Sermons

Summary: Jesus won in the end, but not through the usual methods. Jesus was authorized to break the seal on the deed to eternity because he was slain.

The academy Awards are coming up... next week, as a matter of fact. How many of you enjoy watching them? Who do you think deserves Best Actress? Best Actor? Best Director? What will be the best picture? I’m hoping for The Two Towers, but most people seem to think it will be Chicago or Gangs of New York. The most fun though, is watching the glitter and the glitz, watching the celebrities

strutting their stuff and weeping through the obligatory “thank you” speeches when they come up to get the award - and the applause.

Now - imagine this. There we are, at the end of the evening, after a year of speculation and a couple of months of non-stop publicity and suspense, the five Best Picture nominees are read, and the host holds out his or her hand and says, “And now... The envelope, please.” It is brought forward, and she - or he - tries to open it. But it won’t open. It seems to be completely sealed - you know, like those child-proof, fool-proof, post-office proof stay-fresh packages? He gets a good grip on it, and tries it again. The whole audience starts to murmur and

mutter, “What can be wrong?” But it won’t open. Several people come up and take a shot, but nothing happens.

Or to use a slightly more important analogy - how many of you remember legend of King Arthur, that Disney made into the film The Sword in the Stone? The whole kingdom has been suffering under civil war and anarchy ever since Uther Pendragon was murdered, and the only way to stop it and restore peace and justice to Britain was for the rightful king to step forward and pull the King’s enchanted sword Excalibur out of the stone where it has been embedded. All the

greatest knights come forward to try their luck, but they can’t move it an inch. The crowd of watchers despairs. Is the kingdom doomed to another generation of chaos and bloodshed? Will it never end?

That is something like the scene we see in the 5th chapter of Revelation. There is the enormous, glittering heavenly throne room, filled with earthly and unearthly worshipers, and a hush of expectation descends upon the whole crowd as John and the other watchers “saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.” {Rev 5:1]

What’s going on here?

Well, it begins in Genesis. Remember last week we began our study by looking at how the whole story is going to end, with every created being on heaven and earth worshiping the Living One? Well, in order to understand how we got here, it’s necessary to go back to the beginning.

The first thing to understand is that a sealed scroll like this one is a legal document. And it is sealed in the presence of witnesses to make sure that no unauthorized person can tamper with it. The more seals, the more important the document is. You could think of this as the “title deed to creation”. It contains the final terms of the earth’s redemption.

When God created mankind, he gave us rule over of the earth. “God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." God said, "See, I have

given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. [Gen 1:2-30]

When Adam and Eve fell for the serpent’s promise that they could be like God if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they lost their jobs. What’s more, the earth was cursed. Paradise gave way to jungles and deserts. Thorns and weeds took over the fields. Insects carried diseases and animals began to bite the hands that fed them. Earthquakes and tornados tried to shake them off the earth. Because, you see, our first ancestors had, in effect, transferred their mortgage from the original owner, God, to God’s enemy, whose name Satan is Hebrew for “the adversary.”

How many of you own their own house? How many of you are still paying off the mortgage? You know, don’t you, that until all the payments have been made., your house really doesn't belong to you. Your name may be on the deed, but it has a lien against it. The bank is its real owner. How long do you have left on your mortgage?

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