Revelation 5 marks a transition. The first four chapters are filled with the worship of God for His role in creation. Now, in chapter five, we shift focus to the worship of Jesus Christ for his work of redemption.
Here's something you might want to write down. In Revelation 5, we find:
A SCENE OF UNRESTRAINED PRAISE AND ADORATION.
That's what we'll be looking at.
We're going to start in the middle. Look at verse nine:
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Two passages from the Book of Psalms elevate this point:
Psalm 99:4-5 - "The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!"
Psalm 40:16 - "But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, 'Great is the Lord!'”
Revelation 5 is bathed in worship for two primary reasons:
WHAT JESUS CHRIST, THE LAMB OF GOD, DID.
AND WHO HE DID IT FOR.
First, from verse nine, for you were slain.
What did Jesus do? He died at the hands of Roman slaughterers with the approval of religious authorities. His blood was poured out…that's what happens to one who is slaughtered…by his shed blood Jesus purchased people for God. As the passage says, "By your blood you ransomed people for God."
The most important thing to remember from verse nine is the slaying of the Lamb. It's an interesting juxtaposition. In many passages of Scripture, the Messiah is referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He is of the root of David. In other words, there's a powerful kingly attachment to the Messiah. As verse five says, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals." You have, in the movement of a few verses, the powerful kingly image becoming the lamb-like lion led to slaughter. Hardly a vision of earthly power and might.
But here's the important thing to know. By his crucifixion…by the shedding of his blood…Jesus purchased a people for God. So two questions arise from this truth:
Purchased away from what?
Purchased for what?
We saw what we were purchased from in Revelation 1:5-6:
And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
What a beautiful statement on the purpose of Jesus' death. Whatever powers that held us in bondage…whatever manifestation of sin gripped our lives…whatever wickedness held sway over us physically or spiritually or emotionally…whatever ugliness that we see in ourselves and is offensive to the Holiness of God…the liberating price of the Blood of the Lamb has set us free from our sins. The payment Jesus paid on the cross was a payment for sins. The payment was the death of the Lamb.
Here's something else you might want to right down:
WE ARE FREE FROM CONDEMNATION.
In other words, the payment for our sins was made when the blood of the Lamb was poured out in the cross. This was his victory for us through sacrifice. A central theme of The Revelation to John is victory through sacrifice.
We were purchased from the penalty for sin. And then, in a related truth, we were freed from a rebellious and unbelieving heart.
To see this point, let's get ahead of ourselves with Revelation 13:7-8:
Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
As we focus on verse eight, we can make an easy assumption. There were names written in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world. Let that sink in. That is huge. Before God created the world, and before He created you, your name was written in a book. As the Psalmist reminds us, God knew us before we were being knitted together in our mother's wombs. The names of the followers of Jesus Christ were written in the Lamb's book of life before the creation of the world.
So Jesus not only paid the price for our sin, but by including our names in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain, he claimed us as one of his own. And as one of his own, our worship is drawn to him, not the beast. That is a point that will be developed in greater depth later. Not later this
morning, but later in the series. For now, we rest confidently in the promise our transformed hearts will not worship the beast. Our worship is reserved for Christ and Christ alone.
There's a great reminder of this in verse nine. "Worthy are you." "You are worthy." This is a not-so-subtle antagonism against the wicked, corrupting culture of John's day. You see, whenever and wherever the Roman emperor showed up, people showered him with the vere dignus. And woe to anyone who did not join in. Virtue signaling was a thing two-thousand years ago. They celebrated the emperor with "You are worthy." And so Revelation 5 turns that on its head. Jesus Christ is the only one worthy of our praise. Anyone offering those words to the emperor is in rebellion against Jesus. They have an unbelieving heart.
Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins. Jesus has kept our hearts from worshiping the beast. And finally, Jesus has rescued us from the lake of fire. If that sounds ominous, it should.
Revelation 14:9-11 and 20:15 say:
And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”
"And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
There's really not much more that can be said here. The people who have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb, who were freed from idolatrous, rebellious hearts, are rescued from the lake of fire. The lake of fire represents God's wrath for human sin, which results in eternal torment.
Here's what Jesus said about that, in John 3:36:
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey
the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."
Here's what Paul said in Roman 5:9:
"Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God."
The Word of God ties this all together. We have been purchased from condemnation for our sins…and unbelieving hearts that would worship anything and everything but Jesus…and eternal torment under the wrath of God in the lake of fire.
So, as we have been purchased from these three things, what, then, are we purchased for? Verse nine says "you ransomed people for God." For what purpose?
Let's take a roundabout way of driving at that answer.
Evil roams the world. The devil is clearly at work. Two lines from "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" emphasize that point:
For still our ancient foe does seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God has willed his truth to triumph through us.
We know this. We see it played out in so many ways. Horrible images from around the world. Heartbreaking stories. We wonder, does human ugliness know no bounds? Evil devours the innocent and the guilty.
Contrast that with the focus on the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
That is the counterbalance to the wickedness so evident in this world.
We have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb. Jesus Christ is our all-protecting, all-providing, all-guiding, all-satisfying Lord and Savior. And so, under his care, we are released into the world as his priests. As verse ten says, "you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God." In Christ - we can say we are in Christ because his sacrifice on the cross brings us to himself - in Christ we have the everlasting honor and joy of serving God wherever we go. That's what we have been purchased for.
And that's not all. There's a beautiful statement on those who have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb. Again, verse nine, "By your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Keep in mind what we touched on earlier, that the names of those saved by the blood of the Lamb were written in the book of the Lamb. So what is the universal implication here?
John is showing us what Jesus said in John 10:14-15:
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as
the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
By his blood, Jesus purchased a people. And here's the key point. His sheep…the ones who hear his voice and follow him…he gathers them not from one single geographical place or culture group or ethnic group, but he gathers them from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Make no mistake. Revelation 5 is the great affirmation that we have been chosen, before the foundation of the world, to worship and serve God. Our names have been written in the book of life. The blood of Christ has purchased us from the bondage to sin and freed us to joyfully live in this broken and sinful world, looking forward to spending eternity with Jesus. That's what Revelation 5 affirms. No matter what we experience or go through in life, all is well because Jesus Christ is Lord. He knows us and calls us by name because those names are written in his book of life.
Without being too formulaic, here's a clarifying formula:
Those whom God chose, He purchased. And those whom He purchased, He called. And those whom He called, He delivered from the worship of the beast. And those whom He delivered, He justified and forgave. And those whom He justified and forgave, He glorified.
In the Lamb's book of life, there is no ethnic pride. There are no borders or boundaries. There is no national or tribal superiority. It is only through God's grace and mercy that our lives have meaning. Everything else counts for nothing. God calls people from every tribe and language and people and nation to worship Him and serve Him.
So here we are. Until we die, or Christ returns, whatever happens first, we have been called by God to worship him and serve him. By the blood of the Lamb, we have been purchased out of the darkness to live in the light.
SOLI DEO GLORIA…
To the Glory of God Alone