We continue to explore the imagery of the Revelation of John, concerning what the new heavens and the new earth will be like. Amidst all the hard to picture imagery, the same message holds true throughout: remain faithful. Revelation talks about a new and redeemed earth. We are going to live on this new earth and help God govern it. Tim begins by taking us into the throne room of God in Revelation 22 to see what heaven is like.
Creation declares the glory of God
Now here we are in the throne room, and we are in the presence of God; and we’ve got these people who sit around God as their permanent seat, let’s say. And when they fall down and give glory to God, what is it they say? Do they say, “You brought salvation to the earth”? You see that? No.
Do they say, “You can do amazing things we’ve never seen before”? No.
They say, “You created all things. And by your will they exist and were created.”
Again, the heavens declare the glory of God. We are getting this. It’s speaking all the time. We’re getting this message constantly. But what, I think God’s encouraging us to do is hear better. Because when we see the creation, when we see other people—as flawed as they may be—when we see nature—as scary as it may be—depending on what nature is doing, what we should do is say, “We are overwhelmed because God created this.” This is stupefying. It brings us to our knees to see creation. Especially in an urban culture when we’re in the city all the time. In many respects all we ever see is stuff made by people.
Now, that’s an extension of God’s creation because he made us as creators, and we create things; and we can certainly have the same attitude toward that.
You know, this organization, the Sierra Club, it was started by a guy named John Muir. John Muir was a very devoted Christian. And he believed that nature was just as much God’s speaking to us as the Bible is.
His mission to go and preserve the beauty of natural parks was so that this could happen. We could go there and say, “Isn’t God unbelievable?”
It’s morphed a bit since then.
This is something I think we should be challenged by. Are we overwhelmed with the fact that God is the creator? It’s an invitation.
Who can open the scroll?
So chapter 5, the lamb takes the scroll. And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne—we’re still in the throne room—a scroll.
In this time scroll and book would be the same thing. And what we’re going to see here is a scroll. And as you unroll the scroll, the way you could get to a chapter break is there’d be a wax seal. So we have a wax seal on the outside.
If you don’t have the authority to break this seal, you don’t have the authority to open this parchment. It’s intended for a specific audience. The seal’s there. You don’t have the appropriate level of authority, you can’t break the seal. You can’t read it.
If you do have the appropriate level of authority, you break the seal, you read it until there’s another seal. And then, if you have the authority level, you break that seal, and you read it until there’s another seal.
So we’re unrolling the parchment here. And each time we have a seal, someone with the authority to break the seal has to break it so we can read the next part. That’s the image.
There’s a scroll written inside and on the back sealed with seven seals. So there’s going to be seven chapters in this scroll.
Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or look at it.
No one had the authority. No one! You’ve got the whole heaven and the whole earth, and nobody can open this scroll.
We have emotion in heaven
John’s there and he says, So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.
Where is John? He’s in the throne room. And what is he doing? Weeping. In the throne room. Why? Because something that should be happening isn’t happening.
One of the things we’re going to see as we go through all this is we’re not going to become Mr. Spock in heaven. We’re still going to have emotions. We’re still going to care about things. We’re just not going to have the illusion that circumstances bring our happiness. We’re not going to have this lack of reality about what’s going on.
A guy told me yesterday he’d heard something: That worry is a misuse of the imagination.
So, we’re going to have reality. Once again, if you’re a C. S. Lewis fan, he has a scene in his space trilogy, and there’s this Eve character on another planet, and the fall hasn’t happened yet. And there’s a human named Ransom who’s gone to this planet to try to argue against the Satan character and try to get this couple not to fall in this world.
This Eve character sees Ransom, and she’s been separated from the Adam character. And she’s all excited. Oh! I’m so glad to see you! Then she sees it’s not Adam, and just goes right back to what she was doing.
Ransom asks her about it, and she says, well, I was excited because I thought it was Adam, but when I found out it wasn’t, then it isn’t. So whatever God has for me next, I’ll do that. Because her happiness is not dependent on her circumstances. And yet, the circumstances create joy or, perhaps, sadness. Because we’re still real people.
And here he is, he’s weeping because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll. He understands what’s happening.
Christ has overcome
But one of the elders said to me,—this is one of the 24 guys around the throne—“Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David—lion of the tribe of Judah, the king. Of the root of David. This is king. Why is it king? He’s in the throne room. But he’s not just the king of heaven. He’s also the king of Israel. —has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
Prevailed. Guess what word that is? Anybody remember? Overcome. Nikao. To him who overcomes I shall give. We heard that seven times going through the churches. To him who overcomes I shall give. To him who nikao. To him who prevails. To him who wins. To him who has victory. To him who conquers, I will give.
We saw last episode in the letter to the Laodiceans, if you overcome, if you prevail, as I prevailed, I shall give you to sit on my throne with me.
Well, here we are. The root of David. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed. He won.
—to open the scroll and loose its seven seals.” —because he was deemed worthy. And what do we know Jesus did? Although he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God, or that station in life, to be something to be hoarded. So he gave it up. Became a person. Why? God asked him to. And he came to earth and learned obedience. Learned obedience. Jesus. The first and the last. The one who was and is and is to come. Learned obedience even to death on the cross.
As a result of that, his name is above every name. He was elevated—not just to the throne of the universe. He already had that. He’s now the king of humanity. Because he won that as a human.
What does he want us to do? Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
He’s prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
So now, the Spirits of God not only are burning on the churches, in the throne room, and through the churches in the world, they’re also sent out into the whole earth. We see here God’s omniscience.
The prayers of the saints
Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp—that’s the only harp—and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Here’s something that’s a surprise. We’re contributing to the throne room in heaven when we pray. And these things are being stored up in bowls. You pray for our country. You pray for who’s going to be in charge of our country. You pray for leaders and authorities around the world. You pray for Christians around the world to have justice done. Those prayers are going into a bowl, and it’s there in the throne room. And at the right time, that bowl’s going to be poured out.
He’s made us kings and priests
And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us—what?—kings and priests to our God—
Christ lived dependent on his father
Not independent of God. Not in competition with God. That’s what Satan did. Satan said, “I will be the bright and morning star. I will ascend to the most high. My way.” No. That’s not it.
How did Jesus overcome? He lived a life of 100 percent dependence, he who was totally independent lived a life of total dependence.
He overcame temptation. What was the temptation? Turn these rocks into bread. You have a need. Meet it apart from what the Spirit and God is telling you to do. That’s what he overcame. God’s asking you to do something hard and difficult? Find another way. And Jesus said, nope. I’m going to do exactly what my father told me to do.
That’s what he overcame. He overcame not following his father’s will.
What he’s looking for is someone who will serve, and that is how we win. We win through obedience. That’s who he’s looking for to reign in the universe with him.
We’re made to be on the earth
He’s made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign—in heaven. We shall reign In the throne room. Oh boy! We don’t have to be on the earth anymore. Is that what it says? Where do these people want to go? They’re in the throne room in heaven. Rainbows and crystals and emeralds and trumpets and crazy creatures and stuff. Where do they want to be? On earth!
See what a privilege we have? We have the opportunity here to win the opportunity to come back again and reign with Christ right here (except a new, re-created earth). Because that’s what we were made for. We’re earth vessels. We’re made to live on the earth. Not a place on a cloud with toilet paper and a harp. That’s not what we’re made for. We’re made to be on the earth.
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand—A hundred million! And thousands of thousands. Millions of millions—Saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom—
If you don’t like Handel’s Messiah, I encourage you to learn to like it because some of the songs are right from Revelation, and this is one of them. “Worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor.” Can’t do it justice. And so when I’m reading along, I can read real fast, and then I get to that and all the sudden I’m “worthy is the Lamb who was slain.” Man I’ve got to speed up! No. Don’t need to speed up.
I don’t know if Handel’s Messiah was given from heaven, and we’re going to hear it again, but if we do, I’ll be happy.
Creatures in heaven
And every creature—same word, creature—which is in heaven—and we know some of them are going to be kind of crazy from our perspective. But you know, do you think that all the animals that have been on the earth are going to show up in heaven again and the new earth again? I don’t know. My guess is yes. I think they’ll all be there. And now, instead of our dog coming up and giving us this I-need-to-be-fed look, they’ll be able to come up and say, “I’m hungry!” Just a guess. “Do you want to play now? Would you like to go play ball? Oh, OK. Would you like to play ball? How ‘bout playing ball?”
And I heard saying:
Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on—what? the throne. This is the throne. Everything emanates from here. We’re going to see, as we go through this, nothing happens on earth without permission or that’s been directed. You worried about anything that’s happening on the earth? Pray. It’s going in a bowl. And you’re going to see as we’re going through here, this angel’s going to take this bowl and pour it out, and all kinds of crazy stuff is going to start happening.
Your prayers are going to be answered. Maybe just not the way and the time you think.
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.”
God’s in control
Awesome, huh? We’re in the throne room for a very specific reason. God’s in control. And things are going to get crazy. They’re going to get crazier and crazier. And what God says is don’t worry about what’s happening on the earth. I got this under control.
Again, I’m not going to tell you what all this stuff actually means because I don’t know. And what we see at the end in chapter 22 is he says, anybody who adds to this, I will give him all the plagues in this book.
I for my part am not interested in that.
So if it’s not clear to me, I’m just going to speculate. I’m going to say, look, this is just speculation. I’m just thinking out loud. I’m not adding anything, okay? I’m not adding anything. But what is clear—crazy stuff is going to happen, and God’s in control.
It’s our opportunity to be a what? Martyreo, a witness. And to walk in obedience. Whatever the circumstances God gives me.
Whether it’s truth and love. Whether it’s embracing death and difficulty and persecution. Whether it’s saying to the world, no, I’m not going to try to have all this and Jesus too. Jesus is enough. Or whether it’s to say I have all this stuff, and I’m going to lay it down because I know what true riches is. Or whether it’s to say I’m not going to live for a false righteousness, I’m going to live for Jesus saying well done.
Whatever it is. A small opportunity, and I went through that door, and I took that opportunity, and I’m going to let God turn it into something big. Whatever it is. That’s winning. And the world can go totally to pot. And if we’re doing our part, we’re winning.
All that’s going to come to complete fruition. Of that we can be certain. Exactly how it happens, we can speculate.