Wednesday, 11 November 2020
And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, Revelation 5:9
In Chapter 4, the living creatures and the twenty-four elders were seen to fall before the One on the throne, saying –
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11
That was a doxology of praise to the Lord for His creative efforts.
Now, in Chapter 5, the living creatures and the twenty-four elders are seen to fall before the Lamb. In this, it says, “And they sang a new song, saying.” The verb is in the present tense – “they are singing.” The song of creation has been sung, but creation was marred by the sin of man. Paul referred to the fallen state of creation in Romans 8 –
“For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:22, 23
Fallen things must be redeemed. Now, the heavenly scene shows that the Creator, Jesus Christ, has become the Redeemer. The song that the heavenly chorus sings is an ongoing song that begins with, “You are worthy to take the scroll.”
The Lamb is worthy because He had done what no other creature in all of creation could do. He alone was able to approach the throne of God and to receive the scroll that none other could touch, or even look at. The Lamb prevailed and earned the right “to open its seals.”
Not only could He take the scroll, but He has the power to break the seals and to effect the purposes of the holy God upon the world. None other could because no other was found worthy. But the Lamb could because, as the heavenly chorus testifies, “For You were slain.”
As in verse 5:6, the word here signifies to butcher. In this case, it was in sacrifice. The Lamb became an offering before God. This doesn’t mean that there is nothing else worthy in the Lamb except the sacrifice, but that the sacrifice is the highlight and consummation of all other worthiness. In other words, the Lamb had to be pure and undefiled to be acceptable.
The slaying of the Lamb highlighted that fact. Everything about Jesus Christ and His worthiness comes into focus at the cross of Calvary. It is the cross that revealed His infinite worth in all other areas. This is confirmed as the song continues with, “And have redeemed us.”
The word translated as “redeemed” is agorazó. It signifies the act of buying in a marketplace, and thus to purchase. Christ has come into the “marketplace of the world,” and purchased His people back “to God.” In other words, it was through the slaying of the Lamb that the purchase was made, and that act was acceptable to bring fallen man back to His Creator. Thus, it was an act of redemption. And it was accomplished, as it says, “by Your blood.”
Rather than “by,” the Greek reads “in.” Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God, has redeemed man to God in His blood. The purchase was made through the slaying, but the price paid is His blood. It is reflective of the words of Peter –
“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:17-19
It is the blood of Christ that has paid the price to redeem fallen man to God. The implication is that no other price is acceptable, and it confirms the words of Jesus of John 14:6 –
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
If Satan possesses the right to fallen man, and the price paid to bring us back to God is the blood of Christ, then all either belong to the devil still, or they belong to God because of Christ. There are no other options available. The church, meaning the people of God, are brought near to Him through this transaction. Again, as Paul noted in Acts –
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28
It is the incarnation of God in the Person of Jesus Christ who has made this possible. And in His sacrifice, He has redeemed people, “Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”
The word translated as tribe is phulé. It is the root of our modern words that begins with “phyl,” such as phylum, phylogeny, and so on. It signifies a tribe of people, such as race or lineage. It is used to refer to the twelve tribes of Israel, but here it extends to every tribe of people.
The next word, translated as “tongue,” is glossa. It refers to any known languages.
The third word, translated as “people,” is laos. Here, it signifies people in general, even a crowd.
Finally, the fourth word, translated as “nation,” is ethnos. It refers to any race, people, or nation found throughout the world.
The use of these four descriptors is to show the all-encompassing power of the blood of Christ to redeem, and the all-effectual nature of the redemption. No person or group of people who fall into some particular category is excluded, and all are included in the possible redemption. For those who come to God through Christ, they go from “potential redemption” to “actually redeemed.”
It is to be noted again (as was noted in verse 4:11) that in the giving of the Ten Commandments, as is recorded in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 4, the reason for the giving of the Sabbath follows the pattern of the doxologies of Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 of Revelation – Creation and then Redemption. This can be seen when they are placed side by side –
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” Deuteronomy 5:13-15
One can see in this that the “rest” of God which was first referred to after the six days of creation is finally realized in God’s act of redemption through Jesus Christ. All who come to Christ “do enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3). In other words, the Sabbath of God is not a day of the week, but a state of existence. Israel’s weekly Sabbath was given as a type, or shadow, of what is offered in Christ. Now that Christ has come, those who believe in Him enter the true rest of God. Thus, Paul reveals that we now exist in a state that the Sabbath, and the other Old Covenant types, only anticipated –
“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” Colossians 2:16, 17
Life application: Worthy! The Lamb is worthy; the Lion has prevailed; the scroll will be opened after all. The Creator is now the Redeemer.
Before, the call was made to all humanity – “Is there no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth who could open the scroll, or look at it?” Everything appeared to be lost, and all humanity was unworthy – dead in sins. But then came Christ Jesus! The slain Lamb stepped forward – the One who redeemed us to God by His own precious blood. God’s plan for the ages is fulfilled in the God/Man – Jesus Christ.
And this plan isn’t for a certain group of people only. Jews are covered – yes, of course. They are the line from whom Jesus can trace His earthly lineage. But this isn’t just about the Jews… This is about “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”
Do you dislike someone because he is Asian? Jesus has shed His blood to redeem him too. Do you feel somehow superior to the Mexicans who moved in down the road? Jesus’ life was given so that they too can have the offering of eternal life. Does the thought of sharing a table with an African upset you? Jesus has offered them a seat at the Feast which is coming – a heavenly banquet. When you were stationed in the Philippines, did the customs of the locals make you long for home to get away from such people? Jesus has sent them an invitation as well.
If you are bearing some ill will towards a different ethnic group, culture, nation, or language, you need to re-evaluate your thinking. They are God’s image-bearers and equal with you in all ways. Acts 17:26 bears this out –
“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”
We all came from one man – Adam. We are all one group – human beings. And we are all given the same opportunity to call on the name of Jesus. God is no respecter of persons. The Lamb died for all. The Lamb prevailed for all. The Lamb is JESUS!
Lord, it is true that we have held bitterness towards people of other cultures. Most of us have felt ill will towards them. In this, we have failed to look at the greater picture – that they are, in fact, a part of the same human family. We came from the same father, Adam, and each bears Your image too. Give us the sense, the will, and the heart to love those whom we have not loved in the past. Amen.