Summary: Revelation chapters 4-5 are about worshipping Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb. Don't get distracted and miss the main message!
At the conclusion of Revelation 5, Adam Clarke comments: Now follow the least intelligible parts of this mysterious book, on which so much has been written, and so much in vain. It is natural for man to desire to be wise, and the more difficult the subject the more it is studied- and the hope of finding out something by which the world and the Church might be profited, has cause the most eminently learned men to employ their talents and consume their time on these abstruse prophecies. But of what use has all this learned and well-meaning labor been to mankind?
He wisely asks: Can hypothesis explain prophecy, and conjecture find a basis on which faith can rest?
It is little wonder that so many Christians tend to avoid this final book of the Bible. I have looked at several commentaries on it and have found that agreement gets thrown out the window especially when it comes to interpreting chapters 6-22. Revelation is so unlike anything in the New Testament. It is much more like looking at a painting than a letter. The words and images are actually much less difficult to imagine than they are to interpret. So… why are we doing this study? What purpose does it serve and what do we hope to accomplish by going through Revelation?
Those are good questions. The chief answer is that Revelation is a part of the Word of God, and secondly, it promises for those who read and heed it a blessing. It does not say what blessing, but we know it comes from God for those of us willing to be obedient to this call. I will be reminding us of this along the way.
Today we look at chapters 4-5, where the writer, John, sees a door open in heaven and is called to come and see what must take place after these things. Both chapters are short taking only 25 verses and covering less than a page in my Bible.
Listen now to the word of God as I read these chapters in our hearing. I suggest you follow along or close your eyes and listen intently asking, “How does this reveal the presence of God and how do those closest to God respond to Him?”
(Read Rev. 4-5)
Someone said: The average Christian has sat through 6000 church services, heard 4,000 sermons, bowed for 8,000 public prayers, sang first and last verses of 20,000 hymns, and has brought 0 people to Christ.
Perhaps the problem is that the average Christian is not actually worshipping the Lord, and being changed into his image by this worship, but instead is merely clocking in for Church services.
If these two chapters reveal anything, they reveal something about worship. Worship is the glaring message. God’s presence is surrounded by worshippers, unending, continuous, eternal worship.
In spite of the obvious, our attention is drawn away to a distraction that seems to overwhelm the obvious, and we find ourselves asking, “What about that scroll? What does IT mean? (Dr. Gentry says it represents the divorce decree for national Israel, Kay Author says it represents the deed to the earth, I. J. Stanley says it represents the covenants of the Old Testament that only Jesus could fulfill, Adam Clark says it may represent the purposes and designs of God relative to the government of the world and the Church. Someone else said it seems to represent the title to the souls of the saints… and personally, I haven’t a clue!) Never mind what the scroll means, John doesn’t tell us, so give it up! That’s not the point or surely John would have said so. And another distraction: Never mind how to configure all the creatures and elders around the throne into a “three D” order so you know where everyone is, or what the lion, ox, man and eagle creatures with the six wings and with eyes all over them mean and why they are there. These are very much like the images we see in Ezekiel 1 and Isaiah 6, or as some commentator pointed out perhaps there is an illusion to the camping formation of the tribes of Israel around the tabernacle. But again, John doesn’t explain it, although he does tell us that they are close to God and what they are doing! That must be what he wants us to know. If instead of figuring them out we join with what John tells us and listen to them we can recognize their response to God’s presence, we may learn something meaningful and begin to discover the blessing of this book. What are they doing? What are they saying? That, John does tell us!