A Reason for Optimism 12-2-18
Revelation 5:1-7 Lesson 21
If we could take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 5. The title of our message this morning is A Reason for Optimism. Are you a natural optimist or a pessimist or somewhere in between? Is the glass half full or half empty? I hope this chapter, as we look at chapter 5 today, verses 1-7, makes you, as you leave here today, a flaming optimist because if you know Christ personally you’re on the right side of history.
We are in sort of that section of the Book of Revelation that we call the heavenly scene; it’s before the judgments are introduced onto planet earth, which will be highlighted beginning in chapter 6. Before that happens we’re taken into heaven (John is taken into heaven) to see the person who is bringing these judgments, God Himself, and the place from which they will come, (heaven itself) asking and answering the question who is God to judge this world?
In chapter 4 we learn that God is worthy to judge the world, in fact, we sang about it just a few moments ago, because of His role in creation. He has created all things. And then in chapter 5, as we begin today, we’re going to be learning that Jesus is worthy to bring judgment to the earth because He is the redeemer of all things. It’s both the creator and the redeemer what higher qualifications do you need? I don’t know of any higher credentials than those. Do you?
So here is John, chapter 4, being taken into heaven to see these things. We’ve seen his summons into heaven, the sights he saw in heaven and the explosion of heaven into praise because of who God the Father is and because of His role in creation. We leave chapter 4 and now we come into chapter 5 where we learn of the worthiness of Jesus Christ. Here is our outline, if you will, for chapter 5, likely making it (Lord willing) only through verse 7 this morning. [1. Title, (1a) 2. Chain of Communication, (1b-2) 3. Blessing, (3) 4. Author, (4a) 5. Audience ,(4b) 6. Greeting (4c) 7. Source (4d-5a) 8. Subject, (5b-8)]
Notice, if you will, verse 1, an observation. John, in heaven, is describing these things that he saw. “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.” This is an observation about the existence of a seven sealed scroll held by God the Father seated on His throne in His right hand. You say well what is this seven sealed scroll exactly? It is probably the most important legal document in the history of mankind. It represents the title deed to the earth.
You see, when God created Adam and Eve and gave them authority to rule on His behalf, Genesis 1:25-28, they were given this title deed. [Genesis 1:25-28, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”]
But we, of course know the very sad story; instead of our forbearers ruling under God over creation they began to listen to creation, a talking snake, and in the process rebel against God. And the moment this happened the authority of this world was taken from man’s grasp given to him by God into Satan’s grasp. And that’s why this title deed is sealed up; in fact, it’s so sealed up it’s got seven seals on it.
And yet Jesus Christ, as we will see in this chapter, has stepped out of eternity into time to redeem us. And consequently He’s the only person qualified to open this seven-sealed scroll, thereby restoring earth to its rightful rulers. In this case it will be not the first Adam but the last Adam who will govern the world for God the Father in the millennial kingdom. That’s the point of the Book of Revelation. As each seal is opened a judgment will come to the earth further evicting Satan from this turf until by the time you get to the end all of the judgments will have run their course, Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit or the abyss and the world as it exists will be restored to its rightful authority. This seven sealed scroll therefore represents the storyline of the Book of Revelation. It represents the story line of where human history is headed.
So we have an observation, verse 1. The observation is followed by a question, verse 2, “And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?”’ If the seals remain unbroken the scroll remains sealed and that’s a problem because the authority to the earth is never reclaimed. So we have to have somebody to open it. The question becomes who’s qualified to open it? You’ll notice this word “worthy,” verse 2, you can underline that if you’re an under liner in your Bible, and you should underline the same word in verse 9, and the same word in verse 12 because this chapter is going to answer the question “who is worthy.” You’ll discover very fast who is worthy as you just track that word “worthy” through this chapter, verse 2 to verse 9 to verse 12. Who is worthy to open this scroll? That
 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?”  And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it.  Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it;  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.”  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 came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.  When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Then 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,  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.”]
Who is worthy to open this scroll? That leads to verse 3, an investigation. Look at verse 3, “And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it.” Now this is an investigation no doubt—who can open this? It’s quite a comprehensive investigation isn’t it? First of all the people in heaven or the entities in heaven aren’t worthy. Who are they? They’re not exactly spiritual lightweights. The angels are there, the four living creatures are there, the twenty-four elders are there, but none of them are qualified to open this scroll. No one in heaven is worthy so therefore no one on the earth is worthy and certainly no one under the earth is worthy.
This is what you call in biblical interpretation a merism, which is a figure of speech giving the outer edges and once you give the outer edges it automatically encompasses everything in between. It’s like when the Bible says the Lord watches over me when I rise up and when I lie down. So people say well, I guess God only watches over me in the morning and in the evening. No, it would encompass everything in between because it’s a merism. It’s like saying Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The heavens, the earth and everything in between, a merism. It’s like when God says in Jeremiah 23:24, “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” A merism meaning everything.
And so this inquiry, this investigation goes out trying to figure out who in the world is qualified to open this seven sealed scroll thereby restoring the earth to its rightful rulers and the answer is nobody because of the comprehensiveness of the investigation. Everything is searched except the one that has the right credentials. Which credentials would those be? Creator and Redeemer!
The investigation, verse 3, leads to verse 4, a lamentation. Now you know what a lamentation is, we have a whole book in the Bible, called The Book of Lamentations, written by Jeremiah the prophet when Nebuchadnezzar came and destroyed the first temple. He had so many tears to shed over this he wrote a whole book about this called The Book of Lamentations. There is a tremendous lament of tears taking place when it looks at first glance that no one is qualified to open the seven sealed scroll.
Look, if you will, at verse 4, “Then I” now who’s the “I”? It’s John, “began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it;” now when it says “weep” notice there’s an adjective here, much weeping, poulὺ in Greek. Much weeping demonstrates what John is feeling when he sees the lack of qualifications in anybody to open this scroll. And in fact if the word “much” was not enough the verb “weeping” when you look this up in the Greek what does it mean? It means to weep or wail with emphasis upon the noise accompanying the weeping.
This is not someone with a case of the sniffles. This is not somebody drying a few tears. This is not somebody with a mild case of waterworks. This is a verbal, emotional travail that John is in at the prospect that this scroll remains shut and remains closed. In fact, it’s the same verb used to describe how Peter felt after the third betrayal of Christ. It says, “He went out and he wept bitterly,” [Luke 22:62] same verb. By the way, it’s the same travail that we are to experience as God’s people over our own personal sins. It’s the same verb used in James 4:9, “Be miserable and mourn and weep;” same verb, “let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.”
No one is worthy because at first glance it looks like no one has the credentials necessary to open the seven sealed scroll. Well what does that mean? What it means is this: the earth, as it currently exists the earth as we know it remains forever and ever and ever outside the grasp of its rightful ruler, which means Satan wins. Satan continues on and on with the custody over the earth. By the way, I hope you know that Satan is the ruler of this world. Of course God is sovereign and we pray for God to intervene constantly but the general trajectory of the whole world is not under God’s authority, it’s under Satan’s authority. If you look up all of these verses you see very clearly that Satan is running the world system. [Job 1:7; 2:2, Luke 4:5-7, John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11, Ephesians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 John 4:4; 5:19]
In fact, these are the current names given to describe Satan. [Prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), God of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), Prince and power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), Who the believer wrestles with (Ephesians 6:12), Roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8), Whole world lies in his power (1 John 5:19).] And you can see the Scriptural addresses next to them. He is the Prince of this world, he is the god of this world, he is the prince and power of the air, he is the one that the believer wrestles with, he is the one that roams about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, he is the one that the whole world lies in his power.
It’s what God said to Satan in the very first, oldest I should say, book of the Bible, the Book of Job, “Satan, where have you come from” God said. [Job 2:2, “The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.’”] Job 1:7, “He said, ‘From roaming about on the earth,” going to and fro over it. [Job 1:7, “The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?’ Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth and walking around on It.”’] Why is Satan allowed to do that? Because he was given that authority in Genesis 3 and he will continue to have that authority as long as that title deed, that seven sealed scroll, remains closed.
Jesus in being tempted by Satan was offered in Luke 4:5-8 all the kingdoms of this world. [Luke 4:5-8, all the kingdoms of this world [can’t understand word] the devil. [“And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.’  Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”]
It’s interesting to me that Jesus never questioned that when that offer was given to Him; He just quoted Scripture and endured the temptation because it is true. Satan has this world, he has the kingdoms of this world, and he was offering them to Christ on a silver platter just for a moment of worship. The authority is Satan’s. And because the authority of this world belongs to Satan the world that we’re living in today has been cursed. Is it God’s creation? Yes, but it is under a curse, the curse is described in Genesis 3:17-19. “Then to Adam He said,” that’s God, ‘“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field;  By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The Apostle Paul, in the Book of Romans, chapter 8, verses 19-23 says, “for the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth” and if that weren’t bad enough he says together until now.  And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”]
If you were to personify creation as it currently exists it’s groaning and that includes your body; your body is groaning, amen to that? Everything has been put under travail, everything has been put under a curse. The earth is in a state of bondage. One of the favorite titles of a book that I have on my shelf concerning the Book of Revelation is called The Liberation of Planet Earth. [by Hal Lindsey] I can’t think of a more appropriate and apt title because that is the condition of the world and that is the condition the world will remain in until this seven sealed scroll is opened.
That’s why I have sort of a problem with these insurance companies calling earthquakes and Tsunamis and these kinds of things acts of God. Why do we blame God for everything? Why don’t we call them acts of Satan since the Bible is very clear that he is the authority over this earth. And this is the problem with the song that we sometimes have children sing in church, “This is My Father’s World.” I mean is that true? It’s our Father’s creation but the world as it currently exists with cancer, earthquakes, disease, death, drive-by shootings, crime, drug addiction, you name it, it’s not our Father’s world. Something obviously has gone wrong with our Father’s world. We’re living in the domain and in the territory of Satan.
And John sees this scroll remaining shut and he starts to lament which is an outright emotional and verbal outburst because he draws the logical conclusion that cancer, war, earthquakes, tsunamis, homelessness, you name it will just go on and on and on and on and on and on without end. Wouldn’t that depress you? I think to some extent we are blinded to this because of the artificial prosperity that we enjoy in the west. I call it an artificial prosperity because if you monitor our debt we’re close to twenty-two trillion dollars in debt.
Someone says well look at the economy, look at how things are turning around. Well, to quote one politician, if I could give you twenty-two trillion dollars in hot checks I could give you the illusion of prosperity also. And we think because we’re living in this bubble that somehow we’re not in a world that’s in travail and we think that we can defy the law of gravity forever.
But when you travel around the world and you see the way people are living, wondering where their next meal is going to come from, living in abject poverty, they have a very clear understanding of this than we do. Something obviously has gone terribly wrong.
And John sees this scroll remaining closed and he loses his emotional composer in heaven because of it. That is what John is experiencing here in verse 4, a humanistic understanding of the world. It’s what Solomon called “under the sun,” a knowledge of life without God. You shut yourself off from divine revelation, you shut yourself off from the Book of Revelation and what are you really left with? The only thing you’re left with is the nasty now and now and you can’t fathom just continuing on and on and on but that’s what the world system tells you; what’s normal has always been and will always be. And we wonder why our youth, who don’t have the light of the Word of God are addicted to drugs or giving themselves over to alcohol, or trying to numb the pain of their lives with hedonism. I would be doing the same thing if I didn’t know anything about God or His Word. The pain of this world has no end to it.
That’s what John is seeing and we see a lament. We follow from verse 4 into verse 5 and I love this about God—whenever there’s a deep lament there’s a comfort. Have you noticed that in God? Many times mu wife and I will say we maybe haven’t had the best day, maybe some things have gone wrong and we always say well, you know what? There’s always tomorrow, because in the Book of Lamentations, chapter 3, verses 22 and 23 at the height of Jeremiah’s anguish it says, “The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.” Psalm 30:5 says, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”
It’s interesting to me that in the parts of the Bible where you have the greatest anguish you also have the greatest consolation or the greatest comfort. You may be today in a place of anguish in your personal life, relationally, physically, economically, I don’t know if I have the answers to all of our problems and your problems but I know this, that God in that valley will reveal Himself to you with the God of all comfort.
That’s what’s happening here with John in this deep level of anguish you find an immediate comfort. And what does it say there in verse 5, “Stop weeping” it says. It says, verse 4, [Revelation 5:4 “Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it;  and one of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping….” Now it’s interesting to me that when you look at this phrase, “Stop weeping” in Greek it’s not a suggestion. It’s what we call in Greek in the imperative mood, this is a command, “Stop weeping!” Why? Because there is somebody that is worthy to open this seven-sealed scroll and consequently restore the earth. And the person that tells John about this is, what does it say, “one of the elders.” “One of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping,’” notice, “one of the elders.”
Now who are the elders? Well, in prior sermons, and I’ll have a lot more to say about this when we get chapter 5, verses 9-10, most likely next week, we believe that the elders is the raptured church in heaven. So one of these members of the redeemed church tells John in a command to “Stop weeping!? Why would one of the twenty-four elder say that? Because one of the twenty-four elders is in heaven having experienced the redemption of Jesus Christ. And if Jesus can redeem, guess what else He can do? He can open that scroll and bring the world back to its rightful authority and its rightful ruler.
“Stop seeping.” You know, there’s a lot in the Bible about sorrow and what the Bible presents is a balanced perspective on the issue of sorrow. Paul says, “But we do not want you to be informed, brethren,”1 Thessalonians 4:13, “about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” Grieving, of course, is something that is normal and natural in the Christian walk and in the Christian life. We just had a memorial service here a week or so back. But the Christian is not to go on and on and on mourning as if there’s absolutely not hope at all. That’s what John is demonstrating here. He’s acting like this will never be corrected, this will never be reversed. And he’s told by one of those who’s actually experienced redemption in the form of a command to stop weeping.
A great injustice is about to be reversed, a miscarriage of justice, something that should have never happened in Genesis 3, with all of its ramifications and all of its consequences is about to be reversed. So why would you go on and on and on weeping and mourning and wailing, acting as if this world in its current state will always be that way? Why is it that we have in the body of Christ so many sad faced things? Why are we so down all the time? Why are we so downtrodden all the time? Why aren’t we the flaming optimist that we ought to be knowing who controls history. And people say well Andy, you don’t understand, there’s a culture war going on, we’re losing the country. I hope we don’t but at the end of the age so what? So what, we lose the country? Does that change my optimism for the future. I mean, is that where my hope is, in turning the United States around?
There is a great injustice that happened in Genesis 3 that’s about to be reversed. And if you live your life with that perspective how could you ever be a gloom and doomer? People say you know, I just don’t like the Book of Revelation, there’s just so much gloom and doom in that book and I’m thinking are we reading the same book? I mean it’s the Book of Revelation that shows you how to be an optimist, how to look at life with all of its complexities and problems as just temporal. You chop off the Book of Revelation and you’re stuck with knowledge, as Solomon called it in his waywardness, “under the sun.” You have no perspective, you have no point of view and you’re stuck with the nasty now and now.
If I could use this analogy perhaps we can think of it this way: we are people in Nazi Germany just before the allies invaded; that’s where we are. We’re living in depressing deplorable conditions under Satan’s rod and rule but the allies are about to invade; the fortunes are about to be reversed, a miscarriage of justice is about to be corrected. Why is that? Because this consolation leads to a manifestation, verses 5-6, there is someone literally to open the scroll. If it remains shut there is no hope. But we have someone, verses 5-6, who is worthy to open this scroll.
Take a look if you could at verses 5 and 6, “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.” 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.” We’ve got someone here with credentials to open this scroll. We’ve got someone from the right tribe, from the right lineage, with the right victory, with the right mission. Those four things have only come together in a single human being, the God-man, Jesus Christ.
Look at these four credentials that Jesus has. Number one, the right tribe. He is the lion from the tribe of Judah. You say well who cares? Well, when you go back to Genesis 49:10 you’ll see one of the early Messianic predictions in the Bible that when the Messiah comes forth from the line of Israel he will come forth from the line of Judah. Genesis 49:10 says this, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh” peace, Messiah, “comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”
Think about what an astounding prediction that is. Israel hadn’t even gone into the land yet. When that was given under Joshua, and it’s a prediction that all the tribes looked for the Messiah to come forth from the lineage of Judah. This is why Jesus Christ is called “the lion of the tribe of Judah.” There’s somebody in human history that has fit the Messianic prediction and thus qualified to open the scroll which will redeem the earth from the devil’s grasp.
The second piece of qualification or credentials that Jesus has is not just the right tribe but He is from the right lineage, having come from Revelation 5:5, “the root of David.” [Revelation 5:5, “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.’”] This relates to the covenants that God gave to the nation of Israel: land, seed and blessing were promised to Israel. The seed is amplified in the covenant He gave to David. First God says there is coming one from Jesse, David’s father. ““Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” [Isaiah 11:1] You go right through that chapter, Isaiah 11, it’s obvious who this branch is talking about, it’s talking about the Messiah. He’s coming from Jesse’s line.
Now Jesse had a son named David, this Messiah must come from the line of David. 2 Samuel 7:8, “Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel.” Verse 16 of 2 Samuel 7, “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” David, I’ve got news for you God says, there’s coming one from your lineage who is going to bring in an eternal dynasty, a forever throne and we call this the Davidic Covenant.
You’re on your one year reading program through the Bible, you get to Matthew chapter 1, verses 1-18, that long genealogy there and you’re bored out of you mind because there’s a bunch of names there that you can’t even pronounce, and you wonder what all that’s doing there. What it’s doing there is it’s establishing the credentials of Jesus Christ, first through David and ultimately back to Abraham through whom these covenants came into existence. I mean, Jesus has the right tribal identity and number two He’s got the right genealogy. This is what is being used to correct John in his humanistic sorrow that he is experiencing here.
But Jesus Christ has something else going for Him, He’s the right victor. He’s already secured the right victory. Well what has He done? It’s right there in verse 5, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome” it’s not just I hope He overcomes, I pray He overcomes, it’s a done deal! It’s already happened! Through what? Through what we just celebrated this morning at the Lord’s Table, the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Those are historical facts. Because that has been secured the victory itself has been secured. This is why Jesus in some of His final words to His disciples in the Upper Room, John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation,” Amen! “but take courage;” well why in the world should I take courage in the midst of tribulation? Because Jesus says, “I have overcome the world.’”
In fact, that verb “overcome” is nikaō, where get the word Nike as in the shoe company. Athletic victory has already been secured because of our diligence? NO, because of what He’s already done. He’s already secured it. And if I’m related to Him by way of faith that makes me an overcomer. I’m not trying to overcome in the Christian life, that’s not even my identity. I already am an overcomer, not because of any self-discipline or ingenuity, or talent on my own behalf; it’s because of who I’m related to and connected to.
1 John 4:4 says, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” You’re living in the devil’s world but you’re already a victor. Do you understand why hell itself is waging war on your life? Because of who you are? You’re a victor in a world that Satan is pulling downward because of who your connected to. In fact, if you really wanted to be technical about it the Book of Romans, chapter 8, verses 37 doesn’t just say we are victors, nikaō, it says we are huper nikaō. What does that mean? An overwhelming victor! A super victor! So why don’t you go out and start a shoe company and instead of calling Nike call it Super Nike, because that’s what’s being said here concerning us in Romans 8:37. [Romans 8:37, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”]
Well, pastor, you don’t know what I’m going through? I know this much, you’re a super victor and if that’s your identity you have all the grace all the resources necessary to handle whatever struggle you’re in. “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” [John 4:4] And it’s all possible because of what Jesus did. John, quit weeping, the scroll can be opened by someone who has (A) the right tribal identity, (B) the right lineage, (C) the right victory has already been secured.
Well what about this last one here, the right mission? What does it say here in verse 6, He is the “Lamb.” You’ll notice how He’s called the Lion, verse 5, but then in verse 6 He’s called the Lamb. Lion—second coming, Lamb—first coming! Either way you’re going to meet Jesus, you can either meet Him as your Savior or your Judge. You can meet Him as the Lion or you can meet Him as the Lamb. As for me and my house I’m a path of least resistance type, I’d much rather meet Him as my Savior and my Judge.
But notice what it says about His mission, verse 6 is what we just got finished celebrating a few moments ago with the Lord’s Table, “And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain,” he says in verse 6 “as if slain having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.” Not only is Jesus of the right tribe, not only is He the right lineage, not only has He secured the right victory but He has secured the right mission, being not just a coming Lion but the two thousand year old mission that He had of being the Lamb of God.
You know, for 1,500 years there was a sacrificial system that God brought into place through Moses; 1,500 years is a long time to have something in place and when God looked at that sacrificial system during the time of David, about a thousand years before Christ, God said in Psalm 40:6 I’m not pleased with this. “Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.” I’m not desiring this, I’m not pleased with this even though God is the One that set it up. Why was it something that never fully pleased God? Because it never permanently fixed the problem because the next year, Yom Kippur, the same sacrifice would be offered. This went on year after year after year after year after year. Think of the repetition for one thousand five hundred years. The United States has only been in existence a little over two hundred years, think of one thousand five hundred years of a system that never fully pleased God.
But one day Jesus showed up, in John 1:29, “The next day he” that’s John the Baptist, “saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” There’s an answer to one thousand five hundred years of repetition—Christ. Christ is the One that this whole system foreshadowed, prefigured. But until Jesus shows up this displeasure with God continued on and on and on. And I find it very, very interesting, I don’t know about you but I find it very interesting that when John is in heaven and he sees Jesus he looks at Him as if slain. In other words, if I’m understanding this right John in heaven can see the wounds of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what Jesus showed to Thomas in His resurrected body, doubting Thomas. Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.’” [John 20:27] That’s Christ in the resurrected body, the wounds are still there.
Is there certain wounds that the resurrection itself will not permanently heal? Not so much for us but for Him? Those wounds will always be there. They will always be physical, they will always be visible, they will always be tangible. Why is that? Because when you’re in heave you figure out real fast that you’re there because of what He did because you see the wounds in His body that secured it. If those wounds just sort of disappeared as all of our wounds will I might think there’s be a tendency to forget. Doesn’t God want us to remember what He’s done? Didn’t we just celebrate the Lord’s Supper where He said, “Do this in” what? “remembrance of Me.” In eternity future you’re never going to forget why you’re there—because of what He has done. I didn’t get into this deal because I’m such a great overcomer. I got into this deal because He overcame and He made me an overcome by way of my positional identity with Him. That’s the lesson.
What else does John see here as he’s looking at the right mission? It says he has “seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.” It also says “seven horns,” seven the number of perfection; horns would speak of power. The antichrist’s kingdom is not portrayed, Daniel 7, as seven horns, three subdued out of ten. Jesus is the source of all power. It also describes it as the seven eyes, intelligence, awareness of what is always happening in its perfection. We somehow think we can pull the wool over Jesus’ eyes and He’s not aware of what’s happening. He’s aware of everything.
And then it also talks about the seven spirits of God. Now we have studied the seven spirits in the Book of Revelation, I think it’s the fullness of the Holy Spirit. I think it’s a reference back to Isaiah 11:2, “The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” Seven genitive expressions here describing the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
See here on the earth we can quench the Spirit, can’t we, by returning to sin, 1 Thessalonians 5:19. [“Do not quench the Spirit;” 1 Thessalonians 5:19] We can grieve the Spirit, can’t we. Ephesians 4:30, by returning to sin. [Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”] We can, in our fallenness encumber or place an obstacle over the work that God wants to do through us. What a tragic thing when that happens. But in heaven I’ll tell you this much, that can’t be done. There is absolutely nothing which can derail the reclaiming of this earth from Satan’s grasp because of the fullness of the Spirit. An observation, a question, an investigation, a lamentation, a constellation, a manifestation, there is someone that can open that scroll who’s got the right four credentials: right tribe—Judah; right lineage—David, right victory—He overcame, right mission—He’s the Lamb that permanently fixed the sin problem that the 1500 year Mosaic was never able to fix.
And that leads, number seven, to a reception. Look at verse 7, here is where everything has been headed. “And He” who’s that? The Lamb, “came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.” [Revelation 5:7] Jesus now comes and takes something that no one above the earth, in the earth or under the earth is qualified to open, He’s qualified to open it and He just comes and takes it.
What does that mean? It means once this book is in His hand He’s going to start opening it up progressively and as He’s opening it up progressively seven judgments are hitting the earth. Judgment seven will unleash the next set of judgments, called the trumpets. The seventh trumpet will unleash the next set of judgments called the golden bowls of wrath, all describing great detail in the Book of Revelation which we’re going to be seeing. And as these judgments are being released Satan’s authority over this earth is being gradually taken away through a process that lasts seven years. It’s sort of like the judgments that hit Egypt in the days of Moses; every time a judgment hit, there’s ten plagues, Pharaoh’s resolve to continue to hold Israel in bondage got weaker and weaker and weaker and weaker until finally he let them go with plague ten. That’s what’s happening with Satan.
And what gets the ball rolling? What starts the whole process of a chain of events that can’t be stopped once this seven sealed scroll is opening if someone’s qualified to open it in the first place… Jesus Christ. That’s why we know and why John is comforted that the current state of the world is just temporary. That should make flaming optimists, shouldn’t it? Once this happens and this reception takes place, once Jesus receives the scroll we know beyond the category of the doubt, any doubt, that Satan’s days are limited. That’s why it says in Revelation 12:12 concerning Satan, “knowing that he has only a short time.“ [Revelation 12:12, [“For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”]
This is why you go to church after church after church after church and they won’t teach the Book of Revelation. And pastors have been deceived into thinking that if they teach the Book of Revelation they’re going to divide the church, the church is not going to grow, they’re going to scare people. And this is why ever since Augustine in the fourth century the Book of Revelation has been so symbolized and allegorized and deliteralized that no one thinks they can understand what it means.
What do you think is causing all these things? I mean if the Book of Revelation revealed your future the way it reveals Satan’s future would you want it taught? Would you want it proclaimed? Of course you wouldn’t. That’s why the Book of Revelation continues to be a sealed book… tragically! That’s why even the great John Calvin wrote commentaries on virtually every New Testament book except the Book of Revelation, probably because he didn’t think the Book of Revelation could be understood. This is why the great Martin Luther thought that the Book of Revelation didn’t even belong in the Canon of Scripture. There has always been a satanic and spiritual assault and attack on this book. That’s why everybody today that’s popular that teaches it is portrayed as a date setting fanatic, because Satan would have you to study anything other than this book which secures and reveals his doom and takes the Christian life and turns it into the optimistic joy filled life that God has for us.
Satan’s days are numbered, the earth is going to be liberated and what do you think would happen as a result of this? There’s a reaction in heaven, verses 8-14, and explosion of worship like you’ve never seen it before. And in fact, those that worship are portrayed just like they’re portrayed in the investigation as being in the earth, on the earth, above the earth. It’s sort of like, the verse that came to my mind as I was trying to prepare this sermon, it’s sort of like the manifestation of Jesus Christ at the triumphal entry in His first coming.
It says in Luke 19:39-40, “But some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!”’ Shut these people up Jesus. But Jesus answered,  “I tell you,’ He answered, “if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out.” This is what happens with this reaction, verses 8-14. It’s almost as if this has been bottled up for so long that now that the victory is obvious how can you restrain worship? You can’t. You can’t restrain it; it explodes all over the pages in this chapter, verses 8-14.
And you say well, can you tell us a little bit about that scene of worship? Well, you’ll have to come back next week to find out about it because we’re out of time. I hope this much, I hope worship to you is not just another Christian ritual. May God help us and deliver us from another meaningless church event. May we approach worship with this type of expectation, knowing that the victory is secure and the liberation of planet earth is just a matter of time. The more important question of course is are you on the right side of history because as God is my witness if you don’t know Christ personally you’re on the wrong side; you’re on the losing side that’s going down. And what a tremendous thing it is to reverse your fortunes, just like this earth’s fortunes will be reversed simply by trusting in what Jesus did. Jesus, His final words on the cross were “It is” what? “finished!”
There’s nothing else for you to do other than receive it as a gift. You can receive it as a gift right now in the quietness of your own mind, in the quietness of your own heart, the quietness of your own thoughts and you place your confidence exclusively in Jesus Christ. You can do it even as I’m talking, it’s not something you have to raise a hand to do, join a church to do, give money to do, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you receive as a gift what He has done and that changes you identity into not just a nacho but a hupernacho. If it’s something you need more explanation non I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for this turning point in history and the Book of Revelation. Help us to live our lives knowing that the victory is secure. Move us from being sad-faced joyless saints into being the flaming optimist that You would have for us and want us to be. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen.