Chapter 05 worthy is the lamb
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Chapter 05 worthy is the lamb Document Transcript

  • 1. Amen! Hallelujah! - A study of the Book of Revelation Lesson 5 Worthy is the Lamb Text: Revelation 4:1-5:14 Date: April 1, 2007 Authored By: Dale Wells Palm Desert Church of Christ
  • 2. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb THE INVITATION TO THE THRONE ROOM Rev 4:1 WEB After these things I looked and saw a door opened in heaven, • and the first voice that I heard, like a trumpet speaking with me, was one saying, "Come up here, and I will show you the things which must happen after this." Revelation 4:1-11:19 contains John's second vision. • The first vision was in Rev 1:9-3:22. It focused on the Son of Man among the lampstands & included his words to each of the churches in Rev 2 and 3. When John says "After these things I looked" he is not saying, "these things occurred after those things," but "this vision came after that vision". GOD ONCE AGAIN STEPS INTO HISTORY TO GIVE ETERNAL INSIGHT TO HIS PEOPLE Much like the giving of the Law at Sinai • God prepared his people at Mount Sinai before he ever gave them the law on tablets of stone. Then Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Exo 19:20 WEB Yahweh came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Now John is invited up into heaven, just as Moses was invited to ascend Mount Sinai, in order to receive the decrees of the Lord. THE ONE ON THE THRONE •Rev 4:2-3 WEB Immediately I was in the Spirit. Behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting on the throne that looked like a jasper stone and a sardius. There was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald to look at. •The initial focus of the second vision is "one sitting on the throne", who had an appearance that John describes in three images. THE FIRST IMAGE IS "LIKE A JASPER STONE" The clear "jasper" in Revelation is the equivalent of our quartz. Think • "diamond". It is a clear stone. Who is on the throne? We get a clue in Revelation 21:11, where the new • Page 2
  • 3. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb Jerusalem is described. Rev 21:10-11 WEB He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, as if it was a jasper stone, clear as crystal; The glory of God and the glory of the city are described in the same terms. • John wants the reader to know that God is on the throne! THE SECOND FIGURE IS "LIKE ... A SARDIUS" •This blood red stone was named after the city of Sardis where it was mined. •It is equivalent to our ruby. •Its color signifies the judgment of the one on the throne. THE THIRD FIGURE IS "A RAINBOW AROUND THE THRONE, LIKE AN EMERALD …" The rainbow reminds of God’s covenant of mercy: • Gen 9:13-16 WEB I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it will be for a sign of a covenant between me and the earth. … The rainbow will be in the cloud. I will look at it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth. Since then, the rainbow has signified God's mercy. • The color in Revelation 4 is emerald, signifying peace. We'll see the one on the throne several times through the Book of Revelation. • Most references will be in Revelation 4 and 5, but others later in the book will give us insight into what the throne is all about. THESE THREE STONES WERE FEATURED ON THE HIGH PRIEST'S BREASTPLATE Exo 28:15-21 WEB "You shall make a breastplate of judgment … (17) You • shall set in it settings of stones, four rows of stones: a row of ruby, topaz, and beryl shall be the first row; (18) and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire, and an emerald; (19) and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; (20) and the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be enclosed in gold in their settings. (21) The stones shall be according to the names of the children of Israel … ON THE BREASTPLATE, THESE REPRESENTED THREE OF ISRAEL'S TRIBES Page 3
  • 4. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb •Sardius (ruby) represented Reuben, Israel's eldest son by Leah, who was judged by his father for incest with his step-mother. Gen 49:3-4 WEB "Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength; excelling in dignity, and excelling in power. (4) Boiling over as water, you shall not excel; because you went up to your father's bed, then defiled it. He went up to my couch. •Jasper (diamond) represented Benjamin, who was Jacob's favorite because he was the last child of his most beloved wife, Rachel. Gen 35:18 WEB It happened, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Benoni, but his father named him Benjamin. •Emerald represented Judah, from whom Jesus came, bringing peace between God and man. Gen 49:10 WEB The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs. To him will the obedience of the peoples be. THEY ARE ALSO THREE OF THE FOUNDATION STONES OF THE HEAVENLY CITY •Rev 21:19-20 WEB The foundations of the city's wall were adorned with all kinds of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; (20) the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprasus; the eleventh, jacinth; and the twelfth, amethyst. THE ONE ON THE THRONE RECEIVES WORSHIP FROM HIS HEAVENLY ENTOURAGE Rev 4:9-11 WEB When the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to him • who sits on the throne, to him 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 throw their crowns before the throne, saying, "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, the Holy One, to receive the glory, the honor,and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they existed, and were created!" THE ONE ON THE THRONE IS HOLDING A SEALED BOOK IN HIS RIGHT HAND But no one anywhere is worthy to open the book. • Rev 5:1-3 WEB I saw, in the right hand of him who sat on the throne, a book • written inside and outside, sealed shut with seven seals. I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book, and to break Page 4
  • 5. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb its seals?" No one in heaven above, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look in it. WHEN ALL DESPAIR OF SEEING WHAT IS IN THE BOOK, THE LAMB OF GOD ENTERS •Rev 5:6-7 WEB I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. Then he came, and he took it out of the right hand of him who sat on the throne. WHEN HE TAKES THE BOOK, THE UNIVERSE ERUPTS IN PRAISE Rev 5:11-13 WEB I saw, and I heard something like a voice of many angels • around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousands of ten thousands, and thousands of thousands; (12) saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who has been killed to receive the power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing!" (13) I heard every created thing which is in heaven, on the earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be the blessing, the honor, the glory, and the dominion, forever and ever! Amen!" AS THE LAMB OPENS THE SEALS, GOD'S JUDGMENTS FALL ON THE UNGODLY They try to hide from the one on the throne and from the Lamb. • Rev 6:15-17 WEB The kings of the earth, the princes, the commanding officers, • the rich, the strong, and every slave and free person, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains. They told the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of his wrath has come; and who is able to stand?" WHEN THE JUDGMENTS ARE FINISHED, THE GODLY WORSHIP THE ONE ON THE THRONE Rev 19:1-5 WEB After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a • great multitude in heaven, saying, "Hallelujah! Salvation, power, and glory belong to our God: (2) for true and righteous are his judgments. … (4) The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne, saying, "Amen! Hallelujah!" (5) A voice came forth from the throne, saying, "Give praise to our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, the small and the great!" Page 5
  • 6. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb AT THE END OF THE BOOK, THE GODLY RESIDE WITH THE ONE ON THE THRONE Rev 21:1-4 WEB I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and • the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more. (2) I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. (3) I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, God's dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (4) He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away." BY INTRODUCING THE ONE ON THE THRONE, JOHN TELLS US ABOUT GOD’S NATURE God is pure and precious (signified by the diamond-like jasper) • God is the source of judgment (signified by the red sardius stone) • God is also the source of mercy (signified by the emerald rainbow). • Which of these a man – or a nation – receives is going to depend on how he, or • they, respond to the God who sits on the throne! THE THRONE AS A SYMBOL OF GOD'S JUDGMENT •The Old Testament is rich with references to God on the throne as the ruler of the universe and the one who executes judgment on ungodly kings and kingdoms. •Perhaps the best place to begin is with a look at one of the Psalms that emphasizes the rule of God. PSA 47:1-9 WEB •1 Oh clap your hands, all you nations. Shout to God with the voice of triumph! •2 For Yahweh Most High is awesome. He is a great King over all the earth. •3 He subdues nations under us, And peoples under our feet. •4 He chooses our inheritance for us, The glory of Jacob whom he loved. Selah. •5 God has gone up with a shout, Yahweh with the sound of a trumpet. •6 Sing praise to God, sing praises. Sing praises to our King, sing praises. Page 6
  • 7. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb •7 For God is the King of all the earth. Sing praises with understanding. •8 God reigns over the nations. God sits on his holy throne. •9 The princes of the peoples are gathered together, The people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God. He is greatly exalted! "GOD SITS ON HIS HOLY THRONE" (V. 8) BUT THE RULERS AWAIT JUDGMENT (V. 9) Prophets held OT kings as accountable to God. • Micaiah said God on his throne plotted Ahab's death • 1Ki 22:19-22 WEB Micaiah said, Therefore hear you the word of Yahweh: I saw Yahweh sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. Yahweh said, Who shall entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? One said on this manner; and another said on that manner. There came forth a spirit, and stood before Yahweh, and said, I will entice him. Yahweh said to him, 'How?' He said, 'I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' He said, 'You shall entice him, and shall prevail also: go forth, and do so.' UZZIAH BEGAN RULING JUDAH AT THE AGE OF 16 AND REIGNED FOR 52 YEARS Twelve years before his death, in pride, he forced his way into the temple, • where he offered incense in disobedience to God. He became a leper until his death. The story is in 2 Chronicles 26:16-21. During the year in which he was to die, Isaiah saw a vision of God as Uzziah's • judge, on the throne. Isa 6:1-3 WEB In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each one had six wings. With two he covered his face. With two he covered his feet. With two he flew. One called to another, and said, "Holy, holy, holy, is Yahweh of Hosts! The whole earth is full of his glory!" KINGS AND KINGDOMS MAY COME AND GO, BUT GOD SITS ON AN ETERNAL THRONE God judges kings & nations & sets their destinies. • During Judah's 70 year exile, Ezekiel had a vision of God on his throne. • Eze 1:26-28 WEB Above the expanse that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and on the Page 7
  • 8. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man on it above. … As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh... His vision was a reminder that God is in control. • GOD IS AND GOD RULES! •Nebuchadnezzar learned that God rules. Dan 4:24-25 WEB[T]his is the interpretation, O king, and it is the decree of the Most High, which is come on my lord the king: that you shall be driven from men, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field, and you shall be made to eat grass as oxen, and shall be wet with the dew of the sky, and seven times shall pass over you; until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whoever he will. •When he accepted God's rule, he was restored Dan 4:34-35 WEB At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him who lives forever; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or tell him, What do you? THE THRONE AS THE SYMBOL OF GOD'S MERCY The throne of God had a very different connotation to his people. While his • enemies would learn that God ultimately rules and his throne would become the source of their judgment, the throne had a totally different meaning for the faithful. God's throne among the Hebrews was the mercy seat that served as a top for • the ark of the covenant inside the Most Holy Place, the most sacred area of the tabernacle. This was God's throne among Israel's camp in the desert. EXO 25:17-22 WEB •You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two and a half cubits shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. You shall make two cherubim of hammered gold. You shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Page 8
  • 9. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb Make one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other end. You shall make the cherubim on its two ends of one piece with the mercy seat. The cherubim shall spread out their wings upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces toward one another. The faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I will give you. There I will meet with you, and I will tell you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the testimony, all that I command you for the children of Israel. GOD'S THRONE WAS A REMINDER OF HIS PRESENCE, PROTECTION & PROVISION All of this reinforces the imagery that began with the first vision of the Son of • Man, as high priest, among the lampstands. The lampstands were in the holy place, within the tabernacle; the ark of the Testimony was in the holy of holies. The writer of Hebrews draws on the imagery of the tabernacle and the high • priest. He refers to Jesus as our high priest. HEB 8:1-5 WEB •Now in the things which we are saying, the main point is this. We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. For if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, seeing there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, even as Moses was warned by God when he was about to make the tabernacle, for he said, "See, you shall make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain." HEBREWS SAYS JESUS IS THE HIGH PRIEST OF THE TRUE TABERNACLE •He goes on to say that the earthly tabernacle (sanctuary) is "a copy and shadow of the heavenly things". •One chapter later he comes back to this same idea that the tabernacle and its components were copies of the heavenly reality. Heb 9:23-26 WEB It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ hasn't entered into holy places made with hands, which are representations of the true, but Page 9
  • 10. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place year by year with blood not his own, or else he must have suffered often since the foundation of the world. But now once at the end of the ages, he has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. THE EARTHLY TABERNACLE WAS A COPY OF WHAT MOSES SAW John describes in Revelation 4 what Moses saw on Sinai. The tabernacle is the • image we should see when we read the description of God's throne scene And what an appropriate image! The tabernacle story is in the midst of Israel's • movement through the desert. They had left bondage in Egypt, and were on their way to promised land. God was there with them. In the middle of the camp was a tent that was God's tent. We call it the tabernacle, but that is just a word for "tent". It was God's tent, a reminder of his presence with his people in the desert, en route to their new home. And inside that tent was God's mercy seat – his throne in Israel's camp. AND WHAT IS THE STORY OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION? Isn't it the story of God's people en route to promised land? The overcomers • are on their way to the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21-22. And God, himself, is right there with his people, on his throne! So, for God's enemies, his throne is the throne of judgment; for his people, it is • the throne of mercy. God IS and God RULES! • THE REST OF THE THRONE SCENE Rev 4:4-5 WEB Around the throne were twenty-four thrones. On the thrones were twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white garments, with crowns of gold on their heads. Out of the throne proceed lightnings, sounds, and thunders. There were seven lamps of fire burning before his throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. WHO ARE THESE 24 ELDERS ON 24 THRONES? In Rev 2 & 3, Jesus made promises to overcomers: • Rev 3:21 WEB He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne ... Rev 3:5 WEB He who overcomes will be arrayed in white garments ... Page 10
  • 11. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb Rev 2:10 WEB … Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life. These 24 elders are sitting on thrones, they are dressed in white & they are • wearing crowns. So, they are "faithful" or "overcomers". THE WORD FOR "CROWN" IS THE GREEK STEPHANOS, NOT DIADEMNOS The stephanos was the victory crown which was given as a prize, like a medal • or a plaque would be given today, to commemorate some success achieved or service rendered. The diademnos, on the other hand, was the ruler's crown. • It is important to notice that these individuals who are sitting on thrones are • wearing the prize that they have received. They are not wearing the crown of kings, but those of victors. FROM THESE POINTS, IT APPEARS THAT THE 24 ELDERS REPRESENT THE REDEEMED But why twenty-four? Why not twelve? Remember that twelve is the number of • God's people. It is likely that "twenty-four" results from adding the twelve patriarchs or tribes of • the Old Testament to the twelve apostles of the New Testament. Twenty-four thus represents the redeemed under both covenants. • "OUT OF THE THRONE PROCEED LIGHTNINGS, SOUNDS, AND THUNDERS" This figure relates back to Exodus 19. As God was preparing to issue decrees • to Israel, he gave a visible demonstration of his power on Mount Sinai: Exo 19:16-18 WEB It happened on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of an exceedingly loud trumpet; and all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the lower part of the mountain. Mount Sinai, the whole of it, smoked, because Yahweh descended on it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. THIS WAS A "SHOCK AND AWE CAMPAIGN" TO BEAT ANY BEFORE OR SINCE It was designed to impress on Israel the glory of God! • Later in the Book of Revelation, these figures are going to be used when God • executes his judgments on the ungodly. For example, when God instructs his Page 11
  • 12. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb angel to execute his judgment: Rev 8:5 WEB The angel took the censer, and he filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it on the earth. There followed thunders, sounds, lightnings, and an earthquake. THE FIGURES OF THUNDER, LIGHTNING & EARTHQUAKE DEPICT GOD'S JUDGMENT Rev 11:19 WEB God's temple that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of the • Lord's covenant was seen in his temple. Lightnings, sounds, thunders, an earthquake, and great hail followed. Rev 16:18 WEB There were lightnings, sounds, and thunders; and there was a • great earthquake, such as was not since there were men on the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty. The combination of these figures: thunder, lightning, rumblings and • earthquakes, are symbols in the Book of Revelation for God's glory which is seen in his judgment of the ungodly. ISAIAH SAYS GOD WILL JUDGE THE WORLD, INCLUDING THE "KINGS OF THE EARTH" The promised judgment ends with the statement "Yahweh of Hosts will reign on • Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem; and before his elders shall be glory." Isaiah assures us that God will be glorified, either by the obedience of the • nations, or by their destruction. Isa 24:21-23 WEB It shall happen in that day, that Yahweh will punish the host of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth on the earth. They shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison; and after many days shall they be visited. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for Yahweh of Hosts will reign on Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem; and before his elders shall be glory. THEN, JOHN SEES SEVEN LAMPS BEFORE THE THRONE He identifies these as the seven spirits of God. • The background of this figure also comes from the tabernacle. • Exo 27:20-21 WEB "You shall command the children of Israel, that they bring to • you pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually. In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and Page 12
  • 13. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before Yahweh: it shall be a statute forever throughout their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel. THESE ARE NOT THE SAME LAMPS AS IN REVELATION 1 •There, they were "lampstands" (Gk luchnos). Here, they are"lamps" (Gk lampos). In Rev. 1 they are lampstands; here they are torches. Why the difference? The key may be the location. The tabernacle was a copy of the throne scene; the lampstands of Rev. 1 are in the tabernacle; the lamps of Rev. 4 are in heaven, where the real throne of God is located. The church in the NT (lampstands) stands in the same relationship to the throne scene as the menorah in tabernacle. Both are reminders of God's presence and work in the world. •Some suggest that the lamps are angels. They rely on the role of angels: Heb 1:14 WEB Aren't they all ministering spirits, sent out to do service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? Since Rev. 4 has God on the throne & Rev. 5 has Christ as the Lamb & the fact that this letter is from "God, … the seven Spirits … before his throne; and from Jesus Christ" (Rev 1:4-5), it seems likely that the lamps are the Holy Spirit. FOUR LIVING CREATURES AND THE SEA OF GLASS Rev 4:6-8 WEB Before the throne was something like a sea of glass, similar to • crystal. In the midst of the throne, and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind. The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around about and within. They have no rest day and night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!" THIS SCENE IS SIMILAR TO ONE DESCRIBED BY EZEKIEL Eze 1:5-10 WEB Out of the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. • This was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Every one had four faces, and every one of them had four wings. … As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; and they four had the face of a lion ... Page 13
  • 14. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb and they four had the face of an ox … they four had also the face of an eagle. Eze 10:20-21 WEB This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel • by the river Chebar; and I knew that they were cherubim. Every one had four faces, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. BOTH MENTION FOUR CREATURES, BUT THERE ARE DIFFERENCES •Ezekiel describes four living creatures, each having four faces and four wings •John describes four living creatures, each with a different face each having six wings. •But the faces are the same: lion, ox, man and eagle. •Why the differences? There is no collusion. When two witnesses describe the same scene, they invariably differ in the way they describe some of the details. That is the case here. One easy way to understand the difference is that Ezekiel sees each of the living creatures from all sides, and that he therefore knows that each living creature has four faces. John may have only seen the four living creatures from one angle, in which case, he would only see the face that was facing him. The difference in the descriptions is a small matter, since the faces are the same. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES AND THEIR FACES? The background is the story of Israel, camped in the desert, on its way to • promised land. The living creatures depict the standards of Israel camped around the • tabernacle in the desert (Num 2:1-31) Each tribe had its banner and each triad (group of three tribes) had its standard. The Bible doesn't tell us what the standards of the tribes were, but Jewish tradition says that the tribal banners corresponded in color to the twelve stones in the breastplate of the high priest (Exo 28:15-21) and that the standard of each triad was depicted by one of these four images. THE LION WAS THE STANDARD OF JUDAH That would be easy to see from Jacob's blessing: • Page 14
  • 15. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb Gen 49:9 WEB Judah is a lion's cub. From the prey, my son, you have gone up. • He stooped down, he crouched as a lion, As a lioness. Who will rouse him up? When Israel camped in the desert, Judah camped east of the tabernacle and • was joined by the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun, to form the first triad. THE OX WAS THE STANDARD OF EPHRAIM •The tribe of Ephraim camped to the west of the tabernacle and was joined by the tribes of Benjamin and Manasseh, forming the second triad. THE MAN WAS THE STANDARD OF REUBEN •The tribe of Reuben camped to the south of the tabernacle and was joined by the tribes of Gad and Simeon, forming the third triad. THE EAGLE HAD BECOME THE STANDARD OF DAN The standard had originally been the serpent. • Jewish tradition holds that this identification with a serpent was changed by • Ahiezer, the leader of the Tribe of Dan during the Exodus (Num 2:25), to an eagle with a serpent in its mouth as their tribal ensign. The tribe of Dan camped to the north of the tabernacle and was joined by the • tribes of Asher and Naphthali, forming the fourth triad. THIS IS THE SAME ORDER IN WHICH EZEKIEL DESCRIBES THE FACES Eze 1:10 WEB As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; • and they four had the face of a lion on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four had also the face of an eagle. If you were looking at Israel's camp from the south, what would you see? You • would see the face of a man. To the right (east) you would see the face of a lion. To the left (west) you would see the face of an ox. Finally, to the north you would see the face of an eagle. CAN THERE BE ANY DOUBT ABOUT THE MESSAGE OF THE THRONE SCENE? •I think not! •The heavenly scene is designed to make the reader think of God's people, being cared for by God in a hostile environment, while they are on the road to promised land. Page 15
  • 16. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb WHAT ABOUT THE SEA OF GLASS? John saw "a sea of glass, similar to crystal" before the throne; Ezekiel saw • something similar above it. Eze 1:22 WEB Over the head of the living creature there was … an expanse, like the awesome crystal to look on, stretched forth over their heads above. In Revelation it is below and before the throne; in Ezekiel, it is above. Earth's ceiling is heaven's floor. The source of the imagery may be Sinai • Exo 24:9-10 WEB Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up. (10) They saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was like a paved work of sapphire stone, like the skies for clearness. IT MAY ALSO BE THE BASIN IN THE TABERNACLE & TEMPLE CALLED THE SEA 1Ki 7:23-25 WEB He made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, • round in compass, and its height was five cubits; and a line of thirty cubits encircled it. (24) Under its brim around there were buds which encircled it, for ten cubits, encircling the sea: the buds were in two rows, cast when it was cast. (25) It stood on twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; and the sea was set on them above, and all their hinder parts were inward. OTHER FEATURES OF THE TABERNACLE & TEMPLE ARE SEEN IN REVELATION •The lamps – corresponding to the Menorah. Rev 4:5 WEB Out of the throne proceed lightnings, sounds, and thunders. There were seven lamps of fire burning before his throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. •The altar of sacrifice – i.e. the bronze altar Rev 6:9 WEB When he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed for the Word of God, and for the testimony of the Lamb which they had. •The altar of incense – i.e. the golden altar Rev 8:3 WEB Another angel came and stood over the altar, having a golden censer. Much incense was given to him, that he should add it to the Page 16
  • 17. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. •The ark of the covenant Rev 11:19 WEB God's temple that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of the Lord's covenant was seen in his temple … THIS PARTICULAR SEA WILL BE SEEN AGAIN IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION Here it separates man & God; there the faithful have crossed • Rev 15:2-3 WEB I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those • who overcame the beast, his image, and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are your ways, you King of the nations. THERE THE OVERCOMERS SING THE "SONG OF MOSES ... AND … OF THE LAMB" The Song of Moses comes from Exodus 15. • Israel's perspective was different on the two shores of the Red Sea. • On the west, with Pharaoh's army bearing down on them, they despaired of life. • On the east, after God had delivered them and disposed of their enemies, they • sang with joy. Their song was the song of Moses. That is the picture John wants his readers to see. • JOHN PICTURES THE OVERCOMERS SINGING A SONG OF DELIVERANCE The NIV captures the idea of Revelation 15:2 best when it says the overcomers • were standing "beside" the sea. To have the overcomers standing by the sea and singing songs of deliverance • indicates that God's enemy has been overthrown and God's people have been rescued. But why the song of the Lamb? These are not two songs, but one. The song of • Moses is the song of the Lamb. Once more John shows that his focus is on the redeemed of both covenants. LATER, STILL, JOHN SAYS Rev 21:1 WEB I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and • the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more. Page 17
  • 18. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb In Rev 4, the sea separates the overcomers from God on his throne. In Rev 15 • the overcomers have been delivered and are standing by the sea, having crossed over, like Israel in the OT, singing songs of deliverance. Finally, in the new Jerusalem, there is no more sea. That which separated them from God at first has finally been removed and there is nothing to separate them from God any longer. HEAVEN'S WORSHIP Rev 4:9-11 WEB When the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to him • who sits on the throne, to him 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 throw their crowns before the throne, saying, "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, the Holy One, to receive the glory, the honor,and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they existed, and were created!" THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES LEAD THE HEAVENLY ENTOURAGE IN GLORIFYING GOD These are the same creatures described by Ezekiel. They are also the seraphs • described by Isaiah: Isa 6:1-3 WEB In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each one had six wings. With two he covered his face. With two he covered his feet. With two he flew. One called to another, and said, "Holy, holy, holy, is Yahweh of Hosts! The whole earth is full of his glory!" Isaiah doesn't describe their faces because they were covered in the presence • of God. But they were singing a song similar to the one in Revelation 4, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty …" They are "heaven's choir," singing praises to God. THE LIVING CREATURES SING "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY" They never stop, day or night. And, when they sing, the twenty-four elders take • off their crowns and fall before the throne. They sing their song – "Worthy Art Thou!" Everything that exists has its existence at the pleasure and will of God. So God, alone, is worthy of praise! At this point, they're only singing verse one – about God being worthy. In the • next chapter, they'll add a verse about the Lamb being worthy. THE SEALED BOOK Rev 5:1-4 WEB I saw, in the right hand of him who sat on the throne, a book • Page 18
  • 19. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb written inside and outside, sealed shut with seven seals. I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book, and to break its seals?" No one in heaven above, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look in it. And I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look in it. JOHN SEES A BOOK IN THE RIGHT HAND OF THE ONE ON THE THRONE The pages have writing on both sides. Literally, it has writing "within and on the • back". That would be unusual to John, who was accustomed to manuscripts written on one side only. This manuscript has no space left to write. It is full of words, and the words are full of significance. To say the scroll was written on both sides is to suggest that it contains the • whole revelation of God on whatever subject it addresses. But what could that subject be? EZEKIEL HAD A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE Eze 2:9-10 WEB When I looked, behold, a hand was put forth to me; and, • behold, a scroll of a book was therein; He spread it before me: and it was written within and without; and there were written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. So, it would appear that, using the same imagery as Ezekiel did, the words on • the scroll spell out bad news for someone. Whom could it be? THE BOOK JOHN SEES IS SEALED WITH SEVEN SEALS Do not visualize a traditional "scroll," with pages attached end-to-end, then • rolled up. Imagine a 7-page pamphlet, with the pages bound together along one edge. Imagine that booklet rolled up, with each page sealed where the edge ends. By opening each seal, you open one page at a time, without revealing the contents of the others. 7 speaks of the completion of God's purpose. • So this scroll contains not only a message from God, but the complete will, or purpose of God. But it cannot be read, because the pages are sealed. THEN, THERE COMES THE APPARENTLY INSURMOUNTABLE PROBLEM •A mighty angel asks for a volunteer who is worthy to receive and open the Page 19
  • 20. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb book. •His request is met with silence. No one is worthy, either in heaven, or on earth, or even under the earth, to open the seals - or even to look inside - and reveal the message from the God on the throne. ISAIAH DESCRIBED ISRAEL AS A PEOPLE TO WHOM GOD'S WORD WAS SEALED •Isa 29:11-14 WEB All vision is become to you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is learned, saying, Read this, I pray you; and he says, I can't, for it is sealed: and the book is delivered to him who is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray you; and he says, I am not learned. The Lord said, Because this people draw near to me, and with their mouth and with their lips to honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which has been taught them; therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. •Their sins sealed God's word to their minds. John envisions that the sins of all mankind had rendered everyone unworthy to unseal the book. No wonder John weeps! It appears that God's purpose has been thwarted! THE WORTHY LAMB Rev 5:5-7 WEB One of the elders said to me, "Don't weep. Behold, the Lion • who is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome; he who opens the book and its seven seals." I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. Then he came, and he took it out of the right hand of him who sat on the throne. ONE OF THE ELDERS TELLS JOHN NOT TO GIVE UP HOPE SO QUICKLY One is worthy, but not the one everyone expects. • The emperor in Rome declared himself to be a god, worthy of worship. That • was the meaning of the Greek kaisarsebaston, "Caesar, worthy of worship". We know the emperors by the throne name they all took, "Caesar Augustus". That is the Latin version of the Greek kaisarsebaston – literally "worshipful Caesar". Page 20
  • 21. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb It is not Caesar on his throne, but God on his, who is worthy of worship. When it • comes time to receive and reveal the will of God, Caesar is not even in the running. There is only one who is worthy, and that is the "Lion who is of the Tribe of Judah". THE "LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH" COMES FROM JACOB BLESSING HIS SONS Gen 49:8-10 WEB "Judah, your brothers will praise you: Your hand will be on • the neck of your enemies; Your father's sons will bow down before you. Judah is a lion's cub. From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he crouched as a lion, As a lioness. Who will rouse him up? The scepter will not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, Until he comes to whom it belongs. To him will the obedience of the peoples be. HE IS ALSO IDENTIFIED AS ANOTHER OT FIGURE - THE "ROOT OF DAVID" Isa 11:1-5 WEB There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a • branch out of his roots shall bear fruit. The Spirit of Yahweh shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh. His delight shall be in the fear of Yahweh; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. DAVID WAS THE SON OF JESSE & JESUS WAS THE PRE-EMINENT SON OF DAVID! As David surpassed his father, Jesse in prestige, so also, Jesus surpassed his • ancestor, David. Jer 23:5-6 WEB Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will raise to David • a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name by which he shall be called: Yahweh our righteousness. THE LORD PROMISED AN HEIR TO DAVID'S THRONE 2Sa 7:12-16 WEB When your days are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your • fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall proceed out of your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, Page 21
  • 22. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son … Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before you: your throne shall be established forever. In the immediate future, he was talking about Solomon, but the Jews saw in • that promise a future Messiah,the son of David, to whom the Lord promised the throne in his eternal kingdom PSA 89:20-37 WEB •I have found David, my servant. I have anointed him with my holy oil, (21) with whom my hand shall be established … (26) He will call to me, 'You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation!' (27) I will also appoint him my firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. (28) I will keep my loving kindness for him forevermore. My covenant will stand firm with him. (29) I will also make his seed endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. (30) If his children forsake my law, and don't walk in my ordinances; (31) if they break my statutes, and don't keep my commandments; (32) then I will punish their sin with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. (33) But I will not completely take my loving kindness from him, nor allow my faithfulness to fail. (34) I will not break my covenant, nor alter what my lips have uttered. (35) Once have I sworn by my holiness, I will not lie to David. (36) His seed will endure forever, his throne like the sun before me. (37) It will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky." Selah. THIS THEME IS A STAPLE OF THE APOSTOLIC PREACHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT •David wrote: Psa 16:8-11 WEB I have set Yahweh always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. (9) Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices. My body shall also dwell in safety. (10) For you will not leave my soul in Sheol, neither will you allow your holy one to see corruption. (11) You will show me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy. In your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. •Peter quotes that passage from David, but applies it to the resurrected Jesus Act 2:29-31 WEB Brothers, I may tell you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, he would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was his soul left in Hades, nor did Page 22
  • 23. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb his flesh see decay. •Paul made the same connection. Rom 1:1-4 WEB Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised before through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, THE VOICE SAYS THE LION … OF JUDAH & ROOT OF DAVID HAS "OVERCOME" Overcome (nikaoo) is the same word as in Rev 2-3. Jesus was the first • overcomer. He met the powers of the universe and prevailed. Col 2:13-15 WEB You were dead through your trespasses and the • uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. THE LION HAS OVERCOME He is able to take & open the scroll, so there is no more need for tears. • A lion is announced, so John expects to see a lion. Instead, he sees a lamb • advancing to the throne to take the scroll! But this is no ordinary lamb! It looks as if it had been slain. The WEB makes it • sound like a mere matter of appearance. That is not the force of the Greek text. The NEB does a good job when it describes the lamb as having "the marks of slaughter upon him". THE LITERAL TRANSLATION IS "STANDING AS ONE HAVING BEEN SLAIN" •These are Greek perfect passive participles. The idea is of something that actually happened in the past, but which has abiding results in the present. In other words, John sees a lamb. It is obvious that the lamb has been slaughtered, but there it stands, nevertheless, and it is alive! •This is no matter of mere appearance. THE LAMB WAS ACTUALLY KILLED Page 23
  • 24. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb Rev 5:9-10 WEB They sang a new song, saying, "You are worthy to take the • book, And to open its seals: For you were killed, And bought us for God with your blood, Out of every tribe, language, people, and nation, And made them kings and priests to our God, And they reign on earth." The Greek sphazoo was the word for ritual, sacrificial slaughter. • This is a sacrificial lamb, that has been sacrificed, but that is alive, • nevertheless! ISAIAH HAD DESCRIBED THE MESSIAH IN TERMS REMINISCENT OF THIS •Isa 53:7 WEB He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he didn't open his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he didn't open his mouth. THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT WHO THIS LAMB IS •We cannot help but think of John the Baptizer introducing Jesus to his disciples: •Joh 1:29 WEB The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! IT REMINDS US OF OTHER PASSAGES ABOUT OUR REDEMPTION •1Co 5:7b WEB For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place. •It also reminds us that we were not redeemed with silver or gold ... •1Pe 1:19 WEB … but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, the blood of Christ; IT HAS "SEVEN HORNS AND SEVEN EYES" •"Seven" is a depiction of God's complete will. So what do seven horns and seven eyes signify? •The horn in the Old Testament is a symbol of strength. Deu 33:17 WEB The firstborn of his herd, majesty is his; His horns are the horns of the wild-ox: With them he shall push the peoples all of them, even the ends of the earth: They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, They are the thousands of Manasseh. Page 24
  • 25. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb To say that the lamb has seven horns is to say he has God's power. In other words, he is omnipotent! •To say that he has seven eyes, is an affirmation that he has God's vision. Pro 15:3 WEB Yahweh's eyes are everywhere, Keeping watch on the evil and the good. In other words, he is omniscient! JOHN SAW THE LAMB DO WHAT NO ONE ELSE IN CREATION WAS WORTHY TO DO He walked up to the throne of God and took the book out of the hand of the • Almighty! No wonder heaven erupts with praise of his worth! • Our word "worship" comes from old English "worth-ship." It is an affirmation of • worth! Revelation 4 declares that God on the throne is worthy of worship! • Revelation 5 adds a second verse, declaring that the Lamb is worthy of • worship, as well! WORSHIP OF THE LAMB Rev 5:8-14 WEB Now when he had taken the book, the four living creatures • and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sang a new song, saying, "You are worthy to take the book, And to open its seals: For you were killed, And bought us for God with your blood, Out of every tribe, language, people, and nation, And made them kings and priests to our God, And they reign on earth." I saw, and I heard something like a voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousands of ten thousands, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who has been killed to receive the power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing!" I heard every created thing which is in heaven, on the earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be the blessing, the honor, the glory, and the dominion, forever and ever! Amen!" The four living creatures said, "Amen!" The elders fell down and worshiped. IN REVELATION 4, ALL EYES HAD BEEN ON THE THRONE Page 25
  • 26. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb Now, in Revelation 5, all eyes are on the Lamb. The entire heavenly scene, the • four creatures and 24 elders, fall before the Lamb and worship him. The harps signify their worship, and John tells the reader that the bowls of incense signify the prayers of the saints, which come out of the tabernacle. He would understand the sentiment of David: Psa 141:2 WEB Let my prayer be set before you like incense; The lifting up of • my hands like the evening sacrifice. JOHN'S SITUATION IS UNIQUE VIS-À-VIS EVERY HUMAN BEFORE, OR SINCE •He has the unique distinction of seeing the same moment in celestial history from both earth's and heaven's perspective. •He was with the few who saw Jesus ascend to heaven in Acts 1. •Now, he sees the ascended Christ as he enters into heaven. AND WHEN JESUS ENTERS, ALL HEAVEN ERUPTS WITH PRAISE! The fact that they sing a "new song" means only that it is new as compared with • the song they had sung in Revelation 4. There, the song was a song of praise to God on the throne, as being worthy • because of his work in creation. Here, the song is a song of praise to the Lamb as being worthy because of his • work in redemption. THIS IS THE NEW TESTAMENT COUNTERPART TO THE "SONG OF MOSES" •Recall that when Israel had crossed the Red Sea, and the Egyptian army had been drowned in it, the Israelites sang the "Song of Moses" in which they praised God for redeeming them, and for vanquishing their enemies. THAT IS THE WAY THE CONCEPT OF A "NEW SONG" IS USED IN THE SCRIPTURES It is a "new song" that is sung after God delivers his people. Throughout the Old • Testament, there are many mentions of a "new song" that is sung when God has acted decisively for his people. Psa 33:3 WEB Sing to him a new song. Play skillfully with a shout of joy! Psa 40:3 WEB He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in Yahweh. Psa 96:1 WEB Sing to Yahweh a new song! Sing to Yahweh, all the earth. Page 26
  • 27. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb Psa 98:1 WEB Sing to Yahweh a new song, For he has done marvelous things! His right hand, and his holy arm, have worked salvation for him. Psa 144:9 WEB I will sing a new song to you, God. On a ten-stringed lyre, I will sing praises to you. Psa 149:1 WEB Praise Yahweh! Sing to Yahweh a new song, His praise in the assembly of the saints. Isaiah also urges people to sing a new song in light of God's deliverance • Isa 42:10 WEB Sing to Yahweh a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth; you who go down to the sea, and all that is therein, the isles, and the inhabitants of it. IN REV 14:3, WE WILL READ OF GOD'S PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN DELIVERED •Rev 14:3 WEB They sing a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the one hundred forty-four thousand, those who had been redeemed out of the earth. •In this picture, the redeemed are standing on Mount Zion singing a song commemorating their redemption. THEN, JUST A CHAPTER LATER, WE'LL READ AGAIN OF THE OVERCOMERS SINGING In the context of God's judgments on the ungodly, the redeemed sing a song of • deliverance. Rev 15:3 WEB They sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are your ways, you King of the nations. They sing because they have been rescued from, and have watched God's • wrath poured out upon, their enemies. So what is there about this Lamb that is so special? • The Lamb is worthy because of his death, and because of what his death accomplished. Look at what his death did HIS DEATH PURCHASED MEN FROM EVERY TRIBE, TONGUE, PEOPLE AND NATION •The King James Version incorrectly says he purchased "us". That is not what Page 27
  • 28. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb the Greek text says. It says he purchased men. But not just any men, and not just men from a select group. •Jesus' death made it possible for men to be purchased from every tribe (ethnic group), tongue (language group), people (racial group), and nation (national group). •No matter what there is that segregates men from one another, it has been abolished in the cross. •As Paul put it, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). •The days are past when one had to be a physical descendant of Abraham in order to be a part of God's people. •Jesus opened the doors of heaven to everyone! HIS DEATH MADE THESE PEOPLE INTO A "KINGDOM" AND "PRIESTS" •In spite of their diversity of race, culture and language, the Lamb's blood has made them into a "kingdom" (not "kings" as in some translations), in which God rules. •In spite of the fact that their sins separated them from God, the Lamb's blood has made them into "priests", with access to God! •The OT prophets said God's intention was to give them access to his throne. Isa 61:6 WEB But you shall be named the priests of Yahweh; men shall call you the ministers of our God: you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory shall you boast yourselves. •No wonder the hosts of heaven sing praises to the Lamb with their own version of "Worthy art Thou!" THE CHAPTER BEGAN WITH A QUESTION: "W HO IS WORTHY?" Of course there is the foregone conclusion that God is worthy. • That is why the singers sang the first stanza of "Worthy Art Thou" in Revelation • 4. There, they ascribed to God the same kind of worthiness that the prophets had • ascribed to him centuries before. 1Ch 29:11 WEB Yours, Yahweh, is the greatness, and the power, and the • Page 28
  • 29. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, Yahweh, and you are exalted as head above all. BUT "WHO IS WORTHY" TO TAKE THE BOOK OUT OF GOD'S HAND AND OPEN IT? •They looked everywhere and no one could be found who was worthy. •But, just when it seemed hopeless, there was found one - no more and no less - who was worthy! •Now everyone who had been involved in the search joins in the assent that he truly is worthy! EVERY CREATED BEING JOINS IN THE ACT They sing about the worthiness of the one on the throne, and of the Lamb, as • well. (5:13). The singers are the ones described by Daniel as those who minister to and • stand before God. Dan 7:10 WEB … thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: … When everyone & everything praises God, the only thing to say is Amen! • When everyone and every thing in creation agrees that God and the Lamb are worthy, there's just one thing for the elders and the four living creatures to say - "Amen!" THE OLD TESTAMENT BACKGROUND OF THIS ENTIRE SCENE IS DANIEL 7:9-14 •Dan 7:9-14 WEB I saw until thrones were placed, and one who was ancient of days sat: his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels of it burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened … I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. Page 29
  • 30. Lesson 5—Worthy is the Lamb IN THAT GRAND VISION, GOD IS SEEN ON THE THRONE, READY TO JUDGE God's judgment is about to come upon one kingdom, and a king who thought • he was worthy of worship. Into the scene came "one like a son of man" who was led into his presence. • He was given dominion over all peoples, nations and languages. • There is a final word about his rule: "his dominion is an everlasting dominion, • which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." READY OR NOT, GOD'S ENEMY IS ABOUT TO BE JUDGED! •As we progress through the Book of Revelation, we're going to see that the nation - and the king - who are facing judgment in Daniel 7 are the same as the enemies of God's people in the Book of Revelation. •They are none other than the Roman Empire and the Roman emperors, and one Roman emperor in particular, named Domitian. THE SCENE IN REVELATION 4-5 IS THIS God is on his throne. His court is assembled, and his judgments are ready to be • pronounced. But there is no one worthy to pronounce, nor to execute, the judgments of God. Then, the only worthy one in the universe comes to the throne. He takes the • book of God's judgments. When he does, it's time for God's judgments to begin. That is the significance of the seals, the trumpets, the thunders, and, finally, the bowls that we'll see in the rest of the book. Page 30