The Throne Room (Revelation 4 & 5)

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Welcome to the ninth week of this series on the End of the World as We Know It. Today we will finally start getting into some of the futuristic stuff in this book. So far we have covered the initial part of John’s vision and the letters to the seven churches. Last week we peeked into chapter 4 and immediately detoured to several places in Scripture to talk about the rapture of the church and why I believe along with many others that it will happen before the tribulation that starts in chapter 6.  Make sure to catch up online or via the podcast because things are about to get crazy.
Today we are going to cover all of 4 and 5 as it is really a single scene that takes place in the throne room of God. There are some very interesting things to look at in there so let’s get started. I’m going to read through both chapters and then go back and take a closer look. You can follow along on the screens or in your own bible.
 
Revelation 4
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.”
Revelation 5
1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 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. 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.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 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!”
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.
The very next thing in chapter six is the opening of the seals on the scroll and the start to the tribulation period.
But there are some very big and mind blowing things happening here in this chapter that I hope I can communicate well, so let’s pray before we proceed.

This week is going to be fast and furious like last week, so let’s get to it.
Revelation 4
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.”
 
We talked about this last week. Basically, John is swooped up into heaven and Jesus is about tho show him the future.
For the next few verses, I’m just going to leave this picture up as I go through the descriptions. It’s obviously not exactly what it looked like because no one can know, but it’s more interesting to look at than words.
 
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.
 
We will often hear John using language like “the appearance of” or “like” because he’s basically doing his best to describe what he is seeing by comparing it to things he knows. It’s not easy to capture the supernatural with natural language.
Also to note, what John sees in these visions is not necessarily exactly what heaven looks like. What we will especially see in later parts of the book is that the visions John has are God telling him something with a picture rather than with words. So, yes, what John literally sees is the images he describes, but in those images are messages that are so rich and deep that they are better communicated with a picture. It is very true that a picture is worth a thousand words.
And so, here when John sees a throne in heaven, the throne means something. It’s a symbol of power and majesty and rule. And it being the throne in heaven, it would indicate that it is God’s throne. Does God really sit on a literal throne? No, because God is spirit, not physical. But he uses the image of a throne so that we who are physical can understand something about him.
Then John says that the one sitting on the throne has the appearance of jasper and ruby. We actually are not certain what stones the Greek words that John uses here are referring to. Later in Revelation the same word here translated as jasper is described as crystal clear, so many suggest this is actually a diamond. And the other is related to a red-colored stone. Effectively, John is saying that the one sitting on the throne is beautiful and shiny like precious gems.
Then there is the rainbow like an emerald. Clearly multicolored but with green dominating, and again spoken of as a precious gem. Some commentators have discussed in depth symbolism of each gem and color, but I’ll let you read about that on your own, as today I only have time to focus on some of the more important parts of these visions. Otherwise this series would take about 3 years instead only 8 months.
Regardless of the meaning behind every element of this picture, It must have been an impressive sight.
 
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.
 
We talked about this last week so I won’t repeat it. The 24 elders are human beings that represent the entire church that is not present in heaven after the rapture.
 
From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. 
 
It’s not a very peaceful scene. God on the throne is displaying majesty and power unequaled in all the universe. 
In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
The seven lamps/seven spirits of God – are the one complete Holy Spirit (seven being the number of completion). I explained how that worked in week 2, so I won’t repeat it here. (You’re going to hear me say that a lot, make sure you stay caught up so you don’t get lost)
 
Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
We learn later in Revelation that there is no sea in heaven, so what John saw that was “like” a sea of glass probably was actually a floor paved with crystal. 
Again, lots of light and light reflecting surfaces to further magnify the brilliance of God on His throne.
Next comes something we don’t hear about from most of the modern day heaven visitors who write books about their visit, and I don’t think it’s well represented in the picture you’ve been looking at…
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.”
I actually couldn’t find what seemed to be a good drawing of this. I suppose such creatures are not easy to draw.
These four living creatures are fascinating and I want to spend a little time on them. It’s not the first time they show up in Scripture. Both the OT Prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah saw these creatures when heaven was opened up for them to view.
Ezekiel describes them in this fashion (Just Listen):
Ezekiel 1
I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.
10 Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward, each wing touching that of the creature on either side; and each had two other wings covering its body. 12 Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. 13 The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. 14 The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.
Hard to imagine isn’t it?
We learn later in Ezekiel 10 that these creatures are called “cherubim”. And as you can see, they are not the cute little naked baby angels of Valentine’s Day. These things are pretty terrifying. I believe John saw the same creatures as Ezekiel but from a different vantage point.
Isaiah saw something similar in one of his visions and called them Seraphim.
Now these are striking creatures. Overall unlike anything in our world, but as both John and Ezekiel describe they do have some semblance to four specific earthly creatures. Ezekiel sees that each of the four creatures actually has each of the four faces with each face being on one of four sides of it’s head. John sees the same four faces but he doesn’t specify them each having all four.
Perhaps from his vantage point he could only see one face on each of them. As Ezekiel mentioned, they never turn, and since Ezekiel saw them moving he was able to get a glimpse of different sides of them. Anyway, the other difference is four versus six wings – again a difference that could be explained by vantage point. Either way, it seems pretty clear these are the same creatures.
So, why the four faces?
Well, there are many theories about what each of these faces means. Some suggest they represent the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and how each gospel depicts a different aspect of Christ. It seems plausible, but doesn’t have any real concrete evidence to back it up. So, it may or may not be true.
Some have suggested they represent the four pinnacles of God’s creation. The lion is the king of beasts. The eagle is the king of the air. The ox is the king of domesticated animals. And man is the king of all creation (or at least governor). Plausible, but again not very concrete. So, it may or may not be true.
I would argue that they are both true in addition to what I’m about to tell you. God is fond of having patterns in the natural that represent similar patterns in the supernatural.
Back in the Old Testament when Moses and the Israelites were wandering the wilderness after escaping from Egypt, God instituted a specific way that they were to set up their camp. The Tabernacle, which was the intricately designed tent where the ark of the covenant was placed and where God dwelled among His people was at the center of the camp. This was the precursor to the elaborate Temple that would be built later by King Solomon.
Surrounding the tabernacle, Moses and the Levites stayed close, but the other 12 tribes were arranged into four groups of three and set up their camps surrounding the tabernacle. Each tribe had a standard, or banner, by which it could be identified. Imagine a large group of people and your trying to find your group. They would make these banners and hang them on high poles so they could keep themselves arranged. Well, in each set of three there was a lead tribe and their banner would be the primary banner for that section of the camp. And guess what those banners were?  You guessed it…
The chief tribe to the East was Judah whose standard was a Lion.
 
To the South was Reuban whose standard was a Man.
 
To the West was Ephraim whose standard was a Ox.
 
And to the North was Dan whose standard was an Eagle. 
Is this just a coincidence? Absolutely not. But we must understand this in the proper direction.  The angel’s faces do not mirror the camp arrangement and tribes of Israel, rather it’s the other way around.
 
The camp of Israel was designed by God himself because the whole point of having the chosen people was to give the world a picture of God and the things of heaven. So, the Jewish camp was set up to be a picture of what already existed in heaven. God in the middle on his throne and these four angels surrounding him with these four faces on either side.
And what these four creatures are doing in that throne room is what the Israelites were supposed to be doing on earth with God in their midst.  They were supposed to be worshipping God both day and night.
Now  you can read about those camps yourself in Numbers 2. You won’t find the banners in there, but that is something we know from the traditions passed down by the Israelites themselves. Again we see how God revels himself to the world through his chosen people, the Jews.
And there’s actually even more to this particular picture of the Israelite camp. In Numbers it also includes specific totals of people in each of the tribes (hence the name of the book – Numbers), and while that is really boring to read, if you actually put some thought into what God is telling us with all of that you will come up with a fascinating picture.
If you draw the camp on a map and assume that the camp sections with the most people would be larger than the camp sections with fewer people, and if you assume they actually arranged themselves as God directed in north, south, east, and west directions. The resulting picture is something that should be quite familiar to us New Testament people.
It’s a cross.
Could it be that God was showing the world the cross before there ever was such a torture device? Certainly something to think about. And even though I won’t be covering it in this series, there is actually quite a bit of symbolism in all the details of the tabernacle and priesthood that points to Christ. Makes for a good study.
Anyway, now that I’ve blown your mind it’s time to move on to something even bigger.
The rest of chapter four is effectively all the characters introduced so far giving praise to God on the throne.
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.”
It’s quite a picture of almighty God in all of his splendor and glory getting the praise that he deserves from his angels and from the raptured church. And notice what they are specifically praising Him for – creation. They proclaim God is worthy to receive glory and honor and power – for creating everything.
If that is the focus of the praise God receives in heaven – does it come as any surprise that one of the fundamental attacks of the enemy in his lies and deception is against that very thing – creation? He even has much of the church duped into doubting God could do it all in just six days. Meanwhile the host of heaven praise God for His marvelous work. Perhaps we should do the same.
Anyway, this must have been quite a scene and it’s only about to get better.
Revelation 5
1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 
I will tell you now, but you won’t fully grasp it until later, that the scene that John just described is probably the most important event in the history of creation.  In fact, I’m just going to say this without any explanation so that you can chew on this as we go through this. I would argue that what just happened in this scene is the the answer to the question, “Why did God create the heavens and the earth?”
There, I said it…now let’s take this scene apart.
1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.
 
A scroll with seven seals. What is this?
Scrolls were the books of John’s day.  Here’s a nice description from the commentary of William Barclay:
In the ancient world, down to the second century A.D., the form of literary work was the roll, not the book. The roll was made of papyrus, manufactured in single sheets about ten inches by eight. The sheets were joined together horizontally when a great deal of writing had to be done.
The writing was in narrow columns about three inches long, with margins of about two and a half inches at the top and at the bottom, and with about three-quarters of an inch between the columns.
The roll commonly had a wooden roller at each end. It was held in the left hand, unrolled with the right, and, as the reading went on, the part in the left hand was rolled up again. We may get some idea of the dimensions of a roll from the following statistics.
Second and Third John, Jude and Philemon would occupy one sheet of papyrus; Romans would require a roll 11 1/2 feet long; Mark, 19 feet; John, 23 1/2 feet; Matthew, 30 feet; Luke and Acts, 32 feet. The Revelation itself would occupy a roll 15 feet long. It was such a roll that was in the hand of God.
He has a lot more to say on this, but I’ll let you read that on your own. You can get his commentaries free online.
So, that was the kind of scroll that John likely saw in God’s hand. Two other details are important about this scroll.
One, it had writing on both sides of the paper, and Two, it was sealed with seven seals. 
Now, the way scrolls were sealed back then was that the scroll was tied with a thread and the knot was sealed with wax.  The reason this would be done was to secure the contents of the scroll from tampering. So, the seals indicate this would be some kind of legal document like a will or a title deed. The sealing would have been done by some kind of official. And the fact that there are seven seals on this one means it is quite important.
The fact that this document had writing on the outside indicates it was a title deed for land.
In ancient times, whenever they would make a contract for land, they would write it up in a scroll like this and have it sealed by some important official. But once it was sealed, it could not be opened except by someone qualified. And so, if there was ever a dispute over the land, it was a hassle to go through the process of breaking the seal to look at the contract to settle the dispute. So, what they would do was write a summary of the contract on the outside so that it could be referenced without breaking the seals.
All of this John would have known at first glance, and what we see next indicates he also knew exactly what this title deed was for.
 
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.
 
Only someone qualified could break the seals of a legal contract. In ancient times this would have been someone like a city elder or magistrate of some sort. There were very specific rules on who could do such a thing.
And here, we have this scene where the question is asked, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” And initially no one is found who is worthy.
It may seem odd that God himself who is holding the scroll is not found worthy. Well, that’s because “worthy” is not exactly the best word for what is needed here. It’s not so much “worthy” as it is “appropriate” – meaning that, although God is surely “worthy”, He is not the one appointed to open this scroll, so He is not “appropriate.”
And so, when no one is found, John weeps. Why?
Because He knows what this is. If he didn’t, it wouldn’t make sense for him to weep. He would just be confused, as he is in other parts of Revelation. No, he knows what this scroll is because he knows the Scriptures, and it breaks his heart to think it will never be opened and fulfilled.
But then something happens that changes everything…
 
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 
So, one of the 24 elders tells John not to cry because the one who is able to open the scroll has arrived. Where he was before? Not sure, but my guess is that he was missing from the scene for two reasons:
1 – To highlight the fact that absolutely no one else in all creation was qualified except him.
2 – To cause the reaction of John weeping so that we could have a clue what this was all about.
But that’s just my opinion.
Remember, these visions are literal, as in John is really experiencing this. But they are also like dreams that have interpretations, and thus the purpose of the vision is to send a message. In other words, visions, like dreams, don’t have to obey the same rules of our natural experiences on earth. So, in this vision, Jesus was missing from the scene at first for a reason, but now he has arrived for another reason.
And how do we know this is Jesus, since that name is not used? – well, as we learned in the first three chapters, he has many names.
The elder says that the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.” What does that mean?
First, the “Lion of Judah” goes all the way back to the beginning of the nation of Israel, when it was just one family.
Jacob, whose grandfather was Abraham, and his father was Isaac, had his name changed by God to Israel, and he had 12 sons. From those 12 sons descended all of the nation of Israel and the descendants of each son was a tribe by his name. One of his sons was named Judah.
Before Jacob/Israel died, he blessed each of his sons with prophetic words, and this is what he said to Judah.
Genesis 49
8 Judah, your brothers will praise you;
    your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
    your father’s sons will bow down to you.
You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
    you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
    like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
Basically, Judah was going to be the line of the kings of Israel ultimately ending with the King of Kings – otherwise known as the Lion of Judah. So, this title for Jesus indicates he is the final and ultimate king of Israel and actually ALL nations.
Next, he is called the Root of David. This is a messianic title that is used often of Jesus and comes from the prophecies of Isaiah, most notably
Isaiah 11:1
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
Isaiah 11:10
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nationswill rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
That whole chapter is about the millennial kingdom and we will be visiting it again much later, but you can read ahead if you wish.
So, it was always understood by the Jews that their Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah and be a descendant of King David. And, of course, Jesus was both.
Next, the elder says that he has triumphed and is able to open the scroll. We will come back to that.
 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.
Now we have another clue that this is Jesus.
First, he is a Lamb, as in a baby sheep. But not just any lamb. This lamb looked as if it had been slain, but was yet standing. That phrase is a euphemism for someone who was killed and resurrected. We will actually see this again later in Revelation.
And the image of a lamb is, of course, connected to the Jewish sacrificial system that began with Moses and the first passover night before they left Egypt and culminated with the ultimate “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” as John the Baptist called him, being sacrificed on a wooden cross at the same time the other passover lambs were being slaughtered in the temple. 
And that lamb, unlike the thousands of others who had been slaughtered through the centuries, did not stay dead but on the third day came out of the grave with a new body but still retaining his scars.
This is none other than the risen and glorified Jesus Christ, and he alone is worthy to open the scroll.
But wait, there’s more…
The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
 
So, not quite as cute as a normal lamb. Remember that 7 is a symbolic number of completion or wholeness. The seven eyes, which are the seven spirits are the same seven in one Holy Spirit that was also represented by the lamp stands. Now that spirit is being sent back out into all the earth because the earth is going to need Him. I’ve covered before about the seven spirits and how they rested on Jesus. You can read about it in Isaiah 11 and John 1. 
The seven horns are a symbol of complete authority. You will see in several visions the use of horns as symbols of kings and kingdoms, ultimately symbols of authority. This lamb has seven horns indicating full and complete authority.
Again, this is Jesus, the same one in the vision of chapter 1, who walks among the lamp stands, and judges the nations, etc. etc.
And he’s about to do something monumental.
 
 
He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 
You will see in a minute how this verse describes the climax of all creation. And the crowd in the throne room knows it.
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. 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.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 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!”
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.
Jesus, the lamb, takes the scroll out of the Father’s hand because he alone is worthy, and all of heaven and earth erupts into celebration and worship of Him.
Why? Why was he worthy?
They say why in the new song.
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You’re probably thinking – yea we know about that. We all know Jesus died on the cross for our sins. That it paid our debt and effectively purchased us for God so we can go to heaven with Him.
 
That is all true, but there is even more to it than that. Remember I said this scroll was a title deed? And John knew what it was, which is why he was crying? Well, guess what the deed is for?
You may guess it’s for Israel, and you would be partially right.
You may guess it’s for the whole world, and you would be partially right.
You may guess that it’s for the whole universe, and you would still only be partially right.
No, this title deed that Jesus is about to open is for none other than the whole of creation itself. The heavens and the earth, time and space, the whole kit and caboodle. 
The clue to this monumental truth comes in what the first elder said to John. That this Lion/Lamb has TRIUMPHED, and that is why he is worthy to open the scroll and break the seals. 
In other translations, the word “overcome” is used. It comes from the Greek word νικάω, which is the verb form of the Greek word nike – meaning victory.  Jesus has triumphed, he has overcome, he is victorious.
How so?
Jesus himself mentions this in a verse we all love.
John 16:33
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
But what exactly does it mean that Jesus has overcome the world?
Well, it all goes back to the very beginning of time, as so many things do. You will find as we continue this study that you cannot ignore or dismiss the OT. This is not a two-part book. Old does not mean outdated. This is one continuous narrative that began at creation, climaxed at the cross, and culminated in the end of time.
So, let’s go back to the beginning to see what Jesus had to overcome.
Most of us are familiar with the creation account. God made everything in six days and rested on the 7th day. On the sixth day He made Adam the man and Eve the woman and gave them one rule – don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but the serpent deceived Eve and she ate some and gave it to her passive husband and he ate some too. They hide from God, but when he catches up with them and exposes their sin, he punishes them. First he curses the serpent, then he punishes the woman with pain in childbearing and marriage, and finally he punishes Adam.
Genesis 3
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”
An important thing to notice here is that God did not curse Adam or Eve. He cursed the serpent and he cursed the ground, or the earth.
That is an important distinction. First, God made the earth and it was good, we screwed it up, and instead of cursing us, he cursed the earth itself. Which consequently curses everything that comes from the earth – which, of course, is every living thing, and thus the earth and everything in it was destined for eventual destruction because of Adam’s sin. Hence, all living things that come from the earth eventually die. And the earth itself will die as well.
But Jesus, the uncursed Son of God, became one of us. He took on cursed human flesh, which came from the earth, but never actually sinned himself. Then, he went to the cross and allowed the products of the cursed earth to kill him and shed his perfect sinless blood. 
What this did is far more monumental than forgiving our sins. That’s only part of it.
Colossians 1
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Are you getting the picture yet that the whole of creation is about Jesus and not you or me?
Verse 19 & 20 is the key to what we’re talking about here.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Do you know what this means? It means Jesus reversed the curse of Genesis. God’s creation had failed him and was cursed and doomed for destruction. There was no way out of it, for anyone. But Jesus, actually took on the curse and defeated it in his blood.
Galatians 3:13
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
Jesus became the recipient of the curse that was given to the earth and to humanity by proxy. What he did on that cross is something we can only begin to understand. He saved the whole world, the dirt, the rocks, the trees, the cats, dogs, mosquitos, and you and me by becoming the curse of destruction for us and defeating it.
And because He did that. Because he obeyed the Father even unto death. He is about to get his reward.
Philippians 2
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus overcame the world and the curse on the world by his obedience and death, and now he will be glorified and every knee will bow.
And why that will happen is because God the Father made a promise to God the Son.
We find that promise in the prophetic 2nd Psalm.
Did you know that the Psalms are not only pretty – they’re prophetic?
Psalm 2
6 “I have installed my king
    on Zion, my holy mountain.”
I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;
    today I have become your father.
Ask me,
    and I will make the nations your inheritance,
    the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron;
    you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
The book of Hebrews shows how this is prophetically speaking of none other than Jesus, the Son of God. And in this interchange in Psalm 2, besides indicating the Father-Son relationship. The Father says, “ask me and I will make the nations, (i.e. the world and all the people in it) your inheritance and you will rule.” I guess he must have asked.
Jesus didn’t rule when he came the first time. He had to first redeem the cursed earth because he wasn’t going to inherit a cursed planet and a bunch of cursed people. So, he redeemed his own inheritance, paid off the debt owed, purchased his people and his planet and now, in this throne room scene, the Father is finally giving him what he promised: creation itself. 
All the promises of glory and authority and ruling and putting his enemies under his feet and so on and so on are about to come true.
The baton has been passed. God the Father has given God the Son total and complete authority and control, which, apparently had been the plan the whole time from before the creation of the world. 
Because he alone is worthy.
And clearly the hosts of heaven and earth are thrilled that the promises will finally be fulfilled.
What happens next is Jesus taking ownership of his promised planet and the people in it so he can literally rule on earth for a thousand years as the Father had promised Him. But even that is not the end of the story…
Prepare to have your mind completely obliterated…
1 Corinthians 15
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
What we are witnessing through John’s eyes in this throne room scene is the future point in time when God the Father will give the cursed but redeemed world to God the Son to set all things right. When he’s done, and all prophecies and promises have been fulfilled and all enemies destroyed, God the Son will give the cleaned up kingdom back to God the Father. So that God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – may be all in all….as He was before the creation of the world. 
The only difference will be that now we will be a part of that, but we are not even close to the main character or subject of this story.
I mentioned earlier in this talk that this scene, where the Lamb takes the scroll answers the question – Why did God create the heavens and the earth?
Obviously I cannot prove this empirically, but it would seem from the passages we’ve covered today that the whole of creation and all of the history involved is simply part of an expression of love between God the Father and God the Son. And we are fortunate enough to be caught up into it.
I don’t have time to dive into that this morning, so I’m just going to let you chew on that for a bit and I think you will come to the same conclusion the further we get into this series..
But since we’ve effectively now zoomed so far out that all of creation and history looks like a marble in a kid’s hand, let’s zoom back in to what all of this has to do with you and me.
It’s possible that some of you may be little bummed to realize that it really isn’t all about you. It’s not even remotely about you. That in the grand scheme of things, you and I are are about as important as one of those dust particles that you can only see when they’re floating in a beam of light, otherwise we never even notice them.
It’s true. We are that insignificant in the greater picture of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existing and loving each other in eternity past and eternity future with all of time and space being but a moment in that eternity.
But, at the same time, we must be quite special to God that He would make us in His image. And that he would speak to us. And that the Son of God would become one of us, and that the God the Holy Spirit would literally live inside of us, and that He would even give John these visions so we could get a glimpse into all of this.
It is true that we are insignificant specs of dust in the grand scheme of things, but our creator knows us by name. And He wants us to be a part of that mysterious love between the persons of the Godhead. It’s hard enough to imagine how that works, much less to try to figure out why he even cares for us dust specks – but He does.
And once we realize that this is true, what should our reaction be?
I’ll tell you – anything but pride.
Anything but ego.
Anything but self interest.
Imagine the foolishness of a prideful, arrogant, self-absorbed dust speck…
No, the only sane reaction to this, is one of complete humility and surrender to this larger picture of our AWESOME Godand wanting nothing more than to be fortunate enough to be a dust speck that settles and rests on the living Godeffectively becoming part of Him.
It’s not a far off analogy if you think about it – Jesus often spoke of how we become one with Him and He is one with the Father.
 
It’s kind of funny to think about it this way, but that’s what we preachers do.
It’s totally true that there are plenty of dust specks that become one with us. They don’t disappear just because you can’t see them. They are in the air you breath, and they settle in our lungs and on our skin and our food..etc. Not to gross you out, but just imagine being a dust speck that God breaths in
Or even better – a dust speck that God invites to become part of Him. That’s really what is happening. And, I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind and humbles me to the point of complete surrender. 
And the more I meditate on this bigger picture – and the AWESOME God that for some reason loves us – the more the things and worries and fears of this world have a way of just fading into background noise.
I invite you to give it a try.
Let’s pray.