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Breaking Down the Prophetic Material

May 5th, 2015

“Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?”

Revelation 5:2

The scene in Revelation 5 has moved to the throne room of heaven where the One seated on the throne – referencing the Father – holds in His right hand a book, a scroll, biblion is the Biblical word, from which we get our word “Bible.” But this is not the Bible that He holds, this is not the completed revelation of God, rather it appears to be something like a title deed for the redemptive plan of God for humanity. “The title deed of humanity’s inheritance” is the way some scholars have seen it (De Burgh and Robert Jamieson, for examples), and if it is not that then it is certainly something like that. In this book is the remainder of the story of redemption, the judgments of God against sin and the completed victory of God for His people.

Christ-centeredness: The single key to keeping everything in the Bible and especially everything in the Revelation in its proper perspective is the Person of Christ. He is the main character of the entire Book and of each individual book of the Bible. And this has an application in our lives – Is He the main Person in our lives? in yours and mine?

No one was found worthy to open the scroll, to break the seven seals, and this was cause for John weeping uncontrollably (Rev 5:3-4), but then one of the elders assured John that there was One worthy, “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seals” (5:5) and John describes Him appearing as “a Lamb as though it had been slain” (5:6), so there can be no question who this is describing – Jesus Christ. It is as though John, a newcomer to heaven, had not yet learned everything and the elder comforts him – Don’t worry, don’t fear, here is One who can redeem us and fulfill God’s plan.

To me the scene portrays the terrifying thought that resides in the mind and heart of every atheist – “What if there is no Redeemer?” What if there is no One who can fulfill all the hopes and godly aspirations written in God’s Word and treasured in our hearts? What if the world has progressed thus far and then there was nothing else but death and non-existence? No hope, no future, no eternal purpose, nothing but a frustrating and painful end?

There is deep theology here, and for all those who do not take the Revelation seriously they form a much more shallow doctrine as concerns the completion of God’s promises to His people. Here is rich theology and even if it is delivered in apocalyptic language, the great bold brush strokes are readily understandable and essential to grasp the full story of our redemption. Here is Trinitarian theology well represented, and the relation between the Father and the Lamb is clarified. There is one throne – not two, not three. In chapter 4 God on His throne is described in His glory and holiness, but then in chapter 5 we read “in the midst of the throne …  stood a Lamb” (5:6).  The praise that was expressed to God, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power…” (4:11), is also said to the Lamb, “You are worthy …” (5:9,12). And then together they are praised by all, “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (5:13). And in Revelation 22:3 we read, “the throne of God and of the Lamb,” very similar to the Trinitarian baptism formula of Matthew 28:19, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit.” The throne (singular) is the throne of God and of the Lamb; the name (singular) is the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. In heaven we will not see three “gods” but the One God, and as Jesus said to His disciples, “He who has seen me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus is the face of God, now and for eternity.

Our redemption is centered in Christ, in His Person and in His works. He is the central figure of the Bible, of world history, of our redemption, and of the Revelation. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Three times He is described in Revelation: (a) He is the Resurrected Christ in 1:12-18; (b) He is the Reigning Christ in 5:6-14; (c) He is the Returning Christ in 19:11-16. In all of these He bears the title and does the work of Redeemer.

Here is my outline of the Revelation:

  • Introduction: Chapter 1
  • Messages to Churches: Chapters 2-3
  • Great Tribulation: Chapters 4-18
  • The Return of Christ: Chapter 19
  • The Millennium: Chapter 20
  • The New Heaven and New Earth: Chapters 21-22

The consistent reality in our lives and in our hearts will be the work of the Spirit to draw us to Christ. Several years go a young woman came to my church and confessed that she had no problem with God but did not understand why we Christians talked so much about Jesus Christ. I explained that He is our Redeemer and the Lord, and she listened to me, but it took her a few weeks to fully grasp what the Bible said about Jesus. Finally she trusted in Christ and I baptized her, and it was a great day of victory for her and of celebration of the church, for this one person came by the Spirit and by the Word to the position of faith in and surrender to Christ Jesus.

So God draws us to Christ and this is His work in our world and in our lives today. Do you love Jesus more today than you did previously? This is true spiritual progress in our souls.

Second Coming of Christ ,