Click on link to hear audio: 11-12-17
“Is it safe to go to church?” Revelation 5
The Texas church shooting raises the question, “Is God able to protect his own Bride?” I have sometimes thought that a troubled person I was trying to help could come to church with a gun. But I believed God would protect us so I didn’t worry about it.
The interpretive question that will help us understand the Book of Revelation, “What would the visions John received have meant to the folks in the 7 churches described in the first three chapters?” They were asking, “Can God protect us in the world?” is one of the big questions in Revelation. Is it safe to go to church? “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…” Can he do that?
God’s decree is powerfully effective to accomplish his will. (What’s on the scroll?)
• A pregnant message: Papyrus was normally only written on one side but God needed both sides to complete his plan. God has a fully developed strategy for cleansing his church and calling the world to repentance. He’s not shooting from the hip and making it up as he goes.
• What’s on the scroll? When the seals are broken and the scroll is opened God’s wrath is poured out on the earth. Just as when God said, “Let there be light” and there was light, the words on this scroll create a new future.
• John weeps because if God’s purpose is not accomplished then men are left to their own devices and there is no answer to evil. The world will descend into anarchy. The prayers of the saints would not be answered. John doesn’t want to take that message to the church.
• Things don’t happen in the world by chance but rather according to the decree of God.
The Lamb (and only the Lamb) has the moral authority to judge the world.
• We look to see a ferocious lion but instead see a gentle lamb who then appears to be slaughtered who becomes an all-powerful, all-knowing ram.
• Christ has already won the victory.
“Here lies the great paradox of Christianity: victory comes from apparent defeat; evil is conquered through the terrible sacrificial suffering of the cross (1 Cor 15:54)…When Satan placed Christ on the cross, it was his greatest tactical error, for he took part in his own defeat.” Grant Osborne, 253
“In Revelation martyrdom is seen as a victory over Satan, not a defeat (6:9-11, 7:14-17; 12:11). As when he put Christ on the cross, Satan defeats himself whenever he takes the life of one of the saints.” Grant Osborne, 194 (Because that saint overcomes and defeats him.)
Worship invites judgement: The next thing coming is a release of divine wrath.
• The Elders sing worthy is the Lamb
o Seems to be representative of the redeemed of all ages; OT and NT saints. Every nation: Diversity is achieved not by validating every lifestyle but by bringing all things in submission to Christ. We can tolerate and even enjoy our differences but unity only happens in the body of Christ. There isn’t really anything else like the Church.
o The elders are holding harps and bowls of incense.
o In the context of Revelation these prayers are a calling out to God to act on behalf of the martyrs, to avenge their blood, to bring justice to the wicked.
o Even when we pray for a sick friend our prayers will be more powerful if we call out cancer, diabetes, and other diseases for what they are: manifestations of evil that will be vanquished when Christ redeems the world.
• The angels sing, worthy is the Lamb, who was slain is fit to govern.
No one would say a TSA agent possesses qualities of power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise.
• Every creature in heaven and earth submits to the rule of God. Christ receives power without seizing it. This points to the consummation as a fait accompli.
“It is important to realize that the victory of the Lamb and his exaltation to a place of authority occurs not at the end of the book but has already been achieved at the cross.” Grant Osborne, 221
It’s hard to live safely since victory only comes through suffering. The purification of his church through suffering is part of God’s strategy for the end times, which is now.
It is safe to go to church because the Lamb who was slain has victoriously become the seven horned ram.