International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday March 23, 2014
Purpose: To explore how John’s vision of God’s victory celebration informs and shapes our worship
Scripture Text: Revelation 5:6-13
Background: Revelation 3:7; 5:5-13; 6:12-7:17; 22:16
Revelation 5:6-13 (CEB)
(6) Then, in between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb, standing as if it had been slain. It had seven horns and seven eyes, which are God’s seven spirits, sent out into the whole earth. (7) He came forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one seated on the throne. (8) When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each held a harp and gold bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (9 )They took up a new song, saying, "You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slain, and by your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. (10) You made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they will rule on earth." (11) Then I looked, and I heard the sound of many angels surrounding the throne, the living creatures, and the elders. They numbered in the millions—thousands upon thousands.(12) They said in a loud voice, "Worthy is the slaughtered Lamb to receive power, wealth, wisdom, and might, and honor, glory, and blessing."
(13) And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea—I heard everything everywhere say, "Blessing, honor, glory, and power belong to the one seated on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and always."
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Our lesson this week is somewhat unique, in that it gives us the end of the story. Most of the time we withhold revealing the end, in order to build suspense and to keep us interested in the overall story.
John, the beloved disciple, writes this letter to those on the fringe of the Greco-Roman world. He writes to seven churches located primarily in Asia-Minor. Their situation is an unpleasant one, they are a small minority of believers under persecution by the Roman Empire. They are surrounded by an unbelieving world.
John is offering them hope, because God has revealed to him the end of the story. John sees a lion who is also a lamb, he sees both angels and saints. John sees God sitting and ruling from a throne. In God’s hand is the blueprint, but there doesn’t appear to be anyone worthy to approach God and take this plan and reveal what God has determined for His reign. Suddenly John sees the lion become a lamb, and because the lamb had been slain, but is still standing, and is all knowing and all powerful, the Lamb takes from God the scroll.
God’s Son, the Messiah is both the Lion of Judah, and the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. By being an heir of David, and the slain Lamb of God, Jesus alone is worthy to approach the throne and remove the scroll from God’s hand. The slain lamb is standing because God resurrected him from the grave. This is John’s way of saying, “all that I have taught you is true, have faith and we will all know victory in the end.”
John then paints a picture of the throne of God, and how the contingent of believers grows from four and twenty-four, to millions and thousands of thousands. In the end every tribe, every nation, every race is represented. Every living being and every creature, whether under the earth or the sea, comes together to worship the Lamb of God.
The question for us, is how should this vision of Johns influence our worship? I think the Psalmist said it best in his final Psalm 150.
(1) Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary!
Praise God in his fortress, the sky!
(2) Praise God in his mighty acts!
Praise God as suits his incredible greatness!
(3) Praise God with the blast of the ram’s horn!
Praise God with lute and lyre!
(4) Praise God with drum and dance!
Praise God with strings and pipe!
(5) Praise God with loud cymbals!
Praise God with clashing cymbals!
(6) Let every living thing praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!