You Are Worthy, O Lord

Revelation 4:1-11

Revelation starts out with vision of Christ – are to understand messages to churches in view of 1:12-20… the glorious exalted Christ ministering in his church.

Heard what was, then what is (varied state of the church), now what is to come. But first… to prepare us for both description of what is to come and its reality: see behind curtain that veils heaven from our sight, there Sovereign Creator Redeemer on his throne. Yes, is graphic and helpful picture of worship; tempted to stop there… is much we can learn. However, sole or even primary purpose chapters 5 & 6 not to teach us how to worship. Intended to give frame of reference for rest of book… and all of life. Take courage…Do Not Be Afraid – all that is described later, awful as some of it is, takes place in full view and under sovereign rule of God on his throne.

Question that troubles lots of folks – if God is good, if God is all-powerful, why is there evil? Is one kind of question when it’s generic evil out there somewhere. Is another when is loved one experiencing evil, another still when it’s you or me – enduring evil of loss, disease, persecution, hardship. How do you answer the question?? One answer – either God’s not good or he’s not all-powerful: doesn’t care or can’t change it. Bible gives different solution… doesn’t give us all the answers, not even many of ones we really want. But, does show us: God knows what he’s doing and will make it all come out right in end.

“throne” – 14x this chapter, 46 total in Revelation; 12x in this chapter about the throne, the one that is center of attention and activity. Clearly, perspective of Revelation is that Someone is in charge – not simply battle between the fates or random processes of evolution working. Since we’ve read to the end, know that the One on the throne prevails over all his foes and ours. Meanwhile, living now in middle of life getting messy, need that reassurance that God is gracious sovereign ruling over all his creation. Need to keep coming back to that point, looking at world and our circumstances from beside the “throne set in heaven”.

Once again things get different for John – has another incredible experience, granted the ability to see and understand things hidden from normal view. Sees an open door, hears a voice, sees a glorious throne that shapes his perspective for all that follows.

A. a door, a voice, a throne v.1-2

door into heavenly sanctuary has not always been open – Heb 9:7-8but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing.”

so long as earth-bound place of worship requiring daily sacrifice in existence, much of heaven’s reality stayed mystery, off-limits

there is a real future and hope for the believer… and we can begin in this life to wrap minds around its greatness/glory

same voice heard earlier – Rev. 1:10, 17I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the First and the Last.”

voice that speaks with authority…over all whether friend or enemy – encourages confidence in friends, terrified anger in foes

there is a real King…without beginning or end – no limits to his existence, his domain, his authority, with no peer whatsoever

the real deal, only signified in mercy seat / cherubim – Ex. 25:21-22And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you.There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”

now we see into true Holy of Holies, the true throne seen in shadow form in earthly tabernacle; the One on throne there in all his glory, that goes beyond capacity of words to express

there is a real power that transcends all others… whether playground bully or Far-Eastern megalomaniac, many speak / act as though they have great power – whatever power they may or may not have is subject to that of One on throne

heaven where John’s perspective stays for duration (exc. Rev. 17:3 and Rev. 21:10) – viewing full sweep of earthly existence from Cross to Consummation from other side of tapestry

you’ve seen back side of carpet or tapestry – certainly not much beauty, may not even have recognizable pattern… then you turn it over, amazed at what you see

from our horizontal vantage point here and now, looking at back side of tapestry God is weaving – to get full picture, need to look at it from top…from inside heaven’s door…with spiritual understanding first; then will have right perspective of the rest

as we look through that door, hear that voice, see that throne, remember this: that is our real inheritance, no earthly power can diminish or take away

B. on the throne

One sat – like jasper and sardius (2b-3a)

John makes no attempt to describe God – lets reader know God’s glory and splendor surpasses all else: riches of his being, beauty of his character, glory of his deeds far exceeds ability to comprehend and communicate

most beautiful thing we can imagine simply a pale, finite reflection of God’s glory – as body of Christ, we should reflect his glory

no earthly ruler / dynasty / kingdom… even all put together cannot compare with indescribably glory of our God

lightnings, thunderings and voices (5a)

not an inanimate figurehead, content to passively sit on throne and do nothing – this One continually displays power / authority

Ex. 19:16, 19On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.”

God rested from work of creation, has not nor will he ever rest from work of providing for his creation – governing, sustaining, actively involved and engaged in affairs of his creatures

lives forever and ever (9)

without exception – every power on earth has a beginning; most have already had an end, the rest will certainly end some day

this One on throne not only has no beginning… has no end either – no administration change, no successful coup, no worries

receives glory and honor and thanks = worship (10-11)

no higher authority, no greater being – the one solely responsible for existence of all things and so deserves all worship

all things at every part of their existence are subject to will of God – even Satan waging war on the saints is not outside God’s will: Satan’s purpose is evil, God’s purpose in same events is good

we, this morning, every time we worship are adding our voices to those in heaven who praise God continually, giving the One on the throne glory and honor he alone is worthy to receive

C. around the throne

rainbow (3b)

powerful symbol of promise and hope: first rainbow made it clear – God’s plan for mankind not to end in destruction, and…all that immediately preceded was not in vain

this rainbow reminds of God’s covenant faithfulness – need not fear future, God will continue to be gracious to his people

24 thrones (4)

remember salutation back in 1:5-6 “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.”

representative of God’s people – “kings and priests” serving and worshiping God, dressed in righteousness of Christ – God, seated on throne in center is both object and audience in worship

4 living creatures (6b-9)

seen in Ezekiel’s opening vision…similar but different, will appear again several times with varying roles – participating in worship around throne and also in service to God as he executes judgment

just as God’s people are to serve and worship him, so too all God’s creatures as represented by the four: prefiguring the delivered creation spoken of by apostle Paul, Romans 8

D. before the throne

7 lamps of fire (5b)

when put together with chapter 5 – God in his perfections and fullness, each Person represented: Father on the throne, Holy Spirit before the throne, in the midst of the throne “a Lamb as though it had been slain” (5:6)

sea of glass (6a)

perhaps reminiscent of laver, necessary for cleansing in earthly tabernacle – here before God’s throne is absolutely undisturbed… Christ’s work of cleansing his people fully complete

crowns (10)

further evidence of utter worthiness of One on the throne – no competition for honor or authority, instead complete submission to the One who is worthy of all praise, glory, honor

E. why it matters

things which must take place (1)

throne is starting place for considering what is and will be – God and his absolute supremacy must be non-negotiable origin

look at physical through spiritual filter, not other way round – real action is happening on spiritual level, physical is simply mirror

don’t forget: Eph. 6:12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

one Creator and Sustainer (11)

still “on the job”, exercising his will over all things – don’t have to understand how, just need to remain confident God knows what he is doing…for our good and his glory

no matter what it looks like, God still on his throne – not distracted or frustrated, has not abandoned his people or his plan

the Almighty – 9x in Revelation – final outcome not in question: our God, only God will prevail over all his enemies and ours

“The struggle in Revelation can be viewed as a struggle between these two thrones, the throne of God and the throne of Rome (which is also the throne of Satan). Revelation demands a choice on the part of the reader. One must choose before whose throne one will bow. For John the answer is simple. Because God is the one before whom all other powers must fall, only God is worthy of human worship, adoration, and praise.” Reddish

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