Heaven’s Splendor vs. The World’s Allure, Pt. 5 (Rev 5:8-14)

Posted by R. Fowler White

If not for the vision that John sees in Rev 5:5-7, we should be weeping as he did. After all, we now know the truth that John knew. We know that no creature, angelic or human, is qualified to secure the future of Christ’s church or empowered to fulfill God’s purposes for history. This world, with all its enticements, tempts us away from Christ. With all our vulnerabilities, we Christians and our congregations are increasingly at risk. Watching John’s weeping turn to worship, however, we too stop our weeping as we see the omnipotent, omniscient Lamb in Rev 5. Yet there is more to that scene than glorious sights to see. There are also glorious sounds to hear. Creatures from every part of creation worship the Lamb in Rev 5:8-12 and the Lord God Almighty in Rev 5:13-14.

The heavenly anthem begins in the inner circle around the throne: the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down, throwing themselves to the ground to celebrate the Lamb who is God’s Lion (5:8-10). Accompanied by the music of harps and by prayers for vindication, they sing a new song, a song of joy after the Divine Warrior’s victory, a song celebrating the Lamb’s worthiness to finish God’s plan of redemption and reckoning. The Lamb is worthy because the price He paid in His sacrificial death had the power to redeem a people of every kind for God and the power to reform those He redeemed into a kingdom and priesthood for God.

The choral singers’ number expands outward from the throne, beyond the living creatures and the elders (5:11-12). Now the choir of angels multiplies to include millions and millions of voices. They sing to the Lamb, attributing to Him all the excellencies belonging to God Himself.[i] Then the sacred chorale expands once more to every quarter of creation (5:13-14). Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them celebrate the Lord God and the Lamb. Now the choir of all creation celebrates Their glory, attributing to Them blessing and honor … glory and might, and that in an everlasting doxology. Confirming the truth of this glorious heavenly anthem, the four living creatures shout, Amen! Meanwhile, as in the previous scene in ch. 4, the twenty-four elders again throw themselves to the ground to pay homage to the supremacy of the Lord God and the Lamb.

How clear can it be that, for every part of creation, the Lord and the Lamb—God the Father and God the Son—in company with God the sevenfold Spirit (4:5; 5:6), are the sum of all that is held up to be glorified and enjoyed! Every part of creation finds in God alone all moral and spiritual excellencies and perfections. Every part of creation finds in Him all these qualities in impeccable proportion, harmony, and unity; in delicate balance, stunning brilliance, and full integrity. Every part of creation finds God in Three Persons to be altogether excellent, exquisitely splendid, supremely beautiful, and radiantly wonderful.

John the Apostle came to the visions of Rev 4–5 troubled for the congregations of Christ’s church in his day. Who can doubt that he would be troubled for us in our day? We see the vices of unbelief corroding government and business. We hear anti-Christian bigotry becoming the norm in society at large. Pressured in such an environment by the prospect of losing rights and privileges, some in the church advocate for us to shrug off the historic Christian confession and moral vision and to embrace the world’s priorities. Forget about it. As citizens of a heavenly homeland, we’ll follow John’s example and his words. With the eyes of faith, we’ll ponder the glorious sights of our Divine Sovereign in His Heavenly Palace surrounded by His angelic court. With the ears of faith, we’ll revel in the glorious sounds of creation’s choir worshiping the Lord and the Lamb in the presence of the Spirit—the Blessed Trinity in the splendor of heaven’s holiness. Thus prepared, we’ll fight the good fight, singing a new song as King Jesus delivers God’s chosen captives from the domain of darkness and transfers them into His own benevolent kingdom of priests.

[i] Richard D. Phillips, Revelation, ed. R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, and D. M. Doriani, REC (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017), 204.