daniel's apocalypse as well. Horns stand for power, and there are seven. What does seven mean? Completeness, fullness, perfection. He is the wholeness of what power is and has seven eyes. Meaning he sees in fullness everything that there is including the chaos and he's not disturbed by it. Why? Because he himself is ultimate power. And there's a scroll that was written by God himself, and One who is worthy to open it - the Lamb. So don't worry. The scroll is in the right hands.
You look around and you get nervous and you get freaked out. Here's why. Because you're looking to the kingdoms of this world and they are a parody of the reality. The reality is, to the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, is ultimate power.
But there's a second thing. Matchless beauty. The Lion who is the Lamb teaches us about who God is and how God rules because he is matchless beauty and he rules with matchless beauty. Notice how he tries to describe what he sees sitting on the throne. His appearance was like jasper, ruby, and emerald. It's as if words have failed at this point. I don't even know how to describe the beauty that I am beholding on the throne. I don't even know what to do with it. All I know is to take the most beautiful things that I can think of in my mind and ascribe that and give words to that. You see, it had to also be very beautiful for John to have seen the Lion who is the Lamb. Because he went from weeping to not weeping anymore. Because he was overcome both with the beauty and the magnificence of the One who is worthy.
Now, you and I are absolutely right in looking around at the world that we live in, particularly in this time, right? In the fall you want to go to places like Letchworth and other places and look at all the beauty that God has made and you're just stunned by it. You take pictures of it. You put them on your social media. Just look at what God's done! We're right to do that. We should look and see all of the beauty, but we should also go beyond that and recognize that beauty has a source. Beauty comes from beauty. You don't want to miss this because this is ultimately what we're looking for in our heart of hearts. We don't want to just see beauty, we want to somehow become a part of it.
When C.S. Lewis wrote, he started understanding these types of things, and in one of his works he wrote these words, he said: "We do not merely want to see beauty...we want something else which can hardly be put into words - we want to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it." And then when he wrote his book called Till We Have Faces, he said these words: "It was when I was happiest that I longed most...The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing...to find the place where all the beauty comes from."
You see when we get an opportunity, ladies and gentlemen, to have the privilege and the blessing, to glance into the throne room of God in real time here in Revelation chapter four and five, here's what we see: matchless beauty, the source of everything and it teaches us something. Here, listen to this - the Maker is more beautiful than what is made. Even though we look around and see the beauty of what God has made, the maker is the source of all beauty and He is more beautiful himself than everything that is made. You see this is how God is and this is how God rules.
But there's a third thing - enduring faithfulness. Here's what I mean by that. The first thing that we're confronted with is this picture of a throne, right? He tries to describe who's on the throne, but says behind him there is a rainbow encircling the throne. Isn't it interesting that one of the first things that he's confronted with in the vision is a rainbow.
A rainbow is not in our day and age what we think that it means because it's been co-opted to mean something different. It actually comes from Noah. It comes from Noah. And it was a promise, a covenant that God made. That he's a merciful God and he's not going to judge in the same way that he judged. And so right away you are confronted with a majestic, glorious, beautiful, powerful God who is announcing his mercy - right away! He's announcing his faithfulness. That he hasn't forgotten. I remember, even though a scroll is about to be opened and you're going to see judgment in the world, I remember what I said to Noah, because I'm faithful. I'm faithful to what I said that I would do and I have made promises and I will keep them.
And then, the picture that we have when we see the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, is a picture of the Lamb. Do you know that speaks to his faithfulness as well? Because a Lamb? What's that going to conjure to mind? Well the Passover, of course! When Israel was in captivity and was being released from the bondage of Egypt and God said I want you to take a spotless lamb, and I want you to sacrifice that lamb, and I want you to take that lamb's blood and I want you to put it on the doorpost above all of the places where you are. And in so doing when the angel of death comes by there, any place where the blood of the spotless lamb is, I will pass over them and the firstborn will not die. This is a reminder, ladies and gentlemen, that God is faithful in and through the Lion who is the Lamb who is pictured as one as a lamb.
Then we see, and I could just go on and on here. I'm probably going to have to....just stay with me. I mean when it says the golden bowls of incense which are the prayers of God's people, do you realize how that speaks to the faithfulness of God? Do you realize that every prayer that you've ever prayed - every prayer you've ever prayed - for his kingdom to come and his will to be done, has not fallen on deaf ears? And that it's like sweet incense into the nostrils of God who is the creator and the sovereign over everything, and that your prayers are not a waste of time? Your prayers are not just sending good vibes?
When somebody's sick or hurting or whatever you say I'm sending good vibes your way. I'm like forget your good vibes. Why don't you talk to God? Speak to God on my behalf! I don't need your good vibes. They do nothing for me. I need God. This is what - listen - because it's not a waste to pray. It's not just an exercise in self medication to make me feel better. God hears everything and they are held together as if bowls of incense rising into the nostrils of God. It's not a waste. Why? Because he's faithful. He said call to me, and I'll answer you and I'll show you great and unsearchable things that you did not know. He's faithful.
I could just..let's keep going. I'm going to keep going. He's faithful, right? I'm going to stay there. I'm not going to keep going.
Listen to what it says in chapter five verse nine. Listen to the song of the twenty-four elders. "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
Do you know what that is? That's faithfulness. Do you know why? Because there was a promise that God made from the very outset to Adam. And here's the promise: You are going to rule on my behalf. And ultimately here in this he's saying I haven't forgotten what I said to Adam. My entire project was built on humanity ruling along side of me and having dominion in the earth, and I haven't forgotten about that. And by the way, I haven't forgotten about what I said to Abraham. That I'm going to rescue the world. I'm going to rescue the world through you. You don't have any kids, but I'm going to build a nation out of you, and you are going to bless the world. Every people, every tribe, every tongue, every nation is going to be blessed through you. I'm going to rule the world through humans. I'm going to save the world through Israel and right here in this song you see the faithfulness of God right in the midst of it. This is what he promised.
Let me give you a fourth one. I gotta land the plane here. The fourth one is sacrificial victory. This is how we see the Lion who is the Lamb and what the Lion who is the Lamb teaches us about God and about how God rules. You see, sacrificial victory - look with me in verse number six of chapter five. "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne." Now don't go by that so fast - listen. I saw a Lamb that had been slain, standing. I saw a Lamb, that had been slain, standing.
You see, this is a picture of the resurrected One. This is the resurrected Lord Jesus that we are talking about here, and here's what it teaches us about God: God is not just conquering the world with divine might. God is conquering the world through sacrificial love. This is something we need to understand because it sets the tone for how we understand what happens in Revelation. He's not just overcoming the world through divine might. He's overcoming the world through sacrificial love.
You see what this does is it helps to reshape the perspective of the Jewish people then, and even those of us who have come along after that believe that Messiah is supposed to be a leader who takes over everybody by force. This was the idea behind some of the messianic titles. The root of David. Remember David, right? Saul has killed his thousands. David has killed his tens of thousands. A mighty warrior, David. So when the Messiah comes, he's going to whip all the Romans. Or the Lion of the tribe of Judah. What do lions do? Roar, right? Hopefully not that, whatever that was. Right? Lions do what they do! They conquer. They're king of the beasts. But we're reminded that even though that perspective is what some people have held onto, the Lion who is the Lamb teaches us something extraordinarily different and begins a counter narrative in Revelation.
Listen. You see the narrative is this: there is an empire in the world. There are empires in the world that rule by force, that rule by oppression, that rule by manipulation. They are the kingdoms of this world, but the counter narrative is there is a kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God will one day take in the kingdoms of the world. Overcome them. But how? With sacrificial victory. You see the kingdoms of the world, they overcome by power and force and violence. But the Kingdom of God overcomes by Lamb power, which is self sacrificing love for the glory of God. This is a counter narrative to what is going on in John's world, and what even is going on in our world, and so God is these things and God rules this way.
God is ultimate power. God is matchless beauty. God is enduring faithfulness. God is himself sacrificial victory. And this is how God rules. God rules with an enduring faithfulness and a matchless justice and beauty. And he does it by wielding his ultimate power through self-sacrifice that leads to victory. This is what the Lion who is Lamb teaches us about God and about how God rules, and we need to remember that once the scroll gets opened.
We need to remember that as we begin to unpack the book of Revelation, because some of us have read this book all wrong. We've read it as a book - I'm reading Revelation. I want to find out who the anti-christ is. The book of Revelation is so you can find out who the Christ is! That's what it's about! It is a revelation of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God! This is what the book's about. It's not about you trying to break a code to find out, you know, I don't know. I'm looking - I think maybe in Lebanon there's a guy right now... It's not that. It's to understand Jesus.
But for now, since I've got to land the plane for now, our response should be exactly what the response of the elders was, exactly what the response of the living creatures was, exactly the response of the angels, exactly the response of every living thing everywhere in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea. Worship.
You see, here's the thing. The reason some of you and some of us get really scared about the world that we live in is because we don't worship enough. We somehow are looking into the kingdoms of this world and we're getting freaked out. I can't believe that I live in a world that does _______. I can't believe that there are nations that do _______. I can't believe all this is going on, I'm scared to death. Here's what I recommend. Your eyes are in the wrong control room. You need a perspective change that God gave to John and gives to us that is just as relevant to us today. We need to be able to look in real time in the throne room of God and realize what it means to worship him.
You see, it doesn't mean just singing songs even though that is a part of it and we see that in Revelation four and five, which stuns me that we can be singing about the glorious nature of who God is, and some of you can sit there like a knot on a log. Like a knot on a log. I don't really know...whatever, just finish this singing part. I know you might not be singing a lot and you go you know what I'm singing in my heart. Cool. That's good. I understand. I get it. But that doesn't work all the way through. Do you share the gospel with people around you just in your heart? Listen, I know God's called me to be a witness but I'm being a witness in my heart. Well, I tell you what. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. So I'm not real sure what's in there but whatever's in there, if it's serious with God, your mouth will start talking, and your mouth will start singing, because ultimately this is about giving praise from the worship of our lips for the one who deserves it all.
But it's not just about singing. It's about our praying, because our praying is basically acknowledging our dependence upon the one who's made us. Praying is not just for us to somehow make ourselves feel a little bit better. God is hearing what we're saying and it is sweet incense in his nostrils because what it is, it's an act of worship. We're declaring, God, I need you. I'm not trying to depend on myself. I need you for everything I do. I need you when I talk. I need you when I listen. I need you when I work. I need you when I live. I need you everywhere, every time, everything - it is our declaration of dependence on God.
We worship him in our songs. We worship him in our prayers. We worship him with our stuff...sometimes. Because sometimes we're too busy hoarding, like this is the only life worth living, when there is a completely new heaven and earth on the way. There is a new creation coming, and we don't think about living with our resources in the light of eternity, but instead think about the consumption of them all in the here and now. Sometimes we've got to live and worship with our lives, where we offer the stewardship of our time and how we do what we do - whether we're at the workplace, or whether we're at school, or whatever it may look like - that we learn to love God and to worship God with our very lives, and by the way worship him with our deaths.
Revelation's going to be clear about that as we're coming and I'm not trying to scare anybody but it's just going to be clear and there's no way to run from it. We've got to worship him with our deaths. Some of us would say, boy, I sure hope, if I was one of those people. and they come in and they start shooting and they say, well, if you're a Christian I'm going to shoot you. And if you don't deny Jesus, I hope I wouldn't deny him. Well, if you can't seem to acknowledge him with your stuff, if you can't seem to acknowledge him in your relationships, I don't know if you're going to be able to acknowledge him a gun pointed to your head. We need to be a people that are so serious about what it means to follow the Lamb into new creation, that we are willing to worship him with the wholeness of who we are, including our lives and including our deaths.
So, gone a couple of minutes over, but I'm not apologizing. So if you feel overwhelmed, if you feel overwhelmed, and you look around in the world that you live in, and you start to feel overwhelmed, here's what I'd say to you: You need to look at a different control room. You need to find yourself in the throne room of God. Because when you're there, listen - it doesn't mean that all the evil in the world goes away. It doesn't mean that we still don't see it and that we're burdened by it and that it causes great consternation in our hearts - because it does.
Man, when I see stuff like that happens in the Middle East and what ISIS is doing to kids and parents and I see what happens in places like Charleston, South Carolina. I see what happens in places like this school in Oregon. I just - it is deeply disturbing to me. But I have to make sure that I am not looking at the control room of the kingdoms of this world, because the kingdom of God is bigger, and stronger and better and it will require the courage of a Lion who is willing to live like a Lamb with sacrificial love for the world. This is the way in which the Lamb secures the victory and it will be how we do too.
So, I say this to you. If you don't know Jesus, why? He's sovereign. He's the one in charge of everything. He's the one with the scroll in his hand. He's the only one that can open it and consummate history. Yet you've maybe bought a lie that you think that either you or something else in your life is a better god than the One who holds the scroll and who will consummate history. You believed a lie of the enemy. The enemy of your soul and the enemy of God who we will begin to discover in the book of Revelation. So what I call you to, is to turn from trusting yourself, and to put your faith in Jesus, because he loves you so much that he went to a cross to die for your sin and for my sin to satisfy the justice of God so that through his resurrection and through his own power we could be reconciled to God. If you've never done that, when we dismiss in just a moment, I want you to come straight to the Fireside Room - straight over there.
Father, thank you for the reminder today, the strong reminder when we see into the throne room that our perspective changes. I pray not only God, would you encourage us with that, but you would strengthen us because we also see the world that we live in and we must take a realistic optimism that there are bad things that happen in the world that we live in and we're not immune to them but we also know that the Lord Jesus, the Lion who is a Lamb, willingly self-sacrificed for love, out of love, faithful witness to the very end. You've called us to be that kind of people in the world that we live in, and I pray God that even though most of us will never be in a position where we'll have to be faithful even unto death, a premature death, God I want us to be faithful in everything. With our stuff, with our time, with our relationships - in everything. That we demonstrate your glory. Thank you for who you are and how you remind us more of yourself in this book of Revelation and help us never to be people who read past understanding you more deeply by trying to solve the things that are going on in the kingdoms of this world. You are the reality. They are the parody. May we be reminded of that and may our perspective be shaped as a result. We love you, God. We worship you. We bless you. In Jesus name, amen.
God bless you guys. Have a great week.