Believe In God, Believe Also In Me
This morning we will continue our study of the book of Revelation.
- We need to remember that this book was written in the first century…somewhere around 79 A.D….and it was written to real people about a real problem during their time.
In fact, at the time this was written it was a critical time for Christianity.
- By the time this was written Julius Caesar, Augustus, and Claudius had all been deified.
- Vespasian and Titus soon would be deified.
- The government had already crucified the leader of the Christian movement and was now trying to force the Christians to worship the Caesars and Roman gods.
- And chapters 4 & 5 here were very important to these 1st. century Christians because they are reassured that God was not dead like some Roman Caesar.
So, look at chapter 4:1: 1 After these things I looked,
- Now, this is apparently a continuation of the vision that John had seen in chapters 1-3.
- In the first vision He saw the son of man dealing with the churches…but now in chapter 4 he is going to see a door open into heaven…. this open door is basically going to open up the rest of the book to us.
- This chapter is the start of the rest of the book.
- Everything else in this book…all begins right here in this chapter.
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”
In other words, “Let me show you what is to develop from this moment on.”
- Now, keep in mind that John is relating a vision…so he probably did not literally go into heaven.
Vs. 2: Immediately I was in the Spirit; (this is language that stresses his “first hand” knowledge of what he is relaying. What he is relaying comes from the Spirit).
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.
- God’s throne is mentioned 10 times in this chapter and 38 times through out the book of Revelation.
- God does not want these Christians or us as well, to miss who the real sovereign ruler of the universe is.
- He wants us to know who it is that is really king and ruler.
- His message to these saints at this time is that the world is not ruled from Rome.
Vs. 3 And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.
- No where will you find in the book of Revelation where God is described in human form.
- Instead John uses here these two stones to describe God’s attributes…His character.
- The first stone he mentions is the “jasper” stone.
- If you will check chapter 21:11 you find that the “jasper” stone was crystal-clear and very precious.”
- So it may be there that John is saying that the one who sits on the throne is very precious…and pure and holy.
Then he speaks of a “sardius” stone.
- No one knows for sure but it is believed that the “sardius” was a stone of a fiery red color.
- Red has behind it the idea of judgment…and justice.
- So, John may be saying that the one who sits on the throne is one whose judgments are just.
Then he speaks of a “rainbow around the throne like an emerald in appearance.”
- An emerald is a velvety green stone.
- A rainbow says that the storm is over.
- This may well speak of mercy.
So what you have here a description of One sitting on the throne who is holy and righteous, and just in His divine judgments…and One who tempers those judgments with mercy.
Now verse 4: And around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.
- Notice the word “crown.”
- That is the Greek word “stephanos”…and it is not the crown of a king but the crown of a victor…it speaks of victory.
- So what you have here is the “winners circle.”
Notice there are twenty-four thrones around the throne where God sits.
- “Thrones” speaks of royalty…so what you have here is royalty in the presence of royalty.
And notice the thrones are occupied by “24 elders clothed in white garments.”
- If you go back to chapter 3: 4-5 you will find that the saints who lived righteously and who over came received white garments.
The 24 elders here…well there are several schools of thought on what this is speaking of.
- But the 24 here suggests a combination of the 12 patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel…and the 12 apostles…thus representing the redeemed of both the Old Covenant and the New…united through Christ.
So what this did for these people and for us as well is it tells us where we are.
- This told these Christians in the first century that even though they had not realized it yet…that they were royalty….and that there citizenship was in heaven.
- And it tells us the same.
- This is a picture of all the redeemed of all time sitting on thrones in the presence of God.
Now, vs. 5: And from the throne proceed flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;
- This verse underscores the power of God.
- And notice the lampstands.
- Lamp stands are light givers. Everything is made visible because of them.
- This suggests that nothing is hidden from the One who sits on the throne.
- He sees what is going on.
If these Christians thought Rome was powerful…they hadn’t seen anything yet.
- And if they thought that God didn’t know what was happening to them…well, He knew.
Now, vs. 6:
6 and before the throne there was, as it were, a sea of glass like crystal;
- There have been a lot of different explanations of what this “sea of glass” represents.
- Apparently is speaks of “separation.”
- A sea separates two pieces of land…or two islands.
- And apparently that is what this “sea” represents as well.
- It is a “separation” intended to protect the holiness…and honor of God.
…and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. (Indicates that see all). 7 And the first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”
Who are these “four living creatures?”
- Well, if you go to Isaiah 6: 2-3 and Ezek. 1 and Ezek. 10 you find what is described as Seraphim and Cherubim…and it may be that is what these 4 living creatures are.
- But the problem is, there are some differences between what Ezekial and Isaiah describe and what John describes here.
What we do know for sure is that these four living creatures praise God day and night, vs. 8.
- In chapter 6:1-8 they usher in the four horsemen.
- In chapter 15:7 one of these creatures gives the seven bowls of wrath to the seven angels.
- And in chapter 19:8 they are among those who commend God’s judgment on the harlot.
From this it can be concluded that they represent powerful spiritual forces of God used to carry out God’s divine purposes…or they are a special order of the highest heavenly beings who have always been the closest to the God’s throne….and who carry out God’s majestic will.
And notice these four living creatures “day and night do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”
- Three times these creatures say “holy.”
- Probably to express the perfect and absolute holiness of God.
And notice the word, “Almighty.”
- This lets these Christians know that Rome’s Emperors had One whose might greatly exceeded theirs.
- No ones might and sovereignty exceeds His sovereignty.
9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
When they fall down on their knees what are they saying? “He deserves to be worshipped.”
- And when they throw their crowns before Him what are they saying? “He is the source of victory.”
- By doing these things they are saying that they know “they do not deserve to be where they are…it is only because of Him that they are victorious.”
And what God is doing here with these words is He wants them to know that they are on the throne…and at the same time they want Him to know that they realize they don’t deserve to be on the throne.
- And therefore, they worship Him.
11 “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.”
This whole chapter tells these persecuted Christians that their God sits on the throne of the universe…that they are and will be in His presence.
- And the whole scene shows God surrounded by staggering power…power to do just exactly what He says He will do.
Rome would have them to believe that their God was dead…or didn’t care…or wasn’t strong enough to help them….therefore they should praise and honor the Rome and the Caesars.
- These words said otherwise.
- They should continue in their devotion to God.
Now, chapter 5…and in chapter 5 the focus shifts now from the One sitting on the throne to the lamb who is equal of praise.
- Chapter four says, “Believe in God” and now chapter 5 is going to say, “Believe also in Me…or the Son. ”
- So look at Chapter 5.
5:1 And I saw(this is a continuation of the vision. Many want to say that this all will be literally fulfilled. But keep in mind, this a vision…and therefore much of what we see here is symbolic and conveys a principle) in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back(indicates that there is nothing to add. No blank spaces…this is the full will of God),
And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back sealed up with seven seals.
- The seals safeguard the book from being tampered with or exposed to view.
- The proper time and destination is coming when the seal will be broken and the book opened.
- But that time must wait until One comes who is worthy to open the seal.
Now, what we are going to find is the contents of this book are going to be revealed in the ensuing chapters.
- We don’t have to wonder what the contents of this book are.
- This book contains the will of God for the immediate future…and we will see that.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy(not a matter of strength….but a matter of worthiness. Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?”
3 And no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look into it.
4 And I began to weep greatly, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look into it;
- John weeps…He weeps because this little book contains the will of God…and as long as it is sealed and unopened that will cannot go forth.
- And that is what we want…God’s will to go forth.
- And that is especially true for the situation these brethren were in.
- And that is why John weeps.
- John doesn’t think that there is anyone who can carry out the will of God; the judgment, the vindication of the saints, the justice, the redemption.
5 …and one of the elders said to me, “Stop 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.”
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. 7 And He came, and He took it out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
- Jesus didn’t gain His worthiness by being a lion.
- He gained the worthiness…the right to do the will of God…to be judge…and to exact justice because He was first a lamb.
- And see the word “lamb”…that is the Greek word “arnion” and it speaks specifically of a lamb used for a sacrifice.
- And notice it says that He was “slain”…that word too speaks in reference to a “sacrifice.”
- By His sacrifice…He was made worthy to open the seals.
- Not by kingly power and might.
- IN fact, it was only after He was obedient as a lamb that He became the Lion…or the king.
Also notice the “seven horns and seven eyes.”
- Horns are used metaphorically to represent power.
- And the seven eyes represent full and perfect knowledge.
- Here is One who is bearing witness to the will and truth of God.
And notice also, that He was “slain” but is now alive.
- The Romans would have them believe that Jesus was dead…but God tells them other wise right here.
8 And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
10 “And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom(notice the kingdom already exists) and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
- Notice, “…and they will reign upon the earth.”
- At the present time it didn’t appear to be that way with these brethren.
- But appearance isn’t every thing.
- When all is said and done…Rome will fall and the church…or God’s kingdom will still be standing.
Now, back up in chapter 4:11 they sang “Worthy art Thou…but that was “worthy are thou as creator.”
- This is worthy art thou as the slain lamb…the One crucified…who, because of His sacrifice, is worthy to open the seals.
11 And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
Even the devils will sing praises to God.
- And we have seen that haven’t we.
- We have seen people who live for the devil…and live like the devil…and yet some times they come to church and what do they do…they sing praises to God.
Chapter 4 says, “Believe in God…and chapter 5 says, Believe also in Me.”
- All of this is to reassure these persecuted Christians that God is on the throne…not Rome.
- And their faith in Jesus has not been misplaced.
- Judgment is coming and these two chapters were intended to encourage these brethren, as well as us, to remain faithful…and if they would…they would be victorious.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023