March 24 - 30
Prayers of Praise: Revelation
ON THE VIVID SCREEN OF JOHN'S REVELATION we gaze into heaven to observe worship there. At the heart of heavenly worship is a glorious King on the throne with the Lamb standing before Him. Many choral groups surround Him. From the throne a lone voice frequently cries out. In the inner circle is a quartet of living creatures. Surrounding them is a chorus of twenty-four elders. Beyond is a vast choir of angels. Before our delighted gaze, another group presses its way to the throne-a great multitude that no one can number, from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Rev. 7:9). Then the focus expands to encompass "every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea," all uniting in praise to God and the Lamb. Even the satanic forces from the abyss "under the earth" will eventually bow down to worship God (Phil. 2:10, 11).
What do these various orders of creation have to say about their God? Their exultant songs express many reasons for exalting the Creator. Learn about these reasons this week and how your prayers can become hymns of praise.
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE:
I. He Exists (Rev. 4:1-8).
II. He Created All Things (Rev. 4:9-11).
III. He Was Slain (Rev. 5:1-12).
IV. He Judges and Makes War (Rev. 11:15-19).
V. His Wedding Day Has Come (Rev. 19:1-8).
MEMORY TEXT: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (Revelation 5:12, NIV).
How do the four living creatures around the throne continually praise God?
Rev. 4:8 __________________________________________________________________________
These creatures are the cherubim who guard the throne (Ezek. 1:5; 10:1). Their threefold repetition of the word holy suggests the Trinity, whom John introduces in Revelation 1:4, 5. The One "who is and who was, and who is to come" is God. The second Member is the Holy Spirit, and the third Member is Jesus Christ.
Holiness has the meanings of majesty, brightness, purity, and goodness. God's holiness separates Him from sin but brings Him close to the repentant sinner. This truth was manifested in Jesus, who though He is the Holy God, nevertheless tabernacled among sinners.
God is also the Source of "ultimate reality." Go back before, after, above, below, and in everythingand the evidence of God is seen. Everything came from Him and depends on Him (Col. 1:17; Rev. 22:13). The welfare of the universe depends on God's character. How fortunate we are that God is good. How miserable our existence would be if God were a selfish tyrant or if His law were unjust and unfair, as Satan has accused.
Almost all the early Christian writers indicate that John wrote the book of Revelation during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian. Under his rule, emperor worship became a pressing concern for Christians. Many met with persecution for refusing to worship this false god. This was especially the case in the province of Asia, where John first sent the letters to the seven churches (Rev. 2; 3). These second-generation Christians must have rejoiced at his reassurance that the God they worshiped was, indeed, the Lord God Almighty. (See The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 720-723.)
The four creatures sing their praises day and night without stopping. What does this teach us about developing an attitude of reverence and worship toward God?
How do the twenty-four elders worship God? What is the meaning of casting their crowns before the throne? Rev. 4:10.
In John's day, a king would signal his surrender by casting his crown at the feet of the conqueror. Occasionally, the Roman army carried with them an image of the emperor so that, when they conquered another ruler, that ruler would throw his crown before the image in a gesture of defeat. As our Redeemer and Lord, God conquers our souls with His grace. We cast our crowns before Him in total submission. We cannot be His disciples without doing so.
How do the twenty-four elders enlarge upon the praise of the four living creatures? Rev. 4:11.
God's creation is awesomefrom the vastness of the heavens with billions of systems of stars to the microscopic molecular world with its intricate systems of subatomic particles. He is the God of breathtaking sunsets and delicate flowers. His children recognize in nature the tokens of their Father's love.
However, many human beings want to exalt self in place of God. They want to make humanity the center of worship. Ironically, when they remove God, their lives lose all significance. Life then becomes a product of chance, an accidental collection of atoms thrown into the world with no purpose for existence, no future but extinction. As social scientist Peter Berger once wrote: "There is really nothing very funny about finding oneself stranded, alone, in a remote corner of the universe bereft of meaning. . . ."Peter Berger, A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural (New York: Bantam Doubleday Publishing Group, Inc.; Anchor Book Division, 1969), p. 33.
By contrast, how satisfying it is to know we are not orphans but God's special creation, made in His image for never-ending fellowship with Him.
If you know people who do not believe in God, ask them to explain (if they can) what they believe the purpose of their life is. Press them to take their premises to their logical conclusion. How can you, as a Christian, show them the utter futility of their beliefs, in contrast to the wonderful hope that our faith has given us?
In a tense drama over who can open the scroll of human destiny (see Rev. 5:1-10), a new Figure enters the throne room. How does one of the elders describe Him?
When John looks, what does he see instead? Verses 5, 6.
What a contradictiona powerful conquering Lion and a gentle dying Lamb. Yet, they are the same Person. The Lion conquers by His overwhelming power. What, then, is the greatest power in the universe? Not missiles or atomic bombs. It is the self-sacrificing love of the Lamb giving up His life for fallen, created beings. God's love has such power that it conquers kingdoms, empires, and stubborn hearts. The Lion is strong, the Lion conquers, because He is a dying Lamb. The most powerful force in the universe is God's love.
Read the new song of the living creatures and the elders. How does the Lamb's sacrifice exalt the redeemed? Rev. 5:9, 10.
Jesus' goal was to gather representatives from all peoples, tribes, and nations (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) and unite them into a kingdom whose citizens will be "priests to serve our God" (Rev. 5:10, NIV).
In addition, their new song praises Christ's work in two other areas:
1. He purchased them with His blood.
2. He appointed them to reign on the new earth.
Next, a multitude of angels bursts into song with these words, "'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!' " (vs. 12, NIV).
Jesus renounced all power, wealth, strength, honor, and praise in His long journey from the throne of heaven to the stable in Bethlehem and the cross on Calvary. In their place, He accepted weakness, poverty, mockery, scorn, and abuse. He never, though, gave up His gloryhe glory of self-sacrificing love.
Why should Christ's death in our stead be the foundation of our worship, praise, and prayer?
|Discuss this: What would have happened to the human race had Christ not died? Would you even be here to discuss this topic if He had not redeemed us?|
What great announcement is made in heaven at the climax of earth's history? Rev. 11:15.
Why do the twenty-four elders rejoice? Verses 16, 17.
God's kingdom has been an "underground" power in the midst of enemy territory ever since Satan seized dominion from Adam and became "the prince of this world." Now God takes full control and begins to reign.
How does the last part of verse 17 and the first part of verse 18 describe the transfer of power from Satan's kingdom to God's kingdom? Compare Psalm 2:1.
It is a time of wraththe wrath of the nations suddenly cut short by the wrath of God. God's wrath is a necessary part of His love. Sin causes suffering; therefore, a loving God must hate sin. Those who choose sin will feel the wrath of God. Salvation is such a tremendous gift that rejecting it is a terrible offense.
What need is there for the judgment as depicted in Revelation11:18?
To bring an end to the great controversy, there must be a final judgment that reveals God's justice (Rev. 15:2-4; 16:5-7). Though we reap what we sow, neither sinners nor saints receives the full consequences of his or her deeds in this life. There is a moral necessity for judgment, and a future life, in order that justice may be done.
It is God's purpose that every sin should be justly punished. Indeed, every sin has been punished in the Person of Jesus Christ at the cross! No human being ever needs to endure the wrath of God against sin. The greatest sin against God is to reject His gift of forgiveness.
|German philosopher Immanuel Kant developed an argument for an afterlife, based on the assumption that if God is just, there must be some sort of final reckoning, because justice certainly doesn't appear in this life. Does the notion of a final reckoning strengthen your faith? What would it say about God if, in the end, there were no final reckoning?|
What new group takes its place before the throne? What is the significance of their cry, "Salvation belongs to our God" (Rev. 7:10, NIV)? Rev. 7:9, 10.
What further reasons do they have for rejoicing?
Reasons for Rejoicing
There is joy when the great harlot Babylona persecuting religious system(see Rev. 17:1-6) is destroyed, because she is the rival to the Lamb's bride. As long as God's people are part of the harlot, the marriage of the Lamb cannot take place. So they are called to come out other (Rev. 18:4).
The saints are jubilant because the time has at last come for the wedding of the Lamb. At last His bride is ready.
What makes the wedding dress "bright and clean"? Rev. 7:14. Where does the wedding dress come from? Isa. 61:10.
In some culturesincluding the heavenly onethe groom gives the wedding dress to his bride. Jesus gives the saints the perfect robe of His righteousnessa perfect standing with God. The wedding dress in this passage also includes her character, her "righteous deeds," given her by God. The bride must wash her robe in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:14 is a picture of how we are saved through faith (see also Isa. 1:18; Rom. 3:21-26).
|Though the great wedding day has not yet come, why can we rejoice in it now? Where is our assurance that we can be part of the wedding? Is that assurance found in ourselves or in someone else?|
FURTHER STUDY: What do the following texts teach us about praise, and how can they help us develop a more invigorating prayer life? Psalms 34:1; 113:3; Ephesians 5:19, 20.
Read about the praises of the redeemed when Jesus brings them into His heavenly kingdom, in The Great Controversy, pp. 645-652 [In]. Notice how many times the praises of Revelation are repeated.
Read also about the time and circumstances when Satan will bow down and confess the justice of his sentence, in The Great Controversy, pp. 669-672. [In]
"To praise God in fullness and sincerity of heart is as much a duty as is prayer."Christ's Object Lessons, p. 299.
"Human help is feeble. But we may unite in seeking help and favor from Him who has said, 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' Divine power is infallible. Then let us come to God, pleading for the guidance of His Holy Spirit. Let our united prayers ascend to the throne of grace. Let our requests be mingled with praise and thanks giving."Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 485.
SUMMARY: The book of Revelation shows why all creation will praise God and the LambHe always lives, He is our Creator, He redeemed us by His blood, He will claim us as His bride. Before we join the heavenly choirs in singing praises to God, let us practice here on earth. Then the heavenly praises, whose words already are written for us in Revelation, will become our everlasting prayers that will be answered continually and spontaneously by the very presence of Christ Himself.
J. H. Zachary
INDIAAs Pastor Baka visited the villages in his new district in a remote area of southeastern India, he was met with curiosity, but little interest in religion. "We have no place for your God here," one man told him. But one villager, Samuel, was a Christian who had prayed for five years that God would send a pastor. Together the men held meetings, and 200 people attended. When the pastor asked for those who wanted to follow Christ in baptism, 35 villagers stepped forward.
On the day of the baptism, the entire village gathered at a lake to watch the baptism. Samuel and his family were baptized first, then a woman stepped into the water. When the pastor raised her out of the water, she suddenly cried out in alarm. "My wedding ring is gone! If I go home without it, my husband will beat me!" she wailed.
"Our God can do anything," Pastor Baka assured her. "If it is His will, He will show us where your ring is." When he finished baptizing the new believers, he joined them on the shore and asked them to form a circle for prayer. He prayed that God would reveal His power and glory and show them where the woman's wedding ring was.
The pastor told two young boys to go into the water and stand on the spot where he had baptized the new believers. "Reach into the water and bring up a fistful of sand," he said. The youth did as they were told, but they found no ring. "Reach in again and bring up more sand," he said.
The villagers watched as the boys searched the lake bottom handful by handful. Could the God of the Christians find a small ring in the sandy bottom of the lake? The crowd pressed closer. Suddenly one of the boys shouted. "I found it!" He held up the woman's ring.
The happy woman cried, "My God Jesus Christ! You are great!" The new believers praised and thanked God for showing the villagers that God is truly the one all-powerful God.
The amazed villagers returned to their homes talking about the miracle of the missing ring. Following this dramatic answer to prayer, the entire village wanted to know more about this new God who had come to live in their village.
J. H. Zachary is coordinator of international evangelism for The Quiet Hour and a special consultant for the General Conference Ministerial Association.
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