Scripture tells us that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. In Revelation 5:11-14, that is exactly what happens. But it isn't just men and women singing praise to God . . . animals are singing praise as well! This is a worship service you don't want to miss!
Additional messages from this series are available here: The First Hymns of Heaven
Forever and Ever, Amen!
If you believe, as I do, that a few minutes in heaven will get everything straightened out . . . made right . . . prioritized, you should know that not only will our presence before God in heaven accomplish all of that and more, but even the vision of heaven and the record of the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation, accomplishes the same things.
For those wondering about the deity of Jesus Christ – just watch and listen to the worship of the Lamb around the throne;
For those wondering if God’s plans and purposes will be fulfilled – study in this Apocalypse at the precision of His plans as they unfold;
For those tempted to think that the triune God is a mystical force or some ethereal source of power you can tap into – note in John’s tour of heaven the presence of God the Father and God the Son and God the Spirit;
If you’ve fallen for the view that God is learning as He goes along and He’s making things up as He watches how we act – you will discover otherwise in this Revelation of John.
The future of this planet and the universe and mankind is already written down on a scroll.
In other words, God has the script – He alone is the author of it.
The seven sealed scroll about to be unrolled was finished and the ink was dry long before puny mankind raised his doubts and his disbelief and his disrespect toward the throne of heaven.
If you’ve given an ear to Marianne Williamson’s teaching of the Course in Miracles on Oprah Winfrey’s radio show that Jesus is merely a symbol which can stand for any god or goddess that you can take and pour into that name – notice the singularity of Christ’s sovereignty in John’s vision of heaven.
If you’ve fallen for Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and have come to believe that you can command the universe – telling it what you want and the universe will respond to your will; note in John’s record that the universe follows the bidding and obeys the command of sovereign God alone.
If you’ve fallen further into this false teaching and all those who write and think with her that, and I quote, “You are the creator and you are creating the creation of you on this planet; you are God in a physical body . . . the birds sing for you; the sun rises and sets for you; the stars come out for you…” end quote – note here in the truth of heaven that John is able to describe – the birds and planets do not exist for our honor, they are not singing our glory – they are singing to the glory of God alone.
Servant Issue, 2007, Number 79; p. 7
If you’ve been caught up in the latest fancy over The Secret and the law of attraction and you’ve begun to believe that you can speak your own destiny and mouth the words of your own future, you might want to read how utterly dependent we are upon the sovereign will of God who alone determines the destiny of the universe.
I want to further warn you, dear flock of God, the teaching that you are divine and you have the power to create and you are little gods and you command the universe, is nothing more than the repackaging of Satan’s lure to Eve.
I also want to warn you, much of what Ronda Byrne and Eckhart Tolle are now teaching, primarily through the media outlets of Oprah Winfrey to literally millions of people, daily, what you need to be warned of is the baptized version of this same false teaching into the church.
For years now, a loosely associated movement known as the Word Faith Movement has been teaching a “Christianized” form of creative word power for years.
The word faith movement basically believes the following principles . . . all of them using biblical language, but distorting biblical texts;
- First, God creates by using His words;
- Secondly, mankind is made in the image of God and is thus a “little god” capable of creating through the use of words;
- Third, the Christian, by faith, can create by what he speaks.
Just speak it. Name it . . . claim it . . . it’s yours.
Speak words of health and healing and wealth and prosperity and you can have it. By speaking positive faith-filled words, you create your own future.
This is basically the same thing as the law of attraction – we get whatever we want. The only difference is the unbeliever on Oprah says the universe will give it to you and the Christian on television and in the Bookstore says God will give it to you.
But it’s basically the same thing – you have the power in your words to create your destiny.
I have appreciated the research into this movement by James Walker, the president of Watchman Fellowship who was with us last summer as one of our summer series guests and who will be back with us this summer.
In an article by James, he uncovers a number of teachers in the word faith movement who have come out in recent months, espousing a Christianized version of the law of attraction – otherwise known as word-faith.
A leading teacher in this movement by the name of Charles Capps wrote, “We are capable of operating on the same creative plane as God”; from what I read by him, what he means is that we have the power to create our lifestyle on earth, whether we prosper or not; whether we are sick or whole depends on our creative authority.
Watchman Fellowship article: What Joyce Wants, Joyce Gets
Imagine that – throughout the Bible, your condition and place in life is described as the work and will of God, but that’s too bad – all along it was up to you and you should have spoken prosperity. There was no reason for Paul to have to suffer poverty – he should have spoken more words of prosperity! There was no reason to suffer imprisonment, he should have spoken words of freedom!
That’s nothing more than religious sounding law of attraction – speak to the universe and the universe will give you what you want.
Walker’s article noted another rising star in this way of thinking – a woman with a growing television audience by the name of Joyce Meyer. She said recently, and I quote, “We can speak positive thoughts about ourselves into the atmosphere and thereby prophesy our future.”
Another leading teacher by the name of Gloria Copeland said in a similar vein, and I quote, “One of the first things Ken and I learned when we started walking in the power of God was that our words had to match what we wanted to come to pass.”
In other words, we declare our future. Our words determine everything and bring what we want to pass.
This is nothing more than a Christianized version of the law of attraction – and the secret.
Your words determine everything; which makes you sovereign, right?
A favorite text most often distorted and misunderstood by this movement is Genesis 1:26-27, that we have been created in the image of God. They take this text distort it’s meaning in order to give us divine power – literally to consider us little gods.
According to Copeland and Meyer and Capps and so many others, we are little gods.
In her message entitled, “Authority and Opposition” Joyce Meyer said, and I quote, “Why do people have such a fit about God calling [us] little gods . . . what’s God supposed to call us; doesn’t the Bible say we are created in His image?”
This teaching, supposedly in the name of Christ is deeply troubling to me. Being made in the image of God doesn’t mean we’re godlings . . . that we’re little gods. It means among other things, that like God we can live objectively for eternity – self-aware, with a desire to worship. We are immortal.
Like God we have no ending. But don’t forget that unlike God – we had a what? a beginning.
Being made in the image of God means that we can be creative – not that we have become creators.
My friend, false teaching elevates the power of man and depersonalizes God into a force you tap into – a divine power you learn to manipulate to your bidding – He represents a universal secret you learn – and you have the power to speak a word and prophecy your own future.
No wonder Kenneth Copeland can make such a statement in a message where he said, ‘When I read in the Bible where Jesus said, ‘I am,’ I just smile and say, ‘I am too.’ Ibid That is false teaching – even though it comes with a smile and in the name of Jesus.
Ladies and Gentlemen, two minutes in heaven – or less – around the throne of this personal, terrifying, majestic, sovereign God – and we like all the others will go to our faces as we fall before Him and sing . . . and then we rise to sing some more and then fall prostrate once again.
Charles Lamb who wrote in the early 1800’s once told a group of friends, “If Shakespeare was to come into this room, we should all rise to meet him; but if Jesus Christ was to enter, we would fall down to kiss the hem of his garment.”
David J. MacLeod “The Adoration of God the Redeemer (Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct/Dec 2007), p. 470
When we first arrived at this scene in Revelation chapter 4, John delivered some amazing sights and sounds.
We began to hear the first of several hymns sung by angels and the raptured church in heaven.
In fact, Revelation chapter 4 and 5 represent the church now in heaven, before the throne of God.
It should be no surprise that music is synonymous with heaven.
In Revelation chapter 4, the angelic creatures started off by singing of the holiness of God, verse 8, who was and is and is to come.
Then the presbuteroi – the elders, representing the church and all the redeemed, fall down and sing in verse 11, Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power…”
Then the scene shifted to the One standing beside the throne of God the Father – the Lion of the tribe of Judah, chapter 5 and verse 5.
We are introduced to John’s description of Jesus Christ who takes the scroll from His Father, representing the truth that Christ is capable of fulfilling the will of His Father on earth.
And then both the angels and the church sing antiphonally the 3rd hymn in chapter 5 and verse 9. Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals . . . for you were slain, and by your blood you purchased us for God . . . people from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Imagine that scene.
Many Christians know about Jim Elliott and how their deaths paved the way to the conversion of the Auca Indians; but few people know that an American Indian named Geronimo was converted to Christianity and publicly baptized as a follower of Christ at Apache mission in Fort Sill Military Reservation in 1903.
Imagine singing one day here in heaven and kneeling next to you is Geronimo!
We have no idea!
The fourth hymn now begins in verse 11. 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, 12. saying with a loud voice.
Now, the fact that the text says they were “saying with a loud voice” might give the impression that they weren’t singing.
However, Legontes (legonteV) translated “saying” is an amplification of adousin (adousin) used in verse 9 as a clear reference to singing. You could understand this phrase in verse 12 to simply mean – and these were the lyrics.
Adapted from Robert Thomas, Revelation: Volume 1 (Moody Press, 1992), p. 404
Angels do sing and they evidently do so with a loud voice.
In fact, the words translated “loud voice” in verse 12 are from the words, phone megale (fwnh megalh) – which we turn around – megale phone – and get our word megaphone. The sound is a deafening roar, yet majestic music.
Adapted from Steven Lawson, Heaven Help Us (NavPress, 1995), p. 94
You could understand these verses to mean, “They were singing with their loudest voices and these were the lyrics they were saying. . .”
And did you notice how many there are singing?
Verse 11 says that the angels alone numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands.
Myriad means “10,000” – 10,000 was the largest unit used in the ancient Greek world. It can refer to a literal 10,000, which in this case, if you did the math, you would be talking about more than 100 million and millions more.
Adapted from Stewart Custer, From Patmos to Paradise (BJU Press, 2004), p. 68
The word “myriad” can also mean, simply, “a number impossible to count.”
Either way, this hymn is being sung by hundreds of millions of angels along with the redeemed church.
And to Whom are we all singing at the top of our lungs?
Notice again verse 12, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!”
We just can’t seem to get away from the crosswork of Christ.
John described Christ earlier in this scene as one who looked as if He’d been slain . . . in other words, Christ retained the scars of His crucifixion . . . forever reminding us of how we got to the throne!
He has kept His scars forever reminding us how we are able to be there . . . those scars are on His body because of me . . . they are there because of me . . . they are there because of you.
Marianne Williamson, teaching millions of listeners the Course in Miracles – a new age teaching the deifies self and depersonalizes God, making Jesus just a symbol of overcoming suffering and reaching enlightenment – she has taught this lesson from the Course, “A slain Christ has no meaning. Do not make the pathetic error of clinging to the old rugged cross.”
Sermon manuscript by Erwin Lutzer, April 2008
Let me say it again . . . and you can see it here in this text. We are before the throne of God because of an old rugged cross – the death of our Savior atoning once and for all upon that cross for our sins.
We cling to the old rugged cross.
Today, leaders in the emerging church movement, such as Brian McLaren and liberals along with him have begun calling the crucifixion, “cosmic child abuse.”
Be encouraged; the Apostle Paul already promised that to the unbeliever the cross would either be considered foolishness or offensive (1 Corinthians 1:23). In spite of that, Paul said, “We preach Christ crucified.”
Evidently Jesus Christ isn’t embarrassed about it either.
In fact, the word John used here for “slain” is not the usual word translated crucified, but a word that literally means “slaughtered.”
It is the same word used in Isaiah 53:7 when Isaiah wrote that our Lord was led as a lamb to the slaughter.
It is because of Christ the Lamb that was slain that we, the redeemed have been forgiven and now stand with hundreds of millions of angels and redeemed believers and guess what? One of our first hymns in heaven refers to that moment in history – “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.”
What follows next is a hymn of praise for seven attributes of the Lamb – again, the number 7 subtly implying the comprehensive perfection and majesty of the Lamb of God.
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive:
- Power (dunamin)
A reference to omnipotent, total, comprehensive ability. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that Jesus Christ is the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:24)
- He is worthy to receive wealth (plouton)
This is not just a reference to spiritual wealth, but to unconditional wealth in every possible realm.
Thomas, p. 405
Haggai the prophet quoted God saying, “All the silver is mine and all the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:8)
Paul refers to the unsearchable riches of Christ in Ephesians 3:8.
- The Lamb is worthy because He has all wisdom (sofian)
This is the attribute of God that refers to His understanding, intelligence and skill. According to the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, this attribute would distinguish the Messiah and His reign.
Adapted from MacLeod, p. 467
- The hymn continues to sing of the Lamb who is worthy to receive all might (iscun)
This has the idea of strength. Paul spoke of Christ returning in the terrifying power of His strength. (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
- We sing to the Lamb because He is worthy of all honor (timhn)
Even now, Jesus Christ is dishonored on earth. He is blasphemed and ridiculed.
Lehman Strauss, Revelation (Loizeaux Brothers, 1964), p. 151
Perhaps you’ve seen the documentary called Expelled that chronicles how people are losing their jobs as professors and professionals for casting doubt on evolution by even suggesting the possibility of an intelligent designer.
I watched it the other night with my sons and some of their friends. It was not surprising, but it was still amazing to hear so many supposed scholars forced to speculate as to origin of life on the planet, rather than even consider the possibility of intelligent design and certainly the existence of God.
I watched on the screen as Richard Dawkins was forced by his own argument into an impossible corner where he had to postulate that since there could be no God, the original cell – the origin of the potential for life had to have been seeded on this planet by aliens. I watched the expression on his face turn to anger when the host asked him at the end, “So you don’t believe in a God?” And he said, “No, how could ask me that after all I’ve said?!”
Imagine, one of the most well known defenders of evolution forced to declare his faith in the possibility of aliens depositing some form of life on earth that started it all, rather than crack the door open to the possibility of God.
If I were God, I would write at least once a year in the sky with bright cloud, “I created the heavens and the earth.”
I would write, “I rule the universe.”
I would write, “Richard Dawkins will be sorry!”
I would be honored if I were God.
Because He isn’t, by the world at large . . . but He will be, as we’ll see in a moment.
- The Lamb is worthy also of all glory (doxan)
This gives us our word, doxology. The word, glory, refers to the splendor and fame that characterize everything about Him and His court.
Our Lord is connected to this word on several occasions in the New Testament:
- His pre-incarnate glory in heaven (John 17:5)
- Glory bestowed on Him at His resurrection and exaltation (John 12:23-24)
- His triumphal glory which He will reveal at His second coming (Matthew 24:30)
- His millennial glory which will characterize His earthly kingdom (Matthew 25:31)
- And His eternal glory which parallels the glory of the Father (Revelation 21:23)
Adapted from MacLeod, p. 468
Jesus Christ is worthy of all glory.
- And the final stanza has us singing The Lamb is worthy of receiving all blessing – this word is eulogian which gives us our word eulogy.
We think of a eulogy as something nice said about someone who has died.
This eulogy is all the wonderful things that can possibly be said about Christ who is alive.
In the first of these 5 hymns, the four creatures chanted their song of God’s holiness.
In the second hymn the church sang to the worth of God the Father.
In the third hymn, the four living creatures and the elders representing the church sang antiphonally to the worth of Christ and the promise of the church’s future reign on the earth.
The choir is getting progressively larger, because in the 4th hymn, 100’s of millions of angels now join the church – the elders – and the living creatures.
But now, in this 5th hymn of heaven, verse 13 informs us that John heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea and all that is in them, are now singing to the Lamb of God, John hears, of Christ’s blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever.
Imagine now – the choir is universal . . . it is global . . . it encompasses everything above the earth and on the earth.
Sam Gordon, Worthy is the Lamb (Ambassador, 2000), p. 143
And under the earth and in the sea – under the earth is a reference to the demonic world and all the inhabitants of hell – imagine the implications of this choir. It is no longer representative, it is exhaustive – not one creature or human being is left silent.
Thomas, p. 408
One author wrote, this hymn anticipates that great future day when no one will withhold from God His due.
This is the fulfillment of Philippians 2:10 where every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord – kurios – every tongue will admit that Jesus Christ is God.
Listen, there will be no atheists in eternity . . . not even in Hell!
There will be millions of condemned theists on this day when all the world acknowledges that Jesus Christ is the image of invisible God (Colossians 1:15)
Adapted from Lawson, p. 97
Throughout history, our Savior has been vilified and scorned. Even in recent years an increasing number of books, speakers, politicians, scholars and comedians have run the name of Christ into the dirt.
But on this day, every tongue will acknowledge it wasn’t aliens after all.
- S. G. Brandon will see that Christ was more than a political zealot;
- Richard Horsley will admit that Jesus wasn’t just a social prophet;
- Gerald Downing will recant his view that Christ was a cynical philosopher;
- Morton Smith will cringe over his writings that Jesus was a magician who tricked his followers;
- Laurie Beth Jones will recognize that Christ was more than a good example for corporate CEO’s;
- Barbara Thiering will understand that Christ really wasn’t influenced by Buddhism, married Mary Magdalene in his 30’s, was crucified but escaped death through medicine;
- John Allegro will bow his knee to the One he claimed invented His own cult and promoted it through the use of hallucinogenic drugs;
- John Hick and Shelby Spong will utter through their clenched teeth that He is the truth – even though they claimed He wasn’t God in the flesh, didn’t atone for anybody’s sins on the cross and didn’t rise from the dead.
- The writer, actors and producer, Martin Scorsese of the Last Temptation of Christ will recognize the blasphemy of their work which had Christ say on the stage before mocking crowds, “I am a hypocrite, I am afraid of everything, I am a liar;”
- Dan Brown will understand as he joins in the universal chant to Creator Christ that Jesus wasn’t a mere man and the church didn’t conspire after all by making up the four gospels.
Adapted from MacLeod, p. 454
- Marianne Williamson will understand on that day that the cross was not a tragic error to cling to, it was something to cry out to;
- Oprah Winfrey will tragically discover she was wrong on that fateful day recorded and watched now by millions of people when she said, “Jesus Christ is not the only way to God.”
- On this day, Christopher Hitchens will acknowledge the crucifixion was not barbaric but redemptive, only too late perhaps;
- On this day as the entire universe sings this hymn, Richard Dawkins will acknowledge it wasn’t aliens; he and Charles Darwin will join together will surrender to the truth of their Creator God!
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the goal toward which all of history is racing. Human history is not rushing toward the deification of mankind; it is not racing toward the exaltation of little gods; it is not racing into the oblivion of oneness with the universe . . . it is rushing toward a universal choir that will acknowledge and honor and glorify Him who sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb forever and ever.
My friend – you will say these words one day. Will you be filled with incredible joy or unbelievable regret and fear.
Adapted from Ray Stedman, God’s Final Word (Discovery House, 1991), p. 137
Accept the Lamb of God as your Savior now and be assured you will sing to the Lamb of God with great joy.
What are you waiting for? Give Him your worship now – by grace through faith in the crucified, resurrected Savior ascended sovereign Savior. Call out to Him now.
You can trust His promise that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)
Call on Him now . . . don’t wait another moment. One day it will be forever too late.
Before this scene closes and the hymns cease – I love this little addition to the scene – verse 14. And the four living creatures – you remember them from chapter 4 – they rotated around the throne of God the Father – these four strange creatures said, “Amen!”
Then tense of the verb means they kept saying it.
All the universe is singing and these four creatures keep saying, “Amen.”
After each attribute which, by the way in the original language is preceded by a definite article giving it grand dignity and ceremony, after each attribute is sung – these creatures shout Amen!
To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb:
-Be the blessing – Amen
-And the honor – Amen
-And the glory – Amen
-And the might – Amen
-Forever and ever – Amen . . . Amen . . . Amen!
Can you imagine? Hundreds of millions of angels and all humanity acknowledging these truths and the four living creatures thundering from the presence of the throne:
Amen – which means – it’s true – it’s true – it’s true.
He is worthy of honor – it’s true
He is worthy of glory – it’s true
He is worthy of might – it’s true
He is worthy forever and ever!
It is the truth!