Thursday

Revelation 5:8-14 Thursday 22 August 2013


Background

We are still in heaven! Now it is the "the Lamb" who takescentre stage. This is Jesus, the crucified, risen, ascended andvictorious Messiah. John the Divine, as the narrator, has been indespair that no one would be worthy to open the sealed scroll thathe has seen (Revelation 5:1-5). Now, in opening the seals,Jesus will set in motion the final act of the drama leading to thedefeat of God's enemies and the vindication of the saints.

So the God who is worshipped in the heavenly throne room is notsimply a grander version of the Roman Emperor. This is a differentkind of Lord, one who is known through the suffering servantMessiah and who rules in love. Just as the blood of the Passoverlambs (Exodus 12) sealed the people of Israel as anation dedicated to the worship of their God, so the blood of "theLamb" Jesus enrols those "from every tribe and language and peopleand nation" (v. 9) into the kingdom of praise and service to God.The Book of Revelation sees Christianity deeply indebted to itsJewish roots, but sees the scope of God's covenant expanding widerto cross all boundaries of nationality, tribe and language.

Once again, the climax of the passage is a hymn of praise, thistime sung by an unimaginably large chorus. There is a line in theservice of Holy Communion that echoes this moment: "Therefore, withangels, and archangels and all the company of heaven, we praiseyour name …" It is a chorus that includes the whole createduniverse, "every creature in heaven and on earth" (v. 13).

Very early in the life of the Christian Church, Christians beganto offer prayer and worship to Jesus Christ. If he was only a humanbeing, a part of creation like everyone else, that would have beenblasphemous. So passages like this one show a growing Christianconfidence in the belief that Christ is truly one with God. Towardsthe end of John's Gospel, Thomas the disciple blurts out "my Lordand my God" (John 20:28); now that confession echoes aroundheaven.


To Ponder

  • What can you find out about the Jewish festival of Passover?What are its resonances with Christian worship and teaching?
  • Who might you need to include in order to get a true sense ofthe inclusive heavenly choir that shares in the hymn ofpraise?
  • Try writing your own hymn of praise. What language would youwant to use to talk about the greatest of Jesus? 


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