Summary: A sermon about worshiping God.
Revelation 4:1-2; 5:1-14
"Forever and Ever"
Have you heard that in Fiji, singing hymns can get you in trouble?
About 1 million Methodists live in the south Pacific Island country, and every summer between 20,000 and 50,000 people come together in order to sing hymns.
And that's it.
They sing hymns.
But a couple of years ago the government shut them down.
There is a lot of turmoil in Fiji, and the government was afraid that the big crowd might get out of hand.
According to news reports, "Church officials said the government fears that the conference and singing contest will lead to further political instability."
Have you ever thought that the singing of Methodists could make a government nervous?
They are on to something there, though.
Christians worshiping the Lord really are dangerous--although perhaps not in the way those officials feared.
Worshiping God in Christ upsets world systems.
It is revolutionary, subversive.
It brings another kingdom into view.
Have you ever been in a worship experience where you thought to yourself: this must be just a little taste of what heaven is like?
Have you ever been so focused on the love and majesty of God that you felt, almost as if, you had been transported to the very throne room of God?
At the beginning of chapter 4, John sees a door open in heaven.
And a voice calls to him, inviting him to take a look at what is going on "behind the scenes," so to speak.
John writes, "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne."
John looks around and sees the throne of God surrounded by 24 elders with golden crowns on their heads...
...which are reminders of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of Jesus.
Revelation Chapters 4 and 5 introduce a whole bunch of prophecies that take the reader all the way through the rest of the book.
But at another level, they are an introduction to the first of the sequences of prophecies, the "seven seals" that must be broken open if the "scroll" of God's purposes is going to be unrolled.
And eventually, what must take place--in the scroll--leads to the unveiling of God's plan which is the New Jerusalem--where heaven and earth will be finally joined forever and ever.
So, what we are seeing in Chapters 4 and 5 is not the final resting place of God's Kingdom--it is rather what's happening at this moment in history.
And John is called to the Throne Room of God because, like the Israelite prophets of old, he is privileged to stand in God's counsel chamber in order to then report what he sees back to the people on earth--people like you and me.
And what John sees is astounding to say the least!!!
So, these seven seals must be broken if the scroll of God's future--and our future is going to be unrolled.
But what happens next is an emotional roller coaster.
John writes in verse 2 of Chapter 5, "Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals?'
And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.
So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it."
And why is there no one worthy?
It is because there is a deep-rooted problem which has not only affected the whole human race, but all of creation as well.
And that problem is sin, rebellion, imperfection--the results of the Fall.
And so, there is no one who is good enough to open the scroll to God's future.
And John weeps at the reality of the results of sin.
And weep is a very strong word for a very strong emotion.
Have you ever wept because of the results of sin?
Whether we realize it or not, I believe everyone has.
Who in America and in many other places around the world did not weep while watching those planes purposely fly into the buildings of the World Trade Center?
Who did not weep as the shocking news came out about the mass shooting in that elementary school in Connecticut?
Who doesn't weep at the graveside of a loved one, at the deathbed of a mother, father, son or daughter?
Life is filled, filled with tears.
Even Jesus wept.
And so here we see that John is weeping.
John is weeping because of the plight of humankind and of creation.
John is weeping because no one is worthy to open up God's future.
John is weeping a flood of tears because it appears that nothing can be done, things will never change, there is no hope, no bright future; there is no savior...