Summary: The Throne and The Lamb, part 8 Revelation 5:1-14
The Throne and The Lamb, part 8
Praised for Ransoming People
November 30, 2014
We are in the middle of a series on Revelation chapters four and five, “The Throne & The Lamb.” If you remember I have said that chapter four sets the stage for the drama that is played out in chapter five. We saw chapter five open with a universal challenge and a universal inadequacy. No one is found worthy to open the scroll and break the seals. The bible always points out human inadequacy, our propensity to sinfulness so that we would look elsewhere for a hero, one who is worthy. The mighty angel does tell that there is one who is worthy, the Lion who is the Lamb, who is both victorious and unstoppable. Yet his victory is a paradox, it came in weakness. Isaiah tells us that, “he was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” He is the only one worthy and able to take the scroll to reveal and executes God's plans. He earned that authority through his sacrificial death so that he can and will bring salvation and deliverance to his people and judgment to his enemies. We look forward to one day there being no more sin, no more suffering, no more death, and no more injustice. Is this your picture of Jesus? He is not a teddy bear, he is not a therapist, he is not an optional Savior and Lord, and he is not a bumbling carpenter that we read about in 'The Shack.' Scripture tells us that human destiny is in his hands, your destiny is in his hands.
Big Idea – All of heaven breaks out in praise over the Lamb's purchase of people.
Praise Expressed in Universal Worship (vs.7-8)
In the most spectacular display, unabashed worship explodes on the scene the moment the scroll is taken. This worship has three characteristics/features. First, it is immediate. The angelic creatures do not wait until the seals are broken or the scroll is opened to break out in worship. They are so confident of the worthiness of the Lamb that they erupt in worship the moment he takes the scroll. Second, this worship is holistic; nothing is held back. Like we saw in chapter four, this worship is rational, that is, it is filled with rich content based upon the person and the work of Christ. It is also emotional, filled with passion. And it is demonstrative, overflowing with humble physical expressions. Third, it is expansive. In the rest of the chapter, the circle of worship expands to include all of creation. But let's get back to the angelic creatures, each is holding and playing a harp. We have distorted our understanding of angelic creatures playing harps. This is not a picture of chubby angels in white togas floating on puffy white clouds plucking harps. Harps in the Old Testament world are a precursor to the guitar, it is where we get the word guitar from. Music with a harp in the Old Testament is joyful, loud, celebrative, often including shouting and dancing. Why are they worshipping? They are celebrating God's purposes coming to pass. Every Sunday we gather to celebrate God's redemptive purposes centered around the person and work of Jesus Christ. We celebrate what he did in the past for us, his life, death, and resurrection; we celebrate his present work in and among us; and we celebrate and look forward to his return. Note also that they are holding golden bowls of incense. What is this? Remember John is saturated with his Old Testament and this comes directly from there. Daily life in the ancient world was anything but clean and sanitary, especially in agrarian cultures. Living in amongst their animals, the smells and other unpleasant elements of animal life could not be avoided. In addition, people did not take regular baths nor did they have deodorant sticks. Incense was an act of self defense! Incense was burned in the king’s presence to mask the odors of the livestock and the attendants and to pay tribute to his position. So it's no surprise that incense was also burned before God in the tabernacle of Israel, which was his earthly throne room under the old covenant. Incense creates a pleasing atmosphere, a sweet smelling aroma, acceptable, to God. The incense represent the prayers of God's people, a sweet smelling aroma, acceptable to God because of the content of those prayers. Their prayers were acceptable to God because they were centered on God's justice, God's reputation, God's kingdom, and God's glory. They sound a lot like the first verses of the Lord's prayer. So praise is expressed in universal worship and next, praise is expressed in a new song.