Friday, April 29, 2011

Heavenly Worship aka Perpetual Praise, Revelation 4:1-2, 6b-11 or Revelation 4; The Adult Sunday School Lesson for 5-8-11

ATTENTION:  Please note that this is The Adult Sunday School Lesson, Heavenly Worship aka Perpetual Praise, on Revelation 4:1-2, 6b-11 or Revelation 4 respectively for the 5-08-11 International Sunday School Lesson.  You will find the 5-01-11 lesson, The Christ Hymn aka Be Like Jesus, directly beneath this message and on the right side.


Heavenly Worship
Perpetual Praise
Revelation 4:1-2, 6b-11
Revelation 4
International Sunday School Lesson
May 8, 2011

Jed Greenough

The book of Revelation is at its core a prophecy as it declares itself in verse 3 in the very first chapter.  I believe that this prophecy is apocalyptic in nature in that I believe that it concerns the time of judgment during the end times.  This book which is both prophetic and apocalyptic follows the norm for those genres in that it is full of what appears to me to be figurative language.
Figurative language as a rule is not to be taken literally.  Are some, most or all of these fantastic things we read figurative?  Despite what many would say, I will tell you this:  I don’t know.  We will not know until we have had what is revealed fulfilled.
I don’t know.  I have to admit that I don’t like to use those words, but anyone teaching you too many absolutes concerning this book had best be kept under close surveillance as to what else they might be teaching as well.
What about today’s verses for our lesson found in Revelation 4?  I will be a bit more definitive in my answers than I don’t know.  That might come as a bit of a surprise considering everything that I just said but before I go much further, I want to point out a bit more concerning the genre that the book of Revelation is.
I stated that I believed that the book of Revelation is an Apocalyptic Prophecy.  Most, I feel confident; agree with that statement and that is pretty much where most stay.  There is however something else that is very interesting to me that I noticed about this book, it is an Epistle.  Yep, an epistle, a letter just like the letters that we recently studied that Paul wrote to Timothy.
Notice the prologue, the greetings and the doxology, the body and the conclusion.  Compare it to some of the famous books of prophecy and you will find that there is very little similarity with them.
My point is this, I teach Paul’s Pastoral Epistles as literal truths even though he received them as revelations from above.  So therefore I think that we must not write off this letter as just being figurative but that it contains literal truths as we.
What I say here is my opinion, perhaps God guides me in the words that I use, and I pray that He does.  But I feel as confident as I can be in saying that what you read about in today’s Revelation 4 is literal.
Do you believe the scriptures that say God is in heaven, that He has a throne, or that Jesus is at His right hand interceding on our behalf?  I do.
If you were in John’s place how do you think you would describe the sight he saw if you were given that blessing?  How do you think you can possibly describe in human terms what the throne room of God Almighty looks like?
Go back in your Bibles and you will see this isn’t the first time this room has been revealed.  In 1 Kings 22 the prophet Micaiah saw the Throne Room with the multitudes of heaven standing around God.
In Isaiah 6 Isaiah gives us a much more vivid picture for the mind’s eye then we see in 1 Kings especially of the seraphs.  Here we read that Isaiah heard that, “Holy, holy, holy” just as John did.  These are the only two places you will see that triple combination of holy in the scriptures.
Finally in Ezekiel 1 we progress to see an even more vivid descriptive picture of the Throne Room. 
Slight differences sure but I have no problems with that.  In fact the way I view it is that what these different men are attempting to explain serves to bolster my point.  To my mind what I see is a human man in Isaiah, in Ezekiel and in John trying to explain in human terms what certainly are not human sights but heavenly ones!
Remember what Paul said in Hebrews 8:5 about the temple priests?  He said, “They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.  This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
I don’t think that whether I am correct or not matters too much but I do believe that it is imperative that we understand that God is actively watching over us.  That we see just as in 1 Kings, Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1 God is in command and that He is the ultimate authority.  If you read those other visions you will see that what came out of the throne room was a vision of judgment.  In today’s scripture if we read on in Revelation from this point where we are in the throne room we will see that judgment follows here as well, final judgment.   Figurative or literal descriptions aside, what is being talked about is judgment.

“God is not a man, that He should lie,
nor a son of man, that He should change His mind.
Does He speak and then not act?
Does He promise and not fulfill?
Numbers 23:19

For Discussion:
1.      Some of us are not including all of Revelation 4 today, I hope that you will.
2.      Read the other accounts as mentioned above of the Throne Room.
3.      Consider those things John described the best he could by saying they were like something and those things that he said were or are something.
4.      Pay specific attention to the praise and worship God is given in the throne room and contrast that with the praise and worship given God where you worship.
5.      This idea of worship in heaven is pictured better by including Revelation 5 in your reading.
6.      In reading other Bible versions such as the KJV or Young’s Literal Translation the rendering of Revelation 5:9-10 causes us to consider the elders in the throne room differently from the NIV.  In those versions they are included in those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and those who will reign on earth.
7.      In the Bible read the descriptions given of the tabernacle/temple and compare the descriptions given in the visions of Ezekiel, Isaiah and John paying attention to such things as the “sea”, the lamp, the ark of the covenant and the cherubim and so on.

5-15-11:  Thankful Worship Revelation 7:9-17
5-22-11: All Things New (New Order of Things) Revelation 21:1-8 or 21:1-8, 22-27           respectively. 
5-29-11:   Tree of Life (Water of Life) Revelation 22:1-9 or 22:1-9, 13-17
6-05-11:   God’s Promises Fulfilled (God Keeps His Promises) Joshua 1:1b-6; 11:16-19, 21-23 or Joshua 1:1-6; 11:16-23 respectively.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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