THE WRONG BEING MADE RIGHT - Revelations 5 -January 29, 2023.
Updated: Feb 7
MESSAGE BY PASTOR ROB INRIG
FROM BETHANY BAPTIST CHURCH IN RICHMOND, BC.
This morning we return to one more view of heaven, this time not so much a welcome into a scene of worship and what is put into a scene of hope and what is to come – yet, a scene waiting to unfold. Moments before, the worship due God’s glory, God who is sitting on a Throne, the centrality of His throne so important for us to know, that it is referenced 47 times in Revelation.
It’s a scene John is told to Behold! Some translations omit this word but that’s a mistake because John’s call is an imperative – a command to take a good, hard look. In fact, the Revelation of Jesus Christ repeatedly tells us to Behold - look closely because looking closely can only leave us with awe and wonder. It’s in this place of seeing God’s power, His greatness, His love, and His glory we are to put down deep roots. If we don’t properly connect with this, we can easily get tossed around by events that disturb and anxiety that rushes in. How can we cope with what’s ahead? Without this view of God, other things so easily disturb, so easily deceive, so easily attract.
It's a view the Psalmist calls us to, Give to the LORD the glory due unto His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness Ps 29:2. Holy standing apart from all that is evil, all that destroys, all that wreaks havoc, all that brings pain. Holiness is seen in Rev 4 which is lustrous, a myriad of gems, radiating light – all reflections of God’s glory.
Revelation 5 however opens by taking us to a different place. Moments before, worship in full-blown praise, music celebrative, praises loud. Singing filled with laughter and joy. All heaven is filled with praise God so rightly deserves. And then everything stops with a voice of interruption. Loud. Commanding. Seemingly discordant. All because of a question that at first seems out of place. That question turns the proclamations of praise given to the One - to a ‘need to be found’ appearance of Another – Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?
John’s weeping makes it obvious that opening these 7 sealed scroll is imperative. We also know that enough time goes by, whether in milliseconds or a look around the room scan making it clear, that none of those he sees, in the immediate, qualifies as worthy.
And then the word John so desperately needed to hear, Weep no more! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has conquered and He can open the scrolls and their 7 seals:5.
So what’s at stake that’s represented in this scroll? For that, we need to go back to the Garden. When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them dominion over the earth. It was theirs to care for and theirs to rule. Yet when Adam sinned, he gave his ruling authority over to Satan – the deed of ownership seized by deception and sin. The NT affirms this, The devil took Jesus up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, To you, I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. Lk 4:5,6 That was the bad news. As Milton described, Paradise given was Paradise given away – for a time, Paradise Lost.
But the good news? God sealed ownership rights long before the serpent spoke and mankind fell. He wrote the plan to reclaim the Title deed long before things went awry. There were no last-minute re-calculations, no plan to rewrite, and no halftime adjustments because of something seen from the spotter’s booth. No - God wrote and sealed the document, knowing there was a pre-selected One who would come to redeem – to buy back, what is rightfully His when He determined.
God has always been about redemption. We see it in the Year of Jubilee, when every 50th year, the land was returned to its original owner. That meant, if a Jewish family fell on bad times and lost their land, losses were listed in a scroll and sealed 7 times. Conditions to redeem the land were written on the outside of the scroll stipulating what was needed for a qualified redeemer. God made it clear, a Jewish family couldn’t lose permanent possession of their land. Redemption is also why God’s promise of the land to the Jews has never been supplanted by another plan. It’s why Israel, stripped of her place in history was miraculously reborn as a nation just as God promised, His Title deed to land that would never be lost. The restoration of Israel’s land isn’t a political issue, it’s not even a religious issue – it’s a God issue – guaranteed in the covenant God made with His people
But the scene John witnesses causes him to weep uncontrollably, this scroll, earth’s Title Deed, was sealed 7 times and written on the outside were the conditions of possession. Based on what was written, no one had the power, the authority or the currency to claim possession which meant ownership would be retained in the hand of Satan the usurper. And then One steps forward, a Lamb standing as though it had been slain ... and He went and took the scroll from the right hand of Him who sat on the throne:6,7. He, The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David has triumphed:5, meeting the conditions of ownership.
These words, The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David has triumphed tell us several things: 1st the right of possession and ownership is linked to Israel, involving the root of David that will lead to an everlasting kingdom Is 9:6,7; I Chron 17:11-14. There is so much wrong with those who suggest that the OT can be unhitched from the NT. It can’t. The NT is the fulfillment of everything the OT points to. From beginning to end, God’s plan of redemption is woven throughout like the one given in Gen 49:10 where Jacob prophesies, The scepter shall not depart from Judah … until Shiloh (the Messiah, to whom it belongs) comes.
Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David - a requisite identifier only He can fulfill. But understand, the redemption Jesus brings comes when all hope seems lost. These words, The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David has triumphed tell us several things: 1st the right of possession and ownership is linked to Israel, involving the root of David that will lead to an everlasting kingdom Is 9:6,7; I Chron 17:11-14. There is so much wrong with those who suggest that the OT can be unhitched from the NT. It can’t. The NT is the fulfillment of everything the OT points to. From beginning to end, God’s plan of redemption is woven throughout like the one given in Gen 49:10 where Jacob prophesies, The scepter shall not depart from Judah … until Shiloh (the Messiah, to whom it belongs) comes. Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David - a requisite identifier only He can fulfill. But understand, the redemption Jesus brings comes when all hope seems lost. The prophet Isaiah describes life arising from a stump, a place seemingly long dead:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord… He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness, he shall judge the poor … and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. Is 11:1-10.
2nd He has triumphed. Not will triumph but has triumphed. Jesus' victory has already been won. He has triumphed over the worst Satan could bring; has triumphed over every debt owed; has triumphed over sin and death.
In Greek the verb comes first in the sentence for emphasis - He has already demonstrated His credentials and power by triumph.
3rd He is the Lion. If you like, He is the Lion of lions. It would have been easy for God to have confronted Satan with power – the Lion of Judah coming against a pretender to the throne. He could have exercised His power to seize back. But God’s intent was never simply to defeat Satan – that would have been easy. 2 Thess 2:8 tells us, He will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and the splendour of His coming. He merely speaks, merely comes into view and it is done
Consider: Satan knows the language of conquest and power. He’s long used it to destroy and devour, from the beginning, setting in motion a plan of continuous battle – where he would kill and possess. Satan:
using the power of deceit to seize Creation’s Title Deed that God put under the leadership of man - he hadn’t counted on the appearance of One who held possession rights greater than his
using the power of slaughter to kill heirs to David’s throne knowing God’s promise had to be fulfilled through his kingly line - he hadn’t counted on the coronation of a small child who escaped slaughter by being hidden away
using the power of the sword in Judea to eliminate every male child under the age of 2 - he hadn’t counted on a heavenly dream that warned a family to flee certain death
using the power of iron to nail hope to a cross thus ending the story of a Redeemer who would come - he hadn’t counted on blood from those nails to be used as a purchase price to buy back what was rightfully His. More astounding - he hadn’t counted on a lifeless body that wouldn’t lie still or a boulder that wouldn’t stay shut.
Satan doing what he knew to do, using power to cut off a cub before a lion could reign. He not counting on God demonstrating His supremacy in a way he wasn’t qualified to contest. Jesus not making claim to the Scroll as a Lion, but making it as a Lamb - a Lamb standing as though it had been slain.
And what a LAMB! John chooses a word for lamb that is used only one other time in the NT - arnios (little pet lamb) Peter, feed my lambs. A Passover lamb. In the OT, the sacrificial lamb was to be brought into the house for 4 days to be loved, embraced, and played with. A slaughtered lamb now standing. Understand there is no Christianity, no salvation, and no hope without blood. God’s lion is a lamb. But this lamb will conquer and will judge. He will destroy and He will return.
The One who was worthy to take the scroll is God’s loved One who was slain (better – bearing the marks of slaughter) but is ALIVE - still bearing the wounds, (7 eyes – wise, all-seeing; 7 horns – a symbol of power).
Unsealing of the Scroll is God’s action to rectify all that has gone wrong but He didn’t use power to seize back. Had God seized possession, Satan could have accused that God was no different than he but how could he argue against a purchase price? Jesus bought back with a currency Satan did not have, could not get and would not pay. He chose a means Satan hadn’t accounted for - the redemption price of blood. The payment that He alone can give.
Satan had no intention to redeem because it isn’t in his character and it was a price far beyond anything Satan was willing to pay. He has no answer for the blood. He can spill blood. He can devour blood BUT he can’t overcome blood. What he hadn’t counted on was shed blood that would flow into places not even imagined; that would flow and not be contained. Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain and by Your blood, You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation:9.
But as we will see in the pages of Revelation still to come, the squatter who now holds possession of earth’s deed will not go willingly. Yet as the Lamb opens the seals on what is His by right, He unfolds the eviction notice and begins the reclamation work. Eviction requires a judging hand where evil is dealt with once and for all. A hand not of Grace but judgment, unlike anything the world has ever seen. For 1000’s years, God extending His hand of Grace, His invitation to you and me but that will not always be the case. For those who reject His offer of salvation, He will judge. Whoever believes (in Me) will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned Mk 16:16
In the scene just looked at, John hears a Lion – awesome and mighty, but when he turns to look, he sees a Lamb who has redeemed us with His blood. That is why our worship must be far more than what we believe ABOUT God; it must be praise unreservedly given TO Him.
Because we are blood-bought people.
Consider what blood does. Blood is a cleansing agent. If you were to put a cuff on your arm to impede blood flow, then flex your fingers a few times to do a small task, at 1st everything would feel normal then there’d be weakness and suddenly intense pain. Continue that small task and soon you’ll experience overwhelming pain. Release the tourniquet and instant comfort.
Physiologically that task caused muscles to convert O2 into energy-producing waste products (metabolites) that are normally instantly flushed away in the bloodstream. But because the flow was shut off, they accumulated in your cells therefore in a few minutes you experienced the pain of retained toxins.
But when blood flows, it simultaneously releases its cargo of fresh O2 while absorbing waste products CO2, urea and uric acid. The waste products delivered to our organs are dumped outside the body.
¼ blood from each heartbeat flows through the renal corridor to the kidney 1 gallon/sec. The kidney has 2M loops where cells filtered one by one extracting salt, sugar and H2O and multiple chemicals. Extracted 99% back into the bloodstream, and 1% hustled away to the bladder for extraction.
After so many cycles the blood cells that are worn out are sent to the body’s recycling centre at 4 M red cells per second to be replaced by 4 M new cells that leap into action.
Amazing what God designed blood to do - gives us life, gives us energy, gives us strength, gives us cleansing BUT the blood we possess is nothing compared to the blood of a LAMB.
You and I have been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb; have been forgiven by the Blood of the Lamb; have life everlasting through the Blood of the Lamb; have been given hope through the Blood of the Lamb; and have certain victory through the Blood of the Lamb.
The Lamb’s blood gives what Power cannot - giving GRACE – giving what we don’t deserve.
Grace is the Lamb’s great gift that invites us into a celebration of being forgiven. But there is no forgiveness without repentance and confession of our sin.
Holding onto our sins and, refusing to repent is like putting a spiritual cuff around our lives. Our joy is gone. Our excitement was lost. Our experience of His love - academic. Living on our terms, not His. All the while, oblivious that toxins that bring pain are building up. And God’s call to us is, Repent and come back into celebration. Release the cuff that is preventing the redeeming blood of Christ to do its work.
This morning – BEHOLD – look closely - who holds the title deed to your life – not just in name but in the day-by-day experience?
(We have a house directly across from us that has more or less been vacant for the past 7 years. In the early part of those years, a person would come every 2 months or so, stay for an hour or so then leave. Quite obviously, the house was owned from afar. The title deed is theirs, the lived experience of ownership not entered into at all.
More recently, this house has been sold and is undergoing a major renovation signalling that sometime in the near future, this house will become someone’s home. The title deed taken as their own – entered into as something to be enjoyed. Because here’s the thing about this house - its location is great, on a tucked away little street – the house overlooks the ocean with a tremendous panoramic view.
For one - a title deed gives the owners a structure. But their life? Lived somewhere else. For another, that title deed gives a lifestyle where ownership can be fully enjoyed for what it offers).
This morning how about you? Your relationship with Jesus – a house or a place you call home? Are you holding onto a piece of paper that gives you a structure and plot of land but living far away? Choosing sin over obedience? Choosing distance over a relationship?
Or living a life following Jesus in committed obedience, fully entering into what every creature in heaven and on earth is saying with worship and joy, To Him who sits on the Throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever:13
YOU ARE ALL TOGETHER WORTHY
OF ALL MY PRAISE