Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped. (NIV)
Jesus didn’t suddenly appear; He has been there all along. When we see the splendor and majesty of God we are unable to distinguish Him from God for He is God. It is only by His will that we are able to see Him apart from God. Just as God chose the time for Jesus to be born and to make the truth of the trinity visible, so here, God chooses the time to show John the Lamb who has been there all along. When He does reveal Himself, then we can see Him. Just as He was obscure in the Old Testament, and then is seen plainly in the Gospels, He is also obscure, then seen plainly in many people’s lives. It is also important to see that the book of Revelation brings together many of the promises of the Old Testament and the New. In the first three chapters there were several places that emphasized Jesus is the Creator, the sovereign Lord who looks over His church. Here we have see why He has been deemed worthy. The Lion is a symbol of power while the Lamb is a symbol of love. What good is a God who has power but not love, and vice versa?
John previously saw the Father on the throne, and then suddenly he sees the Lamb in the center of the throne with the Holy Spirit symbolized by the seven horns and eyes of the Lamb. This chapter provides us with a symbolic description of the trinity. There is one difference now, and that is that the Spirit, who was previously represented by the seven lamps before the throne is now represented by the eyes and the horns of the Lamb.
The Holy Spirit’s Work
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John 14:26 NASU)
When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me. (John 15:26 NASU)
There are times when we tend to separate the persons of the Trinity too much. We have to understand the closeness of the Trinity and the number of times that the members are interchanged in various Scriptures. Read the book of Titus and you will see Paul mention Jesus our Savior, God our Savior, and our God and Savior Jesus Christ. He attributes our salvation to the regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is sent out into all of the earth yet He is also represented as being on the throne since He is a part of the Lamb. It is always a blessing to see that the Bible is truly consistent.
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chron 16:9a NKJV )
They are the eyes of the Lord, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth. (Zech 4:10b NKJV)
The Lord showed Zechariah a lamp stand with seven lamps. He told the prophet that this represented the might and power of the Holy Spirit, not man’s abilities (Zech 4:1-6). These verses tie together the eyes, lamps and the Holy Spirit who is sent into all the earth. Praise God, that one of the reasons His Holy Spirit is sent is to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Ps 18:2 RSV)
Horns are representative of several things in the Bible. Rulers, strength, and the source of salvation are among them. We commonly think only of Jesus as being the instrument of our salvation because He paid the price for our sins. Yet in the Scriptures each member of the Trinity is engaged in our Salvation.
But—"When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life." (Titus 3:4-7 NLT)
The Holy Spirit, as symbolized in the seven horns of the Lamb, is right in the middle of our salvation because He is the One who renews us and gives us new birth. He is also the one who convicts us of sin in the first place so that He can give us rebirth.
And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit; and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. (Luke 4:14-15 NASB)
And all in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they rose up and cast Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way. (Luke 4:29-30 NASB)
In Luke 4:14-30 we can see three manifestations of what the Holy Spirit does. This passage takes place right after the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness. First, He was given power to preach with multitudes coming to listen to Him. Second, the conviction of the Holy Spirit is demonstrated in Jesus own hometown; however this conviction didn’t bring salvation but opposition. Third, the Holy Spirit also gave Him the ability to stall the plans of men and accomplish the work of God when He simply walked away from the crowd.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8 ESV)
The power of the Holy Spirit is not reserved only for Jesus as this passage and the text in Revelation 5:6 indicate. His Spirit is sent out into the entire world through believers to accomplish His will and purpose. The power mentioned here is to witness, not to get rich or accomplish our goals. God has decided to use us to accomplish His purpose, but thank God, He has also given us all that we need, His Holy Spirit.
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:31-33 NIV)
This Holy Spirit power was with the apostles and all the believers enabling them to speak the Word boldly. This wasn’t just for the Apostles, but all were filled with the Holy Spirit. It gave them the power to be of one heart and mind. This same power was given to Stephen and he spoke by the Holy Spirit so that no one was able to stand against what he was saying (Acts 6:8-10).
Just as Jesus was opposed, so was Stephen. His opposition didn’t have a problem with what Stephen was doing as far as miracles or signs. His wisdom and what he said bothered them. We really don’t need to be concerned with being able to answer all of the questions that a doubter or a skeptic raises. If we are faithful to the Word and are presenting it as the Holy Spirit leads us, then they will not be able to withstand the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the promise to all believers, regardless of their age in the Lord. The importance of knowing this is explained in 1 Cor 2:4-5:
And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (NASU)
Even though the message of the gospel makes logical sense when the facts are known and we come to believe, it isn’t our logic that brings conviction and salvation. It isn’t anything other than the power of the Holy Spirit that overcomes sinful man’s resistance. Our faith must always rest on Him.
The Father Sees
Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. (Ps 94:7 KJV)
This is taken from Ps 94:1-11, which speaks of the vengeance of God upon the wicked. They think that the Lord doesn’t see or hear what they are doing. However, the eyes of the Lord are upon everything. He knows what is happening with both the wicked and those who serve Him. The attitude of people in the last times will be based upon the idea that God does not see or care. It is a natural outcome of believing the theory of evolution. This is a stumbling point even for Christians when they attempt to make evolution palatable by saying that God started it with a big bang, but has let “nature” take its course. They believe that their god started things but doesn’t see what is going on now. It eventually allows behavior that permits injustice and immorality because it denies individual responsibility and accountability to an eternal God who does care.
You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he? (Hab 1:13 NKJV)
The purity of the Lord is seen in His eyes. If the eyes of the Lord are throughout the earth in the form of the Holy Spirit in us, then why do we tolerate evil? We don’t when we live holy lives and speak against it. That is when the Holy Spirit can use us to convict the lost. The important part of the horns and eyes representing the Holy Spirit is that He is sent out into all the earth.
Worthy Is the Lamb
In Revelation chapter 4, we were shown the worthiness of God. It started with the voice of Jesus calling John to come up and see heaven. It included the presence of the Holy Spirit in the form of the lamps, and then went on to praise the Father. In our previous lesson we also saw the worthiness of Jesus as the Lion and we will now see His worthiness as the Lamb.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NLT)
One of the elders told John that the Lion of the tribe of Judah was worthy to open the scroll. But when we look at who comes out to take the scroll it is a Lamb that is obviously alive but also bears the marks of having been slain. The Lamb is undoubtedly Jesus since He is the only sacrificial lamb that has ever been slain and is now alive. Previously, we discussed why the Lion of the tribe of Judah was worthy, but the fact that the Lamb appears points out one more reason why He is worthy. It is because Jesus gave up His rights to the point of death that He is counted worthy.
For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45 RSV)
The Lamb has seven horns. The horn in the Old Testament represents a person or country that possesses power. Dan 8:20-21 is a good example as it explain that the animals in Daniel’s vision are nations and that the horns represent the kings of those nations.
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant — (Luke 1:69 NASB)
In the New Testament, the word horn only appears in the book of Revelation and in this verse. In this verse, it is in the midst of praise to Jesus that is in a prologue to the prophecy of the ministry of John the Baptist. Jesus is worthy because He is the horn or power providing our salvation.
Worthy of Worship
The four living creatures and twenty-four elders worship Jesus as soon as He takes the scroll.
Worship in Posture
They fall down and to start their worship. This is something almost foreign to the modern Church. I’ve seen some churches where people come up to the altar or front of the church and fall down. They are usually there to confess some sin or pray for healing. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen people simply fall down on their knees or prostrate themselves in worship. Certainly there will be a day when all people will fall worship Jesus on their knees.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:9-11ESV)
It is fitting that the elders initiate this kind of worship at the beginning of the book of Revelation. They are most likely the most highly honored men in heaven, yet they are not ashamed or self-conscious in the act of worship. We probably don’t worship with the same abandon simply because we are too concerned with what people would say. Perhaps we won’t really be able to worship in this way until we are also before the throne.
Worship with Music
It has probably been going on since the beginning of the Church, but it shouldn’t be happening. People complain about the worship music. It’s too loud. It’s too contemporary and doesn’t honor God. It’s not contemporary. It’s has demonic rhythms. It doesn’t move me. Complaining about worship music takes the emphasis off the One we worship and puts it on ourselves.
Biblical worship was often accompanied with musical interments, yet some denominations have denounced and prohibit certain musical instruments in their worship because they aren’t listed in the Bible. I can hear them now, “Since the twenty four elders only had harps, that’s the only instrument we should use.”
Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; (Amos 6:5 NKJV)
The people in this passage are condemned for singing idly instead of worshiping God. Their music was all for themselves, as is most of the world’s music. However, that is a minor point in this study. This verse reveals that the instruments used in worship by David were invented by him. If David had only used existing instruments or ones that were listed in Scripture, he would have been limited in praise and worship of God.
God has created us as beings that were made in His image. God is a creative God and we are a creative people. We often use that creative nature in ways that are displeasing to God. That is very evident in the His command for us not to make carved images and bow down to them (Ex 20:4-5). This is clearly a prohibited use of our creativity. Some have taken this to mean that we shouldn’t make an images, even paintings but this is a distortion of the original intent. If this were true, then God would not have commanded Moses to make two cherubim to overshadow the ark in the most holy place (Ex 25:18). The cherubim were there but not worshiped. They were instrumental in the worship of God.
In the same way, when we make musical instrument and use them in worldly music which is degrading and an insult to God, we have used our creative nature in a way that displeases Him. (I’m not saying all worldly music is degrading and an insult to God.) However, we can use those same instruments in godly worship to bring pleasure to Him.
Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord: "I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea. (Ex 15:1 NLT)
There the Israelites sang this song: "Spring up, O well! Yes, sing its praises! Sing of this well, which princes dug, which great leaders hollowed out with their scepters and staffs." (Num 21:17-18 NLT)
After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: "Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!" At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. (2 Chron 20:21-22 NLT)
Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. (Acts 16:25 NLT)
In many places the Lord was worshiped and exalted for victory with the use of music. Moses did this in Ex 15:1 and Miriam continued in Ex 15:21. He is worshiped by Israel in Num 21:17-18 with singing as they gave thanks to Him for His provision. 2 Chron 20:21-22 tells of Judah’s worship with music which preceded victory, not just afterwards. How many of us can praise and worship our God in the face of seeming defeat as did Paul and Silas (Acts 16:25)?
The Lamb has demonstrated His victory by taking the scroll. Our response with music is to worship Him for the victory that He has provided as well as for all His provisions. Music is often at the heart of worship.
Worship with Prayers
When the Lord specified the method of sacrifice in the Old Testament, He called it a pleasing aroma (NIV) thirty-seven times. Some of these sacrifices were required daily. Incense was also required as part of most offerings presented to the Lord.
And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it; every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps in the evening, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. (Ex 30:7-8 RSV)
The significance of this verse is that the incense must be burned regularly and for all generations. Our prayers should also be offered daily and never stop.
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! (Ps 141:2 ESV)
David portrays his prayers as being as pleasing to God as incense and the evening sacrifice. More than any other writer in the Old Testament, David pictures the Church in the New Testament. He has shown how believers will worship without the sacrifices and burning incense. Our prayers are like the pleasing aroma accompanying the sacrifices of the Old Testament.
For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? (2 Cor 2:15-16 NASB)
When we pray for someone’s salvation, our prayers are like the aroma of Christ to God. How can we possibly keep living lives that are also a fragrance of life to people who are being saved, but death to those who are rejecting Christ? It is by prayer! This too, gives glory to God and is a form of worship as we plead that the blood of the Lamb will save our lost friends, relatives, and even people we don’t know.
The elders are pictured as having bowls of incense that represent our prayers. It is as if every prayer that we have ever said for salvations and for Jesus to come soon has been saved up in time to be poured before the Lord all at once.
Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Selah Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him. (Ps 4:1-3 NIV)
Many of our prayers are for relief from some situation and we want it now. We want God to hear us and answer right away. However, His answer is that we need to be right before Him before He will hear our prayers. If we are right before Him, we can rest on His promise that He does hear us.
I doubt that many of us have prayed as David did in Ps 6:6-10 for deliverance from enemies, from Satan’s trap, or even for the sins of our nation. However many have. It is as if the tears that have been shed in prayer because of wickedness have been kept in the bowls that are now before the throne of God in heaven. When we see the Lord putting an end to sin and wickedness, it is as if He is saying, “Now I will turn these bowls of tears back upon the earth, they have been saved all these years for all who have cried for justice throughout history.”
For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him. You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. (Ps 32:6-7 NKJV)
The comfort that we have when we pray is wrapped up in songs of deliverance. We see the scroll of destruction that has been handed to the Lamb. These prayers are before the altar and they bring forth a song of praise. This is very much like the worship churches have when we are called to a special time of worship and prayer. When we take our comfort in God instead of panicking, we bring glory and worship of our Lord.
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me. (Ps 66:18-20 NLT)
When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us and cleans us from sin. However, if we don’t let Him do His convicting work in us, we may continue to hold sin in our hearts. If we are in this condition, then He will not listen. When we don’t cherish sin the Lord hears us. If He hears us, why are our prayers not answered? He doesn’t withhold His love from us, but He does know the timing and we must wait. In the case of our prayers for Him to come soon, the wait only adds to the incense in the bowls, to give Him glory at the appointed time.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matt 5:43-44 RSV)
The Lord’s most desirable way of answering prayers for deliverance from injustice in the world is to bring those who are dispensing it to repentance. The difficulty for us is to wait for that time and not try to repay them with evil before it occurs. Corrie Ten Boom met a prison guard who had been her captor during World War II. He had turned to Christ and she told about the momentary struggle she had to accept him as a Christian brother. While that would be difficult, it isn’t as hard as it would be to show kindness and love to him if he had not become a Christian. When we don’t love our enemies, our prayers will be hindered.
So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you, Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. (Isa 1:15-17 NASB)
If our prayers for justice are not from clean hands, if we are participating in injustice or the same sin as our enemies, we will not be heard. Our prayers will not be added to those in the bowls. They will add nothing and be useless.
Read Isa 1:15-17 again. The answer is that even Christians don’t cease to do evil and our hands are covered in blood. We also don’t do the things that are commanded regarding justice, orphans, and widows. We are caught up in the world’s “isms”, conservatism, liberalism, and socialisms so that we have become like the Pharisees.
As the selfishness of conservativism worked its way into the Church, the philosophy that God helps those who help themselves took over. When the Church stopped or slowed down its social work, the government naturally took over. Conservatives have become ruthless and heartless, denying justice and help to the oppressed because the government is doing it. Yet they do little if anything to resolve the problems. Like the Pharisees, I can see a conservative asking Jesus who is an orphan or a widow. Jesus will point to single moms and their children or the children of illegal immigrants.
Christians used to embrace more liberal viewpoints with a deep concern for people but liberals have distorted that concern by claiming everything sinful from abortions to homosexuality as a “right.” Because the Church has become afraid to proclaim the Gospel boldly and the consequences of rejecting it, it has allowed liberals to parade sin openly. Now, Christians don’t express liberal help for the oppressed whether through the government or other sources out of fear of being linked to those who have distorted liberalism with blatant sin. Christians ought to be the most liberal people in the world.
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. (Acts 4:32 ESV)
I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. (2 Cor 8:13-14 ESV)
The Church started out with a natural socialism based not on a person’s rights but on a person’s needs. Their attitude was that we are servants, not masters and when we see someone in need, we supply what is needed. But Christians can’t mention this today without being crucified as socialists. Modern philosophy invaded the Church and individualism took over. The world reacted to the vacuum left by the Church and distorted this natural socialism. The world tries to legislate that which should come from the heart and produces a distorted version socialism that is odious.
I am firmly convinced that the answers to our prayers for our nation’s problems are not being heard by our Lord because we are praying for the wrong things – one of our “isms” to solve the problems. We are unwilling to do what is needed in the Church so that the government doesn’t have to do it. We want to legislate morality. We don’t want to share our wealth. If the Church does what it is supposed to do, our prayers would be answered.
Worship with a New Song
This is a new song and a type that hasn’t been seen in the Bible before. We can find many songs of praises to the Lord, but this is the first song of praise to Jesus. It is a song that is giving Him praise for what He has done by His blood and by answering the prayers of the saints for the salvation of people. It is as if the incense in the bowls has now been poured out at the same time in this song of praise.
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. (Ps 33:1-5 NIV)
The elders are following the instructions of this psalm as they sing the new song and use their harps. We are commanded to sing a new song to Him and shout loudly and with great joy. The instrumentalists are commanded to do so with skill, not sloppily. I’m glad He didn’t make the same command regarding singing; otherwise I’d have to keep my mouth shut!
A mark of a dead or dying church can be seen in its music. They sing the same old hymns and have an idea that somehow these are the only holy songs that can be sung. The Lord has clearly commanded that we sing new songs. He has created us with the ability to look into His Word and life and find new things with which to praise Him. It is fitting that we should always be coming up with new words and music to praise Him. When we get into a routine, we stagnate. It appears to me that the Lord continually wants us to create with new ways to study, pray, and praise Him. We can continue to do it because the earth is full of His unfailing love.
I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord. (Ps 40:1-3 NASU)
This psalm acknowledges that it is only the Lord who can give us a truly new song. New songs can come from the things we suffer. It is during the hard times that He teaches us new insights into His nature and we are able to sing new songs to Him. Also, since He has saved us, we have a new heart that can pour forth these praises.
Ps 98 looks to the future, the time that we are about to see in the book of Revelation when salvation actually comes to the earth. We sing His praises for our current salvation which He has already provided but this is a song for the complete salvation of all things when even the curse on the earth is removed. Even the earth will be able to praise Him. The judgment of the Lord will then bring righteousness to all.
It has been refreshing to see in the Psalms the songs of praise for His sake, His salvation, His judgment as well as for physical victories He has provided.
Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, And His praise in the assembly of saints. (Ps 149:1 NKJV)
For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. (Ps 149:4 NKJV)
John has been relating to us his vision before the assembly of the saints who are rejoicing in our Maker (vs. 2). The psalm goes on to say that when we do this, the Lord takes pleasure in us (vs. 4). This is not some solemn God that is frowning on the throne; this is the God who has made us for His pleasure. He is delighted as we sing and worship Him. He says that this is an honor for us to praise Him and we rejoice in this (vs. 5). It is also interesting to see that as we praise Him, He enables us to carry out His purpose beginning with carrying His Word (two-edged sword), which brings vengeance upon the nations (vs. 6-9). Even our praise of Him has purpose in bringing judgment in some inexplicable way and imparts honor to us as well (vs. 9.) Perhaps this refers to the time when we will be returning with Him.
Is 42:10-13 is another proclamation to sing a new song from all parts of the earth. It is not something that only some of us do, it is something that all believers in all places are commanded to do. This command also ends with the Lord marching out to destroy His enemies. In these verses it says that He will stir up His zeal. As we praise Him, He gets excited and then He does the rest.
In Rev 14:1-4 we will again we see a new song being sung by the 144,000 witnesses who might be the only believers on earth at this time; they could also be representative of the Church. We will address that when the time comes, but they are the only ones who can learn this new song. They are the redeemed. The songs of joy and praise that we sing cannot come from anyone that is not pure before the Lord. A non-Christian cannot sing these songs of joy. They may mouth the words, but the joy is not there.
He is worthy because He saves us from our enemies (2 Sam 22:4).
He is worthy because He is to be feared (1 Chron 16:25).
He is worthy because He is the Creator and Builder of the Church (Heb 3:3).
He is worthy because He has seen God (John 1:18).
He is worthy because He intercedes for us (Heb 7:25).
He is worthy because He has taken away our sins (Heb 9:28).
The Blood of Jesus
Jesus knew that only blood that would provide the sacrifice for sin (Matt 26:28). He also knew it was only His blood that would provide the once-for-all sacrifice for all sins. He said that His blood was poured out for many, not all people. Salvation only comes to those who accept His cleansing.
With His blood He purchased us (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 1:18-19). We are not our own, we were on the auction block of slavery to sin and He used His own blood to buy us.
His blood has justified us (Rom 5:9). Synonyms for justify are: explain away, defend, vindicate, authenticate, certify, confirm, support, and vouch. These are all worldly terms that shed some meaning on what has happened through His blood but are inadequate to describe what has happened to us.
God has made peace with us through His blood (Col 1:19-20). Not only that, but also all things are reconciled, brought back to the way they should be. We don’t see this completely but we will get a picture of the total reconciliation of all things before the end of the book of Revelation. However, we don’t need to fear the wrath of God that will be demonstrated before the restoration occurs.
His blood cleanses our consciences (Heb 9:14). We don’t need healing of memories and other forms of psychobabble, as some have advocated. What is needed is to understand and accept what the blood of Jesus has already done. When we see this and accept what God says and on His terms, we are then able to serve the living God with a clear conscience.
His blood purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7). It is a paradox that blood, which stains our worldly clothes, will make us clean before the Lord.
Purification can only take place by immersing ourselves in the blood of the Lamb (Rev 7:14). The blood of Jesus is that which gives us power to overcome the world. This is not altering the fact of the power of the Holy Spirit, but it could certainly refer to the idea that as we meditate upon the blood of Jesus and what He went through, the Holy Spirit can use that to help us through any and all difficulties. If Jesus had loved His life here on earth, He would not have let His blood be shed. Then we would not have the promises recounted above.
People who have been saved by His blood include every possible division of people from as small a grouping as a tribe to as broad a group as a nation. Jesus knows no distinction and places no restrictions on those who can come to Him. He has brought us all together as one kingdom with one purpose, to serve Him as priests, priests that rule as they serve Him. It is emphasized that it is one kingdom and everyone is a priest. This is in contrast to the Old Testament where only the Levites could be priests. Deut 33:8-10 indicates that from the tribe of Levi, the priests were to guard the covenant, teach the law, and offer sacrifices.
You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God's temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What's more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. (1 Peter 2:4-5 NLT)
We are now a royal priesthood and offer spiritual sacrifices. Since Jesus offered the sacrifice for sin, the only thing we have to offer is praise, thanks, and ourselves. The Levites were mediators between man and God. A sinful person came to the priest to have him offer a sacrifice and the priests explained or taught the covenant to the people.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:18-20 RSV)
We have a ministry that is similar to the priests of the Old Testament. We now have the message that people can come directly to God. The next time someone asks what you do, tell him or her you are a priest, a minister, or an ambassador. You may then have an opportunity to explain why.
You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. (Neh 9:6 ESV)
All the angels of heaven worship Him. How many angels are there? There are multitudes of beings in the heavens and they all worship Him. Daniel 7:10 and Heb 12:22 also mention that there are thousands upon thousands in heaven. If you multiply 1,000 by 1,000 and that by 10,000 by 10,000, then most calculators overflow (1 with 14 zeros following). It is mind boggling to consider how many angels there may be and that all with one voice and accord are stating or singing praise and worship to the Lamb.
Who says that Jesus is not God? All of the angels are worshiping Him. If He were a man they certainly wouldn’t. If He were another angel, they wouldn’t. As they are singing they are attributing to Him the same honor as they previously gave to God in chapter four. Now they are even adding more by saying that the Lamb is worthy of receiving wealth, wisdom, and strength.
It struck me as odd that Jesus, who created all things, is being declared worthy of receiving wealth. Perhaps it is because none of us can truly manage wealth properly. Even the best of Christians struggle with wealth. Since wealth corrupts so easily, we can see that it is only God who can truly receive wealth. The same can be said about wisdom. How easy it is for us to become conceited when we know something. We think that others should know it also and we can become judgmental or proud. It is only our Lord who can handle these things without any problems.
John went to great lengths to make sure we knew that all creatures were praising Jesus. He included every possible location of living beings and repeats that it is everyone in these places. There isn’t any way to be more inclusive. It is also very interesting that this praise comes while there are still sinful people on earth. So we have to ask some questions. Has this suddenly jumped in time to an even more distant future time (that is possible because we are in heaven and there are really no time restrictions) or is this something that portrays what should be and what will be eventually? Either way it shows that things in this book can be confusing if we are strictly literal and force the events to fit into our time sequence.
God’s Honor and Glory
This last song of praise is to both Jesus and the Father. In the last two songs of praise the words of honor and glory and power are repeated. In the book of Revelation, God’s honor, glory, and power are on the line. If He doesn’t judge in righteousness, then His honor is on the line and it can be shown that He isn’t really holy. If He doesn’t execute judgment, then He isn’t sovereign and someone else has more power than He does. If He doesn’t rescue men from the curse of sin, then who will give Him glory? His ability to judge righteously and execute judgment while still saving people brings praise and glory to Himself. The “amen” of the four creatures and the songs of praise that have been offered affirm the belief of the multitudes that God is indeed who He says He is.
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, And all the families of the nations will worship before Thee. For the kingdom is the Lord's, And He rules over the nations. (Ps 22:27-28 NASB)
Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, “Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.” Men will come to Him, And all who were angry at Him shall be put to shame. (Isa 45:22-24 NASB)
The psalm speaks of a future time when all is restored and all know the Lord. They are willing to bow. In Isaiah, God appeals to people to give Him honor and glory now. He refers to the future time when all will bow before Him as an incentive to turn while it is a choice. Isaiah portrays a picture of two kinds of people. The righteous who, by their will and desire, come and bow down. All others will be forced to bow and confess. It will be to their shame however, not to their joy. Phil 2:6-11 reminds us that Jesus gave up everything He had when He came and died on the cross. But now God has exalted Him back to His original place of honor so that all will bow and confess that He is Lord. Worship of Jesus brings glory to the Father. So then, when we worship Jesus, we worship the Father.
Let’s join with the heavenly throng and give Jesus the worship that He is due. He is the Lamb who is worthy. He is God All Mighty. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.