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Opening Question

What is an ideal worship service in your mind?

Introduction

The Throne Room scene in Rev. 4–5 forms the introductory sanctuary vision for the seven seals in 6:1–8:1. If Christ was in the candlesticks of the heavenly sanctuary in ch. 1 before the seven churches, and later see him at the altar of incense in chapter 8 just before the seven trumpets are blown, scholars like C. Mervyn Maxwell and others have suggested the throne here be seen as a parallel to the “table of showbread,” that is, the “throne of Grace” mentioned in Hebrews 4:15-16. This throne is where Christ gives bread to those in time of need, just as King David was fed with bread from this this same table in his great time of need. Christ is the bread that came down from heaven, the true bread, and thus it is fitting that His ascension to the throne because of His sacrifice fits Him for this role as His saints go through difficulty as they are sealed by God. Also of note, God’s throne was on the “sides of the north,” (Isa. 14:13) the same compass-point as the table in the sanctuary.

The Text:

Revelation 4:1-11

Four living creatures and 24 elders worship One seated on the throne. Although not named, the One is praised for His creation and sustaining everything that exists. This chapter is one of unbridled praise through the chants and repetition of these beings who recall God’s mighty acts in the past. They also announce the three-fold holiness—the separateness, uniqueness, or specialness—of the One.

Identities of the 24 elders is much speculated. They wear “stephanos” crowns, that is, crowns of victory (as opposed to diadems, the crowns of royalty) suggesting they have been redeemed from earth along with white robes, which in Revelation suggest garments to those overcoming sin by the blood of Christ. Other scholars believe them to be representatives of unfallen worlds.

The 4 living creatures represent the highest orders of earthly beings: the king of beasts, the lion; the king of the air, the eagle; the king of domestic animals, the ox; and humans, who have responsibility and dominion over all.

This chapter is clear that only one being sits on the throne. At the end of ch. 5, there will be two.

The One seated on the throne is constantly worshipped for His creation. How does this idea of creation of the world fit into modern scientific theories of earth’s origins? Why might such a picture of God be needed today? What does this view of God as creator do for us personally?

Revelation 5:1–14

A scroll in the hand of the One seated on the throne is in center frame. A scroll sealed with seven seals is most likely a covenant or will or testament. John’s emotional reaction to it being sealed up shows how significantly it relates to the prophet himself. The fact that the only being worthy of opening it has overcome through death solidifies the case that this is a will, showing who will overcome, that is, who is sealed with God’s name.

Christ is here pictured as a conquering lion, reminding Jewish readers of the Lion from Jacob’s prophetic blessing of Judah in Genesis 49:9-10. However, rather than overcoming through violence and teeth/claws, the lion is sacrificed like a lamb. What John hears—the lion—and what John sees—the lamb—are two complementary aspects of Christ’s nature. The overcoming King of Judah does so through His own death. This makes him worthy to take the throne with His Father.

Praise now echoes in a new song because of Jesus’ worthiness to open the scrolls; He has bought mankind with His precious and infinitely valuable blood, people from everywhere and of every kind. Verse 12 has a seven-fold song of praise to Christ. The song culminates with every created thing giving glory to both the one on the throne and the lamb together. Both are worthy of honor and human worship.

Which image of Jesus is more meaningful to you—the lion or the lamb?

What kind of events must happen for every creature, even sinful ones, to give glory to Jesus Christ?

Closing Comments

God is worshipped for creation, and the lamb is worshipped for his redemption of humanity. These twin characteristics are also represented in the 4th commandments found in Exodus and Deuteronomy. Exodus 20:8-11 asks Israel to remember the Sabbath because of creation; Deuteronomy 5:12-15 enjoins the Sabbath on Israel because they were slaves and God brought them out. In Revelation, theses twin aspects identify the God who alone is worthy of worship; no counterfeit can claim the ability to create the material world and all life from nothing, and no so-called God has ever given his own life to save His beloved creation.

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