[Rev. 4:1] ¶ After these things I looked, and there was a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet said: “Come up here so that I can show you what must happen after these things.” [Rev. 4:2] Immediately I was in the Spirit, and a throne was standing in heaven with someone seated on it! [Rev. 4:3] And the one seated on it was like jasper and carnelian in appearance, and a rainbow looking like it was made of emerald encircled the throne. [Rev. 4:4] In a circle around the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on those thrones were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white clothing and had golden crowns on their heads. [Rev. 4:5] From the throne came out flashes of lightning and roaring and crashes of thunder. Seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God, were burning in front of the throne [Rev. 4:6] and in front of the throne was something like a sea of glass, like crystal. ¶ In the middle of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. [Rev. 4:7] The first living creature was like a lion, the second creature like an ox, the third creature had a face like a man’s, and the fourth creature looked like an eagle flying. [Rev. 4:8] Each one of the four living creatures had six wings and was full of eyes all around and inside. They never rest day or night, saying: “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God, the All-powerful, Who was and who is, and who is still to come!” [Rev. 4:9] ¶ And whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, [Rev. 4:10] the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying: [Rev. 4:11] “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!” [Rev. 5:1] ¶ Then I saw in the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne a scroll written on the front and back and sealed with seven seals. [Rev. 5:2] And I saw a powerful angel proclaiming in a loud voice: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?” [Rev. 5:3] But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look into it. [Rev. 5:4] So I began weeping bitterly because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. [Rev. 5:5] Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered; thus he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” [Rev. 5:6] ¶ Then I saw standing in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the middle of the elders, a Lamb that appeared to have been killed. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. [Rev. 5:7] Then he came and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne, [Rev. 5:8] and when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders threw themselves to the ground before the Lamb. Each of them had a harp and golden bowls full of incense (which are the prayers of the saints). [Rev. 5:9] They were singing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. [Rev. 5:10] You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” [Rev. 5:11] ¶ Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels in a circle around the throne, as well as the living creatures and the elders. Their number was ten thousand times ten thousand–thousands times thousands– [Rev. 5:12] all of whom were singing in a loud voice: “Worthy is the lamb who was killed to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise!” [Rev. 5:13] ¶ Then I heard every creature—in heaven, on earth, under the earth, in the sea, and all that is in them—singing: “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory, and ruling power forever and ever!” [Rev. 5:14] ¶ And the four living creatures were saying “Amen,” and the elders threw themselves to the ground and worshiped.
Stand on any street and look up and point, and pretty soon others will join you in your gaze. After John has delivered these messages to each of the 7 churches, he turns his gaze upward and looks not just to heaven – but into heaven.
At a time when it looked very likely that the Church would be wiped out by the might of Rome, John is shown a glimpse of why this was never going to happen. He sees the centre of the Universe. But more than this, he sees the One who controls the Universe because the Universe is His. And He has ordained that the conquest of evil within the Universe be staged on a tiny blue planet: Earth. To this planet He sent His Son like a lamb to the slaughter to meet evil head-on and conquer it through the greatest act of humiliation the Universe had ever witnessed. But the result of this divine judgment upon evil would be the unchallenged and universally acknowledged declaration that Christ was Lord. He is the only One worthy to open the Scrolls of Judgment. He has conquered evil, sin and death. Emperors may rant. Kings may posture. Dictators may decree. But they will all bow before the all conquering Christ. And if this be so, His mission on earth entrusted to His Church will succeed!
This is the pinnacle of revelation about God. He is seated on the Throne. He is not standing. He is not pacing. He is regally seated. Around Him is the Holy Spirit depicted as seven flames. Before them is a sea as smooth as glass speaking of the infinite peace that surrounds Him. There are magnificent angels guarding, worshiping, leading all heaven in nourishing adoration when suddenly a cry is heard, “Who is worthy?” Jesus, depicted as a slain lamb, enters. The question is now settled. For John, his original readers, for us, and for generations of believers to come, this settled question is answered by our worship of the One who reigns.
Whatever has illegitimately captivated your attention away from this scene demands immediate inattention. That Christ is Lord is not merely comforting when it is obvious, it is especially so when it is not. Perhaps like these original readers, we too need to be reminded that Jesus Christ is Lord over the Universe, our planet, our country, our church, our enemies, and our lives.