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.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s