Revelation Chapter Five Applied

Revelation 5:1-14

I have spent a great deal of time on Chapters 4 & 5 because they, along with Chapter 12, have pivotal roles in interpreting the entire book of Revelation.

Critical Error of Modern Prophecy Preachers

A critical error today is found in those who interpret the Bible by reading the newspaper accounts of current events. Note the following claim about a book on prophecy —

“In my book [on] Daniel…, by using the key given by God when he unsealed for understanding the eighth chapter of Daniel in 1967, I explain all of the seven chrono-specific predictive prophecies in the Book of Daniel, and I show how everything prophesied in Daniel has now been fulfilled.” (Prophecy Teacher’s book on Daniel.)

Billy Graham is more correct in his assessment of our times —

“These warnings from the Book of Matthew [Chapter 24] are not parables or myths; they are the very headlines of our day. They are the evidence of Christ’s prophecy fulfilled before our eyes” (see Storm Warning, p. 37).

I enjoyed his earlier book The Approaching Hoofbeats: The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He pointed out modern happenings as probable fulfillments of Revelation Chapter Six, but he did not use the headlines to interpret the Bible.

The Prophecy of Daniel can be unsealed by a newspaper account? Really! I think no one would see this as fulfillment in the 1st Century. Rather, we have seen John’s Revelation referring to various Old Testament prophecies as fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus Christ. The Last Days have been inaugurated at his first coming and will be consummated at his second coming. We do not need a newspaper in one hand and the Bible in another to un-seal Daniel or any other prophet in the Old Testament.

We start with the key verse of the chapter — 5:13b.

Application of Chapter Five Vision

Focus on the Symbols in Chapter 5 in Review

Note on the chart, I list the 4 main Symbols in the chapter.

(1) The Scroll — “God’s testament” or “will” signifies that he rules the world for the benefit of his Church and all will result in God’s glory.

(2) The Lamb — Rather than symbolizing innocent submission, the Lamb in Revelation is a ‘mystic, apocalyptic designation (or title) of the glorified Christ, enthroned with God and destined to be victorious over all the opposing forces in the universe, both human and demonic.’

Kings-and-Priests(3) The Kingdom-Priests — God’s kingdom people called to be intercessors in the last days.

(4) God’s Dominion — The ever-expanding throne room of God helps us view all of life as destined to mirror the majesty and glory of God.

How should we view the Symbols in our everyday life?

The Scroll and the Lamb

I combined the first two symbols since they are related. The scroll is taken by the Lamb. We may feel at times we are surrounded by the rubble of a civilization that is in free-fall away from God. We should derive hope from the fact that the Lamb has taken the rule of the world to support his Church and especially those who are persecuted for the Gospel’s sake. We are building for God in our spheres! We are not preoccupied with the rubble around us. We have our families and spheres of influence into which we can speak the truth of God.

Hiroshima

An Example of Doing What One can Where One is

A doctor survived on the outskirts of Hiroshima after the A-Bomb exploded over the city. The city was devastated and few survived the 4000º F heat wave. As the doctor moved out of the building where he was, he began to come to terms with the magnitude of the effect on “survivors.” He wondered,  “Where am I to begin to help with so many injured?” He stumbled on a fallen survivor who moaned in pain. He purposed, “I’ll begin where I am and work outward. I will help as many as I can as far as I can go.” (Old article from Our Daily Bread devotional).

We are in the business of building the Kingdom of God which was inaugurated at Christ’s first coming and will be consummated at his second coming. God uses means to do this, so second causes are valid. He has chosen to use us.

Kingdom-Priests and the Ever-Expanding Throne Room of God

I combined the last two images also since Kingdom Intercessors and the extension God’s dominion are related. A pastor writes —

“One of the most common questions that people have in church is, “If God is sovereign, why should we pray?” The idea seems to be that if God is sovereign, knows everything, is all powerful, and is all wise then surely, he doesn’t need our prayers. Although that is a difficult question, I think the more difficult question is, “If God is not sovereign, why should we pray?” If God is not sovereign, then there’s no need for us to pray because we’re praying to a God who is not able to do something about our situation. He is somehow limited in his power, his knowledge, and his ability to actually intervene in time and space and do something.” (see Richard below).

Since we have the Sovereign God at work in our behalf, we cannot fail. I suggested the throne room of God scene ought to evoke thoughts of Lord of Hosts who fights for us and defends us.

A Modern Example of God using Nature to Protect People

Ethioian Lion Symbol

Ethiopian national crest.

When the Ethiopian police found [a kidnapped girl] a week after her abduction, three black-maned lions surrounded her, guarding her as though she were their own. Seven men had kidnapped the twelve-year-old girl, carried her into the woods and beaten her. Miraculously, however, a small pride of lions heard the girl’s cries, came running and chased off the attackers. “[The lions] stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” police Sergeant Wondimu told one reporter. (see ODB below).

Our God is still the Lord of Hosts and he guards people! He has established everlasting ties between us and Him. Indeed nothing that happens here can sever us from our  Great King of Glory!

Next time Chapter Six.

Notes

ODB. (2019). Taken from Our Daily Bread Devotional for 4 November 2019. Accessed 16 December 2019 from https://ourdailybread.ca/no-longer-afraid/

Richard, G. (2018). “If God is Sovereign, Why Pray?” Accessed 16 December 2019 from https://rts.edu/resources/if-god-is-sovereign-why-pray/

Storm Warning. (2010). Book by Billy Graham. Accessed 16 December 2019 from https://epdf.pub/storm-warning-deceptive-evil-looms-on-the-horizon.html

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Expansion of Heaven’s Throne Room, Part 3

Revelation 5:11-14

Quotation picture above is from Fancyquote.

What is the third take away from this passage?

III. All of God’s creation will eventually worship Him.

13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

This scene is anticipatory of the end of this age.

New-heaven-new-earth-740x494

Image from biblword.net

Then I heard every creature…singing — ‘Creature’ is ktisma in Greek — the –ma ending of the word indicates the result of creative action. This litany of praise comes from everything that has life and breath in the universe. This time, John uses articles before each one of these attributes. He is reinforcing the idea that the Lamb is worthy of all that there is of these in the universe. Rome sought these for her Emperor, but they belong to the Lamb by inherent right!

Why so much emphasis on Creation?

I like what Nancy Pearcey says in her book Total Truth

“The Christian message does not begin with ‘accept Christ as your Savior’; it begins with ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’

“Once we understand how first principles work, then it becomes clear that all truth must begin with God.

“The Bible teaches that God is the sole source of the entire created order. No other gods compete with Him; no natural forces exist on their own; nothing receives its nature or existence from another source. Thus His word, or laws, or creation ordinances give the world its order and structure. God’s creative word is the source of the laws of physical nature, which we study in the natural sciences. (see Pearcey, p. 45, below.)

Potter and Clay

Image from Sharefaith

We cannot unlock knowledge of anything without acknowledging ultimate reality has God at its center. Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (ESV)

14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Living creatures said, “Amen!” — The verb “to say” is in the imperfect tense. The imperfect tense indicates that the Creatures formed a sort of “amen corner.” They said “amen” after each attribute was ascribed to the Lamb. It comes from the Hebrew ‘amen and means “so be it.” 

The elders fell down — True to form, the Elders follow the lead of the living creatures and prostrate themselves in worship. 

The Time of Fulfillment

The question arises as to the time of fulfillment of this scene. (1) Some see that it is a coronation scene. This occurred at the ascension. (2) Others see it is a futuristic
scene which will occur at the end of time.

It is difficult not to see this as the coronation of the Lamb at the ascension because he is said to take his seat on the throne cf. Hebrews 1:1-3. Nevertheless, what occurred at the time of the ascension is not complete. But, it has commenced. And will be completed when Christ comes again and renews all things!

See Romans 8:19-23 for the “groaning of all creation for renewal.

The One who died on the cross of Calvary is the One who will come as King to vanquish all His foes and to share His reign with His people.

Next we’ll wrap up chapter 5 with some application points.

Notes 

Pearcey, N. R. (2005). Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. Study Guide Edition. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Expansion of Heaven’s Throne Room, Part 2

Revelation 5:12

12 … saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

[Remember — You can always click on a link and read a Scripture passage in a separate window.]

What is our second take way from this scene?

II. As the first century believers did, we should see God alone as worthy of having first place in our lives. vs. 12a

We saw in the last post how we should look on this scene in Revelation. Compare II Kings 6:8-20. We can with the eye of faith behold what Elisha’s servant saw with his physical eyes — 16 Elisha said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

7 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 

elisha-syrians

from freebibleimages.org

We ought to compare the II Kings 6 passage with Hebrews 2:5-9 as we view the ever-changing scenes around us in this world. 

8 At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to [Christ]. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 


This Revelation scene reminds me of a story in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy finds a book of Incantations. In it she reads “a spell for the refreshing of the spirit.”

“It went on for three pages and before she had read to the bottom of the page she had forgotten that she was reading at all. She was living in the story as if it were real… .

When she had…come to the end, she said, “That is the loveliest story I’ve ever read or shall read in my whole life… . But here part of the magic of the Book came into play. You couldn’t turn back. The right-hand pages, the ones ahead, could be turned; the left-hand pages could not…”oh dear, it’s all fading away…It was about a cup and a sword and a tree and a green hill… .”

Aslan, the Christ-figure in the book, reassures her He will be telling her the story over and over for years to come.


A great deal of Revelation’s imagery would have refreshed suffering believers in Asia Minor as they heard it read out and taught in their congregations. We have to exercise our minds in study to understand the imagery before it can refresh our flagging spirits today, but it still does its intended work!

There will never be true unity and concord in any created place until Jesus is Lord in every sphere and life. 

This is why John hears every created being in heaven speaking with one united voice — singular — of this group. They speak as one voice. It is an acappella praise to the Lamb’s worthiness. At this point the “song” includes all life forms in heaven. They are representative, as we saw earlier.

Everything created is represented by angels around the throne. 

the Elders and the throne — This scene includes in symbolic form all life as it forms a ring around the throne (kyklos) outside Living Creatures 

Later on in this chapter we will see the scene expand to the entirety of creation.

All that could be attributed to earthly rulers is seen here to be truly attributed to the Lamb.

Worthy to Receive — All of the nouns — power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise — are all joined together with one definite article.

According to Alan F.  Johnson, “the seven-fold accumulation of these attributes by angel choirs is a Qumran liturgical method for creating the feeling of God’s majesty and glory.” (see Johnson, p. 380, below.)

Renewal of Creation

If we lose our faith in the Creator, there will be no prospect of one who will recreate the heavens and the earth anew.

We must let this vision of what will be fully realized at Christ’s Coming refresh us as we see the sinful world disintegrating around us. We cannot give into despair.

And, we cannot muck rake in our own sins. We must confess them to God and he will forgive us (I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness ESV).

I like what one saint said, “God buries our sins in depths of the sea. We ought to anchor a ‘no-fishing’ sign there!”

We must not grow weary in well-doing. We must look away from the nasty-now to the glorious-to-be-then. It will refresh us and return us to the work God has given us to do. Viewing the majesty and glory of God will always lift us up from depression!

More on this passage next time.

Notes 

ESV. (2001). Accessed 29 November 2019 from https://www.biblegateway.com/

Johnson, A F. (2009). Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 13: Revelation. Rev. Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI:

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Expansion of Heaven’s Throne Room, Part 1

Revelation 5:11-14

Picture above is Blake’s illustration from Job of “the Morning Stars Singing,” at creation. 

We will look at how first Century believers would have seen this section and how we can apply it today.

The retinue of God’s throne-room is innumerable. 

As one writer commented, “What Caesar would not have envied such a numerous retinue in the throne-room of God Almighty!” (source forgotten).

What is our first take way from this scene?

I. The innumerable retinue reminds us of the Lord of Hosts whom we serve. 

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands

Expansion of Heavens Throneroom 2

Very little of the Revelation can be pictured in a literal fashion, but above, I attempt to show the expansion of Heaven’s Throne-room from Chapter 4 to the end of Chapter 5. We will see a further expansion in Chapter 7. Remember the throne room is circular because it is the Biblical center of reality! Our solar system may be heliocentric, but reality is multi-tiered and centers on God’s throne.

Lord is YHWH, the tetra-grammaton of four Hebrew consonants. In the past, it has been transliterated with vowels to make it read “Jehovah.” But should be transliterated as “Yahweh”.

Hosts is Sabaoth in Hebrew meaning “armies” or “hosts”. (see BDB Lexicon on the OT.)

According to Alexander MacLaren’s Exposition, “by that title, ‘the Lord of hosts,’ the prophets and psalmists meant to express the universal dominion of God over the whole universe in all its battalions and sections, which they conceived of as one ranked army, obedient to the voice of the great General and Ruler of them all.” (see Heavenly Hosts below)

I once read of an atheist who was speaking outdoors to a crowd who had gathered to hear him speak. He ridiculed God and those who believed in Him. In desperation he cried out, “If there is a God, I call upon Him to strike me dead.” Since nothing happened at that moment he concluded there is no God to strike anyone. Little did he know that he was bitten by an insect at that moment. He scratched its bite-mark later. It became septic in a short while and he died two weeks after making the comment. (an old edition of Our Daily Bread devotional.)

A. God can use His insects to strike His and our opponents, but He doesn’t always strike out immediately.

I use insect as an example of God’s hosts because they are numerous and small. We use “Raid” to easily kill them in our homes. What if we were overwhelmed with a swarm?

Consider this recent news out of the Middle East and Northern Africa.

“The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that an infestation of desert locusts in Sudan and Eritrea is rapidly spreading along both sides of the Red Sea towards Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

“These locusts are normally present in low numbers in the desert and don’t cause a big problem. But following a large rainfall they can quickly multiply, eventually forming hopper bands or swarms of adults, composed of billions of individual locusts,” Cressman told The Media Line. According to the FAO, locust swarms can extend outwards several hundred square miles, containing roughly 40-80 million adult locusts in each square mile. What makes these insects so dangerous is their threat to food security, says Cressman. (see Jerusalem Post below.)

Locust

Picture from Jerusalem Post, February 22, 2019, issue.

B. Realize also God can use His insects to feed people at the same time.

“Yeminis have found a unique way to deal with the plague of locust as “Yemenis are fond of eating locusts.

“One swarm covering one square kilometer contains 50 million locusts, and this swarm can eat the equivalent of 100 tons an hour. This may cause disaster not only in Yemen but also in other countries, such as in Saudi Arabia.”

Yemini Feast on Locusts 2

Source of picture is Jerusalem Post, June 3, 2019. 

“Villagers catch the locusts at night when they’re not flying, by throwing scarves or other large pieces of cloth over the insects to trap them and then sweeping them into bags using shovels or their hands.

“We wiped them out before they wiped out crops. In a matter of five hours, the village was free from any danger of the locusts.”

And I would add, they feasted on the former agents of destruction! Persecuted Christians are able to eat locusts in that war-torn country, also.

C. Our God is still Lord of Hosts! 

People in John’s day saw in this passage a truth God taught in II Kings 6:8-20 (click on link to read the verses). Elisha’s servant needed to see “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” God has not changed. Let us continue to pray that God’s kingdom will come here on earth and His will be done!

The Lord of Hosts can bring judgment and help from the same source. Think of what he can do with all creation in His service!

I hope you pray for the persecuted church around the world. Believers in N. Korea need supernatural sources of food and water to live through their current famine. See the story in Open Doors Ministries about North Korea.

D. God speaks in disasters.

C. S. Lewis says, “God whispers in our pleasures; He speaks in our consciences; but, He shouts in our pains!”

God is speaking through our planet’s weather convulsions! He is calling us to repentance, and we must listen to him and not to those who deny His existence.

The one fact about climate change that radicals won’t see is that much of it comes from the earth itself as God’s judgment on various sins.

Atheists’ answer to climate change is to blame everyone else while they fly on private jets to spread the blame.

More on this passage next time.

Notes 

Heavenly Hosts. (1825-1910). Sermon: “The Lord of Hosts and the God of Jacob” on Psalm 46:11 accessed 11 November 2019 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ maclaren/psalms/46.htm

Jerusalem Post. (2019). “Speak Of The Bible: Locust Swarms Imminent In Egypt, Saudi Arabia.” Accessed 24 September 2019 from https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Speak-Of-The-Bible-Locust-Swarms-Imminent-In-Egypt-Saudi-Arabia-581377 and

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The New Song, Part 2

Revelation 5:8b Each [Elder was] holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 

II. We must see the need to fill those angelic bowls with our intercessions. 

The “each one” refers to the Elders alone and not to the Living Creatures. The Creatures do not perform a priestly function in the Book. The harp is the OT instrument of
praise.

The golden bowls are the phialê — the flat, shallow cup or bowl for the drinking and pouring out libations. It was used prior to the time of Homer as a funerary urn — to keep the ashes of cremated dead bodies.

These are said to be full of incense (thymiamaton). This is a fragrant substance which was burned for fumigation or which was placed on the bodies of the dead for embalming. Psalm 141:2 is obviously in John’s mind as he records was he saw. “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” 

E. M. Bounds, pastor from Washington, GA, said this of prayer —

“Prayers are deathless. They outlive the lives of those who uttered them.” (see Bounds below). 

In the OT the incense symbolizes the praise of the people. Here it symbolizes the prayers of the saints on earth and the martyrs. (It bothers me that the NRSV translates any earthly saint as “holy one” instead of “saint.” This is wrong on a number of levels. This is why I’m glad to use the ESV in our Anglican service and leave behind the NRSV with the 1979 prayer book.) 

What kind of prayers? It seems logical to view them as the prayers for righteous vindication. In Revelation 6:9-11 we are introduced to the souls of the martyrs under the altar. They cry out for vindication. If anyone has been wronged, he should not retaliate but pray to God who will right all wrongs when He sits to judge the world. 

Spurgeon said this of Psalm 119:126 — “It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken.” 

“And surely this is an age in which this prayer is very suitable. On all hands we see God’s law ridiculed, or denied, or travestied, or else hidden under tradition or under the [dogmas] of so-called scientific men, or in some way or other “made void.” Oh, that God’s right hand of grace might be stretched out to do some miracle of mercy in the land at this very time! The presence of evil is an incentive to pray for God to act.” (see Surgeon below).

God’s people have always been a praying people. We see evil the like of which Spurgeon did not see in his day, government funded murder of children for convenience, laws passed that approves unBiblical views of marriage, etc. So any difficult situation we face should be an incentive to fill the angelic bowls with “deathless prayers” that outlive our brief lives. Prayers are never forgotten! 

vs. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation. 

III. We need to see the new song as keeping the Great Redeemer’s sacrifice ever fresh and new. 

Luther said, “Preach as if Jesus was crucified yesterday, rose from the dead today, and is returning tomorrow” (see Luther below). 

I would add we ought to proclaim the Gospel and sing and live as if Christ’s sacrifice has a daily effect in our lives! 

Psalm 96 calls for such a “new song” — 

1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.

The New Song — “New” in Greek is kainos — “new in the sense of not being used up” — but not in the sense of “new in time.” We speak of a “new” car in the sense of its being new to us. The song of the Elders is not “brand new” in the sense that the words had never before been heard. It was new in that old words and concepts are placed in a new arrangement and given to the Lord in a new way.

We love the old hymns of the faith! But I see no need to use the melodies that sound alien to our younger folks. I think we ought to avoid entertaining anybody—old or young! But the words of the old hymns are significant even if the original music has gone out of favor. 

For those who wish to learn new tunes to older, theologically sound words, I suggest a visit to Reformed University Ministries music site (see Indelible Grace Music below). They have older hymns set to new music. They have lead sheets, guitar chords, etc. to help worship leaders and musicians. 

The Redemption of Humankind — Jesus’ act of redemption made him worthy to take the scroll and open it. John uses the word agorazô — to buy out of the marketplace (see agorazô, below.) 

Blood payment may seem strange to our 21st century ears, but to Jewish/Christian ears of the first century it refers to the price of the sacrificial victim — the redemption money paid for the firstborn so he would not die, but a substitute would die in his place. Our Lord paid the price of buying us out of the slave market of sin. He set us free to serve him. The price our redemption was the blood of Christ.

I remember choosing the hymn “Not All the Blood of Beasts,” for worship one Sunday morning. 

1 Not all the blood of beasts,
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away its stain.

2 But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name,
And richer blood than they. 

An older, proper lady approached me after the service and said I should not have chosen that hymn about the blood of beasts. I pointed out is was in our hymnal and it was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748). 

We cannot be embarrassed by the blood! Christ alone saves us by his sacrifice. 

I Peter 1:18-19 — 

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. [ESV] 

vs. 10 …you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they [are reigning] on the earth.

IV. We must see ourselves as God’s kingdom people called to be intercessors in the last days! 

The Old Testament background to 5:10 is Exodus 19:3-5 —

3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession [Hebrew = segullah = royal property] among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’

The Saints Reign on the Earth now — physical Israel is no longer God’s nation apart from many other Leviathan States. God’s people are dispersed among the nations in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The reign upon the earth now is a great comfort to the disfranchised from countries who do not esteem them. Christ’s reign with His people was inaugurated at His Ascension.  It will be consummated in the new heavens and the new earth in eternity. 

One way we reign now is through of our intercessory prayers! I think, we would give our entire earthly possessions away if only our children would walk with God and would do so always. (I know I would!) Your, and my, prayers for erring prodigals are not lifeless. They are stored up in heaven to be answered in God’s time. (see Graham, Ruth below). 

Maybe the world is sliding into judgment. We may not be able to influence that outcome, but we can affect our family’s destiny with our prayers. 

More on chapter 5 next time!

Notes 

Agorazô. (2019). Accessed 20 November 2019 from https://biblehub.com/greek/59.htm

Bounds, E. M. from Goodreads. (2019). Accessed 20 November 2019 from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1092295-prayers-are-deathless-they-outlive-the-lives-of-those-who

Graham, Ruth Bell. (2008). Prodigals and Those Who Love Them: Words of Encouragement for Those Who Wait. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. 

Indelible Grace Music. (2019). Accessed 18 November 2019 from http://www.igracemusic.com/

Luther, M. from Goodreads (2019). Accessed 20 November 2019 from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/7139931-preach-and-live-as-if-jesus-was-crucified-yesterday-rose

Spurgeon, C. H. I cannot remember the book where I read this quotation, but I did write it in the margin of my Bible. 

Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). from Ultimate Commentary on Psalms: a Collective Wisdom On The Bible (Kindle Locations 129182-129185). Kindle Edition.

 

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The New Song, Part 1

The New Song to Jesus as Redeemer — Revelation 5:8-10 

[Featured picture above from Paul Gustave Dore in Dante; public domain] 

vs. 8a And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb… .

Heavenly Worship

As we saw in the last post, Jesus has assumed the role of Mediatorial King. 

[We] will understand the meaning of [John’s] tears if we constantly bear in mind that in this beautiful vision the opening of the scroll by breaking the seals indicates the execution of God’s plan. When the scroll is opened and the seals are broken, then the universe is governed in the interest of the Church. Then, God’s glorious, redemptive purpose is being realized; His plan is being carried out and the contents of the scroll come to pass in the history of the universe. (see Hendriksen, p. 89, below). 

We will take note in this post of the impact these events have on believers in Asia Minor and from that we can make application to the church in the 21st Century. Believers in Asia Minor would have seen all the events in Revelation 5:8-10 as impacting their own life mission and church life. 

Review about the meaning of Symbols in Rev. 5:8a

The Four Living Creatures  are an order of angels at the highest station in heaven. They ever live to worship our Holy God! We may see in them a representative function also. “They represent that which is swiftest, wisest, strongest, and noblest in all of animate creation” (See Swete, p. 71; below). 

The Twenty-Four Elders too are an order of angels that surround the throne of God. The number calls to mind the courses of priests that served in the temple of Solomon on a rotating basis. Each course symbolized the whole. This angelic order speaks of 12 tribes plus the 12 Apostles to indicate the church of OT and NT. 

Asia Minor believers would have seen this as a testimony to the powerful ministry of angels in heaven on their behalf. Imperial trappings may surround us in our earthly lives, but God has forces more extensive and powerful we cannot see at present. 

I. We need to see clearly that the true worship of God is exhibited by the angels in heaven and not by the State and Civil Religion. 

Casting down of Images of Zeus in Rome

St. Aemilianus destroyed many pagan idols and temples. Here he is shown using ropes to pull down a pagan idol, while his followers are breaking them up with picks and axes.

Here, again, is “prostration in worship” that we saw before the throne the of God in chapter four. We are commanded to worship God alone in Deut. 5:7-9a.

7 “You [must] have no other gods before me. (literally, “before my face.”) 

8 “You [must] not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9 You [must] not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God. [ESV]

Notice that I translated the “you shall not” in the ESV as “you must not.” The strongest prohibition in Hebrew is the future tense negated. 

Life in God’s Cosmos is Lived Coram Deo 

Coram Deo

Image is from Coram Deo podcasts by Kyle J. Howard

John Calvin reminds us we all live our lives coram Deo — Latin for “before the face of God.” (see Sproul below). 

“Idols are, at the very best, only masks which man puts upon “the face” of God, insulting His dignity, and tending to conceal Him from our view.” (see Ellicott below). 

Idols — metal, rock, wooden, or mental images — are not a step toward God, but are set up in preference to the One God who made all things. At the end of the day, idolatry is not a step toward God, but is a step away from Him. 

In Rev. 5:8 the inhabitants of heaven worship the Lamb in front of the throne of God. This means that this act occurred with the consent of the One on the throne. It means that Jesus is God — the God-Man.

The worship is evoked by the implications of the Lamb taking the scroll. The plan of God for the entire universe is going forth and nothing can interfere with it until it is consummated. 

Kierkegaard reminds us of what goes on in Christian worship —

Kierkegaard-Quote-Worship-isn-t-God-s-show-God-is-the

I would add this to Kierkegaard’s statement. The worship leaders and musicians are mere prompters, as well. We have to get away from thinking of worship as occurring on a stage for our benefit. 

Worship at Church; don’t expect entertainment! 

I had a doctor relate to me how he and his wife had left a church that preached sound doctrine and traditional music for a contemporary-oriented church. He recently had gone back to their former church for a funeral. He said how he missed the old hymns of the faith with all their sound theology!  He said he grew weary of stadium lighting and amplifiers that made the service into an entertainment. 

Don’t get me wrong. I like some contemporary hymns. They do not have to be made into an entertainment. One of my favorites is Stuart Townend’s “In Christ Alone.” (Sorry if there is an Ad prior to the music video; skip it as soon as you can!) 

See the following interview with Stuart Townend’s story of how he came to write “In Christ Alone“. 

More next time on Rev. 5:8-10

Notes 

Ellicott

Gandhi. (n.d.). “Why Ghandi Didn’t Become a Christian.” Accessed 7 November 2019 from https://storiesforpreaching.com/why-ghandi-didnt-become-a-christian/

Hendriksen, W. (1939). More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Sproul, R. C. (2017). “What Does coram Deo Mean?” From Tabletalk magazine. Accessed 7 Novmeber 2019 from https://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-coram-deo-mean/ 

Swete, H. B. (1917).The Apocalypse of St. John; the Greek text with introduction, notes and indices. New York, NY: Macmillan and Co. 

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Lamb, Part 2

Brief Review of Part 2 

We saw last time Christ, the apocalyptic, Warrior-Lamb of God, step forth and prepare to take the scroll from the hand of the Father. 

Rev. 5:6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

III. Our Lord pours forth the Holy Spirit upon his people who keeps watch over and empowers them during their earthly sojourn. 

The seven horns symbolize perfect strength. The seven eyes symbolize the Holy Spirit. Through the efficacy of the death and resurrection of the slain Lamb, the Spirit of God has been sent forth into the world.

The background to this figure is Zechariah 3 & 4. In these chapters, the eyes are pictured as the seven-fold Spirit of  God sent to gather information and to observe the progress on the temple. The occurrence here in Rev. 5 seems to point to the world-wide ministry of the Spirit as a result of the death of the Lamb. 

Scroll handed to Lamb

vs. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.

IV. Our Lord assumes the Mediatorial Kingdom His Father has Given to Him as reward for His Suffering and Death. 

He came and took the scroll — John uses the perfect tense of lambanô (“to take” or “receive”) to indicate that the Lamb took and retained the scroll. The right hand is symbolic of the place of power and authority. No one could have taken anything out of the right hand of God unless he had the right and ability to do so. This adds to our appreciation of the true nature of the Lamb. He is indeed the second person of the Trinity.

Christ’s Office as King from the Westminster Shorter Catechism 

Q. 26. How does Christ execute the office of a king?

A. Christ executes the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

Two Distinctions from Fisher’s Catechism that help us understand Christ as King. 

Q. 26.18. What is [Christ’s] essential kingdom?

A. It is that absolute and supreme power, which he has over all the creatures in heaven and earth, essentially and naturally, as God equal with the Father, Psalm 103:19 — “His kingdom rules over all.”

Q. 26.19. What is [Christ’s] mediatorial kingdom?

A. It is that sovereign power and authority in and over the [entire cosmos for the church’s benefit], which is given him as Mediator, Ephesians 1:22 — And he put all things under [Christ’s] feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church… .

Let’s picture Christ’s self-humbling and the Father’s subsequent exaltation of Christ as found in Philippians 2:5-11

Christ’s Self Humbling

Note this exaltation is not only in the future. It is true now! It was accomplished at the Ascension of our Lord. Hebrews 2:5-9. We do not see all subjected to Christ at present. However, we do see Christ crowned with glory and honor with the eye of faith. 

Two Days and the In-between Time

We live between two days. It is like our grandparents lived through the Day of Days (D-Day)  in WWII. For all intents and purposes, the war was lost by Axis Powers with that invasion. They didn’t accept it, however. Another day came Victory in Europe Day (VE-Day)! On this last day of the War, the enemy vacated the battle field and surrendered.

All the Evil One’s forces were defeated on Calvary when Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead. The enemy will finally be forced to vacate the battlefield and surrender at the second coming of Christ. We live between these two days.

Between Two Days

As a church under persecution, Christ would have us know He has already won the victory. The time between the two days is the mopping up operation.

Do not give up or lose heart! Or as John Paul II said to the Polish people during his visit under the Communist regime, “Be not afraid!” The communist regime soon fell and Poland was free once again. 

Christ reigns today! 

More next time on the sealed scroll. 

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved