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 Revelation Chapter 5 (Part 39) (Verses 7 – 8 )

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Statesman63
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PostSubject: Revelation Chapter 5 (Part 39) (Verses 7 – 8 )   Tue Sep 08, 2015 5:48 pm

Revelation Chapter 5 (Part 39) (Verses 7 – 8 )

Verse 7 reads, “He [Jesus] came and took the scroll from the right hand of Him [the Father] who sat on the throne.” You recall from last time that the Heavens were searching for someone who was worthy of opening the scroll. This scroll is God’s judgment that will be unleashed upon the Earth. The Lamb, that is Jesus, stood up as the one who is worthy to open it. He comes and takes the scroll from the right hand of God. You recall from Ephesians 1 that Jesus is seated on the right hand side of God. “Right hand” is a position of authority, ownership, and rights. It is a position of favor. Ephesians chapter 2 says that we are seated with Christ. We are seated with Christ who is seated on the right hand side of the Father, which places us, by the way, on the right hand side of the Father through Christ. Jesus is the mediator who gives us access to the throne of God. Only Jesus is worthy enough to walk up and take this scroll from the right hand of the Father and open it.

Verse 8 says, “And when He had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” This is interesting. There are no metaphors here. This scene will literally happen during the Tribulation period as the Apostle John got to peak into the future and into Heaven and come back to tell us about it. We know who all of the characters are. The four living creatures are 4 cherubim, which are a particular breed of angels. The 24 elders are you and I; that is, all Christians and Old Testament Israelites who submitted to the true God. The 24 elders is a combination of the Church and Old Testament saints. We all, including the cherubim, fall down before Jesus. The angels worship the Son of God. We all fall down to worship, but it seems apparent from other verses of the bible, that the words “Each one” refers to the 24 Elders, not the cherubim. Everyone in Heaven at this particular time was already holding a harp before this scene began. That gives us insight into what we were all doing just prior to this scene. We were all singing to the Lord and making music to Him. Our singing was interrupted when God pull out the scroll of Judgment. When Jesus stood up to take the scroll to read it, we all go back to singing, and specifically to Jesus in verse 9.

Not only was each of us holding a harp, we also had golden bowls of incense. We don’t have to go too far to find out what the bowls of incense are because the text tells us that they are the prayers of the saints. This is very interesting. It is interesting to know that our prayers are being collected in bowls by saints and Christians who have passed on ahead of us. That should change how we pray. We should not pray cursory prayers like, “Now I lay me down to sleep...” Our prayers should have meaning! James 5:16 says, “The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective.” That God pays attention to our prayers so much that He collects them in bowls until His wrath is built up enough to respond to them collectively should make us take praying more seriously. Needless to say, we should pray more often. Now some of these prayers collected in bowls are likely imprecatory prayers. David prayed imprecatory prayers all the time. He often prayed (see Psalms) things like, “Lord please destroy and slay all my enemies.” I am not advocating imprecatory praying. We should pray ourselves out of our oppression and love our oppressors at the same time. In doing that, you are filling up the bowl in Heaven for God’s wrath to come upon the oppressor. God wants us to turn vengeance over to Him. Romans 12:19-20 says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’” So the bible says that by returning good to your enemy, you are storing up wrath against that enemy for God to unleash His vengeance on the one who wronged you. But if you take it upon yourself to get revenge by cussing out your enemy or wronging them in any way for retribution, God will not take vengeance on them on your behalf because you arrogated the vengeance for yourself. The greater vengeance would be administered to the culprit if we let God do it, but the way to do that is to return love to our enemies who offend us.

We should always love. Love is the greatest weapon against any enemy. An enemy expects us to return the hatred they give us back to them. They anticipate hatred will be returned when they dish it. But when we return love we catch them off guard and they don’t know what hit them. They are hit with a blow that they are not used to defending themselves against. Love for hatred confounds them. Love breaks down their defenses. It chisels their hardened hearts and opens their eyes to a new way. And besides, if we return their hatred, then God will no longer take vengeance for you because you handled it on your own. If you take vengeance, your plight will not reach the bowls of Heaven. We must never cuss back to our enemy, but truly have a heart that wants them to have their eyes opened to truth and love and turn to repentance. If they ever repent, then you won them and they are no longer your enemy.

The boring details of the Old Testament come to life when we realize that they are shadows of future Heavenly things. You may at times find yourself questioning the small details given and asking yourself, “Why does the writer want us to know this?”; or asking, “Why is God telling them to do these meticulous things?” Hebrews 8:5 says, “They [Old Testament priests] serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” Same is true for the passage we have here. We are told that we are holding golden bowls and they are full of incense. Exodus 40:1-5 reads as follows: “Then the LORD said to Moses: ‘Set up the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the first month. Place the ark of the Testimony in it and shield the ark with the curtain. Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the Testimony and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.” The Tent of Meeting was Israel’s portable church, as they were a nomadic people at this time. We are told in Revelation 1:20 that the 7 golden lampstands referenced there represent the 7 churches. Our study of those chapters reveals that the 7 churches represent the entire Church Age prophetically. This incense that was placed in the golden altar by Moses represents, as we found out today, what will be in Heaven, and it represents the prayers of the Saints. Exodus 30:7-8 reads, “Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the LORD for generations to come.” Since incense represents the prayers of the Saints, what Aaron was in essence doing every morning, was symbolically praying for the nation of Israel. As often as those fragrant lamps burned, the nation was prayed for symbolically. We need to do what 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us: “pray continually” so that our fragrant lamps are always burning on our behalf, which are being collected in Heaven for us.

Let’s jump ahead a little and look at Revelation 8:3-4. I want us to look at it just to see that these symbols do not change and they originate all the way back to the Old Testament. This passage reads, “Another angel, who had a golden censor, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.” We are not going to really discuss this much now because it is Revelation chapter 8 and we will get there. But here too, the smoke of the incense relates to the prayers of the saints. Psalm 141:2 reads, “May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” 2 Chronicles 30:27 reads, “The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached Heaven, His holy dwelling place.”

Just as a reminder, Christians/OT saints and cherubim will be worshiping the Lord together. Cherubim seem to lead us in worship. You recall Revelation 4:9-10, reads as follows: “Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and worship Him who lives for ever and ever.”

Another interesting side note concerns the word “Lamb” in Revelation 5:8. Lamb here is a unique word. It is used 29 times in Revelation, but only one time elsewhere in the New Testament. The only other place it is used is in John 21:15. The Apostle John in the Gospel of John is the same one who wrote the Gospel of John (though he is never referred to by his name in his own Gospel), and also wrote the Epistles of John and the book of Revelation. John 21:15 reads, “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly agape (Greek word) me more than these? ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I faleo (Greek word) you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’” Peter could never say, “Lord, I agape you.” Peter knew by experience that Jesus could read minds and knows the heart as he already messed up recently with the cock-crowing-3-times incident. The last time Jesus asks him if he loved Him, Jesus comes down to Peter’s level and says, ‘Peter, do you faleo me?’ And Peter says, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I faleo you.’ There are 4 words for “love” in the Greek: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. Regarding the two particular ones here, agápe, and philía (phonetically spelled as faleo) means the following: Agape means sacrificial love. It is the type of love that God seeks from those who follow Him. God wants us to agape Him first, the body of Christ second, and then the rest of the world as well. Faleo love is a friendship love. It is a love that loves as long as love is returned. Agape is a love that continues loving even if hatred or vice is returned.

The first two times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you agape me.” Peter responds both times with, “Lord, you know that I faleo you.” The third time Jesus said, “Peter do you faleo me?” Peter was cut that Jesus went down to his level and used his word, but still maintained: “Lord, you know that I faleo you.” It is pretty cool to know that if we cannot reach God’s level of love that He will come down and meet us where we are. Peter would later learn agape love as he was one of the first church founders and a powerful Christian saint, much of which is recorded in the book of Acts. Historically, we know that Peter, seeing that he was about to be crucified, requested that he be crucified upside down on the cross as he did not deem himself worthy to be crucified as Jesus was. What is also interesting about this passage is that Jesus says ‘Feed my lambs’ the first time, but the other 2 times He says, ‘feed my sheep’ and ‘take care of my sheep.’ Jesus is Lamb, capital “L”. We are lambs, lowercase ‘l’, AKA, “sheep.” Lambs are sacrificed in the Old Testament. Therefore, we need to pick up our crosses and follow Him. We need to die to ourselves and live for Him.

The final side note is: I play the piano. But I would not know what to do with a harp if I was handed one. We will all be handed a harp. It seems that in the next life, God is going to give us skills and talents that we did not have previously in this life.

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Revelation Chapter 5 (Part 39) (Verses 7 – 8 )
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