Sunday, 15 November 2020
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Revelation 5:13
Two doxologies have come forth. The first was from the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders before the throne. The second was from the angelic host around the throne. Now, the direction is focused out to the very extent of the earth itself, saying, “And every creature.”
The word is ktisma, and it signifies a created thing. Thus, it includes all of the product of the material creation, and anything that is created but immaterial. It is an all-encompassing thought that includes that “which is in heaven and on the earth.” There is an article before “heaven.” It is “the heaven,” and it signifies not merely the skies above man, but the heavenly area of God. Thus, the statement is all-inclusive of every created thing, without exception. This further includes all that is “under the earth.”
This is certainly speaking of those departed dead who are in Sheol (Old Testament), the place of the dead (Hades in the New Testament). This is spoken of throughout the Old Testament, such as this account in Numbers 14 where “the pit” is referring to Sheol –
“Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. 33 So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. 34 Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, ‘Lest the earth swallow us up also!’” Numbers 14:31-34
In the New Testament, Paul refers to Hades in relation to the exact heavenly scene being seen in Revelation right now. He speaks of the victory over this pit –
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’
55 ‘O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?’
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-56
The term “under the earth,” surely also includes the demonic spirits that are awaiting their own fate, such as are referred to in 2 Peter, using the term Tartarus (translated as “hell”) –
“For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.” 2 Peter 2:4
Though it may seem contrary for a condemned demon to call out in praise, it would be the natural thing for it, or for any consigned to separation from God, to acknowledge their rightful judgment and condemnation. To see the glory of what God has done through Christ will demand that they so acknowledge God’s glory, and also Christ’s position sharing in that glory.
John next continues with “and such as are in the sea.” The Greek reads “on the sea.” This then is an all-inclusive statement of every creature that is both at the top of the sea and that resides in the deep. Every single creature is a part of this heavenly chorus, and their praise is in accord with the words of Paul in Romans 8 –
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” Romans 8:20-22
The creation itself, including every creature, is delivered by the work of Christ. The heavenly scene is given here in anticipation of that glorious day when all will be returned to a state of incorruptible perfection. Because of this, John says, “and all that are in them, I heard saying.” All of creation sees the marvel of the work of God in Christ and responds. The jubilant words call out, “Blessing and honor and glory and power.”
There is an article before each word in the Greek – “The blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the power.” In the previous verse, it said the Lamb, who was slain, is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. In this verse, what He was worthy of receiving is acknowledged as received. But it is not a general sense of receiving blessing, honor, glory, and power. Rather, the articles before each word clearly indicate that He has received the substance of what the words mean. Any blessing, honor, glory, and power essentially belongs “to Him who sits on the throne.”
This is speaking of God in Christ, from whom all things find their source. He is the Creator and the Sustainer of all creation. Further, these honorifics (the blessing, the honor, the glory, and the power) belong “to the Lamb.”
Not only does God in Christ possess them, but Christ in His humanity as the Redeemer of man likewise possesses them. It is reflective of the words of Paul to the Colossians –
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:15-20
God in Christ created, and He redeemed. To Him belong the very definition of what these honorifics mean. And this is not something that will ever change. Instead, it is, and it will be “forever and ever!”
The Greek reads eis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnōn, “or to the ages of the ages.” It is a way of saying “time without limit,” or as we say in English, “forever and ever.” Such is the nature of the magnificence of what God has done. There shall never be a time that He is not praised and that He does not possess the right to that praise for what He has done in Christ.
Life application: Take time today to read Psalm 148 and think on all the worth that God is due. It is we who turned from Him, and it is we who disrupted the very fabric of creation through our rebellion. And yet, He took it upon Himself to restore what was marred, and He did it through accepting the punishment of our wrongdoing in Himself.
Surely, He is worthy. He is great. He is magnified in power and in glory. He is JESUS!
Oh Lord Jesus, may You be praised and held in the highest honor among Your people! You are the King of glory and are worthy of every blessing and honor that can be given. All things come from You and to You are all things. Glory to God in the highest! Glory to the Lamb of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus! Amen.