Saturday, 08 October 2016 00:33

34. Singing a new song - PART 1 * Revelation 5:7-9

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7 And he came and took the scroll out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of saints.

9 And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation;

 

*** He took the scroll out of the right hand the Father ***: Back in Revelation 5:1, we studied that the sealed scroll was at the right hand of God (study #31), from the rare Greek expression epi ten dēxian. According to Stefanovic, here we have another rare expression ek tēs dexias, which also does not occur anywhere else in the New Testament. Even though this expression could mean both ‘from the right hand’, or ‘from the right side’, we can understand that this expression also refers to the right side of God the Father, the one who was sitting on the throne at the time of Jesus’ arrival in Heaven (see study #33). Verse 7 implies that Jesus approached the throne, and took possession of the sealed book.

*** The four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down ***: Once again, the four living creatures and the 24 elders are leading the praise and worship. After Jesus took the scroll, the four living beings and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. This is a similar reaction we saw from John, in Revelation 1:17 (study #10), when he was in the presence of Jesus. In contrast to Revelation 5:8, where the elders and the living beings fell down, in verse 5:14 only the 24 elders bow down and worship God.

*** Every one of them had harps, and golden bowls full of incense ***: There is an angel in Revelation 8:3-5, who has a golden censer and incense to offer with the prayers of the saints. So, the idea that angels could participate in presenting the prayers of the saints to God is seen in another part of Revelation. But here, the text starts to get a little more complicated. It is not completely clear if only the 24 elders had the harps and the bowls of incense, or if the four living creatures had them too. At a first glance, it sounds like they were all holding the harp and the incense, but we cannot discard the possibility that only the 24 elders had them. Later on, in verse 14, only the elders fell down to worship God, while the four living creatures were saying something else. The expression “every one of them”, in verse 8, comes from the Greek hekastos, which refers to each distinct individual, as opposed to the group. It comes right after “four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb”. This raises the question: were the 24 elders doing something different from the 4 living creatures, from verse 8 forward? The answer to this question possibly ties up with verse 9, and who was singing the new song.

*** Golden bowls of incense ***: In the Old Testament Sanctuary, the priest had to keep incense burning constantly (Exodus 30:7-8). This was the job of a priest (2 Chronicles 26:18-19). And this was such a serious job, that if it was not done correctly, as specified by God, it could be a matter of life and death (Leviticus 16:12-13). The fact that the 24 elders have the bowls of incense, means they have a priestly role in heaven. The bowls of incense are very important. Revelation 5:8 says they “are the prayers of the saints”. Just like the smoke of the incense, in the Earthly Sanctuary, would cover the mercy seat of the Arc of the Covenant, the prayers of the saints flow right to the throne of God. Those holding the incense seem to be involved in the bringing of people’s prayers to God.

*** They sang a new song ***: They were singing a type of song they had never sung before. It had a new theme, one that had never been seen in Heaven before. Christ had just returned as the lamb who was slain, and so the heavenly chorus adjusted their songs to reflect the brand new role of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer. Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus had not fully paid the price for humanity yet. His mission to show the Father was, for the most part, complete even before the cross. But Jesus had to die our ‘forever death’ in our place in order to validade the plan of salvation. A song presented with this theme would have not made sense before He went through the entire process. And so, now that Jesus had finished that section of the plan, the singing of a new song, featuring the recent event of Christ’s victory, was in order. Jesus had just earned the right to open the scroll and its seals. We will continue to analyze the last part of Revelation 5:9 in study #35.

*** Overview ***: After Jesus arrived in Heaven, He approached the throne, and got the sealed book from the right side of the Father. Immediately, the 4 living beings and the 24 elders began to worship Christ. Jesus’ victory granted Him the ability to open the sealed book. Not only they were having a worship service in the throne room, they were also conducting activities which were assigned to priests. They were carrying bowls of incense. The prayers of the saints seem to be important enough for John to mention in this section. Christ’s victory then became the lyrics of a new song. Heaven was celebrating and rejoicing in an unprecedented manner. The way the Universe would now look at Christ had changed forever. His death and resurrection meant life not just for Himself, but for all the people who believe in the power of His sacrifice.

   
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