Powerful Passages, Pt. 2
Study Guide, September 4, 2016
Pastor Clay Olsen
Many of you that have purchased land on Emerald Isle know that coastal property is some pretty valuable earth. I understand that the average lot and home on Emerald Isle is about $337,000. The national average is about $177,000. Now, what’s really amazing, and is also one of the most remarkable stories around eastern North Carolina, is that in the year 1954 seven investors bought twelve miles of Bogue Banks, which is now Emerald Isle, for a sum of $350,000. They bought a third of the whole island for what is now the average price of one lot with a house. That’s what you call a good investment, right?
But now, here’s a really outrageous thought…what do you think is the value of not just some earth on this Crystal Coast, but the value of the entire Earth itself? Well, how would you even figure that? Or still, who would even have that kind of worth to make a purchase like that? Or even more, who would even be ‘worthy’ of laying claim to the title deed of Planet Earth? Amazingly enough, that very question was asked in one of the most powerful passages found in the Bible. Let’s take a look: Rev 5:1-3- “I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it.” NASU
What a question! And what a scene! The Apostle John is privileged to witness one of the most fascinating encounters to ever take place. God the Father, holds a book, or a scroll, that is sealed with seven seals. The seals represent the judgments that are going to come in the last days before Jesus sets up His Earthly Kingdom. But the book itself represents what was lost or forfeited by the first Adam. You see, Adam’s sin not only separated humanity from union with God’s Spirit…it also forfeited his dominion over creation…over Earth. That’s why the Apostle Paul said this about the creation: Rom 8:20-22- “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” NASU
So creation itself, with the Earth’s weather and the animal kingdom has been and is now under great duress…enslaved to a great distress, and waiting, as it were, for its own deliverance, or its own redemption. Actually, to give a really specific answer to the reason for the savagery in the animal world and the destructiveness of the weather systems and the natural world; the reason for it all is because of its slavery to corruption. The effects of the rebellion of sin corrupted all of creation to such a degree that even creation itself now groans and suffers while awaiting it’s redemption. But it’s coming.
Remember, God confirmed to Noah that He made a covenant not only with mankind, but also with the rest of the creatures He made for the Earth; the animal kingdom. And the redemption includes them as well. In fact, if we jump ahead for just a moment in this glorious scene, just look who all is included in the praising of the Lamb for their redemption. Rev 5:11-14- “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.” NASU
One thing you are going to have to get used to in the New Kingdom is this whole new level of communication from the animal kingdom. If you think that human language mimicking you hear from Myna birds and Amazon parrots is remarkable…well, as they say, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” It seems that the Psalmist David knew that the animal kingdom was capable of so much more than we have yet witnessed from them when he included them in the call for praise to the Lord: Ps 148:7-14- “Praise the Lord from the earth, you creatures of the ocean depths, fire and hail, snow and clouds, wind and weather that obey him, mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all livestock, small scurrying animals and birds, kings of the earth and all people, rulers and judges of the earth, young men and young women, old men and children. Let them all praise the name of the Lord. For His name is very great; His glory towers over the earth and heaven! He has made His people strong, honoring His faithful ones—the people of Israel who are close to Him.” NLT
Children sometimes ask: “Why do birds sing?” Good question, right? I think the Psalmist has answered that…could it be that they are praising their Creator, even now, even though they, too, are groaning, awaiting their redemption? And what about the songs of the whales? They are quite beautiful actually. Could it be that even though the animal world is in slavery to some degree of corruption, that each still senses the reality of their Creator even now? In many ways it seems that the animal world senses the reality of the Creator even more than many creatures of the human world do!
Plus, we have the presence of these ‘four living creatures’ that are mentioned many times in the Scriptures, like here in Rev 5:6-10- “And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” NASU
We have a lot to unpack from this marvelous revelation, but the point about the four living creatures is that now we not only have the creatures of Earth having some newly enhanced capabilities for some type of remarkable communication, but we also have this new species from the realms of Heaven that are introduced to us. And these living creatures even sing! They are singing with the twenty-four elders as they lead this massive chorus of praise to Jesus Christ! You know, scientists get all excited when they discover a new species of moths or something. Now, I’m not being sarcastic here, as discovering new species really is pretty cool. But my point is that these scientists ought to be paying more attention to what God has revealed to us all in His Scriptures about these other amazing species of living beings, that are way cooler than anything we have yet discovered. They should also be learning more about what our Creator is about to do in unleashing the full potential of the capabilities of all the creatures of the Earth! They ought to be twitching with excitement about the fact that the next major change in the animal kingdom is not some so-called evolutionary change…no…the next major change is that ‘peace’ between all creatures in the animal kingdom is about to be restored to what it was at the time when Earth was originally created! Isa 11:6-9- “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea.” NASU
That’s what scientists ought to be getting excited about…that’s what they should be writing about in their zoology journals…that’s what they should be getting on National Geographic television programs and telling the world about, right? The whole course and history of the animal kingdom is about to change 180 degrees. Peace in the animal world is about to be restored! The entire animal kingdom and the human kingdom are about to be turned upside down…or we should say, right side up, because ever since the fall both the animal kingdom and the human kingdom have been upside down about everything…especially about humans not sensing, nor serving, nor praising, nor worshiping their Creator.
But all of that is about to change because of this: Rev 5:4-5- “Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” NASU Again, because of sin, mankind lost the right of dominion over the Earth. And Satan has been acting like he’s the master of this world, but he is only a usurper. He is a thief, a counterfeiter, and God has been putting up with his schemes…for now. But Satan’s time is short, and he knows it. And that’s also why the chaos in the world is getting even more chaotic and why the hearts of mankind are getting colder and more hateful. But again, all of that…all of this, is about to change. And it’s about to change because of the Lion from the tribe of Judah, and the Root of David has overcome it all.
Think about that: the Lion from the tribe of Judah and the Root of David. You know, it is beyond fascinating how intricately everything is woven together in the Bible. Remember, Moses recorded that through the seed of Abraham the deliverer, the Messiah would come. And to this Seed would belong the Scepter, which symbolized authority and rule. Notice Num 24:17- “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel…” NASU This was a prophecy about Jesus, whom the Apostle John cited would come from the tribe of Judah. Jacob prophetically gave the scepter to Judah and made it the tribe of the kings. Remember, God never meant for Saul to establish a dynasty, because he came from the tribe of Benjamin. God used Saul to discipline Israel because the people asked for a king; then He gave them David from the tribe of Judah. The kingship was supposed to start with David. But again, notice; the Messiah would also be the Root of David. Now how could Jesus be from the tribe of Judah or from David’s tribe, but also be the root of David’s tribe? That’s what Jesus challenged the Pharisees about when they did not recognize Jesus’ deity as well as His humanity. Notice: Luke 20:41-44- “Then Jesus presented them with a question. “Why is it,” He asked, “that the Messiah is said to be the son of David? For David himself wrote in the book of Psalms: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, Sit in the place of honor at My right hand until I humble Your enemies, making them a footstool under Your feet.’Since David called the Messiah ‘Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?” NLT
That is one of the greatest questions ever asked! How could the Messiah be a descendant from David and yet still be David’s ancestor at the same time? How could the Messiah be the son of David, but also be the One who brought David into existence? How could the Messiah come from the tribe of David, but also be the Root of David at the same time? Of course, the Pharisees were dumbfounded by Jesus’ question. You see, the Pharisees had convinced themselves, and others, that the Messiah was only a man. Oh, he would have power from God, but he would only be a man, they taught. (By the way, the Jewish Rabbis still teach this to the Jewish people today.) But Jesus rebuked their distortion of the Scriptures by reminding them that their own King David called the Messiah his Lord. David called the Messiah his God! So how could the Messiah be a human descendant of David, but also be David’s Lord and God as well? And the answer to that was found in the hundreds of prophecies about the fact that God Himself would one day take on human form and become a human Himself. And He had to do so because the only way to redeem humanity from it’s bondage to sin and restore creation from its slavery to corruption was to have a sinless Man, a substitute Adam, live a perfect life of obedience to the perfect law of God, and then die a sacrificial death to remove the spiritual penalty of sin from all those who would repent. And then, this Second Adam would also then be worthy to redeem the earth and take back dominion over all creation. And that’s why we call Him “Savior, Redeemer, Lord, and King”!
No wonder David called for ‘all the creatures of the ocean depths, and the wild animals and domestic animals, and small scurrying animals and birds, and for all the kings of the earth and all people, rulers and judges of the earth, young men and young women, old men and children to all praise the name of the Lord. For His name is very great; His glory towers over the earth and heaven!’
And such is our God. And this event that John revealed to us here is just on the horizon of Earth’s future. Aren’t you glad you are going to be a part of the redemption of the Earth because you have been redeemed by the Savior and King, our Lord Jesus Christ?
(There is still more we need to uncover in this powerful passage of Revelation 5, so we will plan to do that next time.)