Scripture, when read rightly, will lead us to worship.
There are a few different answers to this question.
We’re at the end of the Bible. The consummation of Scripture. Sometimes Revelation is so difficult for us because we don’t know the well the rest of the Bible. There are threads that run throughout the Bible that gather here.
We’re in the midst of persecution. The work of Nero, John is on Patmos. There is persecution and more to come. Understanding this helps us understand the purpose. Not just to give us answers about the end times, but to encourage the Church to persevere to the end.
We’re linked in to a blessed chained of recipients of this Word. Jesus is the subject and receiver and deliverer of the Revelation.
God is the initiator, to Christ, to an angel, to God’s servant John, to the church… The chain stretches far back to God and stretches forward all the way to us.
How do we know? The number seven represents perfect completeness. There are seven actual churches, but they represent the Church as a whole.
We are linked in to the source Himself.
We are blessed this morning as we are privileged to receive this Word!
We’re in Heaven! John hears the trumpet like verse of Jesus. John, in the Spirit, enters a door and sees the throne of God. Unlike Paul, John was given the words to describe this place to us. Heaven is not a far away, distant place. It’s just through a door, on the other side of the threshold. Men have been given opportunity to see this invisible reality in certain times throughout Scripture.
Apocalypse– unveil hidden realities. Both what is taking place right now and what happens in the future.
God, sitting on His throne. Apocalyptic literature speaks through pictures. We must ask What? first. Symbolic word pictures don’t distill our understanding but expand it. In heaven we can mix our metaphors and it doesn’t matter! These pictures that we recognize are put together in ways we don’t recognize so that we can wrestle through and ponder on them. Like a children’s picture book expands the mind of the toddler, so this expands our minds.
Throne: What does the throne represent? The throne is in the center. Everything exists in reference to the throne. Mentioned 17 times in Chapters 4 and 5.
Six Layers surrounding and describing God:
Precious Stones: throughout Scripture. From Ex. 28 to Rev. 21. Precious Stones reflect. Natural stones, not cut and polished like today. They Shine forth God’s majesty.
Rainbow: Also reflects and displays God’s majesty. From Noah to now, God’s promise.
But they are not Jasper or rainbows… they “appear.” Still distant. The pictures must make due until we see Him face to face.
Flashing lightening and peals of thunder:
Seven Torches of Fire: 7 Spirits of God, the Holy Spirit
As it were, a sea of glass:
Four Creatures: Reflect most dramatically the being of the Lord God.
verse 8: What do all of these Layers tell us about God? Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.
24 Elders: Do they reflect earthly reality, or does earth reflect heavenly reality. Revelation is like a spiritual Copernican revolution, with Heaven as the center. We recall Solomon’s Temple, but it is a ‘likeness’ of Heaven. Earth is not the center of the universe. We see copies of heavenly things. We are to understand Heaven through the pictures we see on earth. They are all “other”
Why? Worship. verse 10. This is the only response to the scene which is revealed to us.
When? Now. Now then, now now.
Where? Same place.
What? The Scroll, heavenly book, rolled up, completely and perfectly sealed up. There is a drama unfolding with this crisis. No one is worthy to open the scroll! Why does John weep loudly at the prospect of the scroll remaining unopened? Look to the rest of Scripture.
The scroll in Ezekiel and the scroll in Daniel. Unfolding human history at the decree of God.
Writing on both sides of the scroll. Every last space was required for God’s decrees for the unfolding of human history. If the scroll would not open, human history could not unfold at God’s decree. What if there is no larger purpose for the days in which we live? John weeps at the prospect of a universe separated from its Creator.
Who? Jesus. But not called Jesus. Described in pictures: Lion of Judah, Root of David, Lamb standing as though it has been slain. Not a lion and then a lamb. Not a lion and a lamb. But the lion IS the lamb. When this time comes and the whole history of humanity is at stake, all things rest on a lamb that dies. The Gospel is the message of the cross.
Chapters 4 and 5 must go together! The Creator worshiped in 4 must go with the Redeemer worshiped in 5. Just like the lion and the lamb. One is not replaced with the other. We must have both in God.
When? Now. This is heaven now. Not a permanent state. A now in motion, moving history to its consummation.
Why? What’s the point of all of this? Worship, this time with the full drama of redemption being revealed. With the redemption of God’s people from every tribe and nation, worship can be joined by even us. Not just the creatures and 24 elders, but the saints and the children of God!