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the scroll of revelation 5

Revelation 5 continues the vision of the Court of Heaven in session. Whenever God is ready to render a judgment, he calls “the council of the holy ones” to assemble (cf. Ps 82:1; 89:5-7). Here in John’s vision, God is holding a scroll sealed with seven seals. In many ways, the scroll is the key to understanding the rest of the book of Revelation.
 
Let’s begin with Daniel because he saw this incredible scene in a vision back in the sixth century BC. “As I looked,” said Daniel, “thrones were placed, and the Ancient of days took his seat … the court sat in judgment … and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man … and to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom … which shall not pass away” (Dan 7:9-14).
 
Considering both visions, the scroll appears to be earth’s title deed. The only one worthy to open it and carry out God’s action plan for the world is the risen King (Rev 5:1-7). By taking the scroll, King Jesus accepts responsibility to cleanse the cosmos of evil in preparation for the new earth. Only Jesus is worthy and capable to take on such a massive task. He alone has the wisdom, love, humility, and power to rule in a way that produces righteousness, justice, grace, and mercy across the universe. Jesus has the fierce fearlessness of a lion and the tender humility of a lamb.
 
To open that scroll means to release righteous judgments and set things right.
 
When Jesus takes the scroll, the Court of Heaven grabs their harps and golden bowls of the prayers of the saints (Rev 5:8). Why? Worship and prayer influence world affairs (cf. Rev 8:3-4)! Worship and prayer are vital components of setting things right. This causes all of creation to burst out in a “new song” of praise (Rev 5:8-14)! What is this new song? It is the new creation song! We sing the song of rescue and renewal to be put into effect in “the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10). The good news song sings about—not just going to heaven—but about the rescue, restoration, and renewal of creation (Rom 8:19-21; Acts 3:20-21).
 
In anticipation of the new earth in the Age to Come, God’s people sing the new (creation) song: “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 you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:9-10). King Jesus redeemed us so that we may reign on earth as a kingdom of priests now and forevermore.
 
Daniel summed it up well. “Judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom … And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Dan 7:22, 27). All the infinite resources and power of heaven are committed to the big plan. It cannot fail. It will come to pass. 
Posted in coaching

the court of heaven, revelation 4

The vision of the glorified Christ walking among the churches on earth is followed by a vision of the Court of Heaven.

When John enters his first vision, he is not catapulted into the future. He gets a glimpse of the present reality of heaven! John is invited into God’s royal “space” to see the universe from heaven’s perspective. What did he see?

God’s throne is surrounded by concentric circles. Radiant colors of the rainbow loop around it to remind us of the covenant God made with Noah to preserve the earth (Rev 4:2-3). Four living creatures, known as “cherubim,” circle the throne as well (4:6-8). They are neither angels nor chubby babies. Cherubim are guardians of God’s throne. Their gyroscope wheels provide a chariot that can move God’s throne in any direction (cf. Ezek 1:6-26; 10:20-22). Yep, God’s throne moves!

John sees another circle made up of 24 thrones for 24 elders (Rev 4:4-5, 10). Who are these “guys” clothed in white and wearing gold crowns? They are not guys! Whenever God is ready to render a judgment, he calls “the council of the holy ones” to assemble (cf. Ps 82:1; 89:5-7; Dan 7:9-10). Those on the Court of heaven are sometimes called “sons of God” (Ps 89:6; Job 1:6) or “watchers” (Dan 4:13, 17, 23) or “rulers and authorities” (Col 1:16) or “seraphim”—which means “shiny flying serpent”-like dragons (Isa 6:1-8). Amazingly, God invites heaven’s elder board to participate in decisions that affect human affairs on earth (e.g., 1 Kings 22:19-23). God is all-knowing and certainly doesn’t need advice; but he is a loving, relational God who works with creaturely beings (celestial and human) to advance his purposes. Isn’t that marvelous?

John then sees angels circling around God’s throne (Rev 5:11). Contrary to popular belief, nowhere in Scripture do we see angels with wings. Nowhere. When they reveal themselves to people, they seem to appear as men. Angels are messengers that God sends to earth to accomplish specific missions. Their job is to announce, rescue, serve, and guide “those who are to inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14). Some angels rank higher than other angels (1 Thess 4:16; Jude 9; 1 Tim 5:21; Dan 10:13; 12:1), but all angels rejoice when someone repents and believes in Jesus (Luke 15:10).

What is the point of all this?

Every creature in heaven currently works under the direction of the risen King, the only begotten Son of God. “Christ is now in heaven, where he sits at the right side of God. All angels, authorities, and powers are under his control” (1 Pet 3:22, CEV; cf. Eph 1:20-21). After all, it was Jesus who created the entire host of heaven in the first place! “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:16).

No matter how out-of-control things may seem on the earth, we must view history from heaven’s vantage point. God’s throne room is command central, and the Court of Heaven is in session! “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev 4:11).