The Beautiful Death of American Gospels

I remember Juan.

He was a retired Puerto Rican doctor in his seventies who spent his retirement pouring out his life for the people in the slums of Caguas. His mission house fed the poor a warm lunch everyday and provided free healthcare to the community. He worked like a young man in his prime when he wielded a machete to clear the land for a new mission down the road. He greeted virtual strangers with a smile, a hug, and maybe even a kiss on the cheek.

When asked how much money he needed for repairs on the mission house, Juan beseeched our group,

“You Americans always send money and think that is the cure. We don’t need money, we need missionaries!”

I remember Peter.

He was a middle aged Romanian man who served the youth in one of the few Protestant churches in Timişoara. We stood on a Romanian hillside overlooking the retreat building our group was staying at for the week. Peter beamed with pride as he testified about the building: twenty years ago this was a Communist schoolhouse built to indoctrinate children in name of Marxism. Now it is a Christian camp center dedicated to love children in the name of Jesus Christ.

At the end of our last service at the camp, our American group decided to wash the feet of the Romanian children and adult workers (John 13). One woman, a kitchen helper and parent of a youth, wept uncontrollably as she had her feet washed. When asked what she was so moved by, she said:

“You being Americans, wash our feet!”

I was touched.

And part of me grieved.

Why would Americans be on an undeserving pedestal in this woman’s mind?imagesCAXMI4QO

I wondered what influence the “American” gospel had on her. Even third world countries are reached by the satellite tentacles of TBN, Daystar, 700 Club, etc. How is a malnourished Indian kid who eats dirt brownies supposed to process a purple haired lady sitting on a golden throne asking for money?

How is a poor Haitian boy who witnessed his parents die after a sudden earthquake supposed to process a rich old white man who says God judged his nation because of its religious history?

Was it even the prosperity gospel the Romanian lady heard?

Or was it the gospel of American pride/nationalism even some of my Baptist brethren preached?

Our American heritage said we were a city set on hill, their heritage said they were a Slumdog languishing in the valley.

What she needed to hear was this: She was a precious child of God, a beloved bride, a chosen saint in a Kingdom without end. Everyone in that room was on equal footing; we were all crippled by our sin until God stooped down to us in Christ and lifted us up.

We weren’t Romanian brethren and American brethren. We were brothers and sisters, period. Blood bought adopted kids with the same Father. We were joined with an unbreakable bond that transcended culture or language.

Though our pasts are diversified, our future will be unified in one glorious end. This will be the utter death of all our pet gospels:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9)

Amen.

Bryan Daniels

Pretty Much My Exhaustive View On The End Times….

“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Bryan Daniels

This Christmas I Want To See Jesus Riding On His Horse

As I sat back in my recliner last night my four-year old son, Josiah, approached me. I was easing the pain of a newly inflamed slipped disc that has seemed to be playing the bongos on my sciatic nerve the past couple days. Almost everyone has noticed I’m walking with a sizable limp, less like a 29-year-old young man and more like an elderly arthritic woman with a plastic hip.

The daily news blared in our living room. As talking heads heralded shootings, fiscal cliffs, and injustices worldwide my little boy approached me. He was holding his “action” bible, an impressive work with DC comic illustrations peppered among Old and New Testament commentary.

Action-Bible-190x290

“Daddy, I want to see Jesus riding on his horse.”

It was from the Revelation portion, the end of story: a conquering warrior King wielding a sword riding atop his white horse while leading an angel army into a fierce battle with a snarling multi-headed red dragon.

“I do too, baby,”

I said as I took the book and strained to lift him up to my lap.

My son doesn’t understand the weight of recent news. And he has been taught the wonder of the incarnation, that Ancient-of-Days-arriving-into-human-flesh-Christmas-mystery (Isaiah 9:6).

But an innocent infant who poops himself and needs his mom doesn’t quite resonate with a wonder filled boy who sleeps with his Transformers and Spider Man toys.

He already has a baby brother.

He wants to know a conquering Cowboy King with a tattoo down His thigh who slays bad guys and dragons (Revelation 19:16).

I do too.

May our baby “Christmas Jesus” never be separated from the Sovereign one who wins forevermore. As we behold the nursing babe in cave, may we also see the horrifying cross, the breathtaking resurrection, and the only King who fights and conquers every injustice on our behalf.

Forget the “war on Christmas”, Christ is a fierce warrior who is well able to defend Himself.

And in a similar way, may our prayer this season be to our heavenly Father:

“Daddy, I want to see Jesus riding on his horse.”

Bryan Daniels

DOOMSDAY MAYAN PROPHECY!!! and the real end of all things…

This past couple weeks in my Geography class have coincided with a section on Latin America. It’s been pertinent to the students, especially since we’ve been able to naturally bring up the ancient Mayan civilization and their doomsday calendar prophecy (supposedly this Friday, December 21st)

I’ve even heard some students mention their parents aren’t making them go to school that day (probably out of fear of Americans not Mayans).

Obviously, I don’t believe such ridiculous claims. Plenty of scholars have given reason to believe the Mayans actually thought their calendar would reset for another few thousand years cycle instead of ending abruptly. People of actual Mayan/Indian ancestry believe Dec 21st is a cause for celebration not doom.

Over-educated old white dudes from America are the ones who artificially drummed up this wacky prediction.

Regardless, people have a natural fascination with eschatology, whether it be through the book of Revelation, Nostradamus, alien/zombie apocalypse, Mayans, or some great climate change holocaust. Even most hardened skeptics believe the earth isn’t going to keep peacefully revolving as is for an indefinite period of time.

The Mayans were advanced in many ways as their art, architecture and complex writing system displays. But there is no reason to believe their prophetic skill is any better than Harold Camping’s fuzzy mathematical end time calculations. Three reasons why this modern Mayan cultural phenomenon is just dumb:

1. They never saw the Spanish Conquistadors coming. Or, even more devastatingly, they never saw the small pox the Spanish brought with them on the boat, which wiped out over 90% of the Mayans in just a few years. They couldn’t see the soon end of the their own civilization but they could see the future end of all the world civilizations? Yeah…

2. Human sacrifice was the norm. Whether to appease the corn god or to dedicate a newly built temple, archaeology has recently dug up 1 and 2-year-old sacrifice victims from Mayan ruins. A culture that legalistically murders its own in droves (some estimates 50,000 a year) doesn’t really seem to be a culture worth obsessing over now. Whatever cataclysmic tragedy the end of the world brings it can’t be much worse than sacrificing your own children.

3. Most importantly: The Mayans absolutely can’t know the exact date of the end of all things. Jesus, the perfect only Son of God, didn’t even know the specific date for the end of all things (Matt 24:36). Only the Father does. Yet people believe God would reveal these deep secrets to a culture of child murderers? What the Son doesn’t know no one else can know. Not Camping, not Nostradamus, not Jehovah Witnesses, not me, not you.

Yet with the most recent Sandy Hook news still fresh in our collective psyche we should be eagerly anticipating a better eternal city with lasting foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). A city where a righteous King will reign with perfect love and justice (Revelation 21).

It really won’t be the end of anything, but rather a great unimaginable Beginning of truer lasting things.

Every last tear wiped.

Every last wrong righted.

I don’t believe it’s coming December 21st, but it’s one day closer than it was yesterday.

Thank God.

Bryan Daniels

Why I Can’t Just Say, “To Hell!” With Hell (Even If I Wanted To)

Hell is the new Nintendo.

At least it is amongst blogging Christendom as of late. Nothing can quite get public dialogue heated (?!) quicker than some good ole’ fire and brimstone-esque debate. In this day many, even those who claim Christianity, want to say, “To hell with hell!”…at least as the Bible plainly teaches it.

Hell is an immensely important doctrinal matter, because if eternal destinies of individuals are at stake then what we believe about hell cannot be taken too seriously or studied too carefully.

I bet John the Revelator believed in a literal hell…

It is no matter whether it offends our modern sensibilities and we feel the notion of a literal place called “hell” is arcane and puritanical. What we “feel” about it has no bearing on the issue. The most pressing concern at hand is this: Is it biblical to posit hell as a place of constant actual torment and eternal spiritual separation from God? Or is hell just self wrought consequences of bad choices which we reap only in the here and now?

Let’s begin the discourse in Revelation 20:10. Admittedly, one can’t deny the heavily symbolic nature of Revelation and the difficulties that flow out of such language, but all symbols symbolize something. Symbols are used to illustrate a greater truth that can’t be wrapped in literal language, not a lesser truth. While symbolic descriptions of hell sound bad enough, we can be assured the reality is even worse than can be imagined (thankfully this works on the flip side with heaven too!). 

The fundamental nature of hell is spiritual separation from God, but this view does not account for all the particulars of hell. Revelation 20:10 verse to help illustrate this point: “the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet also were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” There are several key inferences to make here: the lake of fire consumes the person, just as waters consume any person thrown into a physical lake; it is a place from which they cannot escape; the imagery of fire and sulphur is intended to show extreme pain and suffering that extends to all the senses. Furthermore, the punishment is obviously eternal, continual, total and conscious (“tormented day and night for ever and ever”) and human beings will be there, for the beast and the false prophet are humans.

It’s clear: “Anyone whose name is not written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:10)

Let’s Not Be Hypocritical About Eternity

Many proponents of a non literal temporal hell claim if we had a more thorough understanding of Jewish historical context we could not hold to the traditional view of hell. This is not corroborated by careful study though. The ancient Jewish belief of humanity includes an immortality of the human soul and human body, which is in direct contrast to the gentile view of a separated body and soul. Daniel 12:1-2 is a confirmation: “ . . but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” If we hold tightly to the view of heaven as conscious eternal bliss, how can we not hold to the view of hell as conscious and eternal torment? Jesus confirms this when he says the unrighteous “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” The biblical text is plain and does not change the grammatical meaning of “eternity” when referencing heaven or hell.

I find it hypocritical (and an indictment on human nature) that no one is propagating a “temporal” heaven with the same logic they claim a “temporal” hell. Could it be because we are making our interpretations of Scripture based on our subjective inclinations (eisegesis) and not the objective ordinary meaning of the text (exegesis)?

What can we make of Jesus’ NT exhortation to “Fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28)? Hell is the place the body and soul will be eternally destroyed by a Holy loving God. Hell is not just the suicidal and self-inflicted internal propensities of misguided men (though it is that in part), Hell is the external judgment of God being poured out on sinful men (Romans 1:18-21).

Why else would we be charged to “Fear Him”? If all religions end up in the same relativistic celestial melting pot whom is there to fear?

The most heart wrenching display of the nature of hell is Christ’s separation from His Father on the cross. In this tangible portrayal of hell we do see physical suffering, which is only a minute part of this hell, but we see even greater the spiritual suffering of the Son who cried, “Why have you forsaken Me?” In hell, all the goodness and grace of the Father is suspended from the person and they are completely isolated from anything of redeeming value. Self is the wretched cruel king in hell. This Spiritual suffering is the most severe aspect of hell, but this in no way denies the physical suffering of the individual.

Hell has an immensely devastating affect on the whole person. Hell happens to you and in you for eternity.

Hell Is Giving One What They Really Want

When we reject the hell Christ took on the cross for us, we are accepting the hell we deserve for an eternity. God gives us what we truly desire. As CS Lewis once said, “Either people will say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ or God will say to them, ‘Thy will be done.'” The self willed, self absorbed and God-hating soul will continue in that trajectory into eternity. They wouldn’t want it any other way.

Remember who we are rebelling against when we sin. This is no mere Joe Blow off the street, it is the High King and perfect Son we are scorning. This is a high crime with high consequences. When blaspheming the infinitely worthy ONE there are necessarily infinitely dire implications. The punishment (eternal hell) fits the crime (eternal treason).

This is why the love of God and the wrath of God are inextricably linked. “This is love not that we have loved God but that He has loved us and given His Son as a propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10) In an ironic display of gospel ignorance many who claim “Love Wins” apart from God’s wrath, are actually nullifying the love of God. God loves sinners because He poured out His just displeasure on His perfect Son who died as our substitute. Clearly, a denial of God’s wrath is a denial of Christ’s propitiation (wrath bearing sacrifice) which in turn is an outright denial of God’s love.

Universalism, in the end, destroys the very thing it is attempting to uphold.

There is no biblical reason to uphold purgatory or annihilationism as a more sensitive route to hell. Christ was the most loving and sensitive man who ever walked the earth yet He talked more about hell than all other biblical writers combined. It was probably because He was more qualified to speak of such a horrible reality considering He was the creator of it, just as all things were created through Him (Colossians 1:15-17). The domesticated demure Jesus we have constructed in our minds actually declares in the “Rich man and Lazarus” parable that hell is place of personal consciousness, eternal torment, and no second chances (Luke 16:19-31).

Even if we reject the hellfire and brimstone hyper fundamentalist preaching of the traditionalist past, we would do well to give an ear to what Jesus has to say.

If there were no hell then Jesus is a liar.

Our distaste for hell will not make it go away. In reality, that nasty taste is designed by God so that we may shun hell and desire the heavenly kingdom He purchased for us with His own Son’s life. We may very well wish the notion of hell would just go to hell. But we would be consigning the love of God, the blood of Jesus, and all the goodness on heaven and earth to the same slippery fate.

Bryan Daniels

The Revelation of The Lion Lamb Man (part 2)

5And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song, saying,   “Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:5-10)

We left the dejected apostle, stricken with grief, with no hope in our last blog post (Revelation 5:1-4).  But an angelic elder comes to comfort John in the very next verse.

The Lion

The first figure John is introduced to is a Lion (verse 5). A lion is a beast of prey; the noble creatures are strong, majestic, and dangerous. You don’t fight with a lion, you submit to a lion. Lions aren’t hunted as prey, they are hunters.

Christ, like a lion, devours His enemies. The book of Revelation displays Christ as a sword wielding horse riding warrior with a tat on his thigh (Revelation 19). With one swipe of the His just sword He will slay the enemies of the gospel. The devil is only “like a roaring lion” (1Peter 5:8) but Jesus IS a roaring lion. Satan and the demons tremble before His might.

He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The protector of Israel in the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Yet He is before Abraham (John 8:58).

He is also the “Root of David” (verse 5). The source of David’s reign. The pre-eminent one above every King or patriarch.

He is a descendant yet He is pre-eminent.

And He is worthy to take the scrolls because He has “conquered” (verse 5)

The Lamb

In an incredible contrast, when John fixes his eyes to behold this “lion,” He in fact sees a Lamb (verse 6). Lambs are preyed upon; they are weak, harmless, lowly, sheared for clothes and killed for food and sacrifice.

These two juxtapositions could not be more shockingly stark. In Christ we have the paradoxical Servant King, the conquering Lion and the lowly Lamb.

In a mysterious peculiar narrative that could only be God-borne, the Lion conquers all His enemies by becoming a Lamb. (Phil. 2:5-11)

The Lord of the Universe becomes a suffering Savior to His covenant children (Isaiah 53:3-12).

The Lamb is standing, alive forevermore, though it appeared for a short time He “had been slain” (verse 6)

Christ’s final cry on the cross “It is finished” was not the surrendering death gurgle of a tortured Jewish man, it was the victorious roar of a Lion that shook foundations of heaven and earth.

This is a lamb-like Lion, and a Lion-like lamb. And he is “standing,” next to throne not slumping or laying down. Not dejected and defeated, but upright and fully alive because the war is won.

Perfect Everything

Seven (perfection) horns protrude from His head– Again seven, the number of perfection or completion. Horns in the Old Testament signified authority. Christ is a Lamb with perfect authority and power, or “omnipotence”  Seven eyes-He sees all and knows all. Seven eyes signify perfect wisdom and knowledge of all. He knows the beginning from the end (Isaiah 48:9-10). This is Christ’s “omniscience.” Seven Spirits signify God’s presence everywhere at all times. No one can flee from Him, He is always imminent in our lives. This is Christ’s “omnipresence.”

A king with only authority and no wisdom would be a cruel tyrant dictator. A Hitler of sorts. A King with only wisdom and no authority would be helpless to exercise good for his people. A figure-head of sorts (King of England?)

Look how both perfect wisdom and perfect authority dwell in the person of Jesus Christ. These are the diverse excellencies of Jesus Christ!

As a father I can be very loving and gentle with my children. But if I were to feel they were in harms way that gentleness would be replaced with a fierce hand of violent protection. I will go straight William Wallace on you and your speeding chick car in my neighborhood.

God in Christ is the same way, only exponentially more loving and powerful. He protects us with a loving soft hand of a father and defends us with a clenched fist of a righteous warrior.

In verse 7 we see Jesus literally take the scroll of history from the very hand of God the Father. This is the Father handing over the keys of the Kingdom to the Son. Christ the sovereign one holds history in his perfect hands from beginning to end! He is working all things out (your life) according to the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11).

The heavenly company falls down to worship the Lamb (verse 8) an adulation that was at one time reserved for God the Father (Revelation 4:10).

They reveal in their song why the Lamb is their sole object of worship: Because of His blood shed for His ransomed people (verse 9).

Or as John the Baptist said “Behold! The lamb who takes away the sins of the world John” (1:29)

The culmination of God’s perfect love, justice, holiness, mercy and glory is found in beholding the God-man suspended between heaven and earth taking the full cup of the Father’s wrath for us.

Behold the worthy one being revealed in Revelation 5. CH Spurgeon concludes:

We admire him for his glory, but even more because his glory is mingled with humility; we admire him for his uncompromising justice, but even more because it is tempered with mercy; we admire him for his majesty, but even more because it is a majesty in meekness; we admire him because of his equality with God, but even more because as God’s equal he nevertheless has a deep reverence for God; we admire him because of his sovereign dominion over the world, but even more because this dominion was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission;
Even obedience to the cross. Amen.

The Revelation of The Lion Lamb Man (part 1)

(Revelation 5:1-10 )

1Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

There is a reason the book of Revelation means very little to us. With it’s vivid imagery and striking symbolism we typically leave it up to the prophecy experts and theological doctorates to debate the book’s mysterious meaning. But before we believe this controversial book has anything to do with Kirk Cameron, a European antiChrist, or a pretrib/posttrib debate we better go back to the first verse:

“The revelation of Jesus Christ….” (Revelation 1:1)

Paul displays why we miss the blatant significance of the gospel in his letter to the Corinthian church:

4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.(2 Cor 4:4, 6)

 

We know very little of the far-reaching negative implications of our sin nature. Scripture says we are morally twisted creatures, depraved and sinful to our heart’s core (Romans 3:21-26). But this means that we’re not just bad, we’re blind.

We’re blind to the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

You can be involved in church activities and ministry leadership and still have no revelation of the glory God in the face of Jesus Christ. Fortunately, many Scriptures lift up the veil in spectacular ways for a moment for us: Isaiah 6, Hebrews 1, John 1, Ezekiel 1. After Ezekiel has his vision of God’s disturbing holiness, the prophet is in a trance for a week! On the surface, it seems these are the babblings of mad men; they search for words as best they can pressing the language with all their mental might.

John, the exiled revelator was one of those blessed mad men.

In Revelation 5:1 of John’s vision we are introduced to The King holding the Scrolls-The scrolls were probably similar to a Roman will or contract deed. The scrolls intimate the God’s purposes for human history: The King’s divine decrees from start to finish.

God is a sovereign King and He is in absolute control. From Creation to the fall, from the death of Christ to the return of Christ, it all fits into his mighty right hand. Earthquakes, terrorist attacks, personal tragedies and even a sparrow falling to the ground.  God knows, and sees, and has some purpose for letting it all come to pass.

Notice John only sees the throne and the right hand of the one holding the scroll. God’s face can never be seen in its unadulterated light. One of the most shocking testimonies to God’s unapproachable holiness is the fact that the godly men who knew it best could never even begin to describe it. No man may see His face and live.

In v.2-3 an angel asks a provocative question:

“Who is worthy to open the scroll?

The scroll is sealed with seven seals, the symbol of perfection which suggests they could not be opened by just any candidate. This question is posited by a particularly Strong angel (Michael maybe?) This question begs the question: Why doesn’t Michael or one of the blazing seraphim open it? They can’t.

Furthermore, why doesn’t the holy King on the throne open it? He needs a mediator (1Tim2:5-6). The only thing God could do to us apart from a worthy mediator is destroy us. One holy man must open it, otherwise every name would be blotted out of history in the King’s just judgment.

 In Verse 4 John comes undone There really was no one present that could make right the tragedy that is human history. No mighty angel in heaven, no charismatic leader on earth.

But we need not weep with John just yet.

The most prominent figure of the passage hasn’t been injected into the stirring scene.  We know the end of the story. But let John’s grief make it clear, a Christless heaven is only a prospect to be mourned. The future is hopeless apart from a perfect substitute taking our wrath; that’s why John is a torn man. Only Christ is worthy to unwrap the climactic events of the last days, and every day for that matter.

What John observes next is a shocking illustration of God’s character and glory. It leaves the apostle shaken and stirred; God willing, it may brand us in the same way.

Bryan Daniels

A Revelation of Jesus Christ-The Lion, The Lamb, The Life Evermore pt 2

5And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song, saying,   “Worthy are you to take the scroll
   and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
   from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
   and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:5-10)
 
 
The first figure John is introduced to is a Lion (verse 5). A lion preys upon the weak; the noble creatures are strong, majestic, and dangerous. You don’t fight with a lion, you submit to a lion. Lions aren’t hunted as prey, they are hunters.
Christ, like a lion, devours His enemies. The book of Revelation displays Christ as a sword wielding horse riding warrior with a tat on his thigh (Revelation 19). With one swipe of the His just sword He will slay the enemies of the gospel. The devil is only “like a roaring lion” (1Peter 5:8) but Jesus IS a roaring lion. Satan and the demons tremble before His might.
 
He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The protector of Israel in the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
 
Yet He is before Abraham (John 8:58).
 
He is also the “Root of David” (verse 5). The source of David’s reign. The pre-eminent one above every King or patriarch.
 
He is a descendant yet He is pre-eminent.
 
And He is worthy to take the scrolls because He has “conquered” (verse 5)
 
In an incredible contrast, when John fixes his eyes to behold this “lion,” He in fact sees a Lamb (verse 6). Lambs are preyed upon; they are weak, harmless, lowly, sheared for clothes and killed for food and sacrifice.
These two juxtapositions could not be more shockingly stark. In Christ we have the paradoxical Servant King, the conquering Lion and the lowly Lamb.
 
In a mysterious peculiar narrative that could only be God-borne, the Lion conquers all His enemies by becoming a Lamb. (Phil. 2:5-11)
The Lord of the Universe becomes a suffering Savior to His covenant children (Isaiah 53:3-12).
 
The Lamb is standing, alive forevermore, though it appeared for a short time He “had been slain” (verse 6)
 
Christ’s final cry on the cross “It is finished” was not the surrendering death gurgle of a tortured Jewish man, it was the victorious roar of a Lion that shook foundations of heaven and earth.
This is a lamb like Lion, and a Lion like lamb. And he is “standing,” next to throne not slumping or laying down. Not dejected and defeated, but upright and fully alive because the war is won.
 
Seven (perfection) horns protrude from His head– Again seven, the number of perfection or completion. Horns in the Old Testament signified authority. Christ is a Lamb with perfect authority and power, or “omnipotence”  Seven eyes-He sees all and knows all. Seven eyes signify perfect wisdom and knowledge of all. He knows the beginning from the end (Isaiah 48:9-10). This is Christ’s “omniscience.” Seven Spirits signify God’s presence everywhere at all times. No one can flee from Him, He is always imminent in our lives. This is Christ’s “omnipresence.”
 
A king with only authority and no wisdom would be a cruel tyrant dictator. A Hitler of sorts. A King with only wisdom and no authority would be helpless to exercise good for his people. A figure-head of sorts (King of England?)
 
Look how both perfect wisdom and perfect authority dwell in the person of Jesus Christ. These are the diverse excellencies of Jesus Christ!
As a father I can be very loving and gentle with my children. But if I were to feel they were in harms way that gentleness would be replaced with a fierce hand (or bullet) of violent protection. As you know, I will go straight William Wallace on you and your speeding chick car in my neighborhood.
God in Christ is the same way, only exponentially more loving and powerful. He protects us with a loving soft hand of a father and defends us with a clenched fist of a righteous warrior.
 
In verse 7 we see Jesus literally take the scroll of history from the very hand of God the Father. This is the Father handing over the keys of the Kingdom to the Son. Christ the sovereign one holds history in his perfect hands from beginning to end! He is working all things out (your life) according to the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11).
 
The heavenly company falls down to worship the Lamb (verse 8) an adulation that was at one time reserved for God the Father (Revelation 4:10).
 
They reveal in their song why the Lamb is their sole object of worship: Because of His blood shed for His ransomed people (verse 9).
Or as John the Baptist said “Behold! The lamb who takes away the sins of the world John” (1:29)
 
The culmination of God’s perfect love, justice, holiness, mercy and glory is found in beholding the God-man suspended between heaven and earth taking the full cup of the Father’s wrath for us.
 
Behold the worthy one being revealed in Revelation 5. CH Spurgeon concludes :
 
We admire him for his glory, but even more because his glory is mingled with humility; we admire him for his transcendence, but even more because his transcendence is accompanied by condescension; we admire him for his uncompromising justice, but even more because it is tempered with mercy; we admire him for his majesty, but even more because it is a majesty in meekness; we admire him because of his equality with God, but even more because as God’s equal he nevertheless has a deep reverence for God; we admire him because of how worthy he was of all good, but even more because this was accompanied by an amazing patience to suffer evil; we admire him because of his sovereign dominion over the world, but even more because this dominion was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission;
Even obedience to the cross. Amen.
 
Bryan Daniels

A Revelation of Jesus Christ-The Scroll, The Seals, And The Sorrow pt 1

(Revelation 5:1-10 )

1Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.  

There is a reason the book of Revelation means very little to us. With it’s vivid imagery and striking symbolism we typically leave it up to the prophecy experts and theological doctorates to debate the book’s mysterious meaning. But before we believe this controversial book has anything to do with Kirk Cameron, a European antiChrist, or a pretrib/posttrib debate we better go back to the first verse: “The revelation of Jesus Christ….” (Revelation 1:1)  

Paul displays why we miss the blatant significance of the gospel in his letter to the Corinthian church:

4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.(2 Cor 4:4, 6)

 

We know very little of the far-reaching negative implications of our sin nature. Scripture says we are morally twisted creatures, depraved and sinful to our heart’s core (Romans 3:21-26). But this means that we’re not just bad, we’re blind.

We’re blind to the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

You can be involved in church activities and ministry leadership and still have no revelation of the glory God in the face of Jesus Christ. Fortunately, many Scriptures lift up the veil in spectacular ways for a moment for us: Isaiah 6, Hebrews 1, John 1, Ezekiel 1. After Ezekiel has his vision of God’s disturbing holiness, the prophet is in a trance for a week! On the surface, it seems these are the babblings of mad men; they search for words as best they can pressing the language with all their mental might.

John, the exiled revelator was one of those blessed mad men.

In Revelation 5:1 of John’s vision we are introduced to The King holding the Scrolls-The scrolls were probably similar to a Roman will or contract deed. The scrolls intimate the God’s purposes for human history:The King’s divine decrees from start to finish. He is in absolute control. From Creation to the fall, from the death of Christ to the return of Christ, it all fits in his mighty right hand. Earthquakes, terrorist attacks, stillborn babies and even a sparrow falling to the ground.  God knows and has some purpose for letting it all come to pass. 

Notice John only sees the throne and the right hand of the one holding the scroll. God’s face can never be seen in its unadulterated light. One of the most shocking testimonies to God’s unapproachable holiness is the fact that the godly men who knew it best could never even begin to describe it. No man may see His face and live.

In v.2-3 an angel asks a provocative question: “Who is worthy to open the scroll? The scroll is sealed with seven seals, the symbol of perfection which suggests they could not be opened by just any candidate. This question is posited by a particularly Strong angel (Michael maybe?) This question begs the question: Why doesn’t Michael or one of the blazing seraphim open it? They can’t.  

Furthermore, why doesn’t the holy King on the throne open it? He needs a mediator (1Tim2:5-6). The only thing God could do to us apart from a worthy mediator is destroy us. One holy man must open it, otherwise every name would be blotted out of history in the King’s just judgment.

 In Verse 4 John comes undone.  There really was no one present that could make right the tragedy that is human history. No mighty angel in heaven, no charismatic leader on earth.

But we need not weep with John just yet.

The most prominent figure of the passage hasn’t been injected into the stirring scene.  We know the end of the story. But let John’s grief make it clear, a Christless heaven is only a prospect to be mourned. The future is hopeless apart from a perfect substitute taking our wrath; that’s why John is a torn man. Only Christ is worthy to unwrap the climactic events of the last days, and every day for that matter.

What John observes next is a shocking illustration of God’s character and glory. It leaves the apostle shaken and stirred; God willing, it will brand us in the same way.

Bryan Daniels