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Revelation 4-5

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Pray

Father, we praise You because You rule in unbreakable sovereignty over all the universe. And Jesus, we praise You because You are the Lord of history, and by Your blood You have purchased men and women from every nation of the earth to be a kingdom of priests unto Your God! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Read and Learn

Read Revelation 4-5

In Revelation 4, John receives another vision that launches the rest of the book. It’s a mind-blowing vision of heaven, of God’s throne, and of God seated upon it and receiving all of creation’s praise and worship. But then something begins to happen, and John realizes he’s witnessing perhaps the most important moment in all of history, one that would strengthen the hearts of all Christians who are still battling for faithfulness in this fallen world.

At the beginning of Revelation 4, John sees a door standing open and is brought into the presence of God Himself. What he sees is nothing short of breathtaking, and every detail is calculated to show us that God reigns with unassailable and unquestionable authority. At the center of the vision is the throne itself, wrapped in colored light, which symbolizes holiness, purity, judgment, and mercy. Surrounding the throne are 24 “elders” who represent the whole redeemed people of God, and four living creatures who represent the “kings” of all the realms of creation: domesticated animals (ox), wild animals (lion), birds (eagle), and humankind. All creation bows down to God and worships Him.


REVELATION SONG

Join all creation in worshiping God with the Revelation song in many languages (5:48).

Video posted under Standard YouTube License


But something else begins to happen in heaven at the beginning of the next chapter. John sees in the right hand of the One on the throne a scroll, rolled up and sealed with seven seals. As Revelation unfolds, it becomes clear that what’s written on this scroll is the purpose and plan of God for history. This is how God has decreed that history will unfold—in judgment of His enemies and salvation for His people. But there’s even more, because the book also makes clear that history is heading toward one great climax, the proclamation and recognition of Jesus Christ as King.

Immediately, however, there’s a problem. No one can open the scroll, and so John weeps. You can understand why. If the scroll contains God’s purpose for history, then it has to be executed! When the seals are broken and the scroll is opened, then the universe is being governed according to God’s beautiful plan for His people. But if it’s not opened, then that means there will be no protection for God’s people, no judgment upon the persecuting world, no ultimate triumph for believers, no new heaven and earth, and no future inheritance. So John weeps.

But then, one of the elders turns to him and says, “Don’t weep anymore. There’s One—in the entire universe—who is worthy. It’s the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David.” So John turns and instead of seeing a Lion, he sees a Lamb looking as though it had been killed. The Lamb approaches the throne and takes the scroll; He is the One who will execute God’s purposes in the world, the One who will be proclaimed King at the end of it all. As the Lamb takes the throne, heaven explodes with praises that reverberate throughout the universe.

But there’s one last question: How did the Lamb conquer? Why does He have the right to take the scroll and bring God’s purposes to fulfillment? It’s because He was slain, and thus ransomed people for God from all the nations of the earth. God’s purpose was always to redeem for Himself a people, to forgive them of their sin, and bring them into His presence. But unless the Lamb died for them that purpose would never see fulfillment. It was only through the death of Jesus that God’s purposes would be executed. Thus He alone could take the scroll of history, break its seals, and see it through to completion.

Daily Verse for Meditation

Revelation 5:9-10

9 And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.

Reflect and Change
  1. The vision of God on His throne is meant to help us persevere precisely because we see God’s authority and know He reigns with unbreakable sovereignty over the universe. The centuries may roll, and we as believers may be tossed around, but God is the One who “was and is and is to come.” He is unchanging, forever and ever through the ages. In that fact, we find immense comfort. Everything around us may move and change, but God never does. He does not change, and we can be confident He is guiding everything to its good and right conclusion.
  2. Even more, we can take comfort in knowing that it is our Lord Jesus—the One who loved us and gave Himself for us—who is bringing history to its intended conclusion. Neither the details of our individual lives nor the great movements of history itself are accidents. They are all, every one of them, part of God’s providential plan for the universe that Jesus the slain Lamb is executing and bringing to pass. Therefore, though we may expect trouble and persecution in this life, we can be confident that Jesus our Lord has conquered the world.

SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

Watch David Platt on the Sovereignty of God (2:33).

Video posted under Standard YouTube License

Go and Do
  • Think about some of the things in your own life that tend to cause you anxiety. Are there any details of the vision in Revelation 4–5 that give you specific comfort in the midst of those anxieties?
  • Take a few minutes to analyze your heart’s response to trouble. Do you expect trouble in this life and meet it with faith and perseverance, or do you tend to get bitter about trouble, as if it were unexpected? If we are united by faith to Jesus, who was slain, how should we think about the troubles we face in this life? Are they really unexpected? Unfair? How should a Christian handle trouble?

TROUBLE

Watch David Platt on the Christian life being costly, but worth it (1:48).

Video posted under Standard YouTube License