08/28/2016 – Revelation 7 – “The Shepherd King”

Click HERE for an audio version of this message.

Mark Wheeler

Revelation 7-19

Awaiting the Bridegroom: “Knowing the Beloved: The Shepherd King”

08/28/2016

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

 

Lord Jesus, open our minds and hearts to Your truth, through the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God. Amen.

 

When we Americans think of Kings, we tend to go to different places than much of the rest of the world goes. After all, we are a nation that was founded on the basis of not wanting a king to rule us – we left King George. So, often, we go to fairy tales or sports heroes or music legends or even people whose name is KingKing Midas, the king with the golden touch; Michael Phelps, the king of the pool; Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll; Martin Luther King, civil rights leader.

These all tend to be larger than life characters – mighty and powerful. We fear American politicians who seem to act like they think they’re kings – too much control and too much authority.

Today’s reading in the book of Revelation reveals a very different kind of king – but this king is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords.

 

As a quick reminder, this Summer, among several other one-Sunday sermons, we are taking an overview look at the Book of Revelation – to see what it promises and how those promises effect our lives and faith today.

In the first two Sundays of this series we saw that this book could be seen as a love letter from the Bridegroom Jesus to His Bride, the Church. We saw that while many see this book as confusing and uninterpretable, we are choosing to see it in its simple format of Jesus’ revelation of Himself to us, His beloved. Then we imagined being truly known by the One who loves us more than all the words in the world could say! We discovered, in Revelation 2-3, that Jesus knows us through and through – and He loves us anyway!

Since then, we have been looking through this ultimate account of Jesus’ apocalypse of what it means to truly know our beloved – to know Him by how He reveals Himself to us.

We have seen the Revelation of Jesus as the Perfect Priestly King, the Warrior Judge, and today as the Shepherd King.

As we continue our journey through Revelation 4-19, not reading them to figure out every jot or tittle of this book, but reading them to better know the One who sends us this book. He knows us, deeply, intimately, personally. How well do we know Him?

Since this is a book which reveals, unmasks, unveils, makes clear, who Jesus istoday we look to see that picture come into focus.

 

Look with me at Revelation 7 – 19. I invite you to hear the Word of God from Revelation 7, and to listen for the ways Jesus reveals Himself – as Shepherd King.…. —-

I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,   from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,   from the tribe of Gad 12,000,   from the tribe of Asher 12,000,   from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,   from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,   from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,   from the tribe of Levi 12,000,   from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,   from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,   from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,   from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,   who sits on the throne,   and to the Lamb.”

11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,12 saying:

“Amen!   Praise and glory   and wisdom and thanks and honor   and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.    Amen!”

13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,

“they are before the throne of God       and serve him day and night in his temple;   and he who sits on the throne       will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;       never again will they thirst.   The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne       will be their Shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’       ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”

 

Before we get to the questions and notes on your Sermon Notes Page, listen again to a few verses at the beginning of this chapter:

Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. …

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,   who sits on the throne,   and to the Lamb.”

What do these verses say about God’s care for all the various cultures and ethnicities? [All nations, tribes, peoples, and languages!]

How might we answer someone who accuses Christianity of being exclusive? [Exclusive? “For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not parish but have everlasting life!”]

What is one way we can taste this multicultural worship … today? [Songs from other people groups (wait till next Sunday!), foods from around the world, speakers from other languages, even other tribes]

And I am forced to ask myself, and to ask our Elders, how this image compels us to some cross-cultural mission involvement….

 

Verses 15 & 16 evoke images of desert living – wandering under the hot sun without shelter, being hungry and thirsty. This is a biblical theme of hardshipIsraelites after Egypt, Jesus for 40 days and nights after His baptism, etc. Some of us in this room might be “lost” in a desert experiencedeserted and lonely and afraid and in need of supplies.

Jesus makes some ultimate, and eternal, promises here: “never ever again, ever! And He will lead them springs of living water and God will wipe every tear away!

 

How can He make such promises? Who has the authority and the power to make a promise like that? Not our presidential candidates – oh, they do, but they really do not have the ability keep such a promise.

Who does? Jesus reveals Himself here as the King! But not just any ordinary king.

Look at verse 17 for a minute: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd!

What three images describe Jesus in that phrase?

  • LAMB
  • KING – This Lamb is “at the center of the throne”, therefore, He is King!
  • SHEPHERD

Obviously, you see why this image of King is so unusualkings are supposed to be all powerful, mighty, domineering – but this king is a Shepherd King – and not only that, but a LAMB Shepherd King!

Here’s the thing of beauty. Everybody who read John’s record of this Revelation at the time of its writing understood that this strange imagery was filled with powerful meaning. These are Old Testament images of the someday Messiah – the coming Christ – the Anointed One of Yahweh.

 

How do these three images fulfill the Old Testament perception of Christ?

  • PRIEST – the job of the Priest is to represent the people of God to God Himself – the priests prayed for their people, and the priests offered sacrifices to atone for their people’s sins. The ultimate sacrifice was the lambJesus went to the cross as a lamb goes before its shearers; Jesus is called the Lamb of God because His life was sacrificed for you and meHebrews tells us that no longer do we need to offer the annual Sacrifice of Atonement, because Jesus died once for all! He not only offered the sacrifice – He was the sacrifice!
  • KING – the job of the King is to guide, provide, and protect. Jesus is called the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords!
  • PROPHET – the job of the Prophet is to represent God Himself to the people of God – the prophets spoke God’s Word and warned of the results of sinful living. The job of a shepherd is to represent the owner of the sheep to the flock – to lead and feed, and to, with crook and staff and slingshot, to bring the flock to their Master.

 

This chapter opens the door to the next several chapters of Revelation – including disturbing images of trials and tribulation.

King David, some 1,000 years before Jesus, was a shepherd boy whom God called and made into king. He wrote many of the psalms we read from the Old Testament, and probably sang them for his sheep and for his people. His most famous, of course, is Psalm 23. Listen again (from The Living Translation):

The Lord is my shepherd;    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.   He guides me along right paths,    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk    through the darkest valley of death,
I will not be afraid,    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord    forever.

 

Jesus fulfills this prophetic Psalm.

But between the time it was written, 1,000 BC, and the time Jesus returns to take us that house of the Lord forever, Jesus reveals ways God’s people have suffered, continue to suffer today, walked through the “Valley of the Shadow of Death, and face that potential right now even as we speak.

Revelation 13:5-7The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.

Revelation 14:1212 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.

Revelation 17:6I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.  When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.

Revelation 18:2424 In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people,
of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.”

 

But Revelation always leaves us with Good News. Can you name it?

Revelation 17:1414 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Do you know Jesus as Shepherd King? When you next enter into a “Valley of darkness and death”, whom will you trust? The scary, lonely, desolation? Or the Lamb who sits on the throne and Shepherds His people?

 

Let’s pray:

Dear Lord and Saviorthat is what we say we believehelp us to live like we really do believe it, today. We confess, dear God, that we take You for granted – we assume You are nice and will just forgive whatever – but we also assume You are so demanding of us that we can never just receive Your Good News, but that we have to deserve it. Paul tells us that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus called us from lives of mundane, maybe even malicious, choices – and as we grow in grace and understanding we become more and more like You.

Hear our hearts today. We want to be Yours, more and more. We truly do want to trust that the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. Help us to trust You more today. Amen.

 

Resources:

Currie, Susan Porterfield; Revelation: Awaiting the Bridegroom; Presbyterians for Renewal; Louisville, KY; 2010; Pp. 51-62.

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08/21/2016 – Revelation 6 – “The Warrior Judge”

For an audio playback of this message, click HERE.

Mark Wheeler

Revelation 6-12

Awaiting the Bridegroom: “Knowing the Beloved: The Warrior and Judge”

08/21/2016

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

 

Lord Jesus, open our minds and hearts to Your truth, through the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God. Amen.

 

How many judges does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one; he holds it still and the whole world revolves around him.
Just one, but two lawyers have to explain to him how to do it.

 

At night court, a man was brought in and set before the judge.

The judge said, “State your name, occupation, and the charge.”
The defendant said, “I’m Sparks, I’m an electrician, charged with battery.”
The judge winced and said, “Bailiff! Put this man in a dry cell!”

 

What’s the difference between God and an Olympic gymnastics judge?

God does not think He is an Olympic gymnastics judge.

 

As a quick reminder, this Summer, among several other one-Sunday sermons, we are taking an overview look at the Book of Revelation – to see what it promises and how those promises effect our lives and faith today.

In the first two Sundays of this series we saw that this book could be seen as a love letter from the Bridegroom Jesus to His Bride, the Church. We saw that while many see this book as confusing and uninterpretable, we are choosing to see it in its simple format of Jesus’ revelation of Himself to us, His beloved. Then we imagined being truly known by the One who loves us more than all the words in the world could say! Today we will see a little of what it means to truly know our beloved – to know Him and His culture.

Last week we got our first Revelation of Jesus as the Perfect Priestly King.

Today, as we continue our journey through Revelation 4-18, not reading them to figure out every jot or tittle of this book, but reading them to better know the One who sends us this book. He knows us, deeply, intimately, personally. How well do we know Him?

Since this is a book which reveals, unveils, makes clear, who Jesus istoday we look to see that picture come into focus.

 

Look with me at Revelation 6 – 12. I invite you to hear the Word of God from Revelation 6, and to listen for the ways Jesus reveals Himself – as Warrior and as Judge.…. —-

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.

When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.

12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

 

For almost 2,000 years God’s people have lived in expectation of both the fulfillment of Christ’s Kingdom at the end of time, and in trust that there’s a Kingdom reality pressing in upon us even now. And for the same 2,000 years, we have lived with all kinds of signs to the contrary – injustice, persecution, destruction, death. It is tempting to think that the God of Heaven is totally out of touch with life here on earth; that all that is going on in “the place beyond” is white-clad harp playing angels, while we duke it out here on earth.

Not so! Remember last week’s reading from Revelation 4: “Come up here! I will show you!

The Revelation of the true reality in which we live continues. In these next several chapters of Revelation, we enter the present reality of the cosmic battle between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of Christ. And as we watch this conflict play out even now through the wide-screen epic descriptions in John’s description of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, it serves us well to keep Jesus Christ in our line of vision; keep our eyes on His reassurances and promises, rather than getting lost and bogged down in the symbolic specifics (they are worth studying, but do not become burdened by our lack of understanding).

 

Last week I asked you to Name some ways you have always “pictured” Jesus; let’s do that again:

Shepherd, smiling, gentle, soft-spoken, ruddy, strong, (again, I am super glad no one said, blond-haired and blue-eyed).

How does Jesus describe Himself in this chapter?

Lamb, sovereign Lord, Judge.

 

Judge! (And even Warrior, in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse)! This is often our cartoon picture of God – right? With St. Peter as the bailiff, the Judge-God determines who deserves heaven and who deserves hell.

Recently a teacher, a garbage collector, and a lawyer wound up together at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter informed them that in order to get into Heaven, they would each have to answer one question. 

St. Peter addressed the teacher and asked, “What was the name of the ship that crashed into the iceberg? They made a movie about it a few years back.” The teacher answered quickly, “That would be the Titanic.” St. Peter let him through the gate. 

St. Peter turned to the garbage man and, figuring Heaven didn’t REALLY need all the odors that this guy would bring with him, decided to make the question a little harder: “How many people died on the ship?” Fortunately for the trash man, he had just seen the movie on DVD and answered, “about 1,500.” “That’s right! You may enter.” 

St. Peter then turned to the lawyer. “Name them.”

 

How many of you think that that’s the way it’s really gonna happen when we get to “meet our Maker”?

 

So … why is Jesus a Warrior? Why does Jesus reveal His “Prince of Peace” self as battle-scarred combatant? What is the battle described here? How does Jesus overcome the Enemy?

In the CS Lewis classic children’s adventure series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan the Lion offers Himself up to die on behalf of Edmund and the White Witch thinks she’s got control of Narnia forevermorealways winter, but never Christmas. But Aslan the Lion reminds His human friends from England that the White Witch has only won this battle. And on the third day after He died, the Table on which He was lain cracks and the shorn-Lion stands fully maned and bigger than ever!

CS Lewis took the biblical accounts of Jesus and tells a delightful story of a Savior. Aslan had to die, just as Jesus really had to die, because from the beginning God has always been a holy God who demands justice. And He has always offered a way for us, you and me, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and for whom the wages of those sins is death – He has always offered ways to pay our debt of death – through sacrifice and faithful living – and from the Creation stories in the opening chapters of Genesis thru to the end of the Old Testament, He has promised a Messiah – the Anointed One of God – who would come and set His people free.

Jesus is that Anointed OneMessiah, Christ.

So, as the world around us refuses to worship God for who He is, God gives them over to their own desires, which affects every aspect of how they live.

Satan, the accuser, the one who steals, kills and destroys, tries to stand between us and the Judge-God, and tell us how unworthy we are to receive any gift God wants to offer – especially the gift of eternal Life with God in heaven.

He’s right – or, at least, partly right. We do not deserve any gift from God. But that’s the point! It is a GIFT, not a reward; it is the free gift of salvation, not our deserved payment. Our deserved payment would be death, eternity separated from God.

 

So what does it mean to see Jesus as the Lamb? He is the payment for our sin. He is the Sacrifice which offers perfect justice for our sin.

What does it mean to see Jesus as the Judge? He is the One who justifies our salvation. When we get to those “pearly gates” (whatever that really means), He will not ask us a test question about the Titanic or her survivors, or anything else like that. What He will ask us, I am convinced, will sound something much more like, “Do you love Me?Do you believe I am the incarnate, killed, dead, and buried, and on the third day resurrected, Son of God and now sitting on the right hand of God the Father Almighty?Do you believe that in your heart, and do you confess that with your lips – not just with your lives, that too, but with your lips, do you tell anyone what you believe?

I am convinced that our answer to questions like that will determine our relationship with Jesus, with God the Father, with the Holy Spirit.

 

God is way more than just the gentle, loving old man in the sky. He is the Sacrifice, the Priest, the King – He is the Warrior who fights for justice; He is the Judge who determines Truth.

 

Way back on July 3, Pastor Robert Bushebi, from Bungoma, Kenya, preached here and called us, as American Christians, to be soldiers for the army of God in a war that we seem to be losing. He challenged us to join Jesus the Warrior in the same way that the Apostle Paul reminds his Church in Ephesus (and in Spokane) that “prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open.” (The Message, Ephesians 6:18)

 

Do you know Jesus as Warrior and Judge? How will you answer Him when faced with His questions of faith? Are you ready today?

 

Let’s pray:

Dear Lord and Saviorthat is what we say we believehelp us to live like we really do believe it, today. We confess, dear God, that we take You for granted – we assume You are nice and will just forgive whatever – but we also assume You are so demanding of us that we can never just receive Your Good News, but that we have to deserve it. Paul tells us that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus called us from lives of mundane, maybe even malicious, choices – and as we grow in grace and understanding we become more and more like You.

Hear our hearts today. We want to be Yours, more and more. We know that Your judgment is right when you condemn people for doing sinful things – and we know that only You are God, and we are not. Thank You for the gift You freely give, everlasting life found in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Resources:

Currie, Susan Porterfield; Revelation: Awaiting the Bridegroom; Presbyterians for Renewal; Louisville, KY; 2010; Pp. 39-48.

 

Lewis, CS; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; 1950.

08/14/2016 – Revelation 4-5 – “The Priestly King”

Mark Wheeler

Revelation 4-5                                                                                                                                                 08/14/2016

Awaiting the Bridegroom: “Knowing the Beloved: The Priestly King”

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

 

Lord Jesus, open our minds and hearts to Your truth, through the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God. Amen.

 

Culture shock is a real thing. I could tell story after story of how we experienced culture shock during our two weeks in Africa. But it less than two weeks we had become somewhat encultured into their way of living, and coming back home to Spokane was another culture shock experience. Traffic may be among the biggest deals. In Kenya they drive on the “wrong” side of the road – that always takes a little getting used to. And they drive with their hands “on the horn” (almost constantly). And, while they have lane dividers and traffic lights, I’m not convinced either lane dividers or red lights mean anything at all! When I was taught to drive I was told to keep a 2-second safety margin between me and the car ahead of me. In Kenya, it seems, they are taught to keep a two-INCH safety margin! (I now struggle with all of those things in Spokane….)

On Friday morning I had breakfast with a man who has been my friend for nearly as long as I’ve lived in Spokane. John Tusant, former Executive Director of the Greater Spokane Association of Evangelicals (an interdenominational group I have been a member of for 20 years, and have served on the board of for over 15 years); he’s now, in his retirement years, a missionary in Mongolia. He’s on furlough right now, but he was due to return to Mongolia yesterday. Since I just got back from a trip to Kenya, and he’s been “on the field” in Mongolia for almost 5 years, I asked him about how one comes to understand the distinction between “culture differences” and “moral/ethical differences” (when is a “cultural difference” more than simply a different way of doing something, but becomes an unethical way of doing something? – an obvious situation might be: it’s some native people’s religious culture to offer virgins as sacrifices into the volcano).

John’s answer was to take the time to really know the person and the culture in which he lives. After you learn the culture, you can see if the person is a person of integrity and good character, or just someone who takes advantage of young virgins….

 

It has been 5 weeks since our last look at the last book of the New Testament, the book of Revelation. Since then we have had two guest preachers, a Sunday of photos and stories from Kenya, and a Sunday worshiping with several other churches in Harmon Park for the Hillyard Festival Weekend.

Today we come back to this fascinating close to the canon of Scripture.

 

As a quick reminder, this Summer, among several other one-Sunday sermons, we are taking an overview look at the Book of Revelation – to see what it promises and how those promises effect our lives and faith today.

In the first two Sundays of this series we saw that this book could be seen as a love letter from the Bridegroom Jesus to His Bride, the Church. We saw that while many see this book as confusing and uninterpretable, we are choosing to see it in its simple format of Jesus’ revelation of Himself to us, His beloved. Then we imagined being truly known by the One who loves us more than all the words in the world could say! Today we will see a little of what it means to truly know our beloved – to know Him and His culture.

As we invest our next several weeks working through the Revelation 4-18, we will not be reading them to figure out every jot or tittle of this book, but we’ll be reading them to better know the One who sends us this book. He knows us, deeply, intimately, personally. How well do we know Him?

Since this is a book which reveals, unveils, makes clear, who Jesus istoday we start to see that picture come into focus.

 

Look with me at Revelation 4 & 5. I invite you to hear the Word of God from Revelation 4 & 5, and to listen for the ways Jesus reveals Himself – as Priest and as King.…. —-

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,’

who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they were created
    and have their being.”

 

Before we get too far today, I know some of you remember our last Sunday here, when worship went for the full 90-minutes. Just to put your worried souls at rest, today we will not go beyond 85-minutes, I promise. Part of how we will streamline this sermon depends on your involvement. When I ask you a question, anonymously shout out an answer. Ready?

Name some ways you have always “pictured” Jesus:

Shepherd, smiling, gentle, soft-spoken, ruddy, strong, (I am super glad no one said, blond-haired and blue-eyed).

How does Jesus describe Himself in this chapter?

Jasper and ruby, a rainbow like an emerald, lightning and rumbles and thunder.

And where is Jesus in this chapter?

Seated on the throne!

Who sits on a throne?

(Go ahead and use the Lego bulletin cover to get an idea) The King!

 

The first thing to know about Jesus is that He is King! Sovereign! In charge! Ruler! And He is beautiful beyond description!

 

And what happens around this throne? Songs! Songs of praise! O Sifuni Mungu! Holy, Holy, Holy!

All of creation stands before Him and sings His praises!

And note, the end of chapter 4, it says, “For by Your will [all things] were created.” That does not mean that God demanded their creation, commanded it to happen – although that might be a fine way to describe how it happened. The “why” of it happening is that it pleased God to create.

Thursday night Caitlin and I went out to the back side of Mount Spokane, where it was as nearly pitch black as we could find, to watch the magnificence of the Perseid Meteor Shower. We saw dozens of meteors in a vastly uncountable number of stars that filled the sky. God took pleasure in creating each of those stars, and galaxies, and planets, and moons, and molecules, and atoms…. And took great pleasure in creating you!

In Genesis, after each “day” of creation God said, “It is good”; after creating humans He said, “It is very good! Look at that! Beautiful!

And He creates us to be in relationship with Him!

Since we’re in the middle of the 2016 Olympics, it seems natural to bring up the line from the 1981 movie about the 1924 Olympics when Eric Liddell from Scotland told his sister, “I believe that God made me for a purpose – for China. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt.” (Chariots of Fire)

Do you ever feel God’s pleasure? What are you doing when you feel God’s pleasure in you?Do that more!

 

And before we close today’s teaching – Jesus is not simply King of kings and Lord of lords! He is all that! But He sits on the throne also as One who represents His people before His heavenly Father. He is King! But He is not an ordinary King! Jesus is a Priestly King who has not only offered up a sacrifice for God’s people, but became The Sacrifice for God’s people!

 

Paul reminds us in Philippians that there will be a day when “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord” – This Revelation is Jesus’ love letter to His beloved, inviting us to bow our knee and confess our faith today!

 

Revelation 5 tells us Judgment is coming. But Revelation 4 invites us to know the Beloved today!

 

Do you know Him?

 

Let’s pray:

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by Your pleasure they were created and have their being….

And from Revelation 5:13-14 we join this passage in prayer:

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea—I heard everything everywhere say,

“Blessing, honor, glory, and power belong
to the one seated on the throne
and to the Lamb
forever and always.”

Then the four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshipped.

Amen.

 

Resources:

Chariots of Fire; Warner Bros; 1981.

 

Currie, Susan Porterfield; Revelation: Awaiting the Bridegroom; Presbyterians for Renewal; Louisville, KY; 2010; Pp. 27-38.