Honor and Glory and Might – Revelation Bible Guide Day 10
March 2, 2018
Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
7He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. 8When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9They sing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; 10you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.” 11Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
Points of Interest
- “the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb” – The Lamb gets the same worship as Creator God did in the last chapter. In many ways, Chapter 5 is a parallel to, or a recapitulation of Chapter 4. Stories are told about this Lamb, songs are sung, just as with God. This is part of the first century Jesus community’s working out what it means that Jesus and Creator God are two persons that share the same nature and identity. It’s also part of their working out that Jesus is the deepest, clearest, most accurate picture the world has yet seen of the nature and character of God. Want to know what God looks like? Look at Jesus.
- “the prayers of the saints” – Our worship and prayer on earth reaches God and are both beautiful and valuable to God.
- “You are worthy… for you were slaughtered” – Jesus can see and reveal God’s plans for history because Jesus endured suffering on all humanity’s behalf. Conquering comes through self-giving, vulnerable suffering, not through violence. This would have shattered the Roman ideal of redemptive violence that peace is secured through war, that military conquest brings glory. The myth of redemptive violence is also an obsession of contemporary American entertainment and nationalism. We see and hear that through violence, heroic victories are won, national freedoms are protected, and justice is secured. But God doesn’t use violence as a tool or a means to an end. Jesus is worthy for using sacrificial love and powerful vulnerability as a means to redemption.
- “and by your blood you ransomed for God saints” – Ransom is an old metaphor for the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion. People were enslaved to our own foolishness and addiction and the power of evil. Jesus can free us, and his blood is the ransom payment. It’s metaphor. No one is necessarily being paid off, but God pays the full cost of our freedom, not us.
- “from every tribe and language and people and nation” – Jesus is drawing people to God from every conceivable human demographic across the globe.
- “to be a kingdom and priests serving our God” – The destiny for God’s children isn’t just freedom but authority. Keep in mind that many of the first century believers were slaves. What good news this is that all people, regardless of how much they have been diminished, are made to be co-rulers with God on earth.
- “to receive power and wealth…” – A second worship song, sung by millions in full voice, to the slaughtered Lamb. It’s a stunning scene of hope and victory. Jesus has the right to all the things the most powerful emperor could ever dream of having. His victory is total. For people who suffer or make counter-cultural choices to align with Jesus, this is a scene of great hope for them as well. Team Jesus wins, but not at any one else’s expense.
This week we invite you to welcome Jesus to knock on your door, to center your life, and to shape your vision of God. Imagine yourself among the millions singing around this throne. Are you comfortable there or not? What victory do you hope Jesus has achieved for humanity?
A Direction for Prayer
Pray for your city: that people and churches and media and arts would learn to tell stories of redemptive suffering rather than redemptive violence.
The Bible Guide
This blog post is part of a Lenten journey through the book of Revelation. Every year during the season of Lent, we take a focused look at a portion of Scripture as part of our communal spiritual practice. This year, we are exploring what it means to be Children of God in a Fractured World, with Revelation as our lens. The series starts here.