Heaven Opens (Revelation 4-5)

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  • We consistently give praise to God because each day there is continually something new to for which to give Him praise. Every day has morning mercies and evening grace. Our God is unfathomably profound yet simple and relational. Jesus is the perfect paradox and the list could be endless for why we are in awe and admire the Lord Jesus.
    • Jesus is the majestic and glorious God, but He’s the familiar infant child who grew as man.
    • Jesus is high and holy but meek and mild.
    • Jesus is infinite and transcendent but intimate in condescension.
    • Jesus is worthy of all praise as the eternal royal king, but He came to serve and wash feet.
    • Jesus is sovereign over all creation, but He submitted Himself to the Father and fully obeyed the mission.
    • Jesus taught with amazing insight and spoke with authority to religious leaders, but He was approachable to families and embraced children.
    • Jesus was powerful to still storms and exorcise demons, but He refused to escape the beating from Roman soldiers, the piercing nails through his flesh, or the asphyxiation of His heart and lungs.

Today we have a special view into heaven from Revelation 4-5 to discern at least three reasons why we worship Jesus.

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EXAMINE           Revelation 4-5

Transition from Rev 3 to Rev 4

  • Rev 1:19 “Write things that you have seen [Rev 1], those that are [Rev 2-3], and those that are to take place after this [Rev4+].”
  • Ended with a door with Jesus knocking, and begins with a door standing open with a vision for the blessings of all that is to come from the glory of Christ and the beauty of heaven.
  • Ended with a promise to sit with the Father on His throne, and begins with Jesus seated on the throne with angelic beings insatiably singing and worshiping God.
  • While everything appears to be chaos in the church, there is a God in complete control. There is not one church’s negligence or one Christian’s disobedience that dishevels Jesus from the throne.
  • At this point in Revelation, some see the removal of the Church, yet, there is no clear marker – at least convincingly to me.
    • prayers of saints (Rev 5:8; 8:3-4)
    • two witnesses representative of believers who prophesy on earth (Rev 11:3)
    • saints on earth who endure and experience tribulation war (Rev 13:7, 10; 14:12; 16:6; 17:6)
    • the marriage supper of the Lamb occurs after the fall of Babylon but before the millennium reign (Rev 19:6-9).
    • Longer persuasion for Post-Tribulation view biblically, theologically, historically.
    • Yet, whether eschatological view is Pre-/Mid-/Post-Tribulation should not divide us from affirming God’s word and spreading gospel truth. The issue is third-tier doctrine.[1]
      • 1 – Absolutes : heresy vs orthodoxy
      • 2 – Convictions: local vs global practice (ordinances, leadership roles,
      • 3 – Opinions: theological issues (end times, spiritual gifts, etc.)
      • 4 – Questions: issues of conscience

We worship Jesus as the worthy creator (4:11; 5:2-4)

John saw Jesus sitting on the throne. Images of Jesus’ throne are prevalent (43x) in Revelation and are present in 17 of 22 chapters of the book, except 9, 10, 15, 17, 18.

Rev4 describes the throne

  • in heaven with one seated on throne (Rev 4:2)
    • A seated person on throne symbolizes royalty at rest.

 

  • he who sat there had appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around throne was a rainbow that had appearance of an emerald. (Rev 4:3)
    • Carnelian and Jasper were the first and last stones in the high priest chest plate (Ex 28:17-20).
    • The appearance of jewels and colors cannot be fully communicated by John. He is in awe, attempting to find the words to describe all he is seeing. God dwells in “unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see” (1Tim 6:16).
    • John’s imagery of heaven filled with color complexity, crescendo of sounds, eye-catching happenings provides us two reminders
      1) Environment is not unimportant in worship. It is ok to care about aesthetic bc God is excellent in creativity. The environment can enhance or distract from the primary emphasis of worship.
      2) Emphasis in worship is not the surroundings but the Savior. While environments can enhance or distract, we are responsible for where we place our focus.

 

  • around the throne were 24 thrones with 24 elders seated and clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on heads. (Rev 4:4)
    • Seemingly, the 24 elders are the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel and the 12 apostles (cf. Mt 19:28).

 

  • from the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass like crystal (Rev 4:5)
    • John sees a thunderstorm without the rain.

Revelation 4_8 graphic

  • around throne were four living creatures, like a: lion, ox, human, and an eagle. Each of the four creatures had 6 wings, are full of eyes all around and within… and they never ceased to say “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come.” (Rev 4:7-8)
    • John’s vision of God is comparable to the prophet Ezekiel (Ez 1, 10) and Daniel 7:9 The four creatures are representative of the creativity and animal kingdom.
      • lion – king / ox – servant yet strong / human – creation’s ruler / eagle – sovereign of air
    • Unceasing praise for an unparalleled God.

 

  • Likewise, the elders falling down before him who is seated on the throne… casting their crowns before the throne saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created(Rev 4:10-11)
    • Language is political and was used when citizens greeted the entrance of an emperor. But, here John shows it was blasphemous to be used on anyone other than Jesus Christ. Remember, John is not writing this as an abstract theological idea but is living proof, exiled to Patmos after much suffering from not bowing or catering to political authorities.

 

  • Can singing become boring? Does this line inspire or concern you: “When we’ve been there ten-thousand years… we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, then when we first begun”?
  • Our worship may lack joy in praise because we lack the grand perspective of God that the author of Revelation is attempting to communicate to us. Further, too often in our worship services we are giving God our left-overs physically and emotionally. If we enter worship with focused mind, body, and soul expectancy then our encounter with God will become more meaningful.
  • Sunday worship is often a Saturday evening decision. Sometimes the most spiritual action you can do is to rest physically so your worship & bible study can refresh you spiritually.
  • Psalm 95 “Oh come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker. For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.”

 

We worship Jesus as the unrivaled conqueror (5:5-7)

In Rev5 Jesus is holding a scroll written on both sides, implying ample content. Scrolls were only a certain size and generally written on one side. Additionally, the scroll has 7 seals. The greater amount of seals on a Roman document implied greater importance; in this case 7 implies complete significance.[2]

John saw a strong angel shout with a loud voice to search for one worthy to break its seals. A loud angelic voice echoes throughout heaven and earth only to be met with silence. No one on earth had the power to destroy satan, defeat sin, and undo the effects of sin’s curse on all creation.

John weeps (klaio = deep weeping, strong unrestrained emotion) loudly and continuously (imperfect tense). The idea is that God’s purposes would not just be unknown but unaccomplished until the scroll was opened. However, one of the elders says “weep no more”. John’s sorrow is to settle immediately because the OT was fulfilled through Jesus – “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals” (5:5). These titles for Jesus display the fulfillment of OT Scripture where the messiah came from the tribe of Judah and the lineage of king David (cf. Gen 49:10; Isa 11:1, 10; Mt 22:41-46).

Revelation 5_5 graphic

Further, John sees between the throne and four living creatures and among the elders a “Lamb standing, as though it had been slain with seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (5:6).

The slain lamb but standing very much alive. The sacrificial lamb is obviously referring to Jesus who has the scars and suffering from crucifixion but also the conquering testimony over death in the resurrection. The Lamb has 7 horns, 7 eyes, and the 7 spirits of God, all symbolic to the prestige, power, and full presence of deity in Christ, the sacrificial lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (cf. Jn 1:29; 1Cor 5:7).

  • Jesus is unlike any other conqueror – He did not fall prey to Satan’s temptations, He did not cower under Caesar’s army, He did not despair from earthly suffering, He did not forfeit against the enemy of death, and He certainly did not cave to sin, but crushed the serpent’s head with His mighty resurrection.
  • Since Jesus is conquers every rival, regardless the troublesome circumstances you are facing, you can have hope.
    • John 16:33 “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
    • Romans 8:37-39 “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
    • 1Peter 1:6-9 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
  • Watching every Rocky movie you know that Balboa will get in a brutal fight, but somehow he will eventually win. We have this perspective because we’ve watched the first Rocky, the second Rocky, etc. We have this perspective because we know the ark of the narrative from the movie author. Likewise, you may not feel like a conqueror, but neither did Jesus when He hung on a cross. Those who hope in Jesus have a high priest who sympathizes with our every weakness and who overcomes leading us to victory beyond the grave. Christian, we eventually win.
    • The best thing you can do is ponder the Psalms (cf Ps 37) and pray for God’s heavenly perspective.

 

We worship Jesus as the unparallel Savior (Rev 5:9,ff).

All 24 elders, holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are prayers of the saints (cf. Ps 141:2), fell down in worship to Jesus, singing a new song… “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, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:9).

Jesus is deemed worthy to take the scroll because of His atonement action.

  • He was slain. Death is the eternal consequence for sin.
  • His blood ransomed people for God. His perfect life made atonement, extending mercy to rescue from punishment and grace to restore fellowship between God and humanity.
    • Ransomed from sins (Rev 1:5)
    • Ransomed from deception to and worshiping the beast (Rev 13:7-8)
    • Ransomed from drinking the wine of God’s wrath and being thrown in the lake of fire (Rev 14:9-11; 20:15).
    • Ransomed for God (Rev 5:9),
    • Ransomed to a kingdom for reigning on the earth (Rev 5:10),
    • Ransomed to priestly access with God (Rev 5:10).
  • Every tribe and language and people and nation…
    • People on earth are made to feel inferior or superior based upon their language or ethnicity. But the blood of Jesus overcomes the fears of ethnic shame and overpowers the boasting of ethnic pride. God’s new kingdom will be more diverse than a Reese’s and Skittles bag combined. Heaven will be multi-colored, multi-lingual, and multi-ethnic with no room for being ashamed or arrogant based on race, for we will rightly view ourselves with our only hope in the righteousness of Christ.

 

John looks beyond his focus on the Lamb to see many angels, numbering myriads of myriads [10K of 10K – an uncountable host] and thousands of thousands sang with a loud voice to the glory of Jesus (Rev 5:11-13). Worship on earth or in eternity joins an angelic chorus singing the praises of our Savior.

  • Revelation invites us to sing new and sing with loud noise.
    • Sing new…
      • Psalm 33:3 “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.”
      • Psalm 40:3 “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God”
      • Psalm 96:1-2 “Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all the earth… bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day”
      • Psalm 98:1 “Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.”
      • Psalm 144:9 “I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you.”
      • Psalm 149:1 “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly.”
    • Sing loud noise… You celebrate for what you care. Revelation shows us faith is not just an informed mind but an aflame heart with the fire of worship.

 

The 4 living creatures and 24 elders say “Amen”. A summary punctuation to the praiseworthiness of God.

APPLY/THINK

Worship opens doors… praise and prayer are the key to releasing breakthrough in your life.

Prayers are incense rising up to the Lord… why not flood the altar and fill the air with a prayer fragrance today?

 

 

[1] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/how-do-you-evaluate-and-weigh-the-importance-of-various-doctrines/

[2] John MacArthur, Revelation, p.163.

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