Jack Graham - FaceTime
What we have here really in Revelation 4 and 5 is like a movie trailer in once sense in that it previews things to come. And once we move by this heavenly scene in which we are raptured up... Remember, John is taken up into the presence of Jesus and he is representative of all of us who belong to Jesus, who believe in Jesus, and just like that, immediately in the presence of the Lord, we'll be one day and one day soon, and what unfolds then is what we see in the rest of the Revelation. But before we move on we want to take time to soak in and experience the presence of Jesus in His heaven. Again, we find ourselves in heaven in the midst of the most beautiful worship service. It's adoring, it's wonderful, it's overwhelming. And yet we feel at home, feel like we belong there because we are face to face with the God who loves us, the Savior who gave His life for us.
Because Jesus is the focus of the Revelation, He is the fullness of heaven, and when we get to heaven, it won't be streets of gold or gates of pearl that will shine the best. He will shine and we'll see Jesus in all of His glory. We want to see Jesus. And so in Revelation chapter 5 we read these words. The first 4 verses of Revelation 5: "Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne", that's God Himself on the throne, "a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel", this angel is someone like Gabriel. It's surmised that this may indeed be Gabriel Himself, "a strong mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice", that shakes heaven and earth, "'Who is worthy to open the scroll and break it's seals?' And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look at it".
The first thing I want you to see in this passage is a sealed manuscript. It's this scroll that is introduced to us in chapter 5. A seven seal scroll. John locks in on this scroll because it is in the right hand, the hand of authority and power of the One on the throne. He is invited, like the rest of the earth and all of history to open the scroll. "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break it's seals"? Now you know that in the ancient days, this day, there were no books, codex style books as I hold in my hand, or certainly not iPads, we read electronic books today, and it's a big change in the way that we read. Maybe you're reading right now on an iPad or an iPhone the text of this scripture. But in the day of the Revelation everything was written on scrolls. And the scrolls, the parchments of the ancient world are, a few of them are preserved. It's one of the great evidences in Scripture of the authority and authenticity of Scripture, that we have manuscripts from the ancient world.
In fact our friends, the Green family from Oklahoma, the Hobby Lobby family, are opening up an incredible new museum in Washington D.C., The Bible Museum, the history of the Bible. They have their own collection of great manuscripts of the Bible, both codex form and manuscript forms and parchment forms of the Bible that have been collected. It's been chosen a prime place, gonna to be the most interactive library or museum in all of America. They'll be opening it up. I'm very excited about this: to put God's Word in heart of Washington D.C. because God knows our nation needs the Word of God! But a scroll looks something like this: I brought a photo of one of them for you, and, of course, that's a scroll. You've seen them before. But uniquely about this scroll is that it's a seven seal scroll.
So we have to ask ourselves what is this seven seal scroll? What are the seals and what is this scroll all about? It's an official document obviously. Clearly it is an official document that is sealed, and, therefore, it is a legal document that is not allowed to be opened or tampered with. The way they would seal a document in the ancient world would be to roll it, roll it, roll it and then put some wax and typically a signet ring of the one in authority, and then if it was a long document, this is a contract type document that is at the throne of God, they would roll it some more, roll it, roll it, roll it, wax, seal; roll, roll, roll, wax, seal, and so on. And so it was shut down, shut up and sealed seven times! And no one is to open this scroll or to break these seals except the one who had the authority to do it!
So what is this seven-seal scroll? And why is it so important? It is the title deed to the earth! Who owns it, who rules it, and in this case, who can redeem it? Because there a big mortgage to pay and who can pay it? Who can redeem it and therefore rule it? And when the angel asks the question, "Who is worthy to take the scroll and to open it?" no one hears a sound. All the heavy weights of heaven from the past, Abraham, David, Moses, Daniel, Isaiah the prophet; not the apostles-those who follow Jesus most closely, not anyone says a word! Now there have been many willing to rule the world; many willing to control the power and dominate the world, starting with Satan himself. When Jesus was tempted of the devil in the desert one of the temptations was "Jesus, bow down and worship me, and if you do, I will give you all the kingdoms of this world".
Fact: Jesus did not dispute the devil on that one. Why? Because Satan is the god of this world. He controls the real estate, and more importantly than the real estate, he dominates humankind. When God made man, placed him in the Garden of Eden, a perfect paradise. You talk about two Valentines: Adam and Eve in the Garden, in a perfect place, a perfect environment. They loved one another, they loved God, they walked with God! But then Satan slithered into the Garden of Eden and seduced Eve, and Adam sinned as well, and in effect, they lost the farm! What was to have been under their dominion, God gave the man dominion over all the earth and everything in it! But when man sinned he forfeited his inheritance. He gave up his rightful reign and rule upon the earth, and death set in, and judgment came!
Satan stole the inheritance of all the sons and daughters of Adam! And there now for this world which was to have been ruled by God through man is now ruled by Satan himself, the god of this age, the prince of darkness. Evil dominates the world! And we're seeing that more and more clearly aren't we? The advance of evil, the encroachment of evil and the expression of evil in the world. People no longer live in freedom, but they live in bondage to sin and Satan himself! He rules the world. He is a usurper, an interloper! So our inheritance is lost. And it appears that sin wins and evil prevails! And John begins to weep uncontrollably. When it says here in verse 4: "I began to weep out loud", it's the strongest possible word for weeping. He's not just weeping; he is wailing! These are tears of despair. He is broken apart by this because no one is able to redeem the world! No one is able to save the world! No one is able to open the scroll! All seems lost! And those tears just pour down his weather-beaten face.
One of my pastoral heroes is W. A. Criswell. Dr. Criswell writes eloquently about these tears that John cried, which are representative of the tears of all of us. Look at this: "These represent the tears of all God's people through all the centuries. Those tears of the Apostle John are the tears of Adam and Eve driven out of the Garden of Eden as they bowed over the first grave. As they watered the dust of the ground with their tears over the silent, still form of their son Abel. Those are the tears of the Children of Israel in bondage as they cried unto God in their affliction and slavery. They are the tears of God's elect through the centuries as they cried unto heaven. They are the sobs and the tears that have been wrung from the heart and soul of God's people as they looked on their silent dead, as they stand beside their open graves, as they experience the trials and sufferings of life, heartaches and disappointments indescribable. Such is the curse that sin has laid on God's beautiful creation.
And this is the damnation of the hand of him who holds it, that usurper, that interloper, that intruder that alien, that stranger, that dragon, that serpent, that Satan devil! And John wept audibly for the failure to find a redeemer because it meant that this earth and it's curse is consigned forever to death. It meant that death and sin and damnation and hell should reign forever and ever. And the sovereignty of God's earth should remain forever in the hands of Satan". Yes, we weep because this world is not right. And who can redeem it? No one steps forward until John hears a voice in verse 5: "One of the elders said to me, 'Weep no more'", you wept too soon, John. Get a hold of yourself John. "'Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David'", you know who that is. That's the Messiah, the Promised One. "The Lion of the tribe of Judah", that is a Jewish Messiah, "the Root of David", a kingly Messiah, "has conquered".
That's the word nikao, nike. When you put on your Nike gear it means conqueror, victor! We have Nike missiles that are powerful! It's conqueror! So John expects to see this Lion step forward, this Lion of the tribe of Judah, a powerful, victorious Lion. But when he turns to look, verse 6: "Between the throne and the four living creatures", these angel beings around the throne of God, around the elders, the believers, "I saw a Lamb standing", a Lamb, and not just any lamb, but "a Lamb as though he had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, with the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth". Now I know when people start reading about numbers and seven eyes and seven horns that's when they just sort of go screen saver on Revelation, right? "Oh, man, this". But that just simply means seven's a perfect number, seven eyes means the perfect vision of God, seven horns, perfect authority. It speaks of perfect power, His omnipotence, perfect omniscience, He sees all, His perfect presence. This is all about His perfection, His power, His almightiness.
"A Lamb standing as if it had been slain". John looked to see a mighty Lion and he sees a little Lamb, as though it had been slain, a wounded, weakened Lamb. And the word that is used here for Lamb is a diminutive form really which doesn't mean Lamb as an adult lamb, but it actually means a little pet lamb, a small lamb, a fluffy, cuddly lamb. Have you ever held a lamb? A little cuddly lamb. Who do you call your grandchildren. "You little lamb. You're so sweet, so cuddly". And so the picture here is a Lamb, a little Lamb, Jesus who is slain. In heaven the only manmade things in heaven are the wounds of our Lord still exposed. The scars of Jesus will be an eternal reminder of the price that He paid so that we could be in heaven. We will praise Him forever every time we see Him for He is the Lamb who is worthy. The Lamb is standing, signifying His strength and His resurrection. He's wounded but He is standing! Of course, Jesus is the Lamb. John the Baptist said John 1:29, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world"! Jesus!
Jesus came the first time as a Lamb, the saving sacrificial Lamb, but when He comes again He will come as the sovereign Lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah because He takes the seals, breaks them and opens them. The Lamb conquered by His death! He is worthy because of creation! He made all that the earth is! It's His! He has conquered at Calvary, the cross by His blood the Scripture says! Therefore He and He alone is worthy to take the seal. Jesus is worthy! He alone is worthy! He is always worthy! He is altogether worthy! The sovereign Messiah! But one more thing: A saved multitude. Verses 8 to 10 says: "And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures, twenty four elders fell down", that's face time, "fell down before the Lamb, holding a harp, golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed (you redeemed) people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation!'"
We'll be there from everywhere. Samoans are going to be there, Americans are going to be there, people from Russia and Africa and distant, Asia, continents who have been saved! They are a blood-washed multitude who have believed and trusted in Jesus! And now we are before the throne singing a new song. It says they peal out the harps. Now I know I told you last week that heaven isn't a place you know with creepy, you know, little pink clouds and plumpy cherubs and harp music going on. Actually the word harps is here but it's a word which means stringed instruments of all kinds. Guitars included, plugged or unplugged, I don't know. The point is we're to praise God with all kinds of instruments! We are made to worship God! You were made to worship God! To worship Jesus!
Everything we do is to flow out of our worship. Anything in your life, all the things that you enjoy in your life, your marriage, your family, your friends, your recreation, your education. That ought to flow out of a heart of worship for God, that wants to glorify God! Loving God and loving people! This is the overflow. Worship is why you were made and why you are remade when you are redeemed. So we worship with instruments. Sure we do. Our voices are the best instruments. Our hearts tuned to sing His praise. God is pleased when we worship Him with our voices. But instruments of all kinds.
Can you imagine what it's going to be like to turn around, see the Lamb and start singing to Jesus? "Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb" To join hands with family and friends and nations and neighbors and praise Him forever! Ten thousand years and then forevermore! Do you ever wonder if this is all worth it? You know, one of your bad days you're thinking, "Is this really worth it? This following Jesus and living life".
Anne Graham Lotz said, Ask Abraham, "Abraham, 'Was it worth it to leave Ur of the Chaldees, a familiar civilization, and go out not even no where you were going and to have many of the promises unfulfilled? Was it worth it, Abraham?'" "Was it worth it, Moses? To leave all the pleasures and treasures of Egypt behind and to spend the rest of your life in the desert with millions of refugees, only to die in the desert before you get to the Promised Land? Is it worth it, Moses"?
Daniel, "Daniel, 'Is it worth it? Was it worth it to pray and be thankful to God, find yourself in a lions' den because of your prayers"? "Mary, mother of Jesus, was it worth it to bear the little Lamb into the world only to see Him butchered and die on a Roman cross"? "Simon Peter, was it worth it to follow Jesus and find yourself crucified upside down"?
"Paul the Apostle, was it worth it to obey the heavenly vision and go to the ends of the known world to preach Jesus only to be martyred for your faith! Paul is it worth it"?
Ask John, "John, is it worth it to serve Jesus all your life and then end up alone and abandoned on a devil's island like Patmos? Was it worth it, John"?
Let me ask you, is it worth it to serve Jesus, to live for Jesus when many of your friends don't? And you're cut out and cut off because you stand for Jesus? Is it worth it? Is it worth to labor in your Bible, to learn the Word of God? Is it worth it to get up and worship Jesus each week when we gather with God's people? Is that really all worth it? Is it worth it to invest your money in the kingdom of God to advance, is that really worth it? Is it worth it to be faithful to your wife, faithful to your husband when so many are not? Is it worth it? You won't be in heaven a nano-second in the presence of Jesus the Lamb where you will know for sure it's worth it! It's worth it because Jesus is worth it! He is worthy! Jesus is worthy! His love, His life and the future that we have with Him. And again, it's going to be so worth it when we stand and face Him and join the angel chorus in saying, "Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb of God"!