Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Revelation Chapter 5, Part 3 - The Shouting Hosts

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Revelation 5:11-14
Verse eleven of Revelation chapter five begins with John once again telling us that he saw something; this is the fourth time in this chapter that he has used these words (see verses 1,2, and 6), and here what he says is that he looked and he heard many angels around the throne join in the worship that he has been watching unfold in the throne room of heaven.

John tells us that there were many angels and then he says their number was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands. The Greek word here is muriás, which “denotes an indefinite, large number.”1 One of the Synonyms for this word in Greek is anaríthmētos, which means innumerable. So what John is saying here is that there were so many angels in heaven worshiping God that they could not be counted. MacDonald and Farstad write:
The chorus widened as many angels joined the living creatures and the elders, a choir numbering millions, perhaps billions, all participating in perfect harmony. 2
Then as we come to verse twelve we see yet another song of worship to the Lamb. The choir of innumerable angels, the four living creatures, and the twenty-four elders began to say:
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.
If you have ever wondered what heaven will be like here is a perfect picture; here we see Jesus, the Lamb of God, being worshiped, and for all eternity our greatest joy and pleasure will be to join this choir and just worship Jesus.

Notice here that the song begins by identifying Jesus as worthy because He was slain, and once again showing that it was by His death that He purchased His bride and redeemed His creation. The song then goes on to list seven (the number of completeness and perfection) things that Jesus is worthy to receive: power, riches, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing. It should also be noted that in Greek these seven words:
[A]re all ranged under the one Greek article, to mark that they form one complete aggregate belonging to God and His co-equal, the Lamb. 3
To really appreciate what is being said here we need to look back to the second chapter of Philippians where we read:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11
In this passage we see the humility of Christ on earth, but now we see Him exalted above all. Warren Wiersbe writes:
He shared in the sinless weaknesses of humanity as He hungered, thirsted, and became weary. Today in glory, He possesses all strength. On earth, He experienced humiliation and shame as sinners ridiculed and reviled Him. They laughed at His kingship and attired Him in a mock robe, crown, and scepter. But all of that is changed now! He has received all honor and glory! 4
Then in verse thirteen all of creation joins in the worship, just as the Father had promised His Son in Philippians. Revelation 5:13 tells us that everything in creation will worship God; it says, "every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them.” This means that even as they reject Him, those who are experiencing the judgment and wrath of God will bring Him glory. In the end every knee will bow and everyone in all of creation will confess that Jesus is Lord, and they will acknowledge once and for all that to Him alone belongs blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.

As this chapter ends we once again see the throne room of heaven filled with worship for this great and awesome God. The four living creatures keep saying Amen which is a transliteration of the Hebrew āmēn, and it means, “to be firm, steady, truthworthy.”5 In essence they are saying let it be or make it happen. And the elders again fall down and worship.

So what did we learn from this chapter? Lawrence Richards sums it up well when he writes:
Perhaps we have been so filled with wonder at a God who loves us and gave Himself for us that we tend to miss an important reality. Though God in Jesus gave Himself for us, He remains the center of the universe. It is God, not man, for whom all things were and are created. It is His glory, not our glorification that is important. As the Westminster Catechism states, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." We must never neglect this reality or come to feel that somehow the chief end of God is to glorify man! We must never measure what happens or what is described in the Book of Revelation from a human viewpoint. All that occurs must be measured against who God is.6
And all creation said Amen!

1 Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.) (G3461). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
2 MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (Re 5:11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
3 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. (1997). A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary. (Re 5:12). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
4 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Re 5:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
5 Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.) (G281). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
6 Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher's commentary. Includes index. (1079). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

Next time we will look at chapter six and the opening of the first of the six seals.
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LeaderCast said...

this is a powerful passage. i really enjoyed reading this post, thank you.

Chris said...

Thank you for the kind words; I'm glad you enjoyed it.