"The Throne, The Scroll, The Lamb"
Revelation 4 and 5 open for us what John sees when he is invited to “come on up” to the throne of God. He is guided by an angelic being and filled with emotion. What is it like for you to come before the throne of God?
The Throne, The Scroll, The Lamb
How would describe the color yellow to a person who was born blind? How would describe a rainbow, or anything else that needs color to describe it? I don’t know how he did what he did, but John tried to describe for us heaven. But if you can’t see it in the physical world, describing it would be impossible. So John ascribes physical aspects to a spiritual world and he does so because he wants us to experience just a little of the wonder, awe, and majesty he experienced. The similarities between this scene in Rev. 4 what Ezekiel describes in his writing is very similar. John may have used Ezekiel’s words to help him describe heaven.
I. The Throne (chapter 4)
A. The visual scene of Revelation changes from chapters 1-3 to what now begins in chapter 4:1-2.
B. Prayer is powerful. Not because of our words, and not completely wrapped up in our faith, but because of the one to whom we pray. When Jesus walked on this earth he spoke of his father. And on several occasion he talked about being seated with his father. The apostle would argue over which of them was the greatest, and at one point there was a desire to sit on the right and the left of Jesus in his kingdom.
C. Matt. 19:28 and Luke 22:30 say that Jesus told the Twelve that they would sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus proclaimed to Caiaphas that he would be seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:64).
D. This language of a heaven having a throne and it being a place of power is not new language. But when John is called to “come up” he is overwhelmed at what he sees. There around the throne were 24 other thrones with 24 elders seated in them. From the throne came flashes of lightning and the sound of thunder. Also around the throne were four living creatures.
E. When you sit with this book it seems that these elders represent the authority of the spiritual Israel before the incarnation of Jesus and the spiritual Israel after. The four living creatures seem to be the angelic world and the power they have. But with all the power of the 24 elders and the 4 living creatures, what John sees and hears is the humble adoration of him who sits on the throne. God the Father is worshipped and all who are around him, all who may have had any type of power or authority fall before him and cry out to him (READ Rev. 4:9-11).
II. The Scroll
A. As John takes in this scene, he looks to God and sees “a book/scroll”. (Rev. 5:1-2)
B. God holds it in his right hand. There is no doubt that power is being portrayed. It is also clear that the contents of this book are more than just words. There is something about it that only “he who is worthy” can open it and read it. But there is a problem. This book, this message that has power connected to it, is left in the right hand of the Father because no is worthy. The 24 elders, the 4 living creatures, no one is worthy! And it leaves John in tears.
III. The Lamb
A. Whatever this book/scroll is, I know that the message could only be seen by the one who paid the price. For me, this scroll is connected to the message of salvation and judgement that will come. John sees both power and sacrifice. He sees authority and the one who is worthy.
B. Rev. 5:6-7. He sees a lion and lamb, but it the image of the lamb that John really captures. That to me, tells me this book that only he who is the sacrifice is worthy to open, has to be connected to the message that mankind needs to hear and know. A message of salvation but also a message of judgement to come.
C. When the lamb enters, there is no power struggle between him the Father. They are united in purpose and action. With the scroll now in possession of the Lamb, the song of praise is sung. Look what the Lamb has done (READ Rev. 5:9-10). This picture of salvation is that all mankind has been ransomed and made into a kingdom that reigns on the earth. That is the church, that is us. We are so much more than just 100 people in Pittsburgh. We are more than just a national view of Christianity in America. The Lamb made a kingdom of priests from every tribe, language, people and nation. The church is strong because the Lamb of God ransomed us to be a people of God.
D. John is soaking all of this praise and adoration in. There is no difference between the Lamb and God. Both are praised with the same words, with the same song, and now the scroll can be revealed.
A. What is Rev. 4-5 about? Worship. Pure and simple. (READ Rev. 5:13-14). When you pray, do you let your mind’s eye reflect upon passages like this? You realize that as great as it was for John to “see in the Spirit” the throne of heaven, your voice and mine enter that same throne when we come to God in prayer?
B. When we come together as a church, it is not just simply about making God happy and placating Him. It is about entering before His wonder and glory and praising him with our songs, prayer, and receiving from the Lamb the body and blood of the new covenant. Worship is about us, collectively, being able to have a little bit each week what John experienced in a greater portion. Yes, I love being here. I love the sing, I love to hear the prayers, to open the Bible, to come around the table, to open my wallet and pour out before God my praise. That is the promise upon which we stand.
C. Thank you God for saving us and making us your people. May your voices ring out your praise as we stand and sing.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister