Revelation 4 & 5

Revelation 4 & 5

Christ Jesus is Worthy

Sermon Text: Revelation 4 & Revelation 5
Sermon Theme:  To know the Lord God is to know He is worthy of all worship.

Sermon Reflections:

… John is now swept up in the Spirit to the very door of heaven. There he beholds a vision of a sovereign God in full command of the course of human affairs as they move swiftly to their conclusion. On the plane of history the church appears unable to resist the might of hostile worldly powers, but the course of history is not determined by political power but by God enthroned and active. At his appointed time the scroll of destiny is to be handed to the Lamb, who himself will open the seals, bring history to a close, and usher in the eternal state. The great throne-room vision of chapters 4 and 5 serves to remind believers living in the shadow of impending persecution that an omnipotent and omniscient God is still in control, … offering encouragement for their present and future struggle with the Empire, but also reminding them that they, too, are under his sovereignty.

In chapter 5 the focus moves from God, enthroned in heaven and surrounded by adoring and worshiping elders and living creatures, to the Lamb who alone is worthy to open the scroll of destiny. The worship of God for his role in creation gives way to the worship of the Lamb for his work of redemption. John weeps, for no one can be found anywhere who is entitled by virtue of moral excellence to break the seals and unroll the scroll. One of the elders counsels John not to weep because the Lion of the tribe of Judah has triumphed over sin and death and is therefore qualified to open the scroll. Turning, John sees not a Lion but a Lamb bearing the telltale marks of slaughter. The Lamb’s seven horns speak of perfect power and his seven eyes of unlimited wisdom and penetrating insight. As he takes the scroll from the hand of the One on the throne, the elders and living creatures prostrate themselves before him, praising him in song for his redemptive death and the universal consequences it effected. Countless angels join in joyous praise to the Lamb. Nowhere else in the literature of worship will one find a scene of such unrestrained praise and adoration.

Chapter 5 has revealed a central truth that governs the entire book of Revelation. By his sacrificial death the Lamb has taken control of the course of history and guaranteed its future. He alone was worthy to break the seals and open the scroll of destiny. The hosts of heaven break out in jubilant song honoring the redemptive work of the Lion who is the Lamb. His triumphant sacrifice has transformed men and women from every part of the universe into priests in the service of God. Countless angels circle his throne and declare his power and praise. This vision of the grandeur of the triumphant Lamb prepares John to share with his readers the more solemn aspects of the judgments that lie in the future. A vivid portrayal of the one who has won the crucial battle against sin supplies the confidence that in the troubled times to come there remains a hope that is steadfast and sure.

[From New International Commentary]

  • Who is on the throne of my life? Ultimately, earth knows only two kinds of people: those who have enthroned Christ in their lives and those who have enthroned self. As Revelation has demonstrated, God is absolutely secure on the throne of the universe. His plan will be perfectly fulfilled. The issue we must face is: What about the throne of our own life? Who is on the throne of my life today? In a way, however, all human beings like to sit on their own individual throne, desiring to rule their own affairs without interference from God. But as Christians, we must acknowledge that He is on the throne and we are to worship Him by focusing on His holiness. For like the four living creatures, day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God.” Holiness is the only one of God’s attributes so repeated, since it is the summation of all that He is. God’s holiness is His utter and complete separation from evil in any and every form. He is absolutely untainted by any evil, error, or wrongdoing — unlike angels (some of whom sinned) or humans (all of whom sinned). In 1 Samuel 2:2 Hannah declared, “There is no one holy like the Lord,” because He alone is “majestic in holiness” (Exodus 15:11). The prophet Habakkuk praised God because “[His] eyes are too pure to approve evil, and [He] cannot look on wickedness with favor” (Habakkuk 1:13). And the psalmist declared, “God sits on His holy throne” (Psalm 47:8), while Psalm 111:9 says, “Holy and awesome is His name.” In 1 Peter 1:16, God Himself declared, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” For worship is reserved for God alone, since there is no one in the universe like Him. In 1 Chronicles 17:20 David prayed, “O Lord, there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You” (cf. Psalm 86:8-10; Psalm 89:6-8).
  • The angel sought someone both worthy and able to open the book and to break its seals. Who, he asked, has the innate, virtuous worthiness of character and the divine right that would qualify him to break the seals? And who has the power to defeat Satan and his demon hosts, to wipe out sin and its effects, and to reverse the curse on all of creation? No created being is worthy — morally deserving of the privilege of unleashing the judgments of God on this sinful world. Only one individual has the right, the power, and the authority to rule the earth: the Lord Jesus Christ. He will one day take back what is rightfully His from Satan the usurper, and all the rebels, demonic and human. No one else is worthy or capable of ruling the world — no evil man, no good man, no demon, and no holy angel. Revelation 5 introduces and ascribes excellence to the Lamb, earth’s rightful ruler, who is pictured about to return to redeem the world from sin, Satan, death, and the curse. These hymns celebrate God as creator and redeemer, and rejoice that He is about to take back what is rightfully His. This is the moment that all Christians (Ephesians 1:14) and the entire creation (Romans 8:19-22) long for.
  • Why is John weeping? Everything seemed, from his perspective, to be going badly. Would no one step forward to change this? Was no one going to unroll the scroll and redeem God’s creation? There are mysteries in life. We feel ourselves caught up in the world’s evil and misery and we cannot break free. Some of us become rigid determinists and we all, at times, feel a sense of hopelessness and helplessness in the grip of forces stronger than we. The world’s agony is real. And the world’s inability to break free from the consequences of its guilt is real. This chapter with its seals that no-one can break stresses human inability. But it does not stop there. More important is the fact that through the Lamb the victory is won. The seals are opened and God’s purpose is worked out. Paradoxically, this decisive victory over Satan and death was accomplished on the cross. Jesus conquered by an act of total self-sacrifice. The result is that He alone is worthy to open the scroll of destiny both to reveal and to carry out the final dissolution of all forces set in opposition to the eternal kingdom of God. Take care that you do not set yourself against God’s kingdom. For God’s judgment power can be seen in what the prophet Nahum declared, “Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire and the rocks are broken up by Him” (Nahum 1:6; cf. Malachi 3:2). God will judge those human rulers who foolishly think they can stand against Him (Psalm 2:2-6). “Who understands the power of Your anger, and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?” (Psalm 90:11). “Wail, for the day of the Lord is near!” cried Isaiah. “It will come as destruction from the Almighty” (Isaiah 13:6). In Joel 1:15 Joel also warned of God’s coming judgment: “Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.”
  • How far-reaching was the Lamb’s purchase? Persons of every tribe and language and people and nation were included. His redemptive work was not for Jews only, but included representatives from ethnic groups and societies around the world. The result of purchasing representatives from all the earth’s peoples is that they will be a kingdom and priests to serve our God. For the apostle Peter also understood this: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). To know that God is eternal provides comfort for His children, since, unlike a human father, He will always be there to take care of them. God’s eternity guarantees that our eternal life in heaven will never cease, that we will receive “an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). For this reason, He is worthy to be honored and praised. But it also means that the punishment of the wicked in hell will last forever, that their weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth will never cease, that “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever” (Revelation 14:11). Such destruction of sinners is a vindication of the righteousness of God.
  • Does it seem like history has no pattern? Is there a goal, either for overall world history or for an individual’s life. The Christian view is that God has a script for the future of the universe. In Revelation 5, the scroll written on both sides emphasizes this as clearly as any passage of Scripture. Jesus knows all about events between the first century and the end-time judgments. He is in charge of making the end-time judgments unfold according to God’s plan—opening the scroll and looking inside. And, that plan includes Jesus the Lamb receiving all worship. Surely we join in God’s everlasting plan by choosing to praise Jesus Christ on earth in our present day-to-day lives. Is history going anywhere at all? Yes, the Bible says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Will we Christians show our belief that history is actually going somewhere? The most important way we can do so is to be part of a Christian community—a church—committed to worshiping Jesus Christ as a primary goal. Fellowship, evangelism, bible study, works of service, reaching out to the needy are all good and necessary for the church to function. But primarily we are called to be a worshiping people.
  • Does worship matters to God? Does worship matters to you? Often, we allow personal distractions to get in the way. Sometimes we go to church, but we don’t worship. We sing songs, but we don’t worship. We listen to sermons, but we don’t worship. We serve in a ministry area, but don’t worship. But, because the Bible’s emphasis is on Christ’s death providing a perfect redemption, He must be given worship, praise, and adoration. He is worthy to receive recognition because of His power and omnipotence. He is worthy to receive recognition because of the spiritual and material riches that He possesses — He owns everything (Psalm 50:10-12). He is worthy to receive recognition because of His wisdom and omniscience. For all those things and all His other absolute perfections, Jesus Christ is worthy of all honor and glory and blessing. For Psalm 69:34 declares: “Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them,” and the concluding verse of the Psalms, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6). This mighty chorus cries out, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” Endless blessing, endless honor, endless praise, endless glory, and endless worship belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The creation is unable to contain its joy over its imminent redemption (cf. Romans 8:19-22).

Additional Note:

There are endless reasons to worship God, but at the heart of the matter lies this truth: worshipping God is the supreme purpose for which humans were created (Psalm 29:1-21 Corinthians 10:31Ephesians 1:3-6; Philippians 2:9-11). You and I were made to worship God. The central function of the Church is to glorify and worship God through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4-61 Peter 2:5Revelation 5:13-14).

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God planted eternity in the human heart. This verse explains why we are not satisfied with earthly endeavors and achievements. Humans are born with a deep, inner longing to comprehend our eternal purpose and know our infinite Creator. We yearn for something more, something greater than ourselves.

You could say we have a built-in craving to worship. God placed eternity in our hearts so we would hunger and thirst for Him. But before we came to know God through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we fulfilled that gnawing hunger by worshiping unworthy objects and pursuits. Our idols took the form of money, people, careers, hobbies, passions, possessions, and anything that replaced God in our hearts.

The Bible teaches that God desires our worship (Psalm 99:5John 4:23). He is the only One worthy of it (Deuteronomy 10:211 Chronicles 16:25Psalm 96:4-5). Our worship of Him reveals that the God of the universe has captured our attention and won our allegiance. We worship God because we recognize that no other being, thing, pursuit, or pleasure is worthy of the place He inhabits on the throne of our lives (Exodus 20:3-5Hebrews 12:28-29).

To worship is to recognize, honor, and express the worthiness of God that He is due as our Maker (Acts 17:28James 1:17Revelation 4:11) and our Redeemer (Colossians 1:12-131 Peter 1:3). Worship is part of our daily fellowship with God. For believers, worship is our way of life. The apostle Paul defined worship as an all-encompassing lifestyle, dedicated to glorifying God: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).

When we worship our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, we experience fellowship and communion with Him (Philippians 3:3). Worship is how we meet with God and praise Him for His goodness, love, mercy, grace, wisdom, beauty, truth, holiness, compassion, might, and every other aspect of His character: “Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth! Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation” (Psalm 100:1-5).

Through worship, we celebrate God’s presence and power. We grow closer to Him as He speaks to hearts and makes His home in our lives. His will becomes our will, and we are transformed.

Not only does worship change us, but it also makes God known to others and changes their lives, too: “He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:3). Our worship testifies to what God has done in us and what He can also do for others.

Yes, God deserves our worship, but we, in turn, benefit from it. What could be better than to find and fulfill our ultimate purpose—to worship God and live in His presence forever and ever? “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!’” (Revelation 7:9-12). [From]

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