Revelation 5:1 page 1044
What we are about to read is a part of a wondrous, mysterious and sometimes bizarre revelation by God given to a man named John.
· John was in effect in prison on a small island
· There he went into a trance or had a dream…and then recorded what he saw
…but maybe the most spectacular part of his revelation came when he was taken to the very throne room of God.
· God on the throne – shining with brilliant reds, oranges and greens
· 4 odd hovering mutant creatures – part animal, part angel – lifted by wings and covered with eyes
· 24 old white clad, gold crowned human beings
· 7 mystifying flaming torches that apparently represented the Holy Spirit
· …and all around the air crackled with lightening and boomed with thunder and echoed with constant chanting in worship by the elders and creatures.
5:1 - Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals.
Clearly, this was no ordinary book
· This book was in the hand of God (clearly authored by him)
· Writing inside and outside – something complete, extensive and absolute
· Sealed with 7 seals – it was not to be opened until the writer said so…it was being kept unrevealed by God – but now wanted it opened.
But there was a problem…
5:2-4 -And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it. Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it.
No one could open it. Not the strong angel. Not any of the creatures. Not any of the elders. Not John…and apparently God himself was not going to open it.
· No one was “worthy” to open it. No one was virtuous enough. No one earned the right. No one was powerful enough to reveal the contents.
· And although he did not know exactly what was in the book he knew something cosmic in scope lay buried in its pages. He so longed for it to be revealed that he collapsed in weeping.
5:5 - But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
· No…there IS someone! Clearly someone with authority
o A lion (lion symbol of the nation of Israel)…national leader
o A king (heir to the throne)
o A warrior (won the victory)
But…then the story takes a massive twist for it is not a huge superhero warrior that opens the book…
5:6 - Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.
· A Lamb appears. A sheep. And not just any lamb but one that had been clearly dead…and not dead of natural causes but was slaughtered. And not just any lamb but one with 7 horns and 7 eyes.
· This is a symbolic image of the crucified Jesus…who Isaiah had prophetically called out hundreds of years before he was even born: He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. Isaiah 53:7
5:7 He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.” Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered— to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb. Revelation 5:1-14
The slaughtered lamb…the crucified.. now living… Jesus Christ…takes the scroll and prepares to break the seal and when he does instantly the cosmos comes unglued and everybody collapses in utter worship with delight and release and relief.
The opening of the book clearly was a very big deal.
· It contained something cosmic and universal in scope
· It’s opening came at a specific time and had been sealed until this moment
As you read on in this spectacular revelation you see that the book’s opening was like the breaking of a dam…the releasing of divine energy…the fulfillment of the mission of God.
As the book was opened the entirety of God’s will was poured out upon humanity.
· a revolution was begun one that marked the end of one era and the beginning of another
It would take us sermon after sermon after sermon to adequately describe the depth and breadth of the revolution begun at the cross of Jesus…but we’re just going to take 4 weekends and choose just 4 of the most remarkable results of opening the book of God… the fulfillment of God’s plan unveiled at the death and resurrection of Jesus:
1. Humanity was ransomed and re-imagined.
2. The Kingdom of God was unleashed.
3. The enemy of our souls was overcome.
4. Death was defeated.
When Jesus died and rose …power was released that was far more than simply saving us from our sin so that we go to heaven ….
Something “bigger and altogether more explosive” occurred. “The death of Jesus carried enormous evocative power” N.T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began
· at last that which had been hidden was revealed
· at last that which had been unseen became public
· at last that which had been latent became manifest
· at last that which had been pent up was released
All this because Jesus, the lamb of God, submitted to the horror of the cross...and the isolation of the grave…and the wonder of the resurrection.
Can we look at just one of the stunning results of this most important moment in history:
Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus human beings were ransomed and re-imagined.
Look back at verse 9 – the song that was sung at the opening of the book:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.” Rev 5:9-10
People were ransomed…not just people, in general, but YOU were purchased…there was a transfer of ownership.
· Jesus bought you. He took ownership of you from your previous owner – Satan.
· He paid a high high price for you. With his blood he rescued you.
With this event the one true God had suddenly and dramatically put into operation his rescue of the world. NT Wright
With this event the one true God had suddenly and dramatically put into operation his rescue of ________.
All over this world, today, well meaning people are trying desperately to rescue human beings. And we NEED rescue. We are in a pickle. We are in trouble. We are morally bankrupt…we are lost…we are desperate.
· educators are trying to rescue us with knowledge
· scientists are trying to save us with certainty
· clergy are seeking to ransom us with religion
· musicians and poets are seeking to liberate us with art.
· community activists are working to free us with programs
· politicians are working to redeem us with government (or less of it)
Thank God for all of their efforts. But they are, at best, incomplete and at worst misguided.
For only one person, only one act, only one moment in history could accomplish the ransom of me…and the rescue of you.
For, Jesus, you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed me for God!
And I was given the right to become a child of God. I was forgiven and set free! And that is powerful!
But note, too, the scope of the unifying power of the cross and empty tomb:
…from every tribe and language and people and nation.
The true United Nations began on an instrument of torture, on a stormy day on a hill outside of Jerusalem.
· At last people of all skin tones could have the same blood coursing through their veins
· At last people of all ethnicities could be grafted into the same family.
· At last every nation was called to rally around but one flag.
The cross of Jesus became the symbol of the greatest unifying social event in history.
And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27-28
In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Colossians 3:11
No human institution could ever manufacture the unifying power of the cross.
And one more thing…at last… because of the slaughter of the lamb … we are re-imagined. Re-purposed. Given a new dream…a new mission…a new destiny…
And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.
Those of us who have surrendered to the lamb…been ransomed from the enemy…and molded into a universal multi-ethnic family have been given a new calling:
· we are an army of world changing human shepherds and leaders (priests and kings)
· I am a pastor in title…you are a pastor in calling.
o your sphere of influence needs a pastor and that is you.
o your community is desperate for shepherding…lead them.
· And not only that – you are a person of power…one who can reign on this earth.
At last, the world has leaders…ransomed, rescued, redeemed and saved…that is you. It is time to change the world…that is your destiny.
Do you grasp what happened when Jesus, the lamb of God trudged to the cross and strolled out of the tomb…he went up to his father, took the book…opened it…and unleashed heaven.