Weekly Bible Study – Revelation 5:11-14 – 2024 May 16

Always try to keep in mind the big picture.  What are the events being described, what is happening, who is acting in the passage, and who is watching.  In other words, why are we here now?  We are in the middle of a heavenly cantata of sorts, with all of creation involved in the worship of God for a very specific reason.  What is the reason?  The Lamb has been found worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, beginning the final wrath of God upon a planet that has ultimately rejected Him and everything He has commanded and valued.

That Scroll, as we will begin to see next study, will unleash the wrath of Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb against all sin, and it will end in complete tragedy for anyone on the planet if they will not turn from sin and choose instead to follow the man of sin into rebellion against God in a full display of sedition and treason.  This is the situation that has caused worship in heaven of God and of the Lamb because they are finally taking His great power and beginning to rule as they have ever intended.

We need to remember that this story began before the world was founded in the very heart of God.  God the Father determined a people for Himself, and (as Romans 8:29-30 say) those whom He foreknew he also foreordained (or predestined) to become conformed to the image of His Son (for the purpose of making His Son the firstborn out from among the dead), and then called them to His Son, justified them, and glorified them.  I’m using the past tense here because that is how it has been recorded by Paul, even though it has not yet happened.  This plan that began before the founding of the world is about to come to its fruition, and it is all worthy of everyone’s worship whether they agree, will believe, and see it or not!  Those who will NOT believe WILL find out why it would have been better for them to have believed.

This past week, I had an interview for the position of part-time pastor of Delta Baptist Church.  What it showed me from a kind of interesting perspective is that belief, or persuaded opinion, is not something that we can do FOR people.  All we can do is show them what the Lord says.  People in the main are kind of knee-jerk in terms of their reactions to things they do not agree with.  I won’t reveal what in our conversations showed me that, but when this is encountered, WE today are to be compassionate and gently instruct them on what the Scriptures say and why it is relevant.  I did this and also demonstrated why sometimes doctrinal stands on “issues” are detrimental to the building up of the church in a proper fashion.  I am happy to report that by the end of the conversation, we were all on the same page on what can be a contentious issue.  That is the job of a follower of Christ.  (By the way, I am preaching there on June 23 so they can hear what my preaching is like.)

This will NOT be the case when the final seven years of human history before Christ’s millennial kingdom comes.  There will be an attitude that those who would turn to Christ are enemies of humanity (though not really), and that such enemies need killing in a horrible fashion.  All the while, as we will see as we go through Revelation’s pages, one of the greatest evangelical gospel movements and one of the most successful of all time will take place, with many of those believers being persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ, the eternal Son of the eternal Father.  That is what is coming for history, and in our studies, Lord willing.

But for the remainder of this evening, we will focus on the heavenly concert still being performed so we may see, and in some small way participate in the joy of the Lord and the absolute fear it should inspire in us in terms of the terrifying awe of His power and the greatness of His person.  Only He is worthy, and only He is capable of doing all of this in righteous fashion.

I broke the text down as follows:

KV14:  The Worship of All Creation

14:  And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

11-12:  The fourth movement of the cantata

13-14:  The final movement of the cantata

Because the book of Revelation is apocalyptic literature and is filled with metaphor and poetic language, we may at times follow in that train to have more impact on the hearer of the message.  Because the main activity we should be engaged in as a follower of Christ is the worship of Him as God (along with the Father and the Holy Spirit), we are considering this as a musical presentation in five movements.   We have already considered the first three in our previous studies, and we will consider the closing acts this evening, and in our next study begin to consider the unleashing of the wrath of the Lamb.  We will jump right in here.

KV14:  The Worship of All Creation

14:  And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

If you can think back to the beginning of this presentation of worship to the One King of All, it really began in Rev. 4:7.  It began with the four living creatures singing “Holy, holy, holy” to Him who is and was and is to come” for who He truly is and for what He has done on behalf of His creation.  This is right activity in worship, and for that, we must know first who God is, and what He has done for us.  We should review that.  I might add if you are frustrated by this kind of repetition, it suggests that you need to repent and learn who God is and assess if He is really YOUR God or if it is something else like your intelligence, position, or pride of self.

Look for a moment at John 1:1-3.  I know we have looked at this before, but it is critical to understand.  It reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”  Right from the beginning, at least a plurality of persons is taught in the Godhead.  We know there are three persons because Jesus told us about each of them, but that isn’t the point of our study this evening.  Here, the Apostle John (the writer of the letter we are now reading also) is telling us that the Lamb is Jesus, and Jesus is God.  More than that, He is the very light of the world, the one that illuminates all in His creation that will turn to Him!  Verse 4 reads, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.”  That word for “life” is the Greek zoe, the same word used to describe the four living creatures!  Look at verse 14!  “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  This was always the plan.  The Creator of Everything planned from before the world began to become one of us!  And He did that as the plan to save us from sin, which we caused right at the beginning of history.  He, the Lamb, our Lord Jesus, is the Creator God, and we have shown that in this study since chapter 1.

In becoming a man to save us, He became the Saviour of His People, all those who ever have or ever will turn to Him.  All those that God foreknew and foreordained to become conformed to the image of His Son.  He called us to the Son, and we answered and He justified us, and will ultimately take us to be with Him forever at the end of our lives here on earth, whatever that means, and it might mean a number of things as we have seen in past weeks.  Only two things are required:  Repentance, a turning from our sins, and faith that He paid the penalty on the cross in our place.  With the confession of our mouth of that, He will save us for Himself and set us free from our old taskmaster known as sin, paying off this debt that we could never repay even if we lived forever.

I ask:  Is this not worthy of all we are and have in return for who He is and what He has accomplished?  Yes.  It is.  With that in our minds, let us look at the fourth movement of our heavenly cantata.

11-12:  The fourth movement of the cantata

This is a fascinating expansion of worshippers and the circles of worship that occur with each movement.  The first movement was only the four living creatures.  These give thanks to God for who He is.  The second movement is solely the 24 elders, whom we determined to be representative of the rescued and glorified church forecast by Paul and John (and Luke and Peter and others).  The worship is specifically about what He has done for us.  The third movement we considered last time, and was the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders together, and they were specific in their worship, praising the Lamb, the Son, for His worthiness and ability and willingness to take the scroll with the seals from the Father on his throne and exercising His power and authority according to His own will, which is perfectly aligned with the will of God the Father and His authority, prepares to open the scroll and begin to exercise God’s will on a sinful world. 

Now we have reached the fourth movement and we see yet another expansion.  Let’s look at the text and find out.

11:  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,

  • This time, we not only have the four living creatures and the church, we have literally millions upon millions of angels (I am equating a myriad with a million, I do know there are arguments for and against that, I am doing it for ease here) joining the song.  As this choir grows, it must necessarily get louder and more pronounced with its singing.  We have no reason to believe that these angels are not the willing created angelic servants of God that He has created to serve Him in whatever capacity for which He created them.  They are all here, and they are all worshipping Him in song with the living creatures and the living saints of God, the church.  These again sing a specific song.

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.”

  • This seems to be an echo to the third movement, in that this is again specific, but less so, not mentioning the scroll or its seals as it did in the third movement.  What are they proclaiming?  The worthiness of the Lamb who was slain to receive power (dunamin, the explosive power of God), riches (plouton, wealth immeasurable), wisdom (sophian, and I mean all wisdom here), might (ischus, ability, force, strength), honour (timēn, immeasurable value in the case of Christ), glory (doxan, a good opinion or valuation of), and blessing (eulogian, good speaking, or verbal praise).  Why? Because “Our Jesus has done all things well.”  The song that I love here is this one, and you can sing it with me if you know it:

Crown him with many crowns,

the Lamb upon his throne.

Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns

all music but its own.

Awake, my soul, and sing

of him who died for thee,

and hail him as thy matchless king

through all eternity.

This represents all the heavenly host singing the praises of God the Son, who became human, who symbolically became the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world to purchase for Himself a people that will reign with Him.  These are all those that God the Father foreknew, foreordained, called, justified and glorified and gave as a gift to the Son.  The Son prayed for those ones (see John 17), and now they are with Him forever, made perfect by their justification, sanctification, and glorification all done by God Himself to perfect or complete those whom He chose.

This must have been a thunderously loud refrain of whatever the eventual song will be, with all the angelic hosts in heaven, all believers in Messiah from all time to that point, and the four mighty living creatures all singing at the top of their lungs the glories of Him who died in our place and rose again to show the work was finished and that death no longer holds fear for the believer.  And the concert in the heavens is not finished yet.

13-14:  The final movement of the cantata

Again, we have an expansion in the participation of this final movement of praise, and probably another increase in the volume of praise being given by the participants.  Let’s see who is singing here.

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.”

  • Now it is not just the heavenly host anymore.  All of creation lifts its voice in praise of the One True King!  What a mighty chorus this will be!  As I thought about this, I realized that not one single sinner will hear any part of it, they will simply not be able to hear it, having rejected the One who created them.  That made me a little melancholy for a few moments, and then I remembered that this is a serious occasion it is describing.  There are those that will not hear it, but there are those that will, and to those hearing it, it will be a thunderous ovation of praise to the Lamb who took away the sins of the world, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the First and the Last, the one who has all power and ability to do what needs to be done and who is the only one who is able to do all of this in righteousness, praise His glorious name.
  • Someone, I don’t know who, but the version I heard was by a band called Acapella.  It goes like this:

To Him who sits on the Throne

And to the Lamb

Be praise and glory and honour and power

To Him who sits on the Throne

And to the Lamb

Be praise and glory and honour and power

Forever and ever

Forever and ever

  • The word in the text that was translated as “dominion” is in fact the Greek word kratos, meaning “manifested power.”  It isn’t just power by name, it is power that can and has been used.  With all of creation joining in the praise that will be generated by this occasion, this will likely be the most significant unfolding of events in all of history, recorded or otherwise.  I spent a little time searching for an event of the same magnitude before the final judgement and I was unable to find one where all of creation that still serves our Lord praises all at the same time.  Does this mean that there will be an event that will be seen by inhabitants on the earth?  I do not know, and really can only speculate, which we will not do.  I do know that this massive sound of praise will have an effect, however.

14:  And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

  • The four living creatures simply said “Amen.”  As we have said before, this is a Greek transliteration of the original Hebrew word, “Omain.”  It means (more or less) let it be so, or so be it.  Old English phrasing is, “So mote it be.”  These living ones which we have previously described as “life personified” can only agree with the statements of praise made in praise and worship of God the Father and God the Son as they are in heaven.  The angels will follow suit, I am sure.
  • The church will respond very naturally by falling down on their faces and worshipping God on His throne, both of Them.  And I never thought I would capitalize the word Them, but it seems appropriate here.  It is Christ our Lord here!  How could we NOT worship Him in all of His revealed power and glory?
  • All the rest of creation sings the praise of its Creator!  The animals everywhere!  All the rocks and trees will cry out!  Everything that God has given life that still knows Him as its creator will sing this song.  Everything will praise Him!

But here, we must sound a darker note.  The Lamb has the scroll in His hand, and He is about to open its seals and unleash literal hell on Earth.  For all those humans still on the earth, things are about to become very dark indeed.

I do understand that there are people who think that the church will be around for this part of the tribulation.  I can agreeably disagree with that.  I do not think of myself as a dispensationalist, although I am what a friend of mine calls “dispensational-adjacent.”  Any person who understands the Scriptures will agree with the statement that the Church is not destined for wrath.  Paul says this to the Thessalonian gathering in 1 Thess. 5:9-10, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.”  It does not matter if we die while waiting for the Lord to return for us, in fact, that means we get to go first.  However, it begs the question:  When does the wrath of God begin?

Chapter 6 and Verse 1 says that it was the Lamb that broke one of the seven seals.  What do these seals represent?  I will fast-forward a little to Revelation 6:16-17.  We must see this.  It says, “and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?'”  I will try to remember to speak about it in the next study, but that wrath begins with the opening of the very first seal.  If that presupposition of mine is accurate, then the church cannot be present on earth, it will have been rescued by snatching us away before it begins.  I have other things to say about that as well, and I will try to present it as we go through the Scriptures.

That is what I saw in the text this time.  I debated with myself on how to handle the seals and their opening.  I finally decided to handle them like we handled the letters to the churches in chapters 2 and 3, one at a time.  That means that next week, we will look at the first two verses of Revelation 6 and consider the writer on the white horse.  That’s verses 1-2.

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