by Peeter Lukas
My mother-in-law, who will be 99 years old next month, is an impatient woman these days. She is ailing and bedridden. Ever so sharp of mind, but her flesh is weak. Why the impatience? She wants to go home to Glory. She doesn’t hesitate to tell family and friends, “Please pray that the Lord will take me soon!”
She’s near, but not as near as the exiled Apostle John on Patmos, whose vision of heaven begins in Revelation 4:1-3 – “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian…” The chapter begins by centering upon God and His throne.
And there are concentric circles of worshippers looking at the throne. Their multi-layered praise is towards the center, to the Father’s throne: “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones,…” (v.4) “And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind…, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (v.6-8)
And in chapter 5:1-5 John “saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.” He saw “a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’”
What a vision God gives to John! One of the elders tells him that Christ is the victorious Lion of Judah, a triumphant, reigning monarch. But John also sees Him as a slain Lamb (5:6). His perfect life and lamb-like sacrificial death gives Christ the very highest honor in heaven. As one writer says it – “When Christ ascended to heaven He was invested with the authority and power to rule the world and the church in accordance with the divine decrees.“
Christ alone is worthy to take the scroll and open its seals because of His life and death and resurrection. And He is now at His Father’s right hand reigning in Glory.
And we first read of the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders: “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’”
And then John “heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (5:11,12)
And finally John “heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
My almost 99 year old mother-in-law is impatient these days. She wonders aloud where she will be seated in the heavenly circles of worship. We assured her that she wouldn’t have to elbow or jostle her way in. She’ll be perfectly satisfied wherever she sits. And we’ve asked what her first words will be to this Christ who reigns. She quickly replied, with glistening eyes, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”