What John sees through the open door he describes in chapter four of his revelation is an incredible vision of the throne room of God. Actually, he sees the same as Ezekiel did hundreds of years earlier, a shining throne, surrounded by creatures with four faces and many wings. The difference of course, is that unlike in Ezekiel’s vision where the people were worshipping other gods in the temple, in this vision God is being worshipped by angelic beings and human elders alike.
In chapter 5 – as we heard – his attention shifts to the sealed scroll God is holding. Like the scroll Ezekiel was told to eat, it becomes evident that this is a scroll of judgement and opening it is necessary to begin the chain of events that will allow for justice to flow, and evil to be addressed by a righteous God.
But who can open it? No one can be found who is sufficiently righteous to do that?
John, incarcerated in a Roman prison camp, knowing of the martyrdom of all the other Apostles, weeps bitterly at the idea that there will be no justice, no judgement, no holding to account for evils that have been committed.
But one of the elders comforts him. Don’t weep – the Lion of Judah, descendant of David has conquered – HE is qualified to open it!
Expecting a great roaring beast, a mighty, powerful creature, John looks up and sees… a lamb, still covered in the marks of its sacrificial death. This frail broken little animal does two astonishing things. It walks straight to the mighty, glowing throne and takes the scroll. HE is able to both approach God without fear and begin the process of justice and judgement on evil. The Lion – is a lamb. The powerful king is also a sacrifice.
Heaven breaks out in worship:
Golden bowls containing the prayers of Gods people are offered up to the lamb
The song is of how he has ransomed, bought back humanity through his blood. How we are no longer the slaves of sin and death, that we have been paid for, our debts have been cleared.
And now those from every tribe, language, people and nation have become a kingdom, priests serving God. Inheritors of royal status who will reign on earth.
This is what the Lion – Lamb has done.
And how the angels and elders worship! Myriads of myriads, thousands of thousands – roaring the lambs praise together. And all the creatures on earth, under the earth, in the sea… exploding in celebration at what the Lion-Lamb has done! The noise is immense!
What an amazing vision! What a thing to see – and hear! What a perspective changer on reality.
Chapter 1-3 of this book are letters to 7 churches, exhorting, challenging and comforting them to stay faithful to Jesus. Not to compromise their faith. Not to let difficulties or persecutions crush them. Not to let their first love grow cold or their faith to become lukewarm. They are very human, very normal, very mundane, now- sorts of problems. Just like ours. Some are doing better than others.
There’s a call here not to let the routine, the tedium, the stress, the disappointments of day to day life grind us down or shift our attention from Jesus. There’s a call to keep him front and centre, to press on, reach into those storehouses of his faithfulness we have in Scripture, in our own testimonies and those of others. Not to give up or allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the reality we see around us.
Because the reality of this vision, this explosion of holiness, justice, worship – this is what has been going on in the heavenlies for 2000 years now.
This is the throne we are welcome to approach.
This is what we join in with our little songs of praise.
These are our prayers – being held up in golden bowls before God’s throne.
WE are the bought back, the redeemed, the priestly people honoured with the call to serve God in our times.
Today, tonight – whenever you are listening to this – lets imagine that scene again. Let’s see again the lamb, who didn’t win by fighting and posturing and manipulating, but by sacrificing himself. Stronger than any human leader. Stronger than any spiritual force. A sacrificial lamb who roars – like a lion against evil and injustice, defending all those who call on him.
Let’s recalibrate again. Change our perspective with John, and join in with the myriad of myriads who cry, “Blessing and honour and glory and might, forever and ever. Amen”
Father, we thank you for this glimpse of a different reality. One that has changed everything. One that we are welcomed into because of the blood of Jesus; the lamb who was slain and rose again. Help us when our perspective slips and rather than the technicolour throne room all we see if the beige of our lives right now. Show us where your kingdom is breaking in, where the joy and colour and hope of that heavenly worship and spiritual truth is at work bringing light and life around us. And give us your Holy Spirit that we might be priests – those who worship and intercede for the world we see every day. We join with the angels, the elder and all creation in giving you thanks and praise.