Revelation 5:8-14

Sunday Morning Bible Study

October 23, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

For John, the future started when a door opened in heaven and he was caught up before the throne of God. He began to describe what he saw.

The throne of God. A green rainbow around the throne. Twenty-four elders with golden crowns. Lightning, thunder, and voices. Four living creatures known as the cherubim. And lots of worship.

As chapter five started, John sees a scroll in the hand of God – we believe it is the title deed of the earth.  Man had sold his inheritance to Satan when Adam sinned and was removed from the garden of Eden.  Now in heaven it is time to purchase the property back for man.  In order for man to get his property back, there needs to be a “kinsman redeemer”, a close relative who can afford to pay the price of redemption. Only one who was “worthy” could open the scroll and complete the transaction.  Jesus the Worthy One steps forward, He appears as a Lamb who had been slain, and He takes the scroll.

5:8-14 Worship the Lamb

:8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

:8 fell down before the Lamb

The cherubim and the elders have no problem recognizing Jesus as being worthy of worship.  They know better than to worship anyone but God.  They understand that Jesus is God.

:8 harpkithara (“guitar”) – a harp

We get our word “guitar” from this word.

We sometimes think of heaven being filled with little flying cherubs with harps, but it may be guitars they’re playing. I don’t know if they’re acoustic guitars or electric.

:8 vialsphiale – a broad shallow bowl, deep saucer.

This is a parallel with the bowls of incense used in the Tabernacle –

(Nu 7:14 NKJV) —14 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense;

:8 golden bowls full of incense



We are the “saints”, and these bowls of incense are some of our prayers.
The concept of incense and prayer were a part of the worship at the Tabernacle and the Temple.
Inside the “holy place” there was an “altar of incense” where the priests would burn incense in the morning and in the evening. (Ex. 30:7-8)

(Ex 30:7–8 NKJV) —7 “Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. 8 And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.

The incense was a special formula, made up of various spices.  There was a beautiful fragrance to the incense.
When we learn to pray correctly, according to the correct “formula”, then prayer is a beautiful thing.
When we are praying incorrectly – for selfish reasons, complaining, and doubting – then our prayers aren’t so sweet.
Tradition has it that the Jewish family entrusted with the formula had a secret ingredient to make the smoke rise straight up in a column instead of being diffused through the room.
The picture is that as we pray, our prayers ascend into heaven, perhaps to fill the incense bowls in heaven.
I have a little theory about the bowls and prayer –
I wonder if it isn’t possible that every bowl represents a specific request.  When the bowl is filled, the incense is poured out in heaven and the prayer is answered.
I also wonder if there aren’t different sizes of bowls in heaven.  Some requests only need a ¼ teaspoon of incense – one prayer and the request is answered.  Others might be the size of a swimming pool – much prayer over a long period of time is required to answer that prayer.

It’s helpful to me when I pray for something for a long time to not get discouraged in praying.  I’m adding my teaspoon of prayer to the bowl.

:9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

:9 they sangado – to the praise of anyone, to sing

:9 songode – a song, lay, ode

:9 newkainos – fresh, unused; of a new kind, unprecedented

:9 new song

The song of the elders is “new” because this will be the first time in history that it will be sung. John is witnessing it ahead of time, but when the time in earth’s history is right, this song will be sung.

There is music in heaven.  Singers.  Guitars.  Get used to it.

:9 worthyaxios – having weight, worth as much

Jesus has met the requirements of the “kinsman redeemer”.

He is a “near relative” and He has the assets to complete the transaction.

:9 redeemedagorazo – to be in the market place; to do business there, buy or sell



The kinsman redeemer was the close relative who had the finances to purchase the property back for the family.
Sometimes, as in the book of Ruth, a person came attached with the property.
Jesus is not only the one who has paid the purchase price for the earth, He has bought us as part of the deal.
(1 Pe 1:17–19 NKJV) —17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

The price paid for us was not a couple of gold coins, but the blood of Jesus.

The fact that we’ve been bought with the most expensive “stuff” of the universe means that we are incredibly valuable to God.
He has paid a high price for us.
The greatness of the payment shows us God’s love for us.

(Ro 5:8 NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

What is odd about this is the fact that we weren’t “worth” the price that was paid for us.
We’re like that old sweater that your dad won’t throw out because it has “sentimental value”.
But the truth is, we’re worse than any “favorite sweater”.  We have sold ourselves into sin.
(Ro 6:16 NLT) Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.

We’ve sold ourselves into slavery and we need someone to pay the price to set us free.

A beggar stopped a lawyer on the street in a large southern city and asked him for a dollar.  Taking a long, hard look into the man’s unshaven face, the attorney asked, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” “You should,” came the reply.  “I’m your former classmate.  Remember, second floor, old Main Hall?”  “Why Sam, of course I know you!” Without further question the lawyer wrote a check for $500.  “Here, take this and get a new start.  I don’t care what’s happened in the past, it’s the future that counts.” And with that he hurried on.
Tears welled up in the man’s eyes as he walked to a bank nearby. Stopping at the door, he saw through the glass well-dressed tellers and the spotlessly clean interior.  Then he looked at his filthy rags. “They won’t take this from me. They’ll swear that I forged it,” he muttered as he turned away.
The next day the two men met again. “Why Sam, what did you do with my check?  Gamble it away?  Drink it up?”  “No,” said the beggar as he pulled it out of his dirty shirt pocket and told why he hadn’t cashed it.  “Listen, friend,” said the lawyer.  “What makes that check good is not your clothes or appearance, but my signature.  Go on, cash it!”
The Bible says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  That promise is a “negotiable note” of infinite value.  And as sinners, all we need to do is “exchange” it by faith for eternal life.  Don’t let the “tattered clothes” of your past keep you from cashing God’s “check” of salvation.
The fact that we’ve been “redeemed” means that we no longer “own” ourselves.
(1 Co 6:18–20 NKJV) —18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

If I've been "redeemed", then I have been purchased, and I no longer am my own, I belong to another.

It’s like driving your daddy’s car.  Don’t you want to be a little more careful when you’re driving daddy’s car?

PlayBaby Dukes of Hazzard

The car does not belong to you.  You shouldn’t be driving Daddy’s car like that.

:9 slainsphazo – to slay, slaughter, butcher

It was with His death, with His own blood that we have been redeemed.

He paid the price of redemption.

The writer of Hebrews describes Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, better than what the Levitical priests used to offer.

(Heb 10:11–14 NKJV) —11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

:9 redeemed us

The New Testament was originally written in Greek.  After the original authors wrote their letters and books, many handwritten copies were made.  We no longer have the originals, but we have many copies of the originals.

Because of the difficulty of making handwritten copies, from time to time a copyist would make a slight error in the copy – misspelling a word or skipping a word.  We can be assured that we are certain concerning 99.5% of the New Testament that we know what the original text was.

But there are a few spots like this where there is a discrepancy in the manuscripts.

One set of texts (Alexandrian) do not have the word for “us” in the text.  The modern translations that follow these set of texts make the verse sound a bit more generic:
“purchased for God with Your blood men …” (NAS)
The other set of texts (Byzantine) do have the word for “us”.  The modern translations that follow these texts have the elders saying that they were the ones redeemed:
“And have redeemed us to God …” (NKJV)

When the New Testament documents were first written by the various authors, copies were made of the originals, and copies of copies, and copies of copies of copies.

We have thousands of these Greek manuscripts, some dating back to 100 AD, but we no longer have the original manuscripts.

Because of how these copies were made, from time to time a copyist would get a word wrong or misspell a word.  The copies made from that manuscript would carry on that mistake.

When you analyze the Greek manuscripts, they fall into two basic families – the Alexandrian manuscripts and the Byzantine manuscripts.

Translations like NIV,  NAS, ESV are based on the Alexandrian texts.
Translations like KJV and NKJV are based on the Byzantine texts.
99% of the time these manuscripts agree on the text.  When the texts differ, it is usually such a small variation that it isn’t an issue.  The differences do not affect any major doctrines.

This is one of those passages where there is a difference, and the difference affects who we might consider these elders to be.

The Byzantine texts have a word here that is missing from the Alexandrian texts, the Greek word hemas, or, “us”.
The Byzantine translations have the elders saying, “And have redeemed us to God …”
The Alexandrian translations make it more generic, inserting a word to say that Jesus has redeemed someone – “purchased for God with Your blood men …” (NAS), or “purchased for God persons” (NIV), or “you ransomed people for God” (ESV).
This difference is carried into the next verse as well – “made us kings and priests” versus “made them kings and priests”.

If the Alexandrian texts are correct, then the “elders” could humans, but they could also be some sort of angelic beings.

If the Byzantine texts are correct, then the “elders” are part of us humans, they are from the church, they are fellow believers.

:9 every tribe and tongue and people and nation

There will be people in heaven from every nation and every race on earth.

There is no place for racism among believers.

We are all one at the cross.
(Ga 3:28 NKJV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Col 3:11 NKJV) —11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

On that day in heaven, the fruit of worldwide missions will be seen.

:10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”

:10 kingsbasileus – leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king

:10 priestshiereus – a priest, one who offers sacrifices and in general in busied with sacred rites

:10 kings and priests

Whether or not the elders are human believers like us or not, this is all about us.

We are kings and priests.

(Re 1:5b–6 NKJV) —…To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father…

As kings, we will one day rule and reign with Him.

Jesus said to the church at Thyatira:
(Re 2:26–27 NKJV) —26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— 27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’— as I also have received from My Father;

As priests, we have a responsibility to connect people to God.

We bring people’s requests to God in prayer.
We share the truth about God with people.

:11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,

:11 ten thousandmurias – ten thousand; an innumerable multitude

10,000 x 10,000 = 100 million

:11 thousandschilias – a thousand, the number one thousand

I don’t know if John is attempting to give an accurate head count in heaven as much as to say there were a LOT of angels in heaven.

:12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

:12 to receivelambano – to receive what is given

What you are about to see is Jesus receiving worship.  What follows are things that are being “given” to Him.


Worship’s Substance

As you examine these things, you’ll see that these are things that Jesus already has.  This is the ultimate example of what you give to the guy with everything.
power – (dunamis) ability
He is the one that gives us “power” when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, giving us the “ability” to serve Him.
The issue here is what am I doing with my “abilities”?

What are you “able” to do for Him?  Are you doing that?

PlayHappiness Goes Viral” clip.

I’d say the Cowans have given their abilities to the Lord to use.

riches – (ploutos) money
Jesus is the King.  He lives where the streets are paved with gold.  What does He need riches for?
Money is a crazy topic to talk about in church. 

There are certainly churches that will do everything they can to part you from their money so they can grow their little empire.

The bigger issue here is whether or not we think Jesus is worthy of our riches?

I think when we get to heaven and we see the One who was slain for us, we just might wonder if we couldn’t have pried a few more coins from our fat little fingers to give toward the work of Jesus’ kingdom.

How do I give “riches” to Jesus?

Find a place where Jesus is at work, and support it. 

Of course I’m partial to the work that He’s doing at this church, but there are lots of places where Jesus is at work.

I hope we are learning to give to Jesus, not the church.

wisdom – (sophia) what you do with your mind
He doesn’t need wisdom.  But I can give Him my mind.
There are a few people in the world who think you have to be an idiot to be a Christian.  They think that smart people are too smart to believe in God.
I think just the opposite is true.

I would challenge some of you to use your brains a little more for God.  You have great intelligence and there are great answers for those who ask great questions, if you will study hard and find the answers.

(2 Ti 2:15 AV) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

strength – (ischus) physical strength.
 He doesn’t lack power, He is ALL POWERFUL.
But I give Him my strength.

Will I allow Him to work in my life?  Will I allow Him to direct my life?  Will I yield my strength to Him?

Last night Albert Pujols tied a record, hitting 3 homeruns in a World Series’ game. Play Albert Pujols Testimony
honor – (time) placing a high value on something.
He already is more “honorable” than everything.
Is He given a high value in my life?

Esau had a spiritual “blessing”, a “birthright” given to Him by God.  Yet he was willing to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew.

What is your relationship with God worth to you?

Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Back in 1993 there was a movie (“Indecent Proposal”) with Robert Redford where he plays a millionaire who offers a couple one million dollars if they will let him sleep with the wife.

After that movie, people were asked the question, “What would you do for a million dollars?”

What would it take to make you unfaithful toward God?

He is of the highest value.  There should be no price high enough to make me turn my back on Him.  I give Him “honor”.

glory – (doxa) splendor, brightness, famous
Some have defined this as “making God famous”, shining a spotlight on God.
When your kids are in fourth grade, they often are assigned a homework project of building a California Mission.

Though some families let the kids do all the work, some families do it as a group project, and in some families that dad or mom does the masterpiece.

Even though the kid might get an “A” on the project, I think that with some of the missions I’ve seen at Open House, it would have been more proper for the dad to have gotten the “A” because it was obviously not a fourth grader who did any of the work.

This is about putting the spotlight where it belongs.

We can never give God too much credit.

blessing – (eulogia) “good words”
Last week in Eph. 5:26 we talked about the importance of expanding our vocabulary when it comes to expressing our love to one another.
We also need to expand our vocabulary when it comes to expressing our love and gratitude towards God.

One of the things we do every Sunday night is to spend time giving God praise – to express to Him the things we are thankful about.  I love how sometimes we can go for 10 or 15 minutes ascribing good things to God.

Gratitude ought to be an expanding part of our vocabulary – our gratitude towards God.

:13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

:13 creaturektisma – created thing

:13 every creature

Every created thing joins in the chorus to give worship to God the Father (who sits on the throne) and to Jesus (the Lamb)

You are seeing an example of the “Greatest Commandment” being fulfilled.

(Dt 6:5 NKJV) You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

(Mk 12:30 NKJV) —30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.

:14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

:14 Amenamen – verily, amen, truly, of a truth

It was a custom, which passed over from the synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when someone had taught or offered up a prayer to God, the others responded “Amen”, and made the substance of what was uttered their own.

Has Jesus died for you? (Amen) Has God worked in your life? (Amen)

What will you give to this great king?  Give Him the worship He is worthy of.  Give Him your life.

:14 worshipedproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence

PlayRevelation Song” for decision song