GNB 2.107

May 9, 2023


Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center where the throne was. He was encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. 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.  They were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song.” (Revelation 5.6a, 7-9a)


When reading the Book of Revelation, people can too easily get lost in the vocabulary and imagery drawn from Jewish Apocalyptic literature and Greek Tragedy. We would do well to commit time to reading pieces from both genres. We would do even better, I think, if we spent time reading the works of the Hebrew prophets from Isaiah to Malachi. Specifically, one should read Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel and the Minor Prophets. The revelations given to them for those in their time bear the building blocks of understanding for the gospel and the new covenant community which it inspires in our time. There is a singular truth throughout all the works, even in Greek Tragedy, which must be clear to the people of all ages.

Truth Number One: God’s will be done and it cannot be undone in this or any other world.

Truth Number Two: Those who fail to understand and incorporate Truth Number One into their daily living and thinking will be undone in this world and in the next.

So, where does that leave the “rest of us”? Well, if we avoid TNT, then we won’t get “blown up.” That doesn’t mean we will not face trials, tribulations, hardships and death. We most certainly will because we live in a world system that infected by sin. And we allow the infection to happen. We invite it in by opening the door of our heart and mind to the consideration that there might be something as powerful or more powerful that the One True God. We may even go so far as to entertain the idea that the One True God isn’t powerful at all. Putting our doubt on God instead of our faith in God is a dangerous and life-ending proposition. There is much sickness, sadness and madness in this world. It is not lost on God who sees the sickness, feels the sadness and comprehends the madness. He has an answer for it all. The answer becomes visible to us when we put down the TNT and take up the TNO. We may not fully understand the TNO, but the TNT is a known element rendering danger and harm. Too many believe they can handle TNT with care and not be harmed. That is the danger. Eventually, TNT will do what it is intended to do: transform life into lifelessness. There is certainly enough of that happening in today’s world. Every one is looking for a “safety” or a “safe solution.” All the conflicts we experience in this world can be summed up with what I just presented, such as: drug cartels, warlords, abortion, mass murders, political jealousies, false philosophies and religions or none at all. Everyone is looking for “the answer” to the question “What will make it all stop and go away?” Is it really a mystery?

In today’s reading, Revelation 5, we take a step into the depth of worship where the mystery is revealed. We can be so easily swept up into the music, the choreography, the smoke and lights of worship that we lose track of its meaning and purpose. The meaning and purpose of worship is to recognize Immanuel, God with us. We do not have to fully understand and comprehend God. He is a mystery to many people. But, what we can understand and comprehend is that God loves us and truly wants what is best for us. He laments when we do not see this for ourselves. And we can know that God loves us by focusing on the element of truth: God’s will is for our benefit, our salvation and our eternal life. These can be the descriptors of authentic love. And God is love. We know the love of God best when He did not spare His own son from the sacrifice on the cross. Jesus, who was fully capable of doing this, took on the sins of the entire world from beginning to end, and let His blood cover the debt we created by agreeing to sin in our lives. It is no mystery which the gospel presents. In His own words Jesus declared, “No greater love is there than this but that a person would lay down their lives for another.” And He did exactly that. He did it not just for another but for all others! So, in the midst of worship to which John was invited, God presented His Word (the scroll) to all those who were present. Its seal could only be broken by the one who was worthy enough and capable enough to do so. It was a duty and a responsibility as well as an honor. You might think of it in terms of Arthur and Excalibur. The sword buried in the stone could only be removed one person. That person was worthy and capable of bearing the responsibility which the sword conferred and empowered. That person only!

So, in the midst of worship the mystery was resolved. The mystery was “Who is worthy enough to bear the weight of the scroll when it is unrolled?” Remember when I suggested reading the Old Testament works from the prophets called by God? In them you will find God commanding writing on a scroll that would then be sealed for a day of revelation. It was writing which declared the will of God for His people and for those who refused to be His people. And it wasn’t a matter of “prejudice and bias” which determined who were God’s people and who were not. The people determined that for themselves by what they believed in and believed against. God presented the standard of life which was called “righteousness.” We make it easy for God to determine who is and who isn’t. We do not have to think in terms of “judging others.” In fact, we are warned to not judge one another lest we be judged ourselves. But, there is One who is fully capable to bear the responsibility of judgment. He is the one who presented the truth concerning righteousness. Those who accept the truth and abide by it (to the best of their earthly ability) are God’s people. It isn’t about being Jewish or from Israel. We know the scripture: not Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, young or old for we are all made one in Christ. The truth is there is God’s people and then there is “all the rest.” And God’s business is turning lifelessness into life. It has always been His business from the first moment of creation. We are the product of His business. We are beneficiaries of His commitment to our excellence as His people. But, it is a matter of choice. And Jesus, God’s Son, accepted the choice to redeem God’s people from the snare of eternal dying and deliver them into the safety of eternal life where nothing could or can separate them from the abiding love of God. He is the one worthy to unroll the scroll. Bearing the marks of the conflict with the enemy, the Lamb that was slain was empowered by righteousness to rise and lay claim to the authority of the scroll.

Mighty ones of God, isn’t this the mindset that should be in our services of worship and in our worship services? Should we not present the focus on God’s Will and the One who will accomplish it fully for the sake of those who choose to be God’s people as well as for those who do not? He is the dividing line between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness, life that is lived and life that is dying. He is the Word of God, from God, as God. In Him is no malice or forethought. He is the True, Righteous and Holy One of God who brings hope and promised to the point of fulfillment…whether we believe it or not! And that becomes our “new song” to be sung in and before all the world on earth as it is in Heaven. Selah.


You are our God and we shall be Your people in spirit and in truth. Continue to dwell among us. Let the revelation by Your Holy Spirit inspire us to greater service in a more refined identity. We do not live as ourselves for ourselves. Rather, we live in Christ as He lives in us. We declare it with all the elders and angels in Heaven, saying “Holy, holy, holy is He who was and is and is to come.” In Jesus’ name we live, serve and pray. AMEN.

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