Robert Jeffress - Worthy Is The Lamb
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Nothing happens here on earth that has not been mandated from heaven. And that includes the events that will take place during the Great Tribulation. And today, we're going to study the events in heaven that will initiate God's final judgment, against the earth, culminating in the return of Jesus Christ. My message is titled "Worthy Is The Lamb," on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
Have you ever been to a pawn shop before? You know if you haven't, they can be very interesting places to visit. Somebody said, "A pawn shop is a place where a man can buy a diamond ring for his wife, and a shotgun for himself". The word pawn, you may not know this, but if you look it up in the dictionary, the word pawn actually means to hold something hostage. And that's really the business model of a pawn shop. Let's say you need some quick cash, and you don't have any place else to go. You can take something valuable you own, and take it to the pawn shop. And you sign a promissory note, promising to pay back the money that you're going to get, with a lot of interest, but to make sure you make good on your payback, the pawn shop owner is going to hold that something of value to you hostage. He's going to take that shotgun of yours, or that diamond ring, and he's going to hold onto it, until you have paid back everything that you owe. And if you're not able to pay back the note, guess what, he gets to keep that shotgun or diamond ring. He can put it in his display window, and sell it to somebody else.
You're probably wondering, "Why are you talking about pawn shops? I thought this was about the Book of Revelation". Stay with me, you'll understand in a moment. You know, the pawn shop is really a great spiritual illustration of what has happened to mankind. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had something of great value, a perfect relationship with God. They were heirs of everything God had created. It was a perfect world. And yet they took what was perfect, their perfect situation, and they pawned it, for a lie of Satan. Satan tempted them with the lie that you can be like God, you can be master of your own universe. And they exchanged what they had of value for something that was absolutely worthless. And because of that, they have become hostage to Satan, and not just Adam and Eve, but all humankind. In fact, all of creation is now held by that evil pawn shop owner, Satan. We can try to pay off the debt that we owe Satan, but we can never pay it off. We are his slaves.
All of mankind has been held hostage by Satan. But the good news is, even though can't repay the debt, there's someone who can, his name is Jesus Christ. And when he came to die on the cross, and take on the sin of the world, he paid the ultimate price for our spiritual freedom. And that's what the word redeemed means. You can search the scripture. You won't found find pawn shops in the scripture, but you will find redemption. And it's the same idea. The word redeem in Greek, is the word exagorazo. Agora, agorazo, agora was the marketplace where things were sold, in biblical times. If you wanted to buy anything, including a slave, you went to the marketplace. And in the marketplace, the slaves were put up on a pedestal, and chains and people bid on them. Men, women, children in slavery, and the slave would be transferred from one owner, to another owner who was able to pay the price. And when a new owner took possession of the slave, he was literally redeemed, ex, he was taken out of the agora, the marketplace, to serve a new master. And that's a picture of what Jesus has done for us.
Right now, if you're not a Christian, whether you know it or not, you are not your own. You're not free to do whatever you want to do. You are a slave of a terrible master, Satan. You are under his imprisonment. But Jesus Christ has offered you freedom, not to serve yourself, but to serve him. And when you trust in Jesus, as your Savior, ownership of your life is transferred from Satan to the Lord, Jesus Christ. And that's why the writer of scripture says you are not your own, you have been bought with a price. That's the meaning of redemption.
Now what most Christians don't understand is there are various aspects to our redemption. There is our past redemption. That occurred 2000 years ago, when Jesus paid that price on the cross. Peter mentions it in 1 Peter 1:18-19, knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things, like silver or gold, you were redeemed, you were purchased with precious blood, as a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. Jesus paid the price for your redemption 2000 years ago. But the moment in time you trust in Christ as your Savior, your sin debt is paid in full. You are redeemed the moment you trust in Christ, even though the price was paid long ago. The moment you trust in Christ, that sacrifice of Christ is placed on your account. You receive his righteousness, you receive his forgiveness. That is our past redemption. There is a sense in which there is a present redemption taking place, even though your spirit now belongs to Christ. And when you die, you're going to be with him forever in heaven. Right now, there's other parts of you that are in the process of being redeemed, being transformed, your mind, your will, your emotions.
Some people think, "Well, if I'm a Christian, then I have immediate deliverance from all my sins, and all of my addictions, and healing of all of my relationships". No, it doesn't happen instantaneously. It is a progressive process, in which you become more and more like Jesus Christ every day. But there is a third redemption, our future redemption. Even though our spirits have been redeemed, we are in the process of becoming a new creation, we still carry around these old sin infected bodies. And we live in a sin infected world. And every day we confront sin, and sadness, and broken relationships, and we long to be saved from that.
Well, there is a time when we are going to be redeemed in the future. And the final part of this universe is going to be delivered into God's possession. And that's what we are looking at today. The final events that will lead to our future, and final redemption, the redemption that we all long for, that day that Revelation 21:4 says, in which there will be no more mourning, or crying, or death, or pain, for the first things will have passed away. Aren't you anxious for that? It is coming, that future redemption is coming, and Jesus mentioned it in Luke 21:28. He said, "When these things begin to take place, straighten up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near". He was talking about the events of the Great Tribulation. And he said, "When you see nations warring against nation, when you see pestilence, when you see suffering, and persecution, don't be discouraged, lift up your heads, because these things signify the end is here, and your redemption will be complete". That is the picture that we're going to see today.
If you have your Bibles turn to Revelation chapter 5, as we look at the events that will culminate in the final redemption of the universe. Now Revelation 5, remember the scene is in heaven. We saw it last week in Revelation 4. The church is already in heaven, and in chapter 4, the focus is on God the Father, and all of the redeemed worshiping him, for being the Creator God. Now there is no chapter break in the original text. When we come to chapter 5, the focus is now on Jesus the son, and what he's going to do to bring about the final redemption of the world. Chapter 5 verse 1, and I saw in the right hand of him who sat up on the throne, a book written inside, and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. I saw a book.
In the Book of Revelation, there are four different books mentioned, write these down. First of all, there is the book of life. In Revelation 20:15, this is a book that contains a listing of all of those who have been saved, who have been washed by the blood of the lamb. And when you trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, you can know that your name is in that book of life, and it will never be erased. Revelation 20 says, in verse 15, if any man's name was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. That's the book of life. Secondly, there are the books of works. The books of works, these are books that list everything you and I and everybody else in the world has ever done, the good, the bad, the ugly. All of the things we have done are written and recorded by God, they're not forgotten. They are listed in the book.
You say, "Well, why would God keep a set of books, for all of our deeds"? It's to judge the unsaved by. You know, Revelation 20:13 says, at the end of time, all of the unsaved dead will be raised for judgment at the Great White Throne judgment. And the Bible says, and the book, that is the book of life, was opened, and the books were also opened. That's the books of works. An unsaved person will find himself at the Judgment Seat of Christ, because his name won't be in the book of life. And that's by his own choice. The unsaved person is the one who says, "You know, if Jesus died for me, he shouldn't have gone to the trouble. I don't need Jesus to die for me. I don't need his forgiveness. I may not be perfect, but I'm good enough to get into heaven". And so God says, "Okay, you don't want to be judged by whether or not you accepted God's grace, we'll judge you by your works". And every unsaved person who ever lived will be judged by the things that he has done.
And yes, there'll be good things he'll be remembered for, but the good will not outweigh the bad. And furthermore, the ultimate comparison will not be to other people. It will be to the holiness of Jesus Christ. And by that standard, all had fallen short of the glory of God. That's the book of works, that's mentioned in Revelation 20:13. There is the little book mentioned in Revelation 10. We'll see, in the weeks ahead, a mighty angel gives a little book to John, that records the final events before the return of Christ. But the book that we're looking at today is the seven sealed book, a book with seven seals on it. Now that word book is biblion, book. When we think of a book, we think of individual pages that are bound together on the left hand side, and have a cover on the front, and a cover at the back. But that wasn't what a book literally, or originally was. It was a scroll.
Remember people read scrolls before they read books. In fact, it was Christians who invented the book, as we know it today, did you know that? They were tired of unrolling these unwieldily scrolls, to have to read the Word of God. So they thought to divide up, into little single individual sheets, the scroll, and to glue them together, so that it could make it easier to read the Word of God. They were called codexes back then, but it was Christians who invented what we know as the book today. But in John's day, there were scrolls, and, you know, scrolls, how they work. You have the wooden handles on each end, and you unroll it to read it. And then you roll it back up again. It wasn't books that were in scrolls, it was also legal documents that were written on a scroll. And if it was a particularly sensitive document, after say, a will, was written, it would be rolled back up, it'd be rolled a little bit, and a seal would be put on it, then a little bit more, another seal, and on and on and on.
Wills had seven seals attached to them. And so if you wanted to read the will, you would have to break the first seal, and read a little bit, then break the second one, and third and fourth and fifth. All important documents were sealed. So what is this seven sealed book, that God, the father is holding as he sits on the throne? What is in that book? I've read all kinds of speculation about the contents of the book, but here's what I believe this book is. It is what was called the book of redemption. Now let me explain this. Remember in the Old Testament times, if you were a Jew, God had given you a certain piece of land, you and your family, according to your tribe, a part of the Promised Land belonged to you. But what happened if you fell on hard times? What if you needed some quick cash? Unfortunately, people would pawn their land. They would give it up in order to get the cash that they needed. But according to Jewish law, the only person who could redeem that land, was a fellow Jew, what was called a kinsmen redeemer, the goel, the kinsmen redeemer.
By the way, that's the background to the book of Ruth. Remember Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi, had both of their husbands die. The land had been forfeited, and they were in desperate need. And Boaz was the goel, the kinsmen redeemer, who came and restored the inheritance to Ruth and Naomi. I think this is what we're talking about here. If you forfeited your land, there was one book, or scroll that was written. It was called the book of forfeiture. It listed all of the grizzly details about what you did to lose your land. And it was embarrassing. You know, today you can go down to the courthouse, and get embarrassing papers, divorce papers, or papers about tax delinquency, and read them about other people. It's an embarrassing thing. When this was done to keep people from embarrassment, that book of forfeiture would be sealed up, where nobody could read it. But then there was a book of redemption, and that book of redemption would describe the terms of redeeming or buying back that which had been forfeited.
And so you had two scrolls, the scroll of forfeiture, the scroll of redemption. Eventually over time, those were put into one scroll, and on the inside was the reason the land was lost. And it was sealed up. On the outside were the terms of redemption. Now, I believe that is what the seven sealed book is. It is a book, a scroll that shows how this paradise, that God created, was originally lost, how it was forfeited to Satan. And then the book also contains the events that will lead to the reclamation of this universe by its rightful owner, God the Father. And I think when you find God holding this seven sealed scroll, it shows the events that must take place for this universe once and for all to be delivered to its rightful owner, God the Father. That is the seven sealed book, or scroll that we're looking at here in verse 1.
Now notice in verse 2, the search for one to open the book. John says, and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals"? Well, duh, I mean, that seems pretty obvious. It's the one who's holding the book, right? God the Father, don't need to search for anybody. God's right there, holding the scroll. Why wouldn't he open it? For some inexplicable reason, God the Father has decided he is not the one to bring about the final events that will culminate in the deliverance of this world from Satan. He's designated someone else to do that. And so a strong angel goes out, and says, "Who is worthy"? Verse 3, and no one in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or even to look into it. Then John says, "I begin to weep greatly, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or look into it".
Why would John start to cry over this book remaining sealed up? Remember Jesus said, "John, I'm going to show you the things which must take place". These events have to take place if the world's ever going to be delivered out of Satan's ownership. And when it looked like there was nobody to open the seven sealed book, it looked like the world would remain under Satan's domain. He began to weep greatly, but notice in verse 5, the lion of Judah, and the root of David, and one of the elders said to me, verse 5, "Stop weeping". It's like Jesus said to Jarvis, remember? Who lost his daughter in death, his little girl, he was crying inconsolably. And Jesus said, "Stop crying, Jarvis. I'm about to do something great". That's what one of the elders said, "John, you can stop your weeping. Behold, the lion that is from the tribe of Judah. The root of David has overcome, so as to open the book and its seven seals".
Who is he referring to, when he talks about the lion, that is from the tribe of Judah, the root of David? You know from your Old Testament, that's a reference to Jesus the Messiah, that we sang about, Isaiah 11, Jeremiah 23, all use those phrases to refer to the Messiah. "John, don't despair," he's saying, "The lion is on the prowl, and he's about to deliver this world". But John, when he looked, he didn't see a lion, and instead he saw something much different. Look at verse 6, and I saw between the throne, with the four living creatures, and the elders, a lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And he, the lamb came, and he took the book out of the right hand of him, God, who sat upon the throne. You may wonder why do we sing so much about the lamb?
We sang about the lamb this morning. 28 times in the Book of Revelation, the word lamb is used. Most of the time, it's the word amnos lamb. It's the same word John used when he saw Jesus for the first time. "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world". It's the same phrase Peter uses in 1 Peter 1:19, when he talks about our redemption being paid for, with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished, and spotless, the blood of Christ, amnos lamb, but that's not the Greek word John uses here. He uses instead the word arnion for lamb. That means a little lamb, a ewe lamb, a cuddly lamb. The kind of lamb you would take home as a pet.
It's the same kind of lamb talked about in Isaiah 53:7, talking about Christ. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth, like a lamb, a little lamb led to the slaughter, Jeremiah 11:19, but I was like a gentle lamb, led to the slaughter. Why does John use this extreme word for a lamb? He's trying to show the innocence of the lamb who was slain for us. He's trying to show how helpless he was, when he came the first time, as our Savior. He willingly submitted himself to God the Father. He shed himself of his rights as God, in order to give himself as a sacrifice for our sins.