THE BOOK OF REVELATION
THE CHURCH'S TRIUMPH THROUGH CHRIST
Sermon #14 - Worshipping Christ at the Throne of God - Revelation 5:1-6
INTRODUCTION - Chapters four and five of Revelation take us into the throne room of Almighty God where Christians are taught how to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. By faith this morning we gaze upon the throne of God, the cherubim, the light and thunder, the sea of glass, and the Holy Spirit who helps us in our worship. There we are, seated on thrones of glory, crowned with gold, and robed in righteousness. This is the church at worship as she bows before the God of heaven. As we move into chapter five, our worship will broaden, for here the Lamb of God is added to the scene and becomes part of the worship. Remember that John records this vision for the small, struggling church of the first century. It is a picture for the church in every age, especially when we grow discouraged, hopeless or despondent as we press on in this wicked world. When this happens, we are to gain a true picture of ourselves in worship before the Lord. This will show us that all things are conquerable in Christ, that life is held under the sovereign hand of God, and that all things are working towards the glory of our God and Savior. Also, as we begin chapter five, we should realize that this is the key to the whole book of Revelation. As the chapter begins, the action portion of Revelation is inaugurated. Christ takes the scroll from the hand of the Father, He breaks the seals, and the book of Revelation never stops moving from that point on. To understand the scroll is to understand all of the action taking place in Revelation, so let us enter chapter five.
1) THE OFFERING OF A SCROLL FROM THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD - Revelation 5:1-4 - God the Father is seated on the central throne and He offers a scroll to be opened. It is covered with writing on both sides, but the problem is that it is sealed in seven places. An angel calls forth for anyone to take the scroll, but no one in the universe steps forward. What is this image? What is the scroll and why is it so important? If we read the rest of Revelation, we would understand that it is when the seals are broken that the action of Revelation takes place. We will see the church's great battle in this world, God's judgment upon the world, and the final scenes of heaven and hell. All of this is started with the breaking of the first seal. Therefore, judging from the book of Revelation, the scroll represents the destiny of the church and the world. God the Father holds forth His sovereign will and plan, written on a scroll. These are His orders for the church and the world. We will see in chapter five that it is Christ and Christ alone who is able to take the scroll and break the seals. Only He can do this, and if this is the case, then we can go further with our understanding of the scroll, and state that this scroll represents the New Covenant of God in Christ.
In John's day, the old dispensation was passing away. Jerusalem and the Temple would soon be destroyed. Spiritual worship would replace the old worship of Israel. Christ is given all authority and power in heaven and on earth. God's people are not just the Israel of old but have become the church of Jesus Christ, saved from every nation in the world. God's people will go forth into this world to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, vanquishing the enemies of Christ. This is all part of the New Covenant. Yet all of this must be started and inaugurated by the Lord Jesus Christ. His shed blood, His death at Calvary, and His victorious resurrection make Him the administrator of the New Covenant. Thus, here we are seeing Him entering the throne room of heaven to claim His right as Mediator of the Covenant.
Hebrews 9 gives us a good description of what is happening in Revelation 5. Verses 1-4 speaks of the first covenant, that is, the Old Testament worship. These earthly symbols were passing away in John's day. The New Covenant in Christ would take worship to the throne room of God in heaven. In verses 11 and 12 Christ becomes the High Priest and the sacrifice for sin. Yet He does not make His offering in the earthly Temple, but the heavenly one we are seeing in Revelation. He enters the Holy of Holies to take His place as Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15). Finally, we read in verse 24 that Christ has entered into the presence of God for us. This is what we are being shown in Revelation 5.
The angel in Revelation 5 cries out for someone to open the scroll. Yet no one can do it. No angel or elder, no prophet or apostle, no priest or king. The Apostle John begins to weep, for if the scroll is not opened, there is no hope for the church of Jesus Christ. Persecution would consume us. Trials would overcome us. There would be no victory, no strength, no encouragement or triumph for the people of God. All of this is wrapped up in the scroll. There must be a Mediator, someone able to open and administrate the scroll, and that will be the Lord Jesus Christ!
2) CHRIST IS WORTHY TO OPEN THE SCROLL - Revelation 5:5-7 - In these verses we are once again given a tremendous picture of the ascended Christ. It is such a glorious picture that at the end of chapter five the cherubim, elders, angels, and the rest of the universe join together in a tremendous scene of worship and adoration of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we do not want to deal with this description in a dry or academic way, but we must pray that the Spirit of God moves us to worship and adore the Christ who is being presented in this chapter. Let us learn to worship Christ better from the description given of Him in these verses.
A) CHRIST IS THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH - This is a direct reference to Genesis 49:9,10, where it is said that One will come forth from the tribe of Judah, a lion, a ruler, a lawgiver, whom the people will follow. This is a prophecy concerning Christ and His rule (Luke 1:32,33). Thus, we are first to view Christ as a mighty lion, a great conqueror, a giver of the law, and a leader of His people. This is how we are to worship Him! He rules His church, and He is the sovereign Lord over the universe. As He takes the scroll, so He has been given all power and authority from the Father (Ephesians 1). Christians should respond to this picture of Christ with a happy obedience. We are thankful for His rule and humbly obey Him as Lord. We listen to His will, delight in His law, and bow under His scepter. Since He is Lord of the universe, what does the church have to fear? What can touch the people of God? Let us worship the great lion of Judah!
B) CHRIST IS THE ROOT OF DAVID - In the Old Testament, Christ is called the "branch" of David, meaning that Christ would come from David, He would be the offspring of David. Yet here we find that not only has Christ come from David, but David finds His origin in Christ (Revelation 22:16). Christ says to His people in John 15:5 that He is the vine and we are the branches. So, we are to understand about the "root of David" - without Christ, David is nothing. Without Christ, all the Old and New Testament saints are nothing. He is our sustenance and strength. Without Christ as our root, we would have no joy, hope, peace, or power. All these things which we enjoy in our lives as Christians comes directly from the root - the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the blessings of the New Covenant in Christ. Therefore, does this not bring forth praise from His people in worship? Imagine us receiving such great benefits and blessings because we are attached to the Root of David! Let us bow in humble thanksgiving and praise, for everything we have is from Him and without Him we can do nothing!
C) CHRIST HAS PREVAILED IN ORDER TO TAKE THE SCROLL AND OPEN IT - Only one Person can take the scroll and open it. Only the One who has conquered has the right to the New Covenant. Here we see that Christ has prevailed. He has conquered sin, death, the devil, and all the obstacles which stand in the way of salvation. He has endured the wrath of the Father for sin and has prevailed. Here we see the victorious Christ, coming to the Father after the battle is done. He enters the throne room victorious to take His rightful dominion and power from the Father. This is what Daniel saw in Daniel 7:13,14 - the ascension of the victorious Son of God to the throne of the Father. Thus, we worship Christ as the great conqueror of our enemies! He has conquered sin, hell and death for us! Let us rejoice as He takes His position at the throne of God over all power and authority!
D) CHRIST IS PICTURED AS A LAMB AS THOUGH IT HAD BEEN SLAIN - When John turns to see the One who approaches the throne, he does not see a Lion or a Root, but a Lamb. This too is part of the Old Testament Temple scene - the Lamb was focal to the worship of God. Christ came into this world as the Lamb of God (John 1:29). Yet here we see Him as the resurrected Lamb. No longer is He the sacrificial Lamb. All the offerings of the Old Testament worship were but shadows of this one, perfect sacrifice. Thus, Christ appears in heaven bearing the scars of His work, wounded for our transgressions, yet risen and ascended in power and glory. He has seven horns, and as the horn represented strength in the Old Testament, so Christ bears the symbol of complete power and authority (Psalm 18:2). He has seven eyes which are the seven Spirits of God. Again, a reference to the Holy Spirit who proceeds from both the Father and the Son (John 15:26). Christ sends the Spirit into the world to do His work, to indwell the church, and to bring about the purposes of the New Covenant. So, we are called to worship the Lamb and the atoning work of Christ.
Do we worship Christ our Lord and Savior? Do these pictures not help us to draw closer to Him? Let us bow before Him in humility. Let us offer our thanksgiving and let us rejoice in His ultimate triumph. He is the ascended Son of God who is seated in glory and power, carrying out the New Covenant for which He gave His life! Surely to Him belongs all the praise and glory which we are able to bring forth as His purchased people!