Session 8 – The Throne Room of the Universe Pt2
In the previous session we saw a glimpse of Heaven as John is ‘caught up‘ and told “Come up here and see the things which must be ‘after these things’” – literally, things that are to occur after the church age. John is then ‘immediately’ – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye – before the throne in Heaven and sees the One sat upon the throne. Chapter 4 describes the brilliance of this scene as being like pure Jasper, yet at the same time blood red – suggestive of the impending wrath to be poured out upon this unbelieving and Christ rejecting world.
John was not the first to see this incredible scene, for we learn from 2 Corinthians 12:4 that Paul was also caught up to Heaven. However Paul simply says that what he saw ‘it wouldn’t be right to utter’ – in other words, it was so wonderful that any attempt to put it into words would not do it justice! So we have to be grateful that this ‘Revelation’ was given to John and not Paul, for at least John tries to convey what he got to see! Paul does at least say that God dwells in such a magnificent clothing of light that ‘no man can approach’! (see 1 Timothy 6:16).
John adds that around the throne was what appeared to be an majestic emerald-green rainbow, seemingly to be an eternal reminder that Jehovah-Nissi is a covenant keeping God.
One thing to note before we move into chapter 5 is that, to this point, John has been looking at the Triune God on the throne. That is, the Father, Son & Spirit in One; hence the Holy, Holy, Holy chorus sung by the four angelic ‘living creatures’. As John’s eyes seem to be adjusting from the sheer brilliance of all he is looking at, he becomes aware of the most awesome sight in time and eternity!
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
Ancient ‘books’ used to be made from papyrus which was a reed type plant that grew along river banks (particularly the Nile in Egypt). The long strips were laid out vertically and horizontally and glued together, beaten and then smoothed with stones to make a soft material that you could write on. Usually only the smoothest side would be used for writing, but for certain documents both sides would be used.
Typically a title deed to a piece of land, a will or other legal document would be like this. Interestingly enough, the Romans sealed their wills with seven seals.
What it appears we have here is the title deed to the earth, which was forfeited by Adam, and currently resides with Satan:
The Title Deed To The Earth
- In Genesis 1:26-30 God passes the Title of the newly created Earth over to Adam
- Through his pride and jealousy, Satan sets about usurping man, causing Adam to forfeit his inheritance
- Satan’s ‘ownership’ is confirmed in 2 Cor 4:4 & Luke 4:6-8
- According to the rules of inheritance:
- “If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold” – Lev 25:25
- The book of Ruth is an incredible model of God’s plan of redemption!
- Naomi has forfeited her land…
- In steps Boaz, who is a wealthy kinsman
- He redeems the land…not for the land’s sake…but to purchase his bride!
- Adam had ‘become poor’ and been forced to give up his possession
- Only a kinsman was entitled to claim back the land…
- But he would have to able to redeem it
- That would mean paying the price for which it had been sold
- That price was sin
- So only a sinless kinsman of Adam could redeem the land!
And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
The fact that a strong angel is underlines the importance of the task. This call goes out to all humanity, for the response has internal consequences.
The question is an important one. Only one who is legally entitled, that is worthy and able, can open a title deed.
And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
It is interesting where they looked:
- In heaven – this proves that men are in Heaven, and further supports the Rapture occurring in Rev 4:1.
- In earth – this is to be expected as it is the usual abode of mankind.
- Under the earth – this is another one of those scriptures that strongly suggest that Hades / Sheol is a real physical place that is ‘geocentric’ i.e. in the centre of the earth. Other examples of this are: Numbers 16:30-33 (Korah) / Psalm 28:1 / Psalm 30 / Prov 1:12 / Ezek 31:16-17 / Eph 4:9 etc. – no one was found worthy in any of these places – no surprise really!
This is also a rebuttal to the many so-called Christian evangelists (Copeland / Hagan / Hinn / etc) who teach that we are little God’s, or even that we are equal with God. That is just another regurgitation of the lie in the Garden of Eden. No man is found worthy.
And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
John ‘sobbed convulsively’. We might not get it, but John did. If no one could be found who was a kinsman of Adam, who had the right to redeem the land (earth), it would stay in the hands of it’s current owner – Satan. Now we can see why he was so upset.
Tears in heaven? See also 1 Cor 3:15 – See Rev 21:1-4.
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
It is worth noting that it is one of the elders who steps forward to explain the situation to John
“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:15. The LORD reveals his secrets to his friends.
‘Weep not Look! There is a kinsman of Adam, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David who has overcome and has the authority and legal position to open the book and break the seals.’
Two titles are given to Jesus here:
One to answer to the ‘Worthy’ requirement – drawn from Genesis 49:9-12
One to answer the ‘Kinsman’ requirement drawn from Isaiah 11:1-5
At this point you can almost hear all of Heaven breath a sigh of relief!
Jesus as Kinsman
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh”: (Rom 8:3)
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5)
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit”. (1 Cor 15:45)
Redeemer of the Land
God owned the Land (earth). God gave it to Adam. Satan usurped Adam and gained the title of the earth as is seen in Luke 4:5-6 “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.”
However when Jesus came as a kinsman of Adam, He had the right to purchase the earth back – which He did on the cross with His own blood – this made Satan a murderer of a righteous man and therefore he forfeited the earth.
In Rev 5 the ‘title deed’ is opened by the only one with the credentials to do so, and in the 19th chapter we see Jesus laying claim to what is now His – ie the earth.
Jesus as Avenger
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)
But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:
Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. (Deut 19:11-12)
That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. (1 Thess 4:6)
And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. (Rev 19:1-2)
And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Now for the most awesome sight in time and eternity – one glimpse that answers every question, calms every fear & comforts every broken heart.
John starts by saying ‘behold’ – that is, look, pay attention! Then he says ‘lo’ – this is something too awesome to behold, something that, despite everything John has already seen, almost takes his breath away.
There are two Greek words used for Lamb in the New Testament, the word used throughout Revelation speaks of a tender lamb, yet one who would lead. This is indeed a fitting description of Jesus; the eclectic mix of the gentleness of Jesus combined with His power and strength.
Notice: ‘in the midst of the throne’. He had been there all the time, surrounded by the four creatures and the elders. In the words of the great hymn Immortal Invisable: “tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee”.
And here in Heaven John sees the fulcrum of eternity: a Lamb, the Lamb; the lamb that John the Baptist declared to be the one who takes the sins of the world
Lit: a lamb as it had been slaughtered – Isaiah 53:7
John 1:29 “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
There are 24 titles given to Jesus up to this point – In the rest of the book Jesus uses this title of Himself more than any other (27x).
Severn horns – complete power
Severn eyes – all seeing / all knowing / all wisdom
‘The only man-made thing in Heaven will be scars’
And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
These must be prayers that have been prayed before this time, by us! How many of us really pray ‘Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”? Do we not prefer to pray “Give me this day……”? It this because we haven’t comprehended the reality of these things yet? What does it mean to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth? And why did Jesus say that we were to pray for this?
And they sung a new song, saying, ………
Notice we will be singing in Heaven – we’re even given the words ahead of time so there will be no excuse!
………Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Verses 9 & 10 have caused some controversy in the past. The NIV, RSV and others Most modern ‘Bible versions’ have a note in the margin saying that the ‘best manuscripts’ or ‘the most ancient manuscripts’ or ‘the most authoritative manuscripts’ say: ‘them’.
This is important because if it’s ‘us’ then the Church is in Heaven before the Tribulation starts. If it’s ‘them’ then it doesn’t necessarily mean the Church is in Heaven at this time.
(NB: to reach this conclusion you would still have to ignore all the other clear teaching on the subject which clearly show that the Church will be in Heaven – but still people choose to debate this point, so we need to have the answers).
Modern versions talking about ‘best manuscripts’ etc. have been at best very clumsy, and at worst intentionally dishonest to say the ‘best manuscripts’ or ‘the most ancient manuscripts’ or ‘the most authoritative manuscripts’. This has more to do with wielding academic muscle and appearing ‘scholarly’ than a desire for the truth, but it has proved very effective in selling new Bibles.
For example, in the Latin Vulgate version, which was translated by Jerome in 385AD, we read: “And they sung a new canticle, saying: thou art worthy O Lord to take the book to open the seals thereof because thou was slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every tribe tongue people and nation and has made us to our God a kingdom of priests and we shall reign on the earth”
Tyndale, in his translation wrote in 1537: “And they sang a new song saying thou art worthy to take the book to open the seals thereof, for thou was killed and hast redeemed us by thy blood out of every kindred, tongue, people and nation and made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign with Him upon the earth”
In fact, all of the old translations are unanimous about the word ‘us’.
The English translation we have for the book of Revelation was actually done from 95 Greek manuscripts – not all of them were complete.
Now scholars will be quick to tell you that only 23 of the 95 manuscripts say ‘us’ in verses 9-10 of chapter 5. On the surface this appears to be a problem, but as they say: ‘a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing’; because we find out that out of the 95 Greek manuscripts used, only 24 manuscripts have chapter 5 verses 9-10 in them, and out of those 24, 23 of them say ‘Us’ – the only Greek manuscript that says ‘them’ is the Alexandrinus, from Alexandra in Egypt – the home of the Gnostics! Even the Siniaticus says ‘Us’!
This means that over 95% of the earliest manuscripts say ‘us’ – placing the Church firmly in Heaven before the Tribulation. There is just one manuscript, from a place that was renowned for false doctrine, says ‘them’.
You make your own choice, but I would much rather be in Heaven before the Tribulation starts. Some have said that this is just ‘escapism’. If the other alternative is ‘stayism’, then I know what I’d prefer! As Jesus said: “Pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36)
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
In other places this word (Greek: ‘Mooreeas’) is translated ‘innumerable’. The idea that John is try to convey is that there were an innumerable company of angles as far as the eye could see surrounding the throne.
Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Jesus is worthy to receive riches. Human rulers become puffed up and sin when riches are increased (Deut 17:15-20). How above our ways the Son of Man is; He is holy, without blemish, the spotless Lamb of God!
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Every creature in heaven, we can understand that. Every creature on the earth, again we’re happy with that. But creatures under the earth, what are they?
What about giants/demons that have been cast into the ‘abussos’ – the bottomless pit in the centre of the earth?
2 Peter 2:4 says: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;”
In Luke 8:30-31 we read: “…….And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep (abussos – the bottomless pit).
We will consider this further in Chapter 9.
And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
Not surprised! What else could we do in the presence of such a wonderful and awesome God and Saviour?!
Bring it on! I can’t wait!
More next week…
May you be blessed and encouraged as you continue to study God’s Word.