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
Review Part Two of your listening guide from Session One. Note the inclusion of the New King James rendering of Revelation 1:1-2. What significance does the inclusion of the phrase "and signified it" hold?
Definition of signify:
sig·ni·fy (sgn-f)v. sig·ni·fied, sig·ni·fy·ing, sig·ni·fies v.tr.1. To denote; mean.2. To make known, as with a sign or word: signify one's intent.v.intr.1. To have meaning or importance.
signify [ˈsɪgnɪˌfaɪ]vb -fies, -fying, -fied (when tr, may take a clause as object)1. (tr) to indicate, show, or suggest2. (tr) to imply or portend the clouds signified the coming storm3. (tr) to stand as a symbol, sign, etc. (for)4. (intr) Informal to be significant or important
signifyverb1. indicate, show, mean, matter, suggest, announce, evidence, represent, express, imply, exhibit, communicate, intimate, stand for, proclaim, convey, be a sign of, symbolize, denote, connote, portend, betoken The two approaches signified a sharp difference between the men.2. make known, show, express, indicate, announce, display, declare, signal, register, communicate, proclaim Two jurors signified their dissent.
I think it means that God is saying: "This is important. Pay attention to what I have to say." It's like a parent with a child when the parent wants to get the child's attention when the parent takes the child's face in their hands, looks them straight in the eye and states, "Listen to me! Hear what I'm saying"
I can hardly wait to see what You have in store for me today in the way of a personal revelation. It has been an amazing few days since we began this together.
A beautiful cardinal was eating the seeds from my plants this morning. I watched him for a long time, then thought "I sure would like to snap a picture of him." Took several but I was moving around too much, I guess, so ff he flew. I was reminded of my first Siesta Scripture Memory Verse for 2011: "Cast the whole of your care, all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns once and for all on Him for He cares for you affectionately and cares for you watchfully." This in turn reminded me of Jesus assuring His children that He cares for the birds of the field (or in this case on my porch), so how much more He cares for us (me). Since I've begun to ask God to reveal Himself to me everyday, He has been faithful in some beautiful images.
Second Question, Session One: We talked about the Apostle John most likely receiving the Revelation toward the last of the 1st Century under the Roman rule of Domitian. We touched on the terror some Christians suffered during the reign of Nero and that, while Domitian's persecution of Christians was also fierce, it often had more of a psychological edge to it than physical.
Can you name a few ways you sense a psychological dimension to the persecution Christians are beginning to face in our current Western culture.
The answer is found in realizing that just like in Domitian's time, Christians today are often looked on as ignorant, uneducated and gullible. It doesn't help when Christians do and say something that backs up that thinking. For instance, the 93 year old man that for the third time predicted last Saturday at 6:00 p.m. was going to be Judgment Day and then convinced his followers to put hundreds of billboards up to tell everyone. The media jumped on that and then when it didn't happen, the reflection on all Christians is one much like in Domitian's day. There are those among the Christian community who so often are so judgmental and extreme in their thinking that it turns people away from seeing Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Jesus said, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35. So, instead of debating and judging and showing our ignorance, the way to God is to SHOW the love and compassion of Jesus.
But then yesterday, I heard the phrase "Compassion Fatigue" and thought "True." I think we are all in danger of having this syndrome. We have information to the extreme!: 24 hour news, internet with FB, Twitter, cell phones that can take pictures and videos. I asked Ricky last night if we are in danger of getting calloused to all the needs around us because we see all the images or destruction from weather: tornadoes, tsunamis, floods, fires. We feel so helpless to respond and so become compassion fatigued. I suppose in thinking about it this morning that perhaps that is just where God wants us to be: so we realize God is God and God-size, not human-size. I'm praying that we (in the world) won't stop at seeing the Almighty GOD but will look more closely to see GOD the Father who loves us and has the utmost compassion on us; He is never in danger of Compassion Fatigue. I pray we will see deeper to Jesus and that His Holy Spirit will so fill this place that there will be an outpouring of love and understanding of all aspects of the One True GOD!
Time with all of its ramifications on this earth was set into motion innumerable years ago and it must be fulfilled. Help us in this present time to see You as the Complete God more than at any other time previous. Help us as Your Children to not become compassion fatigued, for it is by our love and compassion that we show the world the way to the ALMIGHTY GOD.
Yesterday's personal revelation came later in the afternoon and it was one of those knock your socks off, once in a lifetime revelations. We rode with Benji's family to see Bull Shoals Dam. The floodgates are open are historic porportions because the lake level is really close to the top of the dam. We began to drive across the dam and there was the most incredibly bright and beautiful double rainbow. We could see it all the way across, landing in the lake on both ends. When we got to the overlook, one end looked as if it went right into the water from the floodgates. It was still clearly visible from one end to the other. It was just incredible. Really no words.
What a blessing to have gotten to witness the Hand of God painting a scene as only He can do. I was immediately reminded that I had asked earlier in the day for God to give me a personal revelation. WOW! Did He!! Awe! As if standing on Holy Ground! Thank You for the miracle.
The picture I will post I've titled Hope Defined. The tornados have been incredibly dangerous and this year but I was reminded with this scene that Jesus is always, always, always here. I AM! Truly!
Reread Revelation 1:1-8. Record one phrase of Scripture from this portion that you find most interesting or fascinating and explain why.
5-24 - Tuesday:
That would be two phrases for me: 1) "John, who testifies to everything he saw---that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ" This seems to me to say that John not only saw Jesus as the word of God (John 1:1) but also when he SAW the testimony of Jesus Christ would mean he actually was able to see what Jesus was telling Him. So, maybe John saw something more actual than a movie even in 3D, but instead more like a Broadway show only he was right in the middle of it. So, John not only saw Jesus and heard what He was telling him, but John experienced what Jesus was telling him. Whoa! Mind-boggling! But that makes sense, too, because when John wrote the story, he could write as one who had lived in it. 2) "Blessed is the one who reads the word of this prophecy and blessed are those who read it and take to heart what is written it" So, to me this says a person is blessed just by reading the word, even though he/she may not believe it. But the one who gets the richer, more bountiful blessing is the one who reads it and believes it "takes it to heart." I believe it!
ASSIGNMENT: PERSONAL REVELATIONS FROM THIS WEEK
I am doing the Here and Now, There and Then Bible study (B Moore). The assignment for the study is to ask God for a personal revelation each day.
On Monday, I was sweeping the porch from the storm that had blown many of my plants blossoms off. I had just swept the flowers into a pile and was about to sweep them off when I looked down and saw a beautiful sight at my feet (sometimes lo. I was reminded that God, I AM, is always presently happening. There is not a time in the past when He was not there; He is here now; there is not a time in the future when He will not be there. Oh, the comfort and peace that passes all understanding when I am reminded of that truth!