Summary: God’s people are a Kingdom and are to pursue Kingdom objectives that transcend earth-bound pursuits.
THE CO-OPTED KINGDOM
Sermon Objective: God’s people are a Kingdom and are to pursue Kingdom objectives that transcend earth-bound pursuits.
I want to let you know how much I am enjoying our journey through The Revelation. I have been studying it for quite a while now and backing up to review for each week’s sermon has helped me to see the bigger themes that the book encompasses as well as the deeper structure and purpose for it.
That affords us the opportunity to look at the issues we have thus far; issues like The Sovereignty of God, The Fear of the Lord, Prayer, The Holiness of God, Worship, Repentance, and other major themes that underpin and direct the book’s action.
Today we will begin looking at chapter 5.
6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
Interesting. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests.” We read that phrase earlier in the book too didn’t we? Rev. 1:5b-6 says: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”
You understand that when phrases, words, or images are repeated in a book that it is a clue don’t you? It says something about what is happening … in this case, maybe about our identity as the people of God.
This becomes clearer as the book moves into the visions to come. We will see a sharp contrast between the Church and “the inhabitants of the earth;” … between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world.
Understanding who we are (which is what chapters 1-5 do so eloquently) will help us be secure and courageous once we see the great conflict between those with allegiance to the lamb and those who follow the kingdoms of this world embodied in “the beast.”
So maybe it is worth our while to unpack the identifying marks John gives us. They are, of course, intimately linked to the purchase and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. First and foremost we are followers of the lamb. If we take these images of Kingdom and Priest out from under that rubric we have all sorts of problems.
In Christ we are:
Being a Kingdom implies:
The core of the implication, however, is that we are citizens of THE KINGDOM OF GOD. However, we live in the midst of worldly kingdoms … we are “resident aliens” so to speak. In the Gospel that John penned he records Jesus’ prayer for His disciples as he prayed for them regarding their “other-worldly citizenship.”
Jesus said, “6I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. … They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. … 11I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. ... 12While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. … 14I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of it” (John 17:6-16 portions)