A sermon based on Revelation 5:11-14 for the 3rd Sunday after Easter, May 2/5, 2019.
Have you ever seen a celebration so amazing and spectacular that you wish you could just be there? Many times we watch these events on television. You receive an overall view of what things look like. You can still hear the very same songs, speeches, or other events taking place, but it is just not the same as being there. To experience it in person would be awe inspiring and breath taking. The atmosphere would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Chills would run up and down your spine. Various emotions would flood over you as you soak in everything happening all around.
As we read through our lesson from Revelation this morning, did we have those same thoughts? This heavenly chorus sings praises to the Lamb sitting on the throne. Their perfect voices ring out in perfect harmony giving God thanks and praise for all the things he has done. Whenever I attend rallies, conferences, or special worship services, I get a little choked up at the singing. To have hundreds, sometimes even perhaps thousands, of voices sing various hymns or other songs causes tears to come. However, it pales in comparison to the sight John saw. If only we could be there! If only we could hear a fraction of the heavenly verses! Until that day comes for us, we need to be content here on earth. Even on earth we still get a special preview of that day.
We Join in Singing Praises to Our God
- For all he has done.
- For the faith granted to us.
John saw the glories of heaven in various visions throughout the book of Revelation. In this particular vision John saw a throne. Someone sat on a throne in the middle of this vast kingdom. In his hand he held a sealed scroll. Who would be found worthy to open this scroll? Everyone waited, but no one came forward at the moment. Then a Lamb, who looked like it had been slain, entered into the vision.
The Lamb stood at the center of the throne. Four living creatures and all the elders encircled the throne. The Lamb took hold of the scroll. He alone was worthy to unseal it. Songs of praise erupted from all for this Lamb who was found worthy only because he offered up his life as an atonement for the sins of the world.
John then saw a multitude of angels. Their number could not be counted. John only described it as thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand. The angels also encircled the throne upon which the Lamb had taken his rightful place. With their heavenly voices they sang out, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12).
The angels told why this Lamb alone was worthy to take the scroll. The Lamb had been slain. The Jews had known what a slain lamb looked like. They brought lambs as sacrifices to God on numerous occasions. One special sacrifice stood out in their minds. Every year during the Passover Feast the Jews would choose a special lamb to offer. This lamb would remind them of the time the blood of the lamb painted on the doorframes of the houses in Egypt caused the Angel of Death to pass over their house.
The Lamb who sat upon the throne also was a sacrifice. Upon the altar of the cross our Savior gave his life. The blood pouring forth from his hands and feet would atone for all our sins. As he breathed his last, death, eternal death of hell, passed over all those looking in faith to Jesus as their Savior from sin.
This Lamb would not remain on the altar. Followers of him carefully took his body down and prepared it for burial. They placed Jesus in a tomb rolling a stone across the entrance. Three days later the stone was rolled away. The empty tomb announced to the whole world, “He is not here. He has risen!” The sacrifice accepted by God. The Lamb now ascended on high to God’s right hand. There the angels would sing their praises to the Lamb who had been slain.
John heard more voices. The voices came from all across the earth. “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever” (Revelation 5:13). The praises from those upon the earth rise to the Lamb for the very same reason the angels sang their praises. The Lamb now sits upon his throne ruling over all things. He deserves praises for all eternity from every creature on earth and in heaven.
Wow! This sight must have been awesome for John to see. We wish that we would catch just a glimpse of all of this. If only we could hear the angels! If only we could see the Lamb! If only we could join in a portion of those songs! We feel left out. It makes us long for that day when we will join the heavenly chorus singing praises to God for all he has done.
Yet, we do not have to wait. The sound of praises from our lips goes up to the Lamb even today. We worship the very same Lamb sitting upon the throne in heaven. However, the praises just do not sound the same. Are we still on the high of Easter? Has some of that excitement worn off? We get right back in the routine the Monday after Easter. The joy of hearing the message of Jesus’ resurrection quickly dissipates as our life takes over.
We also experience the hardships of life which try to break up the praises we sing to God. We feel the hurt of broken relationships. We experience the pain of various sicknesses. When we fail to see God’s plan for his church, we begin to doubt, and question, and complain. We fall into the traps of lust, greed, jealousy, anger, and every other sin under the sun. When all of these things come into our life, we do not sing our praises as strongly as we should.
Even though sin tends to quiet the distant triumph song, we still hear it. Our praises grow ever louder. Our songs burst forth to the Lamb. The hardships of living in this sinful world do not change the Lamb’s victory. The Lamb was slain for us. The Lamb brought peace and mercy between a sinful person like me and my heavenly Father. The Lamb continues to reign over all things so that I might have the peace of God that transcends all understanding.
For all the Lamb has done for us we join in singing praises to God. Our entire life is one of praise. We come to church to learn more about the Lamb. We cannot wait to crack open our Bibles so that we may learn more about our Savior. In a heart filled with faith praise naturally flows forth. The Lamb has freed us from the curse of sin and death in our life, so we join with the heavenly chorus in singing the praises of the Lamb.
Yet, wait! There is still more. The Lamb has also granted us faith in our life. For many of us it came at a very early age in our baptism. The water and the Word brought us from spiritual death to life. For the years after that God continued to nourish our faith. Christian parents teach the precious truths of God’s Word to their children. Parents teach their child to pray. Parents bring children to church. The church even assists parents in the training and instruction of youth and into adulthood. Through the precious Means of Grace, the gospel in Word and sacrament, God feeds and grows our faith.
At the same time the world attacks our faith. Our own sinful nature attacks the new man created in us at baptism. The devil desires so very much to rob us of the peace we have with God wanting to exchange it with enmity towards God.
We need to be on our guard against all of those things. We cannot think that Satan will just give up on us because we come to church. It is just the opposite. He will work harder against us. He wants the picture of the heavenly choir praising God to become blurry. The world wants us to build up our treasures on the earth. The devil wants us to leave the relationships we build up in church with our fellow believers and chase after worldly gain. Our sinful nature wants to close our ears to the gospel message we so need to hear.
We must continue to fight the good fight. Many of us have taken, we will take, or will be taking soon our confirmation vows. These are not empty words spoken just so a certain rite can take place. These promises are not a joke that we can fall away from in a matter of weeks. We make this promise before God. We promise to remain faithful to his Word. We promise to make use of the Means of Grace. We promise to always seek him first.
The power to accomplish these promises does not come from us. The power can only come from the Lamb who was slain for us. The Lamb has overcome all things, so that we might overcome in our daily battles. We ask for his help in keeping us faithful to him and his Word at all times.
Our prayer is simple. Lord, keep me in the faith until I reach my heavenly home. Lord, help me overcome all temptations to remain faithful to you. We want to see the vision which John writes about to become a reality for us. We want to be a part of that heavenly chorus. We want to continue to sings God’s praises all our days.
We see at the end of our lesson, “The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders bowed down and worshipped” (Revelation 5:14). We end with that marker of certainty, amen. We have full confidence in all that we ask because we know whom we ask. The Lamb who was slain most certainly has the power to keep us faithful. We gather around his Word in this life to sing his praises, so that we will gather around his throne in heaven to sing his praises. This picture of heaven urges us on in the faith. This vision of heaven encourages us to remain faithful. It points us to our strength and song. It gives us the one thing needful.
So until that time comes when we will join the heavenly choir, join in the praises sung on the earth. Thank God for all he has done. Pray that God will keep us in the faith all of our days. God grant this to us all. Amen.