Unlocking Revelation (Week 7)

Unlocking Revelation (Week 7)

We are going to see the Judgement that God pours out on Israel in the coming weeks but the prosecution case takes place from the throne room of heaven. It would be good to take stock of this setting as it shows us more how we have been created in the image of God to rule and reign with Him. Our rule is echoes heaven and to sync with the angels.

Humanity created to rule and reign

1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Revelation 4:1

1. Humanity is created in the Image of God and Angels

I have shared previously that God gave humanity the role of extending the boundaries of Eden throughout the earth. We were not simply inhabitants and occupants of planet earth, we were created with a responsibility and to undertake a function.

This function was to extend the culture of Eden throughout the earth. Connected with humankind’s ability to perform this mission, God had to hardwire into humanity the ability to perform this.

When God created humanity He said, “Let us make human-kind in our image” (Genesis 1:26). The “us” in this verse is plural. Who therefore is God speaking to when He asks this? Christians commonly say, “God is speaking to Himself in the Trinity.” 

I want to suggest to you that God is actually addressing the Angels. Angels share in the image and likeness of God. Like humanity, angels are created beings, who it appears from Scripture God made prior to the making of humankind. They too were created in the image and likeness of God, which in some in some areas overlap with our assignment from God.

When God says that “in the image of Him” which we are created, there is something in this image which He also created the Angels in. As one friend explained it was not that angels were the Creator (capital “C”), but they were involved in part in creating (small “c”) humankind.

I this overlap of our image with Angels and our image to be the judicial function of God and also that we are two created beings that carry His glory.

2. Humanity’s and the Angelic Glory Assignment

So the natural question is, in way are we like the angels?

 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.

I believe that humanity was invested with the same judicial authority which the angels were invested with by God. Angels like humans were agents in the mission of seeing God’s glory spread throughout His creation.

The angels held the responsibility for the spiritual realm (second heaven) in this respect, and humanity held the the responsibility for seeing this glory spread in the physical realm.

The two realms do not exist in isolation. They overlap and interact with one another.

In this passage it tells us that John is “caught up in the Spirit” which is a term that meant to be received into the divine assembly. 

The hallmark of a true prophet of the Old Covenant was that he had stood before the Lord in the midst of this deliberative council of angels. The false prophet was someone who hadn’t stood in this heavenly council.

God in His Old Testament prophets had recaptured the judicial function of humanity that which had been lost in the Fall. In fact Old Testament prophets were the prototypes of the New Creation.

Moses was the archetype prophet who spoke with God face to face. Scripture tells us that Moses face shone with the glory of God after His encounter with the Lord for 40 Days on Mount Sinai. The glory that was present on humanity prior to the Fall was once again seen in this isolated prophetic figure and the subsequent prophets that succeeded him.

Now if this its true that Moses represents a prototype of the New believer, it means that if our eyes were opened to see into the spiritual realm we’d see radiant glory on each believer. Whereas Moses’ glory faded the New Testament believer’s glory doesn’t.

We take this glory wherever we go!

With the coming of the New Covenant, what was once the special prerogative of the prophetic class within the Covenant community has become the privilege of all.

But we were not the only beings that God created that carried this glory. Scripture shows angels to be glory carriers. In the glory cloud descriptions in the Bible eg. Ez 1, angels and the cloud interrelate. The Glory Cloud seems to be a tabernacle like container or glory-chariot for God himself made up of angels.

In fact, in many of these glory descriptions in the Bible, the cherubs are shown to have nature like qualities (Ez. 1, Rev 4 etc). One author I read said, “We might call these cherub-creatures ‘nature,’ so long as we remember what nature really is – an immense construction throbbing with the ceaseless activity of God. . . .”

When the glory of God returns to the relocated Temple of God – redeemed people, in Pentecost, The Holy Spirit, it seems, is carried by this glory chariot made up of angels. Psalm 104:4 tells us “Who makes His angels spirits,
His ministers a flame of fire.” Holy Spirit when He comes at Pentecost appears as wind and fire.

To me this all speaks of this interaction between Heaven and Earth of God’s visible and invisible creation that flows from Him and is meant to be centred around Him and find His purpose in Him (John 1:3).

God’s Glory has degrees

 2 …and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne…. 

5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6 Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

What John describes of the heavenly court is familiar to the depictions of familiar sound and visual phenomena which are associated with the Glory. 

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. 

Exodus 19:16-19

 

The Church As Priest, Prophet, King

4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 

John is not alone before the throne.

Before the throne are 24 thrones with the elders on them. These elders are the Church.

How so?

John has told us already that the believers are reigning with Christ (Rev 1:6), that they wear crowns (2:10; 3:11), and that they have been granted kingly authority with Him over the nations (2:26-27).

In the worship of the Old Covenant there were twenty-four divisions of priests (1 Chron. 24) and twenty-four divisions of singers in the Temple (1 Chron. 25).

I want you to see that the Church is shown to undertake the role of Jesus as King, priest and prophet.

Two years after the time that Jesus was born, a group of mystics from the East, who the Bible identifies as Magi bring to Jesus three gifts: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

The three gifts prophetically symbolize the three functions of Jesus’ ministry.

Gold is the substance of kings and it symbolized Jesus’ reign.

The use of frankincense was commanded as a chief ingredient of the incense which was to be kept burning in the tabernacle by the priests. Not only is Jesus destined to be the great King, but also our eternal High Priest.

Myrrh was the main ingredient in holy anointing oil. Why is this important? This type of special ritualistic anointing was used for the instigation of kings, priests and also prophets. Whenever prophets were set apart God had them be anointed.

These three ministries of Jesus as King, Priest, and Prophet are seen here in the Church around the throne:

  1. The elders sit on thrones – This makes them kings.
  2. The elders are twenty-four in number – They are priests.
  3. The elders are in the Spirit – they are prophets.

As Kings we are called to rule and reign.

As Priest we represent the people to God by offering prayers, intercessions and mercy.

As Prophets we represent God to the world. A prophet is a messenger sent by God, a person who speaks for God. 

The Movement is Heaven to Earth

But the Church is not alone.

In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings.

Pre-fallen creation revealed the glory of God (as does fallen creation but not at the same luminescence of the untainted earth). For example “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Ps 19:1) and also “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom 1:20). 

In this verse in Romans what invisible quality of God is seen? Glory! 

Now get this… day and night these majestic creatures never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”

Why do they never stop saying “Holy, Holy, Holy,”

Some people think that it is because they are proclaiming the Trinity and that there is one “Holy,” for each of the Godhead. I love that idea, but what if there is something more wonderful in their seeing of the Trinity. What if because of their privileged vantage point around the throne they capture a new revelation of the Triune God with each glance and in every seeing of Him they respond, “Holy.” And because God is infinite they can never come to the end of their seeing of God and so they go on forever and ever crying out “Holy, holy holy…”

One of my kids once asked me about worship in heaven. They said that “Won’t heaven be boring after a while?”

What they meant was that won’t it get boring after a while just singing songs to God.

I told them that whilst I think worshipping is one of the many aspects to heaven. But the worship in Heaven will never get boring or stale. It will be glorious and wonderful because there is no end to His wonderfulness. And we will see Him face to face without a veil and so our worship will be even more glorious.

If your worship is stale and old, it is possible that you need another encounter with Him. My encouragement to you is to seek His face. “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you,” is His invitation.

Our worship needs to take us into the throne room of God. We are not meant to just sing about God, worship is entirely interactional.  We are meant to encounter Him in worship. The outcome of this encounter is that it causes us to see Him more and this in turn causes more worship to erupt from us.

The expression of Holy, Holy, Holy,” from the creatures is so much more than an expression of God’s set-apartness. In the next verse we are told that they are giving glory, honour and thanks.

This tells us that behind their words is so much more. It is an expression of deep heartfelt expression. If we had a machine that we could attach to you which recorded not the words you sang in worship but your heart sentiment in those words what would it tell us of what you see about Him. 

Paul says that God invites us to draw near to Him and He will drew near to you. In this equation the outcome of how much God in turn gives you is down to the input you put in.

Tozer says that “We can have as much of God as we want.” RT Kendall added to that by saying that he discovered most people don’t want as much of God as they say they do.

Why does God limit Himself in this way. Because we are responsible for the level of revelation we receive. God protects us.   

We need to Sync with Heaven

9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created  and have their being.”

Do you see the synchronization between heaven and earth. As worship erupts from the heavenly creatures, it causes an echo of worship to erupt from the elders.

Heaven and earth are meant to work in tandem. Heaven though informs earth.

We need to get in sync with what God is doing and heaven is echoing over our lives and over our church and over our region.

Our music teams are in the process of rolling out “click”. It brings a greater sense of togetherness. 

We need click with heaven.

Note though that the echo of worship that comes from the elders echos what they see of the heavenly see

10 … They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created  and have their being.”

Also worship that does not lead to a greater reality of the Lordship of Jesus in your life is not authentic worship

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