Day 351 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Revelation.
Revelation 4 – John writes to harassed churches facing persecution and tribulation ( ; ). He identifies with them, having been exiled to Patmos for the Gospel, “the word of God,” and “the testimony of Jesus” ( ; ). In the midst of these difficult circumstances, John is invited into the heavenly throne room and sees the Lord God Almighty on the throne, reigning and being worshiped by the dignitaries of the heavenly court for the exercise of His will in all things.
The knowledge that God is seated on His heavenly throne, being worshiped as He rightly deserves, is given to encourage persecuted Believers who seem like a small, insignificant minority in the face of the wicked world. God in heaven rules. One day this rule will cover the earth and bring all evil and darkness to a final end. Jesus’ death and resurrection secure this.
How does this encourage you?
Revelation 5 – Verses dramatically depict the world’s desperate need for Jesus. God is seated on a throne, holding a scroll sealed with seven seals. No member of the heavenly entourage is worthy to open it; nor can anyone on or under the earth do so. John’s response of weeping loudly indicates that the resolution of history—the defeat of evil, sin, and death—all depends on the opening of this scroll.
The elder’s announcement in verse 5 identifies the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8–12) with the Root of David (Isaiah 11) as he proclaims that Jesus has conquered and is thus able to open the scroll. The nature of Jesus’ conquest is illustrated in Revelation 5:6, when John sees a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain. It is striking that the Lamb was slain and yet stands. This depicts the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross and His triumphant resurrection from the dead. Ironically, the sacrificial Lamb has seven horns, a symbol of absolute military power. Jesus, who has all power, allowed Himself to be slain for sinners.
Because of the way that He has brought the Gospel to pass, in fulfillment of the scene in Daniel 7 when the son of man is presented before the Ancient of Days, Jesus can now be presented before the Father, take the sealed scroll, and open it. His conquest through His death and resurrection guarantees history’s resolution. He has seized control of the world’s destiny.
Once again John depicts an appropriate response to the Gospel—appropriate and shocking at the same time. All heaven was worshiping God in Revelation 4, yet now Jesus comes into the scene, takes the scroll from the Lord God Almighty, and the eyes of heaven turn from Him who sits on the throne to the Son, as all creation joins the heavenly host in celebration of the Son! Perhaps nothing more clearly declares the deity of Jesus Christ than the fact that the focus of heaven’s worship shifts to Him in this way.
The content of the praise of Jesus in these verses is instructive: none but Jesus was found worthy, so the living creatures and the elders declare to him in verse 9, “Worthy are you.” The praise also specifically states that He is worthy because by His death on the cross—communicated in the words “by your blood”—He ransomed people for God. This was not a ransom paid to Satan but a ransom from the wrath of God and His just punishment of sin. This is the true wonder of the Gospel: we sinners, dead in our sin, could do nothing to extricate ourselves from our earthly dilemma. Our situation was hopeless. But God Himself undertook to save us—the same God who had every right instead to punish us. And He did this through the provision of His own Son. God the Father sent God the Son to bear the wrath we deserved. What a wonder of mercy!
Again the fulfillment of the pattern of the exodus from Egypt is in view as Jesus recapitulates and improves upon what happened there. At the exodus, Israel was redeemed from physical slavery, but Jesus has redeemed and ransomed us from the power of sin and death and the just punishment of hell. At the exodus, Israel was redeemed and made a nation, but Jesus has redeemed those “from every tribe and language and people and nation” and, as in 1:6, He has made them “a kingdom and priests to our God.” Jesus is a King and a Priest, and He makes His people, those united to Him, who will conquer as He has conquered (12:11).
The book of Revelation consistently portrays those who enjoy the benefits of the Gospel praising the One who made those benefits possible. Because of the way that Jesus has laid down His life for others, He is worthy to receive everything from everyone. We delight to praise Him.
How does seeing Jesus this way affirm your faith in Him?
Revelation 6 – As Jesus opens the seals on the scroll He took from God’s hand (chapter ), the events that unfold broadly correspond to the events predicted by Jesus in . Thus it seems that the rider on the white horse in pretends to be what only Jesus is (see ), just as Jesus said, “Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’” ( ). Jesus said there would be “wars and rumors of wars” ( ), and this is exactly what results from the rider on the white horse who comes out to conquer and the rider on the red horse who is permitted to take peace from the earth. Wars in the ancient world had devastating effects on crops and food supplies, so the wars caused by the first two riders are followed by the famines and plagues the second two bring.
Thus what John shows here reaffirms the teaching of Jesus and prepares his readers to hold fast the word of God and to follow the martyrs in the witness they had borne to complete the number of those to be killed for the Gospel. John is preparing his audience not merely to reject the false gospels of the false messiahs but also to be faithful to the true Gospel, even unto death.
The terrifying depiction in 6:12–17 of the great day of the wrath of the Lamb also encourages Believers to hold fast the word of God and the testimony of Jesus, as it shows the wrath of the Lamb to be infinitely more terrible than the martyrs’ deaths.
How does knowing that you are secured by the Gospel help you not fear what’s coming to those who have rejected Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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