Thursday, May 26, 2011

Revelation Chapter Five, Part 2 of 2

5:6-7 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
John now saw Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, arise from the right hand of the Almighty (Hebrews 1:3) and stand up from his role of intercessor and mediator, to take the scroll from the Father’s hand. The horn is an Old Testament symbol for strength. John was relating not that Jesus had seven horns on his head, but that Christ our Lord possesses omnipotence. The seven eyes indicate perfect sight or omniscience: that He knows all things.

John also relates that these attributes are shared with the seven Spirits of God, or the Seven-fold Spirit of God; also named the Holy Spirit. Jesus intimated this in his ministry when he said, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you,” John 16:13-15. The Holy Spirit is all-knowing, and it was a part of His ministry to bring from the Son that which Jesus felt would edify and advance His church. The Holy Spirit was all-powerful as well, and Jesus forbade the disciples from acting until they received the sealing of the Holy Spirit from Heaven: “Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high,” Luke 24:49. This foreshadowed the birth of the church age, which occurred during Pentecost, Acts 2:2-4.

This verse does well to give away the identity of the seven Spirits of God. If He was sent forth into all the earth this coincides with Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit will come and empower the church, and He shall be the light that convicts the world of ungodliness, John 16:7-8.

The time had come for Christ to reign. Psalm two gives some details: “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel,” Psalm 2:6-9. Psalm Seventy Two also speaks of this forthcoming time which will immediately follow the tribulation period: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him,” Psalm 72:8-11.

This is the event that Christians describe as the Thousand Years, or the Millennium. The prerogative to both judge and reign begin with our Lord receiving from the Father the scroll sealed with seven seals. Now we can clearly see why Jesus was capable of opening the scroll. He natively possessed perfect strength and perfect knowledge. Such a one, who had become a man and been crowned with glory, was fit to judge.

5:8 golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
The NKJV translates “odours” into “incense.” Our prayers come before God like the holy incense that was burned before the curtain of the Holy of Holies, wafting into the chamber and covering the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat. It was said that when the Jewish high priest entered the Holiest of All to minister that the incense was like a cloud that made seeing the mercy seat difficult. In a sense prayer is meant to be intercessory, so it is understandable if it is viewed as an obscuring cloud. In a small sense, if you do not misunderstand me, our prayers for others raise a film through which God looks when He looks upon the ones for whom we pray.

Let me explain. As Christ’s blood covers our sins and so God no longer looks at us in wrath, a saint’s prayers bring before God’s eyes someone who His child has compassion on. It is the Holy Spirit shed abroad in our hearts that compels this kind of intercession, so we can be sure that it pleases God to delight in the “savory aroma” of his children’s prayers for others. Christ always prayed for others; He finally died for others. It well pleased God that His Son spent Himself to the last on behalf of others. It likewise pleases our Father when we intercede for others, Christian or unsaved. God hears the prayers of His children. If we know He hears us and pray according to His will, we also know we receive that for which we have prayed, 1st John 5:14-15. Prayer is an act of admission; of our dependence upon God and His total sufficiency in providing. Yet it is also intercession. Jesus prayed for those who were crucifying Him, and Stephen prayed for those stoning him. We also ought to pray for those around us, whether they are friend or enemy.

5:9-10 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
This is further confirmation as to what made Jesus our Lord a worthy Savior and a competent Judge. Christ our Lord was slain. In fact in God’s eyes He was slain before the foundation of the world, 2nd Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8. The cross was raised before the world was founded; God was not “flying blind” when He created the earth as very good and then watched as Satan rebelled and seduced Eve, Adam following shortly thereafter. God was not dumbstruck. God wanted creatures capable of loving Him, and such a creature required a will capable of understanding, and then accepting or rejecting. Man is still presented with that choice today. Free will is a biblical reality, otherwise the gospel we preach is preached into deaf ears, and the gospel that saves turns out not to save after all; faith no longer comes by hearing the word of God.

God’s blood effectually redeemed every member of the church out of this sin-struck world and has made us both kings and priests unto God. What does this mean? Kings rule governments. This simply means in the future the saints shall be assigned roles of authority in God’s universe, and we shall govern our given charge with the authority God invests us with. As priests we serve God with the fruit of worship and praise; sacrifices He is always well pleased with and always has been. Today every Christian is a priest consecrated unto God. Rome and other sects teach otherwise, but their teaching is contrary to God’s word and detracts from His authority. Such sects grasp for power to lord over those who come into their thrall. Does this sound harsh? Just look into Rome’s past and you will find persecutions, trials, wars, laws and ceremonies that degrade the people, kill the innocent, and pervert the truth of the Bible. History records that the Popes often partook in heretical teachings and seldom seemed interested in what the Bible actually taught about how Christians were to conduct themselves. Every Pope, cardinal and member of their hierarchy breaks Peter’s admonition to, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock,” 1st Peter 5:2-3.

The heritage of kings and priests belongs to every Christian. We are all enabled and capable of ministering to one another, and no elite clergy is to lord over God’s flock. Confession is to each other as we sin against one another, James 5:16. I leave you with a solemn warning from Paul: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ,” Colossians 2:8. Rome and other cults love the traditions of men. The Bible condemns them. Either God’s word and Christ’s offering on the cross are sufficient, or they are defunct. Either He is our Savior or He has failed to deliver. Choose you this day whom you will serve, Joshua 24:15.

5:12 Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Here an untold number of angels, along with the cherubim and elders, give the Lamb a seven-fold or perfect blessing. Power (dynamis) in this blessing implies administrative ability; the ability to organize and direct government. A little later the word strength (ischys) simply means strength or power. The untold crowd of Heaven is blessing their Lord as He begins the coordination of His kingdom and the destruction of His enemies. This is a side of Christ many churches today shun. Is this is a side of Jesus that we are acquainted with? He is both the Lamb of God and the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

5:13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Since we know that God shares His glory with no one (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11) yet He seems to condone sharing it with Jesus Christ, this only serves to further disprove cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses who want to demean Jesus by making Him a “mighty god” but not the “Almighty” or Jehovah. Yet the saints and angels all fell down and worshiped both God and Christ, verse 14.When John attempts to do this later with an angel he is forbidden, Revelation 22:8-9. No creature, no created thing, is worthy of worship. Yet Christ our Lord accepted worship while on earth (see Luke 24:52; John 9:38) and accepts worship in Heaven. Christ our Lord is He who lives forevermore, the Alpha and the Omega, the Almighty. He shares this eternal nature with the Father, John 5:26; 10:30. The very words just used to describe the blessing that belongs to both the Father and the Son in verse 13 is repeated to define the person receiving worship in verse 14. Can the Trinity be rationally explained? Of course not; but if you can fully explain/define God in human language you have not found the genuine God. The mystery of His being yet defies us, and apparently frightens some enough to run off and invent their own, more tame gods. Rather, I want to be in that assembly of the saints, praising the Lord for eternity. For we know the fate of all false gods will be shared with those who follow them, Psalm 115:8; 135:18.

God deserves our utmost. There is no being in Heaven or earth, under the earth or in the sea who is worthy of adulation such as we should pay our Creator. Some men may be admired or praised in their own rights for accomplishments or human merit; but God is worthy of being praised for who He is, as well as for what He does. When we praise someone for what they do (granted that we don’t carry it too far) it is fine; when we praise a fellow man made of dust for who they are the unspoken assertion is that they gave themselves such talent, skill, looks, intelligence, etc. This is nonsense. God created us, and gave to each one as He willed. “Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?” Isaiah 29:16. “For it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves,” Psalm 100:3. Be careful, brethren, that our praise of men’s deeds does not become idolatry, 1st John 5:20-21.

2 comments:

  1. Ian...You do such a good job of writing out and delivering the Word of God to your readers in a way that is so understandable. Blessings to you my brother in Christ.

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  2. Scriptural prayer is like the conversation between a husband and wife should be, spontaneous and free, simply expressing shared interests because we know the other is interested. Even when neither is speaking, there should be a constant sense of communication, just as the incense lingers long after the fire goes out. It is a beautiful picture of our relationship with God. Thanks for a the reminder.

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