The Hope of the Nations

The first entry in this series can be found here.
The previous entry can be found here.

What makes you cry?

I’m sure your answers are similar to my own:

  • Reading or seeing something beautiful that brings happy tears
  • Losing someone or something you love
  • Loneliness
  • Being misunderstood
  • A breakup

The answers are likely endless. But maybe an even better question: What makes you grieve?

John (the Apostle) is still looking through heaven’s gate, at the very throne room of God, and despite the beautiful, awesome, breathtaking sights he is shown, he is still led to grieve in the very throne room of God.

What might evoke this kind of response? John writes as follows in Revelation 5:1-7,

Then I saw in the right hand of the One seated on the throne a scroll with writing on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
I also saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or even to look in it.  And I cried and cried because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or even to look in it.
Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw One like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth.  He came and took ⌊the scroll⌋ out of the right hand of the One seated on the throne.

The overall focus of this text—like all texts in Scripture, and especially Revelation—is Jesus Christ. But John describes the throne room of God in Revelation 4:1-5:4 without describing Jesus Christ. There is a reason for this. A Christless world is a hopeless world; a Christ-filled world is a hope-filled world.

In verses 1-4, we get a glimpse of a Christless world:

Then I saw in the right hand of the One seated on the throne a scroll with writing on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
I also saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or even to look in it.  And I cried and cried because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or even to look in it.

Now, yes, there is no such thing as a Christless world, and even this text proves that One is seated on the throne, so don’t get carried away with my outline of the text. The point is that before Christ entered the scene–2,000 years ago–everything was shrouded in mystery. God’s will, God’s plan, God’s story were all unknown.

Verses 1-4 then, are a picture of the world before Christ. There was no one worthy to carry out God’s plan of redemption–for the whole created order. Redemption isn’t just for humanity; it is also for the earth (cf. Romans 8:19-21). Creation’s redemption is further proven by the fact that the opening of the seals will unleash plagues and judgments on the earth. Many of these involve blood, which is used for purification (cf. Leviticus). God is judging humanity for their sinfulness and unbelief, and in so doing, purifying, redeeming, and restoring the created order to its Edenic state.

But the angel asks, “Who is worthy?”

No one could be found.

And John grieves. A world with no Christ is a world without hope. Do we believe this? Does it lead us to grief when we realize that many of our closest friends are living in a world virtually the same? To live without Christ, even in a world with Christ, is to have no hope in this world.

In verses 5-7, we see where the world’s hope is found:

Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw One like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth.  He came and took ⌊the scroll⌋ out of the right hand of the One seated on the throne.

Jesus is the hope of the world. Notice how the elder describes Jesus. He is the victorious, conquering, Lion of Judah. He is David’s descendant. This description is replete with Messianic references.

We must also notice that no literal lion can come from Judah. Judah was a human man. David was a human king. John didn’t see a lion. The elder wasn’t describing a literal lion. Lions are powerful beasts. You don’t mess with a lion and come away unchanged. This is the point of calling Jesus a lion.

We must also notice the elder’s first words to John. “Stop crying.” There is only one hope we have to have our tears dried up. It is looking at our Savior and King–Jesus Christ. He is our only hope. Apart from Him, it is only grief.

But when John looks at Jesus, he doesn’t see a conquering Lion. Instead, he sees Jesus, but he describes him as “One like a slaughtered lamb.” Jesus is complex. We can’t simplify Him. At the same time, He is as fierce as a lion and as gentle as a sacrificial lamb. This is our God. If we could totally understand Him, He would cease to be God.

Notice where He stands. He is “between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders.” Jesus is our mediator. And He dwells among His priests, His brothers, believers in Him (cf. Hebrews 2:10-18).

John further describes Him as the One with “seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth.” Horns refer to power (cf. Daniel 8:1-8, 20-22). To have seven horns is to have absolute power. No one else compares to the power of Jesus. Seven eyes refer to perfect knowledge. Jesus sees all and knows all. Nothing happens apart from His knowledge. Putting power and knowledge together means that Jesus sees all injustices that are committed, and He has the power to avenge those wrongs. And He will. It won’t take too many more entries in this series to see proof of this.

Also, don’t miss the phrase, “which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth.” The Holy Spirit is the eyes of Jesus. Jesus is everywhere, seeing all, because His Spirit is active and present–invisibly–on the earth. Again, another text of Revelation where all three members of the Trinity are depicted together.

And then, we see what Jesus does. “He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the One seated on the throne.” This proves that Jesus is no ordinary person–or even angel. He walks right up to God and says, “I’ll take that,” and He takes it because He is equal to God. They are on the same team. Their wills are aligned. Jesus is going to carry out the Father’s will because He is the only One worthy.

This plan has been in motion for the past 2,000 years. As we move into chapter 6, we will see this. Any day now, this plan could reach its conclusion. Jesus is coming back, and we don’t know when.

I pray that you are a believer in Him before He returns. He is the conquering lion to right all wrongs and to destroy all sin, wherever He finds it, which includes you–if you haven’t repented and believed in His name.

Belief involves believing the other truth about Him as well. He is the slaughtered lamb. He was crucified on a cross. He took God’s wrath for sin so that you could be seen as righteous by God if you believe in His name. He didn’t stay dead. The elder said, “The Lion . . . has been victorious” because Jesus rose from the dead. This is hope for you–if you believe–that even death won’t be too powerful for Jesus to overcome. Death can’t keep you from Him–if you believe.

Trust Him today!

You don’t know how long you have.

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus
Sola Scriptura

Thanks for reading.

The next entry can be found here.

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