December 12, 2004




Revelation 5


Sermon Notes


For a much more extensive treatment, click here.



How ludicrous is the nature-worship of today! They make sharks safe in their thousands (we read there may be up to 2000 Great White Sharks alone, swimming in Australian waters, The Advertiser, Nov. 30). They even protect crocodiles, when in some parts of Queensland, there is real danger of consigning humans to their innermost parts. Man is becoming super-sensitive to the environment because he does not know the Maker of it, and so clings like someone left by her husband with a rapidly declining fortune,  watching it eaten away.


It is not that God is dead to man, but man is dead to God. Exceptions ? fewer than might appear, since the number of supposedly Christian bodies putting out their own ideas on morals, doctrine and Christ grows like weeds. FEW there be that enter the narrow way, Christ declared and MANY will be those who futilely come to Him at the end, claiming great works for Him: I NEVER KNEW YOU! is His predicted reply (Matthew 7:20ff.).


People try to downgrade Christ and upgrade nature, but in the end, the mere object of God’s creation cannot save you: you need HIM who made you for that! (Psalm 100), you need GOD, the only Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11, 53:4-6), who did His mighty work AS MAN, as MESSIAH! WHEN you have found Him, well might you join the angels singing to the shepherds at the time of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:13-14), “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill toward man.” The pitifully small body of texts making it  “to men of goodwill” merely attests man’s roving romancing about things. It is the GOODWILL OF GOD which is in view, and CONVERSION is needed to find it, not a preceding goodwill in the hearts of men! (cf. Luke 13:1-3, Colossians 1:19ff., Ephesians 4:17-19). To God’s standards, NONE comes except by the sacrificial offering of Christ (Hebrews 2:1-3, Ephesians 2:12).


Titus tells it similarly: “But when the kindness and love of God toward men appeared,
not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,
through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that having been justified by His grace,
we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
It is the serpent who teaches against it.




When you find Him, and know Him in this way, then with the angels, praise is your heart’s desire (cf. Psalm 149-150). Not only did the angels sing it at the nativity, but in our text in Revelation 5, we find something like an appalled silence, as the scroll of events of come stands untouched. WHO will take it ? None can do so; for history and judgment await, as the following chapters of Revelation very well show. Indeed, without that real Israel (‘prince of God’), that true servant,  that Christ, God would not have so much as created (Isaiah 51:16, 49:3), but having His Word to send, His Son to be crucified in view, He did create and did know the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), His Son being “slain from the foundation of the world” before the face of His Almighty wisdom (Revelation 13:8).


It is this very Lamb (Rev. 5:6), who takes the scroll. HOW could this world FACE such judgments as
come ? ONLY because in the love of God, the antidotes are prepared, the path is well trodden, the costs of its construction are fully paid (Hebrews 9:12).The one who will not walk on it is not a pitiable spiritual foundling, but a rebel. Force is not employed here; but faith is required. He has His people covered, not from suffering, but from the meaningless, the ungoverned, the doom and the deceit (Mat. 24:24): the path for each is prepared (Psalm 32). YOU are His ? then your path is prepared and your way is provided, so that surrendering your own willfulness, you inherit in Him (Proverbs 3:4-5).


The silence then, sudden - as in Rev. 8:1's immensely dramatic but only temporary hiatus - when at first none could take the scroll, becomes praise, as He, the Messiah, comes and receives it.  WORTHY is the LAMB, the Redeemer, available for any in all the earth, the only cover in all the universe (Col. 1:19ff.),  to take the scroll, open the doors of history; for He has redeemed His people, making them kings and priests (cf. Romans 5:17, Rev. 22:5, Hebrews 4:16). The atmosphere depicted is fraught with prayers like incense, poured out, as history at last moves to the deliverance of the people of the Lord, and the consummation of the divine kindness. The newness of their Song is the freshness of the occasion, the axis of history turning on Christ, exposing His people to a full realisation of His wonder, who alone is sufficient as sacrifice and Saviour, Shepherd and Example for man (Matthew 24:35).






Then it is like a delightful carnival, for whole multitudes bring out their own song, a resounding acclamation. What lacks,  as praise shatters the silence and covers the heavens! Power, riches, honour, wisdom, strength and glory are for Him, slain and sovereign, redeemer eternally royal, the everlasting God in human form (cf. Isaiah 44:6, Revelation 2:8ff.).  It is no question of mere aristocratic estates: for if He had nothing, now all is for Him; yet He had all, and now it is freely conferred again by the very heart of His redeemed.


Never such a king! (cf. Ezekiel 34, John 10). A name above every name has a fame above every fame! (Philippians 2:9-10). Let praise therefore lighten your face, inspire your spirit, touch your heart, provide a radiance about you,  as you do as does this uncountable multitude of angels before the triune God.



III   PRAISE Cries for ETERNAL BLESSING,  worship rises like the sun (Rev. 5:13-14)


You may sometime have escaped death by cancer; and it is not a pretty thing, and how would you tend to honour the doctor who did it, delivering you! as you praise God for your escape. Yet here, it is no mere physical death, but spiritual and eternal contempt (Daniel 12:2) which you escape, the wrath of the God who is a consuming fire, leaving no dross. Deliverance a grant to His people (Romans 6:23), it is gladly received, while He is gloriously loved. Is then His praise to be feeble like the last dim strands of light at dusk ? On the contrary, we  read: “Blessing and honour, glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne and to the LAMB for ever and ever.”  No sanction will define it; no authority will demean Him, who saves eternally. If this praise is not in your heart, does His blood cover your soul ? See to it.


There is no end to this His glory – forever and ever! No new aspirants, no new plans ever arise (Eph. 1:10); for they are all crushed, hopeless in history. Grace has won; goodness has conquered; peace prevails because truth is loved, and pardon is free. So do the elders fall down and worship (Rev. 5:14).


Now can history flow to its terminus, and as it does. Now do the children of God find and know Him, an innumerable host ( Rev. 5:13). Now can heaven and earth come to their end, judgment sit and all the actions of God through the millennium to the dismissal of the very earth (Rev.20:1ff.), mature like cakes in the oven. Grace has provided; mercy has paid; love has come to do it and wisdom has found the way. 


Bathe in the everlasting kindness of the Lord, or as Poet Laureate John Masefield put it in the title to one of his great poems, The Everlasting Mercy. No race is excluded, no blood is too unclean. God has cleansed by the washing of regeneration and decontaminated by the blood of the everlasting covenant (Titus 3:4-7). You enter in Him the everlasting doors to the everlasting family of God, saints procured by payment extraordinary, children born by intervention both spectacular and spiritual.


How well does the spiritual exuberance of Psalms 148-149 express it, for as to Him, He “will beautify the meek with salvation”; and He places in the hands of His saints “a two-edged sword”, enabling them to “bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron”. So does He enable the testimony of truth through His people and His Church, exciting praise, even while the world damns, and delight even when it is covered with sorrows, abuse and vehemence, speeding to its witless end. HE is not like that: He enables eternal life freely, so PRAISE HIM! His it was, and to many has He given it (I John 1:1-4), breaching death as a baby the womb, alive from the dead in the aweful solemnities that end the fear of death and the wrath of judgment alike (Hebrews 2), providing peace!


“My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you!” He declared. Like Himself, it is very deep and very delightful. Naturally by all means we seek to disseminate the truth that the peace and the beauty of holiness in the Lord of all praise may be found. This life is the completion of the life which fell in the trial, the consummation.