OUR GOD IS DELIVERANCE. God is in charge of everything, all details, every circumstance. Chapters Four and Five of Revelation are meant to be viewed as one cohesive whole with an unfolding scene of unsurpassed drama. Read Revelation 4 and consider several observations and possible interpretations.
· Every single element implicates the entire universe as utterly, unapologetically theocentric. “God-centered”
o This is what we wrestle with all the time – being self-centered or God-centered. Self-centeredness will make us ill to the soul. All around us – all the earth, all the heavenly bodies, and the entire universe-- is God-centered so if we are self-centered, we are out of whack with all around us.
· Every element and creature is described in direct relationship to the Throne. We, too, are described and depicted in the Heavenlies in our relationship to the Throne. Hebrews 4:16. This is where we bring our prayers and petitions --- before the Throne.
· John’s vision of the Throne Room is consistent with several other glimpses in Scripture (Isaiah 1; Ezekiel 6
1. There is a rainbow (Ezekiel 1:28) Whether or not we can figure it out, these symbols have significance. 1. Genesis 9:13-16. “never again will I destroy all life” God is saying there will be redemption and there will be judgment but there all life will not be destroyed on this earth.
2. Four living creatures. We could get all caught up in trying to figure out what the faces mean. Some think the faces represent the four gospels; some represent different creatures of the earth. The truth is that we don’t know but they do represent something significant.
a. Ezekiel 1:15-26. Word Bible Commentary: In Ezekiel the living creatures are implicitly understood to bear up the movable throne of God.
i. God never leaves His throne so when He moves the throne moves with Him borne by cherubim. He is still seated on the Throne. Examples: When He “went down” to the Tower of Babel; also in Exodus 19:18 “the Lord descended to Mt. Sinai” As high as man can ascend, God still has to descend and He always takes his throne with Him.
b. Exodus 24:9-10. The floor of the Throne is sapphire
· There are 24 elders. A major train of thought is that the 24 represents 12 + 12 or the Old Covenant and the New Covenant/12 Heads of the Tribes + 12 Apostles. Another is that since the vision represents the Temple and there were 24 Priests who served in the Temple, these could be 24 Priests who attend to the Temple proper. We don’t know for sure and won’t until we get there.
There is “what looked like a sea of glass.” Calm.
Micah 7:19. We can never outlive or out sin His compassion. He takes our sin, stomps in under His feet, and then hurls it into the sea. It’s gone!
There is no description of God, only that which surrounds Him. We are not told one thing about how He looks. We only know the awesomeness of what surrounds Him.
1 Timothy 6:15-16. We may not be able to see Him even in Heaven but we will see His glory.
As George Eldon Ladd explains about this Throne Room scene, “Every trace of anthropomorphism has been cast off.” Anthropomorphism is when you give human attributes or characteristics to a thing or creature different from human.” In Scripture when anthropomorphism is used the large majority of the time it will be in reference to Christ himself because He is the One who will have characteristics most like us. In Exodus 33, we see that no man can live after seeing God. So, we will have to have immortal bodies to see Him.
Now, we will observe the unfolding of events in Revelation 5, staying in the same scenery and keeping in mind that they are yet to take place.
5:1-4. What is this “scroll”?
Held out in the right hand of God is a scroll that has been sealed with the seven (complete) seals of the seven witnesses. This means that something in the scroll is complete (seven). Then the angel shouts out, “Who is worthy?” “Wept” acleo (sp) in Greek. This is the strongest – taking on every manifestation of grief. God purposefully let everyone in this scene (in heaven, on earth, under the earth – Philippians 2) feel the grief -- the absence, the loss, the lack, the hopelessness. He will let us miss what we do not have or we will not appreciate the gain.
Example: Genesis 2:18-20 God says there is no suitable helper for the man. He doesn’t immediately put him to sleep and make Eve. First He parades all the animals before him to let Adam see what he is missing. “Nothing fits me.” THEN He creates Eve. God lets everyone feel the ache and emptiness of having no Savior so that when we see Jesus, we recognize Him as the One who can fill every void. Here in Revelation, everyone felt the ache and emptiness of no one being worthy to open the scroll or even look inside.
“Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. HE IS ABLE to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then he (John) turned and saw a LAMB.
Revelation 5:6-8 “He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.” All the creatures and elders fell down before the Lamb (because someone was worthy).
Innumerable interpretations (could be one of them, could be none of them, and could be all of them) but most plausible and easily understood (NIV Commentary): the “scroll of destiny” -- The destiny of the universe – the rest of the story of the universe. The purpose for opening the scroll is not so that it can be read…but so that the eschatological (last days) events can begin to take place. Not to read it but so that what is yet to come can come to pass – so that there can be a new Heaven and new Earth.
What about the scroll demands worthiness? This individual will perform the supreme service of bringing history to its foreordained consummation. (NIV Commentary).
If Jesus is worthy to take the scroll and unseal it, what do I have to deal with in my life that He is not worthy to take? Whatever I am willing to put in my open hand in surrender, He is worthy to take it.
Consider the significance of the prayers of the saints in v.8.
Revelation 5:5-8 “seven horns” symbols of dominion and power; “seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God” symbols of all knowledge of God, ability to be in all places at all times through the breadth of His Holy Spirit. They were holding “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” What is it in this scene that constitutes the “prayers of the saints?” Psalm 141:2 – our prayers go up as incense. The prayers are sitting right there in front of the Throne waiting on God’s perfect timing – the prayers: “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
Why does the Lamb have to appear as slain?
· To depict the singular means of victory (the Only Way)
· To tie the Passover Lamb to the coming plagues (Exodus 12). The blood on the door posts depicted the cross.
Why does this constitute such a huge moment?
It is the beginning of a new era ushered in by a divine coronation. It depicts the Mediator’s investiture with the office of King over the universe. (Hendriksen, p.111) Prophet (Before) – Priest (Now) – KING (Future)
He will not sit on the Throne instead of His Father but beside His Father.
(10,000 was the highest number the Greeks had a term for – so here it means innumerable)
5:11-14 Seven excellencies: power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and praise