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 Sermon on

The Lamb and the Sealed Book

By Brian Pepper

St John was given a vision of Heaven itself. He was allowed to see the glories of the Eternal World. In vision he was taken on a journey through time and space. He was able to witness the great events of the very day in which we are living. Revelation 4:1 says, "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter."


A Door in Heaven

In vision John saw a door. Yes, a door opened in Heaven. Did you notice that this door was not opened into Heaven, but in Heaven. A door standing open in Heaven. What would that mean? I am glad there is no need to speculate, for the Bible has the answer. Hebrews 8:1,2 says, "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man."

St Paul tells us that when Jesus ascended into Heaven He became a priest, a High Priest, and is ministering in the great Sanctuary in Heaven. It is wonderful to know that He is up there acting on our behalf. The promise is that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

Yes the Bible says that if we confess ours sins to God that Jesus will take those sins and wipe them away with His own precious blood. Now isn't that wonderful! That should encourage every one of us. Now coming back to that door in Heaven. Revelation 4:1 says, "After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven:..." We have already noticed that it did not say "...into Heaven..." For the door into Heaven has always been open for those who reach out to Jesus Christ. This open door is the one that only Christ can open and close. It is the door into the Heavenly Sanctuary and its services. The door that was opened by His Calvary victory and will be closed by Him when His mediatorial work is finished and probation closes. The destiny of every individual on earth is wrapped up in that door.


Throne of Grace

Then John hears a voice saying, "... Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hearafter." The things that John was about to see belonged to the future. Great things to take place right down at the end of time. Verse 2 says, "And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne."

You will notice that there is no attempt made to describe the person of the Eternal God. It could have been that John was overwhelmed by the splendour of the scene. Notice in verse 3, "And He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald."


Jasper

I have seen some of these precious stones and by holding them up to a bright light many brilliant colours can be seen. Jasper, which is thought to be a diamond, is noted for its brilliance.

In Revelation 21:11 we are told that the light inside the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, is said to be like "... unto a jasper stone, clear as crystal;..."
 

Sardine

John mentions the Sardine stone which is a vivid red.

In Daniel's vision he says, "...His throne was like the fiery flame" (Daniel 7:9). Ezekiel speaking of Lucifer the covering cherub says, "... thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire." (Margin has brilliant stones) Ezekiel 28:14. Now I ask you, how could any human being describe the glories of Heaven?
 

Emerald

John mentions that there is a rainbow around the throne. The rainbow is a symbol of Grace. "...in sight like unto an emerald." Surprisingly the emerald green is the Royal colour, for the emerald stone in the breastplate of the High Priest represented Judah of the Royal line. Here on earth we think of purple and scarlet as the Royal colours. The flashing glory of the jasper represents the majesty and power of God; the fiery appearance of the sardius the mercy of God; the emerald bow of promise speaks of hope and assurance to the believer.

St Paul identifies this throne in Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." It is the throne of grace. A place were mercy is extended to the repentant sinner, where God has provided help in time of need, a way of access to His throne.


24 Thrones

Revelation 4:4 says, "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: (thrones) and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold."

Who are these elders? Where have they come from? Let them answer our questions in chapter 5:9, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."


Who are the 24 Elders?

Did you notice that they are redeemed people. There are human beings just like you and I. they are not angels, neither unfallen beings, but they are sinners saved by grace. In verse 4 it says that they were "...clothed in white raiment..." That is the clothing of the redeemed. They are wearing crowns, not Kingly crowns (diadema) but crowns of victory (stephanos), for they have gained the victory over sin. They are redeemed from the earth.

It could be that you are saying to yourself that only Moses, Enoch and Elijah are in Heaven. No! These elders are up there also. They are associated with Jesus in His priestly ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary. There are priests, priests after the order of Melchizedek.


Resurrection of the Saints

Naturally one would ask, when did these men go to heaven to begin their work in the Heavenly Sanctuary? Matthew 27:50-53 says, "Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. And came out of the graves after His resurrection and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." There was a special resurrection which took place at the time of Christ's own rising from the grave. This must have had a dramatic effect on those who saw these resurrected people walking into Jerusalem.

The question is, what happened to these people? Well strangely enough the Holy Scriptures is silent, but St Paul give us a clue as to where they may have gone. Ephesians 4:8 says, "Wherefore he saith, When He ascended up on high He led captivity captive (margin says, a multitude of captives) and gave gifts unto men."


Saints also Ascended to Heaven

When Jesus ascended to Heaven He took with Him these resurrected people. Now a multitude is a goodly number, and from out of that multitude twenty four elders take their place around the throne.

In ancient Israel an Elder was a person of rank and position. It is interesting to notice that in the temple service there were twenty four courses or orders.

In 1 Chronicles 24 is given the division of the sons of Aaron totalling 500 priests. St Paul also mentions something that may be connected to this special group. 1 Corinthians 15:4-6 says, "And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures; And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve, After that, He was seen of above five hundred at once of whom the greater part remain unto the present, but some are fallen asleep."

There is not very much said about the five hundred, but it could well be that in that 500 who saw Jesus were those resurrected people. There is one thing that is very certain. The first thing that they would want to do is to see Jesus. Also they were there for a special purpose to testify of Christ's resurrection. They were not just sightseers in Jerusalem, I can assure you of that. Revelation 4:4 says, "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold."

This is a picture of the mercy and the justice of God. For these twenty four elders are redeemed human beings who have been "...in all points tempted like as we are..." yet have overcome. They are our brethren, who can sympathize with us in the temptations and trials that come to each of us. The text suggests that they have seats of honour. This means that they have a part in the investigative judgment.
 

Seven Lamps of Fire

 Revelation 4:5 says, "And out of the throne proceedeth lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God."

Seven is the figure of completeness or perfection in the Holy Scriptures. This is a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit searching constantly throughout the whole world for those whose hearts are perfect toward Him.

Proverbs 15:3 says, "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." The question that concerns each one of us is this, What does He see when He looks into our lives?

Revelation 4:6 says, "And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind." Before we move on to the next verse we should consider "the sea of glass like unto crystal..." In Revelation 15:2 John describes it as "a sea of glass mingled with fire."

We can only faintly imagine the brilliance of the scene: the dazzling jasper, the ruby red sardine, the emerald green of the rainbow.
 

Living Creatures

Verse 7 says, "And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle."

Four beast, or a better translation is Living Creatures. These Living Creatures seem to be more intimately connected to the throne than do the twenty four elders.

A Lion, a calf, a man, a flying eagle. This is almost identical with the description given by Ezekiel the prophet. Ezekiel 1:10 says, "As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle."

Then we read in chapter 10:15 "And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar." Ezekiel tells us that the Living Creatures are Cherubims or Angels.
 

Four Natures of Jesus Christ

There is one thing that we must keep in mind in this chapter, there are certain symbols used. For instance Christ is pictured as a bleeding lamb with seven horns and seven eyes. As a matter of fact right through the Book of Revelation there are many very strange symbols. However coming back to those Four Faces that are mentioned in Revelation 4:7 "And the first was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle."

It is interesting to notice that in His earthly life Jesus combined these four natures. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. In chapter 5:5 one of the elders gives Him this title. In the Gospels, Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ which shows His right to the throne of David. Mark, in his life of Christ, gives the Servant side. The second face was that of the calf or ox. St Luke describes the man side of the Son, for God took upon Himself the form of a man. The Gospel of St John presents the Divine side of Christ. John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Verse 3 says "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made." The flying eagle is a very fitting symbol for the Divinity of Christ.
 

Song of Creation

 Revelation 4:8 says, "And the four beast had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."

Up in the Heavenly courts there is such an overpowering sense of the work of God that the Four Living Creatures cry constantly "...Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." And in that Song of Heaven those who have been redeemed from among men take up the response and casting their crowns before the throne they sing this song. Verse 11 says, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

This song is know as the Song of Creation. It is the greatest Oratorical of them all. The twenty four elders join the Angelic choir in worshipping the Eternal God, the Creator of all things. Revelation 5:1 says, "And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals."
 

The Little Book

The One who is seated on the throne has a book in His hand that is sealed with seven seals. Did you notice that the book was written on the inside and on the back as well? This shows that the book is scarcely  large enough to contain all that is written there, because it contains the story of Redemption. Now think of all the books that have been written on the theme of the Cross. Well this Heavenly book graphically and accurately records from Heaven's viewpoint the plan of Salvation.

Revelation 5:2-4 says, "And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon."
 

Who is Worthy to Open the Book?

In vision the apostle John saw a strong angel. Modern translations have a mighty angel. It is Gabriel, the first of the covering Cherubs "...proclaiming with a loud voice..." Everyone must hear this message. Eternal life depends on it "...Who is worthy to open the book..." This calls for qualifications that no created being could ever meet.

The challenge is made: who is worthy to open the scroll? There is a solemn pause. All Heaven is hushed in deadly silence. It is a call to all the universe to recognise that the plan of Salvation has its beginnings and end in Jesus Christ.  John was so touched by the challenge and the realisation of what it meant that it says he wept. An uncanny stillness seems to settle in the throne room of God.

Then a voice rings out loud and clear breaking the deadly silence. One of the elders, one who had lived on this earth, who had been born in sin but who had conquered in the name of Jesus Christ and had risen with Him, a victor over the great enemy death, came over to John and said in Revelation 5:5, "And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."


The Lamb and the Book

The Lion signifies strength, and Christ has won the victory in the great controversy with evil. It is this that gives Him the right to open the book. Jesus Christ is both Lion and Lamb. As the Lion of the tribe of Juda He has prevailed to loosen the seals and to open the Book.

Revelation 1:18 says, "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne."

The Lamb is the very centre of attraction in the entire vision. To reveal Christ as the Saviour of man is the very purpose of the Apocalypse. "...a Lamb as it had been slain..." The Lamb is not dead but is very much alive, but the scars remain, they will be there right throughout eternity.
 

24 Elders Sing a New Song

Revelation 5:8 says "And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints". Verse 9 says, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy  to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;" In verse 8 we notice that it says "...having every one of them harps..."

In the Scriptures Harp is the symbol of praise. These heavenly musical instruments produce music that is subline. Music and praise play a very important part in worship especially in the Heavenly courts. Verse 8 says, "...and golden vials (bowls) full of odours which are the prayers of saints..."

Golden bowls full of incense. Gold is a symbol of spiritual riches of faith, love and truth. Incense with its fragrant odours typifies the prayers of God's people. Verse 9 says, "And they sung a new song..."

The Cherubim and the Elders fall down before the Lamb and sing a song of praise which is taken up by all the heavenly hosts who burst forth into rapturous song praising the Saviour for Calvary. Verse 9 says, "...saying, Thou art worthy to take the book,"

Jesus is worthy because He was slain. Every time we contemplate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ there comes new and fresh reasons for praising Him for what He has done for us. In this verse it is called a new song for it can never grow old or become out of date, and repetition only makes it sweeter and more melodious and meaningful. "Thou art worthy to take the book..."

It is the pierced hands that are extended by the Saviour that makes Him worthy. And those hands are extended to each of us. Let us reach out and grasp the hands of the Saviour. 
 

 

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Thank you for posting some of (Brian Pepper's) sermons. It's like reading the very words Jesus has spoken to me and is a great encouragement. I cannot say that about many Pastors but I can say that about (Pr Pepper). Thank you. Robert @yeshuaskingdom.org (USA) ... more testimonials.

 

 
 

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