Summary: Part 2 of a 6 week study on the book of Revelation. Things aren’t always what they seem to be.
Sermon for the 2nd Sunday in Lent
March 12th 2006
Last we covered the letters to the seven churches. Today we will be mainly concerned with a scroll and its seven seals. However, scene two must be set, and it is set dramatically by door standing open in heaven. Did you know there are basically three heavens referred to in the Bible? There’s the first heaven where the birds fly and the clouds float. There’s the second heaven where the moon and stars live. Then there’s the third heaven where God resides. John is taken up to the third heaven, the home of God.
John hears the same voice in the first part of the book, and the voice say, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Whoa! What in the world does that mean? Of course it means the future, but whose future? John’s future? Future of the church? Your future?
I’m an ex-football player that never got hurt playing football. I hurt myself getting cats out of trees, playing golf, walking. Anyway, I like to think John has been summoned to the office of the coach to look at plays. Imagine a room filled with black boards with X’s and O’s all them. It’s time for the playoffs and the X’s and O’s represent the movement of players and play calling.
Now the movement can mean one of three things. I could mean we examining plays from the past and seeing what went wrong and what went right. I could be the play we want to run at this moment. It could be a play we want to run in the future and so we look at all our options. So these visions can mean either what has already happened,(the past) what’s happening now,(the present) or what is about to happen,(the future). Revealed Knowledge—Revelation!
John sees all kinds of things—a crystal sea, four strange living creatures, a rainbow, with lightning and thunder. He also sees 24 elders—the twelve tribes of Israel—along with the 12 apostle’s of the Lamb. The two 12’s serve as a valuable link between the people of God in the Old Testament and the people of the same God in the New Testament. All God’s people are worshiping at the throne along with the four living creatures, representing the four corners of the earth, or all of nature, from North, South, East, and West.
They worship by singing, singing hymns, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty.” This my friends is what you call worship, and worship is an important part of Revelation. You see, worship is totally incompatible with idolatry, a theme we saw in the letters to the churches. Worship is not an escape from life. Worship is an expression of worthiness, glory, and honor. It must be done from the heart, out of the same sense of the 24 elders and four living creatures. “You alone are worthy!”
John sees much more! He sees the One sitting on the throne with a scroll sealed with seven seals. Revelation chapter 5 is a pivotal chapter in the book. Of all creation, who is worthy to open the seals and reveal the events that must take place? Of all creation, who is worth to open the seals and explain our history and our purpose? And of all creation there is no one! But one!
With what has happen so far, one might picture some powerful, mighty, awesome, larger than life type character to be the only one to explain what is called life, but No! John sees a Lamb. A Lamb that looks like it has already been slaughtered. And this slaughtered Lamb with the power of God stands between the One sitting on the throne (God) and the four living creatures (Nature) serving as a type of bridge between heaven and earth.
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Like I said, that’s what you call Worship.
The outburst of praise at the Lamb’s coming to open the scroll brings forth a voice like thunder from nature announcing four riders, or what has been called “the four riders of the apocalypse.” Many have claimed and much has been written about these riders being the bearers of gloom and doom, or even the end of world. But they are simply four riders that have been riding out since the beginning of time, they are riding out now, and they will ride out in the future.
When the first seal is open we see the first rider on the white horse who is identified later in chapter 19 as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, The Word of God, that is Jesus Christ and the message of the gospel that has been riding out since the Adam and Eve and before.