Optimus Prime Jesus
The Lamb of God is the only One worthy of our worship.
Revelation(53) (Part of the Jesus Unveiled(51) series)
by Marc Webb(56) on June 3, 2018 (Sunday Morning(281))
OPTIMUS PRIME JESUS
Have you noticed the fascination our culture has with superheroes these days? In 2017, there were movies about Spiderman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League. Already in 2018, we have had the Avengers: Infinity War movie that came out not that long ago. These heroes are usually ordinary people who are able to transform into superheroes. For instance, we have Clark Kent who was an ordinary human being who would go into a phone booth and come out as Superman. Then we have Bruce Wayne & Dick Grayson who would go down the bat-pole and come out as Batman & Robin. Then there is Bruce Bannon who would transform into the Hulk when he got angry and Steve Rogers who was a frail young man enhanced to the peak of human perfection by an experimental serum and became Captain America. Finally, we have the transformers. The transformers are on the earth posing as vehicles hiding in plain sight. In the first movie, the main character gets in trouble and to his surprise his old rusted Chevy Camaro turns into one of these transformers and saves his life. What fascinates us so much about these superheroes? I think one thing that fascinates us is the transformation from the ordinary to the superhuman. Another, is that an ordinary person can transform themselves into a superhuman and save the day.
For those who may not know I have been volunteering with Youth For Christ at the Bermudian Middle School in their campus life club on Wednesday afternoons. A couple of Wednesdays ago, Perry, who runs the club asked me to bring in a wedding picture for his topic on commitment. As I was preparing this message I was reminded of the picture I took in. It made me think about the changes and the transformation of Judy and myself over the past 30 years. So, here is our wedding picture from 30 years ago.
I also thought about the changes and transformation some of you in our congregation have made since your wedding day and I asked some of you if I could use your wedding pictures for the message this morning, so here they are. See if you can guess who these are:
Wedding day and then now, Ben & Kelly, wedding day and then now, Doug and Stacey, wedding day and then now, Pam & Bill Emig; wedding day and then now, Pastor Stuart & Judy, wedding day and then now, Gene & Roxey.
We all have changed haven’t we? Through the years, we get older not younger. We grow from a little baby into a child to a youth into a young adult and finally into an adult. That is the nature and order of life. Even in our examples of superheroes earlier they went from the human to the superhuman first not the other way around. We go from young to old not old to young as we live out our lives.
Today, we are going to again be looking into the throne room of God. A couple of weeks ago Pastor Stuart showed us that John was transported to heaven into the very throne room of God where he saw the glory and magnificence of God. There were 24 elders encircled around the throne. There was flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. If you remember, the Holy Spirit was there and in front of the throne there was this thing like a sea of glass. Then between the throne and the 24 elders in a circle around the throne were these four living creatures. They had eyes in front and in back and they six wings all covered in eyes. One was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. It says that night and day they never rested they were always worshipping the God of Creation while the 24 elders fall down worshipping and laying their crowns before God’s throne.
We saw last week that John sees a sealed scroll in the right hand of God that was written on the front and the back but could not be opened. There was no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth that was able to open the scroll. We see John weeping because there was no one worthy enough to open the scroll. The passage then ends with one of the elders commanding John to stop weeping because Jesus the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, has won the victory and he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.
Which brings us to this morning. What happens now is right out of one of those transformers’ movies but with a plot twist. In our scripture this morning we will see that what John saw was not the Lion he was expecting to see. The Lion of Judah had been transformed but this transformation was more like the Transformer being changed back into a Chevy Camaro and the Camaro saving the day and becoming the hero. It is because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross that makes him the only one worthy to open the scroll. And when that happens the throne room of God breaks out into a worship service for the ages. John wants us to know this morning that the Lamb of God is the only one worthy of our worship. That is our Big Idea this morning.
So as we begin to unpack today’s scripture, let us pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you this morning for your son who was obedient even to death on the cross for us. We praise Jesus for his sacrifice and for allowing our sins to be forgiven. As we look into your word this morning may the Holy Spirit open our hearts and minds to the words you want us to hear, know and obey. We thank you for your love for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This morning we will be in Revelation chapter 5, verses 6-14. There are 3 acts, so to speak, in our passage today. We will start with the first act which is found in verse 6: This is what God’s word says, 6Then 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.
Here we see the transformation of Jesus from the Lion of Judah, the conqueror, to the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain. This is not your normal superhero movie. This is more like if Superman turned back into Clark Kent or Batman back into Bruce Wayne and then saved the day. In our story this morning, the lamb is the hero. He is the only one who can open the scroll and usher in the judgments of God on the earth. He is the one that the 24 elders, the four living creatures, the angels and all the saints that have gone before have been waiting and praying for.
This lamb was unlike any lamb that John had ever seen. First of all, it looked as if it had been slain. The Lamb who is victorious bears the sacrificial wounds from the crucifixion. He has the nail pierced hands and feet. The hole is in his side from the spear and there are marks on his head from the crown of thorns. These wounds will still be there when we see Jesus in heaven.
At the same time the lamb is standing, symbolizing victory through sacrifice. He is clothed with the very might of God which can now shatter and break its enemies. Second, it had seven horns and seven eyes. We already know that the number seven means completion and perfection. In the OT horns stood for two things, power and honor. In 1 Kings 22:11, Zedekiah, the prophet, made iron horns as a sign of promised triumph over the Syrians. In Zechariah 1:18, Zechariah sees the vision of the four horns which stand for the nations who have scattered Israel. These are pictures of power that cannot be withstood. The horns also stands for honor. In Psalm 112:9 it says the good man’s horn shall be exalted with honor and in Psalm 148:14 it says God exalts the horn of his people. The horn then stands for the honor that God gives to his own. Here in the fifth chapter of Revelation the horns stands for the honor and power of the lamb that is perfect, full, compete and cannot be withstood.
The lamb also had seven eyes. John tells us the seven eyes are the fullness of the Holy Spirit dispatched into all the earth. This is the all-seeing omniscience of God. There is no place on earth which is not under the eye of God and which God does not see. This means that the Lamb sends the Holy Spirit out to the ends of the earth and he knows all, he sees all, has perfect knowledge and his presence is everywhere among us.
This is a tremendous picture of Jesus Christ. The tragedy of the cross has turned to triumph, and the shame to glory and he is the one with all the power and all knowledge, whose all-conquering might no one can withstand and whose all-seeing eyes no one can escape.
There are few passages of Scripture which show at one and the same time what Swete called “the majesty and the meekness” of Jesus Christ, and which in one picture combines the humiliation of his death and the glory of his risen life.
As we continue, in verse 7, we see the second act of this drama. We see what the Lamb was able to do. Follow along as I read verse 7: He (meaning the Lamb) went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
In one dramatic moment, Jesus Christ, the Lamb, boldly approaches the throne of God and exercises his sovereignty by coming and taking the scroll out of the Father’s right hand. This symbolizes a transfer of authority from the Father to the Son to reveal the future and to hand out judgment.
Now we come to the third act. John describes for us three waves of worship that take place in Heaven because of what they Lamb was able to do. We will look at each wave by itself. The first wave is in verses 8-10. Listen to verses 8-10 as I read.
8 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 God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
When the lamb takes the scroll immediately the 24 elders and the four living creatures fall down before the Lamb in worship. This transfer resulted in an outpouring of praise for the Lamb because it signaled that Christ would begin judging.
That is the only response for them for what they saw Jesus do. When the Lamb, who is the only one worthy to take the scroll, takes it, the worship experience starts and as we will see it does not stop until all creation is praising the Father and the Son. The Lamb of God is the only one worthy of our worship.
John says the elders had harps and bowls filled with incense. Throughout the Bible the harp is an instrument of joy and gladness and is used more than any other instrument to praise God. Psalm 33:2 says, 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. And Psalm 98:5 says, make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing.
John explains that the bowls contained the prayers of God’s people and they are like the fragrant aroma of burning incense to him. These prayers are probably all the unanswered petitions that people have prayed asking God to judge the unrighteous. They are the pleadings of the saints already in heaven, requesting God to right every wrong on earth and to vindicate his name by pouring out his judgments upon an unbelieving world.
As a result of the Lamb’s authority from God to advance God’s plan, the four living creatures and the elders sing a new song. This song represents new praise for deliverance about to take place. In this song the Lamb receives honor as being the only one worthy because of four things.
The first reason that the Lamb is the only one worthy is because of his sacrifice for us. He willingly went to the cross in obedience to the Father. He took the sins of the whole world on himself. He was slain for each one of us.
The second reason the Lamb is worthy is because he purchased or redeemed us for God by his blood. It goes on to say that he redeemed people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Meaning persons from every people group will be in heaven.
The third reason is that his death not only saved us but makes us priests and kings so that we would share in his kingdom. Priesthood involves immediate access into God’s presence for praise and worship as well as the privilege of priestly service.
And the fourth reason is the blessing of his people by allowing them to rule on the earth. We will worship God by fulfilling God’s ordained responsibilities on a new earth for all eternity.
These four things remind us of our Big Idea this morning which is the Lamb of God is the only one worthy of our worship.
The second wave of worship expands to all the angels of heaven in verse 11-12 it says this:
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
Now an innumerable hosts of angels joins the four living creatures and the 24 elders and all heaven breaks loose in ascribing worth to the Lamb. John describes the scene of worshippers as “myriads of myriads” meaning hundreds of millions times hundreds of millions. The number is easily in the billions but then John records there are still thousands of thousands in addition to the billions. There are multiplied millions spilling over the billions of worshippers already counted. This staggering number exceeds the limits of our human language and our ability to comprehend it. Again, try to imagine the worship scene unfolding before John’s eyes. It had to be mind boggling.
But, we want to pay attention to the angels because what they do is important. They praise the Lamb with a magnificent sevenfold blessing, again signifying perfection, to indicate the wonder of the Lamb. The repetition of the word “and” between each quality brings special emphasis to each one. These seven characteristics of which Jesus is worthy are things he already possesses in heaven. Therefore the song of the angels implies he is worthy to break the seals, open the scroll and commence the great tribulation starting in chapter 6, in order to gain these seven characteristics on earth. The Lamb is the only one worthy of these seven things not only in heaven but on earth as well.
These seven characteristics are as follows:
First is power. It emphasizes the sacrificial death of the Lamb as the “power” by which the forces of evil have been conquered. It may be mentioned first because the immediate situation calls for the need of great power to accomplish God’s purposes on the earth. He alone is worthy of such power for he alone will and can use it with perfect justice and equality.
Second is wealth. This refers to the riches of the universe. This is the only place in the book of Revelation that wealth is used as a worship attribute. In Matthew 6:19-21 it says we are not to store up treasures on earth but rather store up our treasures in heaven for where our treasures are there are hearts are also. The only source of true riches lies in Christ.
Third is wisdom. This refers to his omniscience and its wise use in carrying out the purposes of God in the world. The Lamb’s wisdom speaks of his choice to become the God-ordained sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
Fourth is strength. This is the Lamb’s omnipotence in carrying out God’s will. No one or thing can stand against him. All he has to do is speak the Word and his will is done.
Fifth is honor. This is the esteem, the value and the respect which is due to Christ because of who he is and what he has done and will do for the glory of God and the benefit of the world.
Sixth is glory. This is the tribute and public display of adoration Christ is due again because of what he has done in the past, present and the future.
Lastly is blessing which refers to the praise that should be given to Jesus because of his wonderful acts of redemption.
What is being emphasized here is that the Lamb is worthy to receive all the power, wealth, strength, honor, glory and praise that the entire cosmos can bring to him in gratitude for salvation.
Finally, in verses 13-14 we see the third and final wave of worship and it is universal praise to the Father and the Son. Verses 13-14 say this:
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
In his vision John hears every created thing giving praise to God and to the Lamb. No living creature failed to join in the great and final hymn of praise. The crescendo that is added to the symphony of praise is all creation, everywhere and everything worships the father and the son. The stones, the birds, the animals and the fish finally cry out – all creation had been groaning under the futility of the curse, now they know they are about to be set free. Romans 8:22 sums it up, 22 We know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Even all of creation is waiting for the day of a new heaven and new earth.
This also shows us that God the Father and God the Son are both equally to be worshipped forever and ever.
This passage concludes as the worship culminates in John’s vision with the four living creatures saying “Amen”, after the vast multitude falls silent. Since the four living creatures were the first to offer their praise it is appropriate that they should also end it. As the four living creatures say, “Amen”, the elders fall down and worship before God’s throne.
Maybe you have heard this story before: A boy once captured two little birds and put them in a cage. A man saw the boy carrying the cage and asked him what he was going to do with the birds. “Oh,” the boy replied, “I’m going to play with them for a while and feed them to my cat.” The man looked at the caged birds and took pity on them. “Say, I’d like to buy the cage and the birds from you. How much do you want for them?” The boy thought for a minute and then named his price. The man paid it and the boy handed over the cage, after which the man immediately opened the cage and set the birds free.
That’s what Jesus did for us. Satan had us caged and was going to feed us into the jaws of eternal death. But Jesus Christ purchased us, cage and all, and set us free. We are going to be worshipping him for all eternity because he paid that price. We need to start practicing our worship down here because the Lamb is the only one worthy of our worship.
When I think of the times of awesome worship in my life, there is one that comes to my mind. I was probably 20 maybe 21 and I was on a young adult trip with my church and we went to Youghiogheny River Lake near Pittsburgh. On one of the nights there I decided to spend it outside and I remember laying on the boat dock under the stars. I was blown away. The awesomeness of God’s planetarium was one of the most awe inspiring, might I say, spiritual worship experiences I have ever had. From the east to the west and from the north to south and everywhere there were stars and shooting stars and constellations. Here is a picture of what it may have been like that night.
It was crazy to lay there and think how the God of Creation, the creator of the stars, the planets and the moon, put it all up there and it just stays there. I feel like John writing this book. I can’t do it justice. I can’t put it into the right words for what I saw that night. All I know is, it was awesome.
So I want you to imagine that the God that created those stars created you and me even though he knew we would sin against him. And even if we didn’t praise him all of creation would. The Bible talks about creation praising and worshipping God. In Luke, when Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on the donkey it says the disciples were joyfully praising God and the Pharisees were upset and told Jesus to rebuke his disciples and in Luke 19:40 it says “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Isaiah 55:12b says, “The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. And in Psalm 148:3 it says, Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars.
I have asked Pastor Stuart and the praise team to come up and they are going to lead us in a final song of worship that really sums up how I feel about God’s creation and our worship of him. Some of the words of this song are:
And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapor of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made
Every burning star A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I
If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
But this song goes on and toward the end it says:
God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die
Did you catch that? God created the hill that we crucified him on and yet he still created us and loves us and wants a relationship with us.
I will never forget one Wednesday a couple of years ago one of the youth was telling me about their worship experience at Rhodes Grove and how awesome it was and how they worshipped with their hands raised, etc. and they wondered why it never seemed to happen here on a Sunday morning. I had to stop and think about it because I certainly don’t worship like that here in this public place like I do in private. Why is that? Maybe it’s the fear of standing out and being different. But I want to challenge us this morning during this last song in this place right now to worship the Lamb of God the way we would if we weren’t worried about what the person beside was doing, or without the fear of being different or standing out. Maybe that’s with your hands raised, maybe that is on our knees, the altar is always open for you, maybe when you are alone you shout Amen or sing at the top of your lungs or maybe it is standing right where you’re at. God is giving you permission to express yourself in worship to him.
And while I hope you take me up on my challenge this morning, I also want to challenge you to do so in the future as well, so our last next step this morning is this, to:
find the courage to worship Jesus in public the same way I find myself worshipping Him when I am alone.
Worship is not all about the posture of your body in worship but it is all about the posture of your heart. So, with our final song this morning, let’s worship the Lamb of God who alone is worthy of our worship.