Friday Funnies

CHURCH MEETING

There will be a meeting of the Church Board immediately after the service,” announced the pastor.  After the close of the service, the Church Board gathered at the back of the sanctuary for the announced meeting. But there was a stranger in their midst — a visitor who had never attended their church before.  “My friend,” said the pastor, “Didn’t you understand that this is a meeting of the Board?”   “Yes,” said the visitor, “and after today’s sermon, I suppose I’m just about as bored as anyone else who came to this meeting.”

THE RIGHT TOPIC?

A pastor fell out with his church council over various church policies and procedures, including how the finances were handled. After bitter arguments and many nights of lost sleep, he decided to leave the congregation to take a job as a prison chaplain. He preached his last sermon at the church on John 14:1: “I go to prepare a place for you.”

FAMILY FEUD

Early one morning the husband and wife were arguing over who should get out of the warm bed to make the coffee. Finally the wife folded her arms and said decidedly, “You have to make the coffee. It’s in the Bible!”

The husband was shocked. “Is not! Show me!”

Pulling out her Bible, the wife opened it to one of the New Testament books and declared, “It says right here — HEBREWS!”

Bible Study

WORTHY IS THE LAMB Revelation 5:1-10

As we enter this fifth chapter, it would be a good time for a little review.  In chapter 4, John is caught up into Heaven.  When he arrives there, he sees God Himself sitting on a glorious throne.  John sees Heaven arrayed as a courtroom.  God is preparing to unleash His wrath on the inhabitants of the earth.

        So, chapter four ends with God receiving the praise of His created ones and of His redeemed ones.  Heaven throbs with the voices of those caught up in their love for Almighty God.  Chapter five finds us in the same courtroom in Heaven.  Now, praise has ceased for a moment and heavenly business is about to be transacted, and we are going to have front row seats as it is acted out.

      We are about to find out that, in Heaven, Jesus is the central Figure.  He is the center of attention.  I believe that Heaven will be a glorious, wonderful place.  I believe there will be streets of gold, walls of jasper, gates of pearl, and more glory than you and I can imagine.  I believe it will be great to see Abraham, Moses, Paul, and the rest.  But, the main attraction of Heaven will be Jesus Himself.  In this passage, we are going to see Jesus Himself, in His rightful place; glorified and exalted in Heaven. This passage sets the stage for the judgments that will come during the Tribulation.  It also reveals Jesus in His exalted glory. 

I.  A MYSTERIOUS SCROLL     v. 1                  

This chapter begins, God is said to be holding a book.  Now, this is not a book like you and I think of a book.  It is actually a scroll.  Paper was made in long sheets, and as it was written on, it would be rolled up.  A portion would be written, and it would be rolled up and sealed.  Another portion would be written and then that portion would be rolled up and sealed.  This scroll God holds has seven seals on it.  This is a mysterious scroll; let’s see if we can unravel the mystery of the scroll.

A.  The Character Of This Scroll – As we read these verses, the character of this scroll becomes clear. 

·         First, it has something to do with “man”, v. 2-4. 

·         Second, it has something to do with the “earth”. In Revelation 6, the seals of this scroll began to be opened and the contents of the scroll are read.  When they are, they reveal what will be happening on the earth during the Tribulation Period. 

·         Third, this scroll has something to do with “redemption”.  When Jesus takes this scroll, He is praised for His redemptive work, Rev. 5:9-10.

      This is a book of redemption.  Redemption is something we talk about a lot.  It is an important truth.  Understanding redemption is vital to understanding God’s great plan for the ages.  Everything He does and has ever done is related to His redemptive work.

      To understand redemption, we need to look back to Old Testament times.  In that time period, three things could be redeemed.

1.  A Slave could be redeemed – If a master lost a servant, he could pay a redemption price and buy that servant back.  (Ill. That is what Jesus did when He came to die on the cross for us, Rev. 5:9; Gal. 4:5; 1 Pet. 1:18-19.  We have been “bought with a price”, 1 Cor. 6:19-20.)

2.  A Wife could be redeemed – If a woman was left as a widow with no male children, a close kinsman of her dead husband could redeem her, and her husbands inheritance, by paying a redemption price. This is seen in the book of Ruth, when Boaz paid the price to redeem Ruth and her dead husband’s inheritance.  (Ill. Jesus died on the cross to redeem a Bride unto Himself, Eph. 5:25-27.)

3.  Land could be redeemed – If a man lost the land he had been given as an inheritance, he could buy his property back by paying a redemption price.

            This truth is demonstrated in Jeremiah 32.  Jeremiah’s uncle had lost a piece of property. Jeremiah’s cousin comes to him when he is in prison and he asks Jeremiah to buy back the property, v. 8.  Jeremiah does this and records the transaction on a scroll and seals it up, v. 10.

            They would record the information related to the redemption on both sides of a scroll.  On the inside they would write the reason the land was forfeited.  On the outside they would write the terms of the redemption.

             Apparently, they kept two copies of this transaction; one was open to the public for all to read and another copy was kept sealed up, v. 10-11.  These scrolls were laid up in the Temple, in earthen jars for safekeeping, v. 14.  Jeremiah serves the function of a kinsman redeemer for the property that belonged to his uncle.  

What we are witnessing in Rev. 5 is the heavenly version of what men did in Old Testament times.  If you will notice, the book God holds is written on both sides.  It is written up and sealed just like a deed.

When Jesus died on the cross, He did not just die for us, He also died for a ruined creation, Rom. 8:22-23.

 

B.  The Contents Of This Scroll – I believe this scroll that we see here, is the title deed to the planet earth.  When man sinned in Eden, sin entered this universe.  Man fell that day, and God’s creation came under a tragic curse.  We will never know the full extent to which sin has ruined creation; but we do know that when Adam fell; creation fell also.

            Here is the problem, when God made man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, God gave man dominion over all of creation, Gen. 1:27-28.  When man fell, he gave away his dominion and Satan became the god of this world, 2 Cor. 4:4.  When God sent Jesus to redeem mankind on the cross, the blood of Jesus redeemed fallen sinners.  But, it was and is also sufficient to break the bondage of sin over creation.  The Second Adam bought back everything the first Adam gave away.

            So, this scroll in the hand of God is written within and without.  On the inside is the tragic story of sin, tragedy, death, failure and defeat.  On the outside are the terms of redemption.  If we could read these terms, we would find that the redeemer must be one who is willing to redeem and one who is worthy to redeem.

 

I.  A Mysterious Scroll

II.   A METICULOUS SEARCH    v. 2-4             

For the next few verses, this scroll is front and center in Heaven, as a search is made for one who is worthy to break the seals and read the contents of the scroll.

A.  v. 2  The Requirements Of This Search – An angel asks the all important question, “Who is worthy to open the book?”  The question is this: “Who is morally fit to read the text of this scroll and to carry out all that is necessary to redeem the earth?”

      Notice that the angel did not say, “Who is willing to open the book?”  There have been many men down through the ages that were more than willing, but they were not able.  More than one ruler has determined that he would have dominion over the earth.

      Alexander the Great conquered the known world by the time he was 33 and wept because there were no more lands to conquer.  He did not redeem the world; he left it worse than he found it!  Before him, Nebuchadnezzar saw himself as the greatest ruler ever.  He was not worthy to take dominion either.  Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charlemagne, Adolph Hitler and scores of others were more than willing to have dominion over the earth, but they were not worthy.

      Soon, the world will see the rise of a demonically charged madman called the Antichrist.  He will come far closer than any mortal man to ruling the world; but in the end, he will merely ruin the world.  He too will prove that he is unworthy to possess the title deed to this planet and to rule over all.

      Thank God, there is One Who is worthy to take the book and to open its seals.  We will discover why He is worthy in just a few minutes.

B.  v. 3  The Reach Of This Search – A search is made throughout the universe for one man who is worthy to take the book and open it up.  They searched Heaven above; Hell beneath and earth in between.  They could find no one worthy to take the book!

      There was no saint in Heaven, not Abraham, Moses, David, or Paul, found worthy.  Gabriel, Michael and all the angelic host of Heaven were not worthy to take that book.  No one living on the earth, no king, no president, no ruler, no billionaire, no politician, no scientist, no preacher, no one was worthy to take the book.  No one in Hell, no demon, no doomed sinner, not even old Satan himself, was worthy to take that book.

      They searched high and low, but no man was found who was even worthy to look upon the book that rested in the hand of Almighty God!

C.  v. 4  The Results Of This Search – When the results of the search are made public, something happens in Heaven that had probably never happened before or since: John burst into tears! 

      There are two words used for weeping in the New Testament.  One is used in John 11:35, where the Bible says, “Jesus wept.”  That word refers to “silent weeping”.  Jesus stood there at the tomb of His friend and He wept in silence.

      The other word is used when Jesus wept over Jerusalem, Luke 19:41.  This word refers to “uncontrollable sobbing.”  It is the kind of crying that a small child does when its little heart is broken.  It is the kind of weeping you see when someone loses a loved one unexpectedly.  It is open, unabashed weeping!  It is the same word used of John’s weeping in this verse.  John is in Heaven and he is weeping out loud because no one is worthy to open the book, or even to look upon it.

      Why is John weeping? John knows what that book represents.  He knows that if no one can open the book, creation is doomed to feel the effects of sin for eternity.  John’s tears represent the tears of all humanity since man fell in Eden.  John weeps for us all!

 

 

I.  A Mysterious Scroll

II.  A Meticulous Search

III.  A MAGNIFICENT SAVIOR   v. 5-7             

In these verses, we are going to meet the One Who is worthy to take the book, to look on the book and to open the book.  We are introduced in these verses to A Magnificent Savior!

      John is weeping, but one of the elders comes to him and gives him some encouraging news.  He tells John to wipe his eyes and stop his crying because, while no mere man is worthy, One has been discovered Who is!  Let’s examine this worthy One together.

      Notice the elder’s words, “Weep not, behold…”  Then, he points John to Jesus!  That is the message the church has been preaching for 2,000 years, “Weep not, behold…”  Regardless of the problem, Jesus is the solution!  Weep not, look to Jesus and He will meet the need!  What a Savior!)

A.  v. 5  A Conquering Lion – The elder tells John that “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David hath prevailed…”  When John hears the title “Lion of the tribe of Judah”, he immediately knows that the elder is referring to the Messiah.  In Gen. 49:8-10, the Jews are promised that a great ruler will arise out of Judah.  Like a lion, He will be powerful, strong, brave, majestic, and He will be a mighty conqueror.  The Jews were looking for a Messiah Who would throw off the yoke of their oppressors and give them liberty.  They were looking for a military leader to lead them to victory over their enemies.

      This person is also called “the Root of David”.  This title reflects both the humanity and the deity of the Messiah Who was to come.  He would raise up the withered branch of the line of David and bring it to power once again.  That is the human side of the Messiah.  But, He was also the “power behind the throne”.  The Messiah was the Root out of which David sprang!  So, He was a King and He was the King of Kings!

      When Jesus came to this world, claiming to be the Messiah, He did not fulfill the expectations of the Jewish people.  Instead of delivering the Jews from their bondage in a great military victory, and establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, Jesus went around healing, preaching and performing miracles.  As a result, the Jews rejected Him and their Messiah and crucified the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, and the Root of David”.

      When John hears of Jesus in Heaven, He is described as a mighty Lion and as a King and as the King of Kings.  John is told that this Lion has prevailed.  So, Jesus is described as a Conquering Lion.

B.  v. 6  A Crucified Lamb – When John turns around to see this mighty, conquering Lion, he sees a “lamb as it had been slain.”  The word “lamb” means “a little lamb; a pet lamb”.  When John looked, he expected to see a great and powerful Lion; what he saw instead was a little, pet Lamb.

      Of course, this scene is wrapped up in Jewish symbolism also.  With this image of the “little Lamb”, we are reminded of the Passover lamb.  In Exodus 12, the people of Israel were instructed to select a perfect lamb, one without blemish and without spot.  They were to take that lamb into their home and nourish it and care for it for a number of days.  During that time, you know what happened, that little lamb became like a pet lamb to that family.  Then, on the prescribed day, they were take that lamb, kill it, apply its blood to the doorposts of their home, roast its little body and eat it.  When the people did this, they were promised that they would be spared when the Lord came to judge the Egyptians. Don’t you know that it broke the hearts of that little family to kill that pet lamb?

      In that little dead lamb, the Israelites were given a power picture of what the Lord was going to do someday through the Redeemer He was going to send into the world.  Just as that family would kill their pet lamb; God would judge His darling Son on Calvary’s cross.    Oh, how it must have broken the Father’s heart to send His Son into a world filled with people who would hate Him, reject Him and crucify Him.  How it must have broken the heart of the Father to judge the Son in the place of sinners!

      But, it was on the cross that Heaven won the greatest victory of all time and eternity!  We are told that the Lion-Lamb has “prevailed”.  This word means “to carry off the victory”.  Just because Jesus is a Lamb does not mean that He is weak! Jesus carried off the victory at every possible turn.

·         He carried off the victory on the Mount of Temptation, Matt. 4:1-11.  (Satan thought Jesus would Fall!)

·         He carried off the victory in the Garden of Gethsemane, Matt. 26:38-44.  (Satan thought Jesus would Fail!)

·         He carried off the victory on the cross, John 19:30.  (Satan thought Jesus was a Fool!)

·         He carried off the victory when He rose from the dead, Matt. 28:1-8! (Satan thought Jesus was Finished!)

      Satan thought he had defeated Jesus when Jesus died on the cross.  Hell must have celebrated as the broken, bleeding, body of Jesus was removed from that cross and placed in that borrowed tomb.  For three days, the demons and devils of Hell must have cavorted in glee as they celebrated what they thought was Satan’s victory over the Lord Jesus Christ.

      What Satan thought was his greatest victory was in fact his greatest defeat! The cross was God’s greatest accomplishment!  In the cross, God displayed more power and glory than He did in creation.  When Jesus cried “It is finished”; it was a far greater achievement than when He said, “Let there be!”  Jesus is called “Lamb” 28 times in the book of Revelation.  Satan, the Lamb’s enemy is described as “a great, red dragon”, Rev. 12.  Satan’s power is described as massive.  He masses a great human army and a great demonic army, all intend on defeating God.  Heaven’s response to this vast display of infernal power is to send “a little Lamb”. When a nation chooses a symbol, they usually choose and animal that suggests power and authority.  The Lion is the Symbol of Great Britain. The Bear is the symbol of Russia.  The Eagle is the symbol of the United States of America.  When Heaven looked for a symbol, it shoes a “slain Lamb”; a symbol of meekness, submission and gentleness. Jesus conquered Satan’s kingdom not by military might, but be meekness, compassion, love and submission!

      So, a “little, pet Lamb” won the victory and because of that, He is worthy to take the book.  Before we leave this thought, let’s take a moment to examine this Lamb in a little more detail.

·         This Lamb is in Heaven – He is not in a dirty manger.  He is not on a dusty road in Galilee.  He is not on a ship in a storm.  He is not sitting wearied and thirty on the rim of a well.  He is not hanging in shame and agony on a cross.  He is not lying in a cold, sealed tomb.  He is where He deserves to be.  He is in the throne.  He is in Heaven!  He is glorified and exalted.

·         This Lamb had been there all along – This Lamb had been in the middle of the action all along.  John had not see Him until now, but He had been there the while time.  Let me just remind you that Jesus is always in the midst when we gather.  We might not recognize Him, but He is always here, Matt. 18:20.

·         This Lamb still bore the marks of having been slain – When we see Jesus in Heaven, we will see the marks of His suffering in His body.  For all eternity, Jesus will bear the wounds of the cross as a constant reminder of what He did for us.  There will be no room for pride in Heaven!  No one will be able to brag about how he got there.  When we see Him, we will see His love on permanent display.  What a cause for continuous worship and praise!

·         This Lamb was standing – When Jesus ascended back to Heaven, we are told that He sat down at the right hand of God, Heb. 1:3.  He sat down because His work of redeeming sinners was complete.  He stands in these verses because His work of delivering the earth is about to begin!

·         This Lamb has seven eyes – He is all wise and all knowing.  This Lamb is Omniscient.  Nothing escapes His gaze.

C.  v. 7  A Completing Lord – The Lamb takes the book out of the hand of God.  When He does, Heaven breaks out in an anthem of praise.  Heaven knows that Jesus is about to do the work of the Lion and deliver the earth and all of creation from the bondage of Satan and from the blight of sin.  He is about to complete His redemptive work.

      The Lamb is worthy to take the book and open the seals. If this scroll really is the title deed to the planet earth, what right does He have to open it?  There are at least three reasons why He has this right.

·         The world is His by right of Creation – He made it!

·         The world is His by right of Calvary – He redeemed it!

·         The world is His by right of Conquest – He will retake it!

 

Wade’s Wednesday

Overcoming Giants

By Dr. Charles Stanley

The well-known story of David and Goliath teaches believers that obstacles in our life are no match for God. Whether our Goliath is a relational challenge or an overwhelming situation, we must realize that the Lord is sovereign over everything in heaven and on earth, and He has the power to give us the victory.

David had unshakeable trust because past experience had proven that God was faithful. The young shepherd recalled how the Lord gave him the victory on two separate occasions, when a lion and a bear threatened his flock (1 Sam. 17:37).

Our faith is bolstered in a similar way by remembering God’s provision in our own life and by reading about His faithfulness to men and women in the Bible. This is why it’s helpful to keep a record of God’s faithfulness. Then when facing a trial, we can look back at what we’ve journaled and be strengthened, knowing that God has proven trustworthy in the past.

Trusting in the Lord gives us the courage to face our giants. Being so armed, we can respond to challenges on the basis of three important truths:

  • Who Christ is in us—our Savior and Provider.
  • Who we are in Christ—God’s adopted children, eternally secure and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
  • What we have in Christ—the promise of access to almighty God.

Instead of fixing our attention on how big the obstacle is let’s begin focusing on the greatness of our God. If we’ll trust and obey Him, His Spirit will equip us for the challenge, and our faith will glorify Him.

Tuesday With Karen

by Karen Icenhour

The Beauty Of God’s Hand

The beauty of God’s hand is seen in so many ways,
From sunrise to the sunset, the rainbow after the rain;
The moon & stars in the night allow His glory to shine,
There’s nothing more beautiful than His work divine.

The beauty of God’s hand is heard by the birds who sing,
They cause the valleys & mt. tops to have a glorious ring;
From the smallest creature to the mighty & great,
It shows His sweet majesty in all that He creates.

The beauty of God’s hand is seen in the ocean’s roll,
Also with the winds and waves He so wisely controls;
From tidal waves at night to the shells upon the beach,
Everything from His hand is so glorious to see.

The beauty of God’s hand is moving in our life everyday,
He always leads & guides every step on the path we take;
There is nothing more precious or gracious in man,
Than the glory we see in the beauty of God’s hand!

A Tribute to Our Fallen Heroes

By John Boehner

This weekend we pause to remember the men and women who answered the call to serve their country – and paid the ultimate sacrifice, so that we might live in freedom. Wherever these patriots rest, we offer them the respect and gratitude of our nation.

As President Ronald Reagan said:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

As we pay tribute to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who died so that we might live free, we also honor those who are defending our liberties around the world today. They fight not for land or power, but for an idea enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and woven in the very fabric of what it means to be an American: that all men are created equal.

Because of their sacrifice, generations of Americans have been blessed to live in freedom.  This Memorial Day, I hope you’ll join me in remembering the fallen and thanking our warriors for their service to our country.

Celebrating My Scars

Po Bronson, in his book Why Do I Love These People? (Random House, 2005), tells a true story about a scarred and stately elm tree. The tree was planted in the first half of the 20th Century on a farm near Beulah, Michigan. It grew to be magnificent. Today the elm spans some 60 feet across its lush, green crown. Its trunk measures about 12 feet in circumference. And a vivid scar encircles the tree.

In the 1950s the family that owned the farm kept a bull chained to the elm. The bull paced round and round the tree. The heavy iron chain scraped a trench in the bark about three feet off the ground. The trench deepened over the years threatening to kill the tree. But though damaged so severely, the tree strangely did not die.

After some years the family sold the farm and took their bull. They cut the chain, leaving the loop embedded in the trunk and one link hanging down. The elm continued to grow and bark slowly covered parts of the rusting chain that strangled it. The deep gash around the trunk became an ugly scar.

Then one year agricultural catastrophe struck Michigan—in the form of Dutch Elm Disease. . . . . Most elm trees in the vicinity of the farm became infected and died. But that one noble elm remained untouched.

Amazingly, it had survived two hardships. It was not killed by the bull’s chain years earlier, and this time it out-lasted the deadly fungus. Year after year it thrived. Nobody could understand why it was still standing in a vast area where most every other elm tree was gone.

Plant pathologists from Michigan State University came out to study the tree. They looked closely at the chain necklace buried deep in the scar. These experts reported that the chain itself actually saved the elm’s life. They reasoned that the tree absorbed so much iron from the chain left to rust around its trunk that it became immune to the fungus. What certainly could have killed the tree actually made it stronger and more resilient.

As Ernest Hemingway said, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” The same chain that severely wounded the tree saved its life in the end.

The story of this tree reminds me that the very things that have hurt me, physically as well as emotionally, have also helped me more than I may ever know. Many of them left scars—some of the scars are visible and some not. But these days I am learning to accept my scars—even to celebrate them.

Why not? My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.

Yes, I have scars. I have decided to look on them as things of beauty. And I will celebrate them.

Used by permission of  Steve Goodier

Friday Funnies

CASH

A nervous taxpayer was unhappily conversing with the IRS auditor who had come to review his records.  At one point the auditor exclaimed, “We feel it is a great privilege to be allowed to live and work in the USA. As a citizen you have an obligation to pay taxes, and we expect you to eagerly pay them with a smile.”  “Thank goodness,” replied the taxpayer. “I thought you were going to want cash.”

CORRECTION

An elderly gentleman decided that it was time to get something off his chest. So one morning over coffee, he turned to his wife and said, “We’ve been married 56 years, and it still seems that you are always correcting me.” His wife replied, “We’ve been married 58 years.”

LIFE LESSONS

The coach called one of his 9-year-old baseball players aside and asked, “Do you understand what co-operation is? What a team is?” “Yes, coach”, replied the boy…. “Do you understand that what matters is we win or lose as a team?” The boy nodded in yes. The coach continued, “I’m sure you know, when an out is called, you shouldn’t argue, curse, attack the umpire, or call him bad names. Do you understand all that?” Again, the boy nodded yes. And when I take you out of the game so that another boy gets a chance to play, it’s not good sportsmanship to call your coach dumb or stupid is it?” “No, coach. “Good,” said the coach, “Now go over there and explain all that to your Grandmother”!

Bible Study

INSIDE THE THRONE ROOM OF GOD Revelation 4:2-11

The last time we saw John, he had been air-lifted out of this world, through a door that had been opened in the heavens.  He was told that he was about to receive a revelation of “things which must be hereafter”.  As we studied Revelation 4:1, we came to understand that John was a representative man.  He represents all true believers in Jesus Christ who will be taken out of this world at the end of the church age in the event called “The Rapture”. 

We are given a glimpse inside the very throne room of God Himself.  We are allowed to view some of the activities that take place in Heaven before God’s judgment is visited upon the world.

      The scene that is described in these verses is almost beyond comprehension.  But, in these verses, John gives us a small glimpse of what we will be doing one of these days.  

      You see, we need a heavenly perspective on this world.  Taken by themselves, the events, the trials and the problems of this world often make no sense at all.  From an earthly perspective, this world appears to be out of control today: war, disease, crime, wickedness, ungodliness, etc.  But, when you understand that God is on His throne; and when you understand that He is in control; and when you think that He is working out a perfect, eternal, good plan, then it all falls into place.  

 

I.  v. 2-3        THE PERSON ON THE THRONE

The first thing John sees is God Himself sitting on a throne in Heaven.  What a thrill that must have been!  To go to the White House and meet the President would be an honor.  To go to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen of England would be an honor.  But, to walk into the very throne room of God and see Him sitting on His throne would be glorious beyond description!  Yet, that is the honor John was given and it is an honor we will enjoy one day soon!  John describes his encounter with Sovereign God.

A.  v. 2  He Is The Ruling One – The first thing John sees is a “throne set in Heaven”.  A “throne” speaks of “sovereignty and authority”.  We are viewing One Who occupies the place of absolute authority over all the affairs of Heaven and earth, Psa. 47:8; 103:19. The word “set” speaks of “stability, firmness, durability”.  God’s throne is an eternal throne!  No foe will ever be able to force Him down from the place where He rules and reigns, Psa. 45:6. 

      This world may not recognize God’s authority and rule today, but He reigns nonetheless!  Men do not give a second thought to the existence of God; but He notices all; controls all and He will ultimately judge all.  Men may not give Him the time of day now, but we will all face Him some day.  Man may not bow today, but they will one day, Phil. 2:9-11; Rom. 14:12.

B.  v. 3a  He Is The Resplendent One – John attempts to do the impossible: he attempts to describe God.  The One on this throne is God the Father.  How do we know? God the Son takes the seven sealed book out of His hand in Rev. 5:5-7.  John describes God as being like a “jasper and a sardine stone”.  The word “like” lets us know that we have encountered symbolic language.  God is not a mineral or a stone, but His appearance reminded John of these two precious stones.

1.  The “jasper” is clear and bright.  It is possible that it is the same as a diamond.  A diamond is a very hard stone and it speaks of “firmness”.  This comparison reminds us that our God is “firm and unchanging”.  Since we are in the context of a throne room, where sovereign authority is about to be exercised, this tells us that God’s laws, like God Himself, are firm and unchanging. There are certain laws in nature that a firm and unchanging. Tale gravity for instance, what goes up will come down!  God has established the Law of Gravity, it is firm and unchanging. 

      If you place a pot of water on a stove eye and turn on the heat, you need not expect to find ice in the pot when you return. God has established the Law of Thermodynamics, it is unchanging. The same is true concerning God’s moral law.  He is unchanging and inflexible there too.  Men kick against the moral laws of God.  They call the Bible out of date and old fashioned.  They do their own thing thinking that God will let them slide.  The fact is, they are sinning against a God Who is firm and unchanging in His moral law.

2.  The “sardine” stone is a blood red stone.  It reminds us that while God is a God of sovereign rule and absolute authority, Who holds men to a high standard of holiness, is also the God of redemption!  He is a God Who saved all those who will turn to Him by faith. Thank God He is a saving Lord as well as a Sovereign Lord.  If He wasn’t, then we wouldn’t have a chance!  But, it was this holy, righteous, God of judgment and wrath Who was moved by mercy, love and grace to provide a way of salvation for all who will come to Him!

     It is worthy to note that the “Sardius” and the “Jasper” were the first and last stones in the breastplate of the High Priest, Ex. 28:17-21.  The “sardius” represented the tribe of Reuben, and the “jasper” represented the tribe of Benjamin.  These two stones were representative of all twelve stones and were a reminder that God always kept His people and His covenants with His people close to His heart.  In other words, these stones were a constant reminder that God would keep His Word and do everything He had promised to do.

      Judgment will come, but it will be carried out by One Who has walked among us.  There is a human side to His judgment.  He will judge, but it will be tempered by His compassion and mercy.

 

C.  v. 3b  He Is The Restraining One – God’s throne is encompassed by an emerald rainbow.  This rainbow is not like those we see here on earth.  We only see half the bow; in Heaven it will all be visible.  We also know that the rainbow signals the fact that the storm has ended.  We also know that the first rainbow was given to Noah as a visible sign that God would never again destroy the earth by a flood, Gen. 9:11-17. 

      This rainbow in Heaven is a reminder that when we arrive there, the storms will be over for the children of God.  It is a reminder that while we may not understand everything that happens here, we will when we get there.  It is also a reminder that God will judge the earth, but that He will do in line with His promises and His convents.

      You see, the rainbow speaks of God’s mercy.  Even as the wrath of God is about to fall on this doomed world, God is still moving in restraint and mercy. (Ill. Habakkuk 3:2)

  

I.  The Person On The Throne

II.  v. 4       THE PEOPLE AROUND THE THRONE

A.  Their  Association – Who are these individuals?  Some people think they are angels, or cherubim.  The word “elders” is never used to refer to angels in the Bible.  Others think they represent some other group.

      Personally, I think they represent all the redeemed children of God.  Let’s examine the evidence.

·         They are sitting on “seats”.  This is the same word translated “throne” in verse 2.  Thus, they are seen to be reigning with God.  The saints will reign with Him some day, 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 1:6; Rev. 2:26-27.

·         They seem to be a representative people.  In Rev. 21:12-14, the New Jerusalem is described as having twelve gates names after the 12 tribes of Israel.  It is built on twelve foundations which contain the names of the 12 Apostles.  Twelve plus twelve equals twenty-four! I believe that these twenty-four elders represent the redeemed people of God of both the Old Testament and New Testament.

      In the Old Testament, David appointed 24 Levites to represent the entire priesthood, 1 Chron. 23, 28.  When a meeting was necessary, it would have been impossible to gather every one of the thousands of Levites together; but when the twenty-four came together, they represented the whole body.  The same is true of these Elders.  They represent the entirety of the redeemed saints of God!

·         These elders represent us!

B.  Their Activity – They are “sitting”.  This signifies rest.  Their labors are over and they are sitting, at rest in the presence of God in Heaven.

            We are seated in Jesus in Heaven today, Eph. 2:6.  That is our positional situation.  Practically, I am still in this world; living, laboring and longing for Heaven.  One day, we will be where God has already positioned us!

 One day, this life with all its burdens, cares, worries and problems will be behind us forever.  We will go to a new home where those things can never hinder or bother us again, Rev. 21:4. We will enter into His rest in Heaven!

C.  Their Attire – They are “clothed in white raiment”.  White garments in the Bible speak of “the righteousness of the saints”, Rev. 19:8.

      When God saved us, He forgave our sins and cleansed every stain of sin away from us forever.  He declared us to be forgiven and justified in His eyes, 1 Cor. 6:11; Rom. 5:1, 9, that is our positional standing.  Practically, however, we are anything but righteous at times.  We strive for that, but we have a hard time achieving perfect holiness.  One day, this wicked flesh will drop away forever.  We will be remade in His image and we will be perfectly holy and righteous, just like He is!  Thank God, there is a day coming when we will leave sin and the appetite for sin behind forever!

D.  Their Adornments – They have “on their heads crowns of gold”.  There are two words for crown in the New Testament.  One is the word “diadem”.  This is word that is used to describe the many crowns Jesus will wear when He returns in power and glory to reign on the earth, Rev. 19:12.  This is the kingly crown; the crown of glory.

The other is the word “stephanos”.  It refers to “a victor’s crown”, the crown given to victors in athletic contests.

      The “diadem” is worn by Jesus by divine right.  The “stephanos” is earned by the saints.  We are told of at least five crowns that can be won by the people of the saints of God.

1.  The Crown of Life – James 1:12; Rev. 2:10 – This crown is given to those who demonstrate their love for Jesus by successfully enduring trials and temptations.

2.  The Crown of Righteousness – 2 Tim. 4:8 – This crown is given to those who live in the light of His coming.  The saints, who long for, live for and love the coming of Jesus, can receive this crown.

3.  The Crown of Glory – 1 Pet. 5:4 – This crown is the reward of the faithful Pastor.

4.  The Crown of Rejoicing – 1 Thes. 2:19 – This crown is a reward for those who faithful share the Gospel message and point others to Jesus.

5.  The Incorruptible Crown – 1 Cor. 9:25 – Awarded to those who battle the flesh and seek to live holy lives.

 

 

I.  The Person On The Throne

II.  The People Around The Throne

III.  v. 5-11    THE PRAISE BEFORE THE THRONE

A.  v. 5-6a  The Scene In Heaven – As John watches, amazing things begin to take place around the throne of God.  Let’s observe the action.

1.  v. 5a  He Speaks Of Wonders – “Lightenings, thunderings and voices” – The things speak of approaching judgment.  Heaven booms with the warning signals that judgment is on the way.  

      These same things are seen in Ex. 19:16-19.  The heavenly noises then were a warning for the people of Israel to keep their distance from God’s holy mountain.  The sounds were a warning that men had better reverence God, or they will face Him in judgment.

2.  v. 5b  He Speaks Of A Witness – “seven lamps of fire” – This is the Spirit of God in His fullness, Isa. 11:2.  The Spirit is no longer a “Comforter”, John 14:16, 26; He is now an instrument of God’s judgment.  He is there to witness to the righteousness of the judgments that are about to fall on the earth.

3.  v.6a  He Speaks Of Waters – “a sea of glass like unto crystal” – This crystal sea speaks of God’s judgment as being form and fixed.  On this earth, there is nothing more constantly changing or in motion than the ocean.  The sea is never still and it is never the same. This sea is solid and unmoving!  Judgment is fixed and it cannot be altered!

      If you will remember, there was a “sea of brass” called “the laver” outside the tent of the Tabernacle.  Before the priests entered the tent they were required to wash in the laver.  It symbolized cleansing and forgiveness of sin.  How many times have I stopped at the laver of 1 John 1:9 and washed my sins and my stains away?  I thank God that there is a place of forgiveness and restoration today.

      In Heaven, that sea of brass has become a sea of glass.  There will be no more need for the saints to come to God for cleansing.  We will never fail Him again!  That will be a blessing.

      But, for the lost sinner, this sea reminds us that it has become too late for repentance.  Judgment is set and fixed.  Man has reached his limit and God is about to pour out His wrath on a lost and sinful world.  What a horror awaits the “earth dwellers”!

B.  v. 6b-11  The Shouts In Heaven – This throne room is a place of judgment, but it is also a place of praise.  There are two groups involved in the praise of God on this occasion.

            1.  v. 6b-9  The Shout Of The Beasts

a.  v. 6b-8a  Their Description – The word “beasts” comes from the Greek word “zoon”.  We get the words “zoo” and “zoology” from it.  The word has the idea of “living ones”.  John sees these four “living ones” and attempts to describe them for us.

·         He says that they are “full of eyes before and behind”.  This speaks of complete intelligence.

·         One was like a lion – This represents wild animal life.

·         One was like a calf – This represents domesticated animal life.

·         One was like a man – This represents intelligent life.

·         One was like and eagle – This represents bird life.

·         These four beasts represent the entirety of God’s creation gathered before Him.

·         They are “full of eyes” – perfect intelligence; They have “six wings” – speaks of swiftness; They “rest not” – speaks of ceaseless activity.

·         These representatives of all creation stand in the presence of God and lift their voices in praise to the Creator.

·         He is the Creator and everything that was made exists for Him and for His glory, Col. 1:16-17.

b.  v. 8b  Their Declaration – They declare His holiness.  They declare His eternal nature.  They declare His sovereignty and His control over all things.  All of nature is involved in praising the Lord.  (Ill.  The rain, the sun, the birds, the animals, everything but man exists to glorify God.  Everything but man glorifies Him by doing what He formed them to do!)

 

(Note: Before we leave these beasts behind, we should also note that they represent different sides of the Lord Jesus. 

·         The Lion pictures Jesus as He is portrayed in the Gospel of Matthew – The Lion of the tribe of Judah.  As a Lion, Jesus possesses majesty, power ad authority.

·         The Calf pictures Jesus as He is portrayed in the Gospel of Mark – The Suffering Servant.  As a servant, Jesus demonstrated service and strength.

·         The Man pictures Jesus as He is portrayed in the Gospel of Luke – The Son of Man.  As the Son of Man, Jesus possesses perfect intelligence and absolute moral righteousness.

·         The Eagle pictures Jesus as He is portrayed in the Gospel of John – The Son of God come down from Heaven.  As the Son of God, Jesus possesses majesty and transcendence.

·         These beasts are so much like Him because they are so often with Him!)

 

2.  v. 9-11  The Shout Of The Believers – It isn’t just the four living creatures that lift their voices in praise. When the four beasts begin to praise the Lord, the 24 four elders join right in.

a.  v. 9-10a  Their Praise Is Volitional – Nobody is seen forcing them to praise the Lord.  When they hear their Lord exalted, they cannot help but join right in.  They fall down before Him and worship their Redeemer!

b.  v. 10b  Their Praise Is Visible – They don’t just praise the Lord “in their hearts”, they fall down before Him and offer visible, open, unabashed praise to the Lord.

c.  v. 10c  Their Praise Is Valuable – They take the crowns they have been given and they cast them at the feet of the Lord God.  They acknowledge that where they are, when they have and all they have accomplished is a direct result of His power, His grace and His love.  They owe it all to Him and they offer Him everything they have. They are not concerned about their own glory, but they are lost in His glory!

d.  v. 11  Their Praise Is Vocal – On top of everything else, they open their mouths and loudly proclaim their love and adoration for the Lord. 

·         They declare His “worthiness”.

·         They declare His power. 

·         They declare His right to rule and reign. 

·         They declare their agreement with what He is about to do in the world. 

·         They declare the fact that He made the world and all that is in it.  It is His and He can do with it as He pleases! (Ill. There will be no songs about evolution in glory!)

Any time man enters the presence of God, in the scriptures, they always falls down in worship – Isa. 6:5; Eze. 1:28; Dan. 7:15.  Man is terrified in the presence of God and always falls down in humble worship.

Wade’s Wednesday

God’s Provision

By David Jeremiah

And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear, go and do as you have said,
but make me a small cake from it first…” 
1 Kings 17:13

The widow glanced at all she had left: a handful of flour and a little oil. As she went outside to gather sticks for her and her son’s last meal, she was preparing herself for the end. When she met the prophet Elijah and he requested water and bread, she explained her situation.

Elijah encouraged her to look beyond her circumstances to God’s provision. As she prepared Elijah’s meal that day and each day that followed, she had a choice to either trust God’s provision or to protect the little she had.

When God prompts us to serve, it’s easy to focus on our resources instead of His. It’s easy to list our lack of resources as an excuse or to mistakenly take the glory for ourselves when we have the resources. We forget that everything we have comes from God. Elijah asked the widow to set aside fear and to serve based on the God she was serving.

God is powerful and all glory belongs to Him. He changes circumstances and redeems even the darkest of circumstances. In the midst of situations the world sees as hopeless, we can cling to Elijah’s words, “Do not fear.”

Tuesday With Karen

by Karen Icenhour

He Will Handle It All

Have you ever been bound by the trials of life,

Wondering when things would again be right?

Place your cares in the Comforter’s strong hand,

He takes care of things you don’t understand!

Have you been restricted by many worries & frets,

Had things on your heart you just can’t forget?

Give it all over to the Master of the Sea,

The winds still obey when He speaks, “Peace!”

Have your circumstances been holding you back,

And you’ve been under the devil’s vile attack?

The Lamb of God still reigns victorious & supreme,

What a wonderful part of being redeemed!

If anything may be troubling your heart within,

Remember He is always your Faithful Friend;

Whether things are complicated, great or small,

The Lord is able & willing to handle it all!