The question in the background of these studies is: how can sinful humans come into the presence of a holy God?
John was given a vision of heaven and saw God’s throne room. Whether you believe the description is literal or figurative it is an awe-inspiring sight.
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break open the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or even look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders… He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne… And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
The scroll is completely written on so that nothing can be added to it – it probably stands for God’s word, God’s purposes. But no one is worthy to open it – until Jesus comes. He is introduced as a lion because he has defeated all enemies, but appears as a lamb because he was the all-sufficient sacrifice.
Because of what he has done, he is the only one worthy to open the scroll. His blood purchased men for God and “made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
Stop and think a minute – we have gone from unworthy to touch the word of God to priests who will reign forever. And what is waiting for us? Read Rev 21 and Rev 22:1-6. It tells of a new heaven and a new earth, and the new Jerusalem. The city is beautiful beyond description, but the conditions there are beyond imagination.
“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away… To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” … And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal… I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowd shouted hosannahs and laid cloaks and palm branches on the road (see Matt.21:1-9). This was prophesied by Zechariah hundreds of years before (see Zech.9:9). One of the signs that Jesus was who he claimed to be is the number of prophesies that his life fulfilled. This gives us confidence that other prophesies will also be fulfilled. If you belong to him this is your future!
[It’s late, but in a day or two I’ll add all the other posts in the series, so you can read them together.]