Revelation 5:1–14comment (0)
June 30, 2008
By Jerry W. Batson
Related Scripture: Acts 5:1–14
Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor of Divinity (Retired), Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Who’s really in charge?
In the face of natural disasters and human atrocities, Christians often wonder, “Is God really in control?” Human reason kicks in with simple logic to ask, “If God is in charge, then why doesn’t He intervene?” When life is going reasonably well, we have no reason to question if God is in charge. When difficulties beset us, we are more likely to ask, “Where was God when we needed Him?”
The Book of Revelation came into being in distressing and extremely difficult times for Christians. Persecuted believers needed a renewed vision of God’s sovereignty and Christ’s lordship at a time when life was hard. They, like us, needed a basis for trusting God amid tragedies, disappointments and persecution. This study points us to three responses we can make in order to continue trusting God when bad things are happening.
Looking to Jesus (1–7)
When negative things happen and disappointments come, we tend to fix our gaze on our circumstances and our feelings about them. In doing so, we are focused in the wrong direction. While we are not to pretend bad circumstances are not real, we do better by choosing to fix our gaze on Jesus. Instead of looking around, we can decide to look up. A wonderful life motto for all circumstances is expressed in Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus.”
When John, the author of Revelation, looked up, he saw in a vision God’s hands holding a scroll. In the subsequent opening of the scroll, we learn that it contained God’s revelation about coming events. At this moment, however, John wept because no one seemed able to unroll the scroll. Then in the midst of his sorrow, John saw Jesus, who was worthy to reveal the scroll’s contents. John saw Jesus take the scroll in His hands to break its seals and open it.
John and those to whom he ministered needed to know that Jesus holds the future in His hands. Our Lord is never taken unaware or by surprise by anything that happens to us. We are assured just as John was assured that as Christ has taken care of our past by His redeeming death, He is also victorious to take charge of the future. In bad times, people of faith can determine to look to Jesus in hope.
Reigning with Jesus (8–10)
In John’s vision, when Jesus took the scroll, four living creatures and 24 elders sang of His worthiness to hold and unfold the future. His worthiness was rooted in His redemptive work, by which He is making His followers into a victorious kingdom. Furthermore He has made believers priests before God. Baptists, like many other Christians, cherish the truths enfolded in the teaching of the priesthood of all believers.
Regardless of how dismal life may seem or how difficult our circumstances, believers will ultimately reign with Christ. Nothing can finally defeat or overwhelm those who are bound to Christ by faith. Our victory in Jesus is not just a truth for the sweet by-and-by; it can be a reality in the challenging here and now. The Bible declares the present-tense truth, “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37). Not only so but we also hold in mind that we live in a future that is absolutely under God’s control.
Responding with Worship (11–14)
John heard a heavenly chorus singing of the worthiness of the Lamb. Four living creatures and 24 elders were joined by an uncountable host of angels in a new song of praise. Their song witnessed to the saving work of Christ in the past and celebrated His worthiness to receive our worship.
Before the song was done, John heard every living creature joining in to attribute blessing, honor, glory and dominion to God upon His throne and the Lamb whom He sent to take away our sin.
Our best response to the redeeming work of Christ in our behalf is to praise Him and proclaim His worthiness and greatness. Determined preoccupation with worship and praise diminishes preoccupation with bad feelings, hurtful people and negative circumstances. When we are tempted to wonder if God is really in charge, our best recourse is praise rather than pondering.
Our victorious Savior and Lord is still in charge. We encourage one another to keep looking to Him, hoping in Him and worshiping Him.