Missions: A future glimpse (Rev 5:9)
And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9)
While I was preparing this message, I was traveling from a meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I had a window seat on my flight so I was able to observe Chiang from an aerial view. I looked at the city square incased by a moat. I could see from that vantage point many of the two hundred or so Buddhist temples in that small confined area.
I looked for the temple that contained the founding pillar of the city and the tree there at the temple that represented a covenant that the founding fathers of Chiang Mai made. A covenant that they would worship the guardian spirit as long as the tree would stand. As my flight came to Bangkok I was once again struck by the vivid architecture of the many Buddhist temples. The design of the temples are unique and, no doubt, designed to give honor to some unseen power, whether that be spirits or to a god.
These grand temples are designed to give honor. It is however, a misplaced honor. It is an honor that is due to Jesus Christ alone. He is the one who created every human being, including all temple architects. Jesus is the provider of every Orchid flower and every fruit, even of those laid in their spirit house. Jesus is the one who creates and sustains. His name is whom all honor and glory is due. He is worthy!
God’s desire is that the name of Jesus, the name above all names be utterly lifted up, exalted and adored. He longs to see His name revealed in a distinct and clear way. The result of His purpose is that the name of Jesus would be distinguished from any other god, or spirit or system.
That has not yet taken place. We can look around and see so many places where God’s name does not receive the honor due. This is the condition as we have it now. We can see God is not receiving the honor due his name. This is not the way it should be. We have recorded here in scripture the clear testimony that it will not remain this way. God will fulfill his purposes. His name will be honored. We have an assurance from the Word of God that He will fulfill his purposes.
We should align our lives with the purposes of God. His purpose is to bring honor due his name in every nation. The fulfillment of God’s redemptive purpose in Jesus, not only in every nation but also among every language. Not just every language, but among every people group. He will accomplish His grand plan and we have the opportunity to be a part of this mission. “Blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy and take it to heart.” (Rev 1:3)
I) Jesus is worthy (Rev 5:9)
And they sang a new song: You are worthy
John saw the purposes of God fulfilled among every tribe, people and language. God gave John the privilege to see His future plan unfolded. He gave John a future glimpse of what it will be like when God’s purposes are accomplished. The fulfillment of the great commission.
John’s vision provides hope to us. John received this vision while being held as a prisoner on the island of Patmos. It was in this context of severe troubles that John saw the vision of Jesus getting the honor due His name. At the time of John’s vision the emperor required people to ascribe him the honor due Christ alone. Those, like John, who refused to worship the emperor, were persecuted. In the midst of the discouraging situation comes this marvelous vision!
Was John the first to see such a vision? No. Daniel was another who saw it. The scripture vividly describes Daniel seeing the same vision John saw. The words describing their vision are almost identical. Daniel saw the exalted Christ. He saw Him receiving the authority and glory and the sovereign power due his name. Daniel saw the extent of God’s purposes. God desires his name to be known and honored to the ends of the earth. Daniel saw the worship and the Glory of Christ extending to, “all peoples, nations and language.” (Daniel 7: 13-14)
Since Daniel saw this vision before John, we can ask, is there anyone else recorded in Scripture, who saw this vision? Again, the answer is yes. Abraham saw it too! Jesus said, “Abraham saw my day and rejoiced.” (John 8: 56)
“This is the stand out treasure of Abraham Hebraic reality, hope. There is going to be something powerful and lovely in the end. God took Abraham out into the night sky and said, ‘Count those stars, if you can.’ It is going to be that extensive, that vast. Abraham believed God and saw the night sky. Jesus actually says Abraham saw my day and rejoiced. That night he actually saw the day of Christ. Not just when Jesus would come, but a flourishing among all peoples. This is the substance of hope. That there is a great finish a culmination.” (SH)
John saw the Abrahmic covenant fulfilled. John saw the Great Commission Crescendo. In the book of Revelation, Christ is revealed, but also the purpose of Christ is revealed to us. We see what it looks like fulfilled. Probably John would not have realized as a persecuted prisoner on Patmos what a privilege would be his. That he would receive this glorious vision of Christ and a glimpse of His purposes fulfilled. This is the climax, the zenith, and the pinnacle of all that was promised to Abraham. All the families of the earth will be blessed! (Gen. 12:3)
In Revelation we have the ultimate outcome. The enemy is doomed to defeat. God holds the future and He has revealed the outcome to us. All the strongholds will be broken. Strongholds are designed to restrain Christ being obeyed and honored. We see what the prophet Habakkuk also saw. Not only are the strongholds broken, but “the Glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the water covers the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)
At present this honor due Jesus Christ goes in countless misplaced directions.” You will hardly find men who will not worship God or some other power. If atheistic thinkers or scientists, filled with the materialistic outlook, do not worship God, they often tend to worship great men or heroes or some ideal which they have exalted into a power. Buddha did not teach anything about God. The result was, his followers began to worship him. In China people began to worship ancestors, as they were not taught to worship God. In short, man cannot but worship, this desire has been created in him by his creator, so that led by this desire he may have communion with his creator.” (Religion and Reality, Sadhu Sunder Singh)
A question was put to John, “Who is worthy to open the scroll?” There was no one on earth, in Heaven who was worthy. John wept when no one was worthy. No one, that is except Jesus. Jesus is worthy. When Jesus took the scroll the heavenly creatures, the twenty-four elders all bowed down before Him.
There is a continual theme through Revelation to the worth of Jesus Christ. Standing before the Lamb they sang a new song. They praised the one who is worthy. Jesus is portrayed as Lion and Lamb revelation. The song that could not be sung until Jesus took the scroll.
All in heaven fell down and worshipped Jesus because He is worthy. Our goal is to be part of seeing Jesus receive due honor among all the peoples. We begin first, with ourselves. We desire to see Jesus praised. We must give him the praise and honor due his name. He is worthy!
Because we desire to see Him honored we praise Him. We desire that all should express praise to Him in every unique culture on this earth. “In the Lords prayer, Hallowed be your name, means that God’s name be sanctified. It is actually that His name be distinguished. God’s name is to be lifted up, exalted, adored. That His name be revealed so clearly that He would be distinguished from any other god, spirit or ism.” (SH)
That is what God is doing to work for his renown amongst the nations. He works to reveal the truth for his names sake. That God would exalt and distinguish his name among all peoples. That is what he has purposed to do. The song moves from four creatures to thousands and ten thousands of angels. They sing that Jesus is worthy of all the honor glory and praise. The psalmist says, “let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Jesus is praised by a number so great that no one could count the worshipers.
People should know it is the hand of God that is at work all around them. The important thing is that God is honored. “People should know that we are living in the midst of a wonderful time where God is blessing the earth and fulfilling His purpose.” (SH)
II) Purchase of men
Because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God
There was only one found worthy to open the scroll. In the cross there is full declaration that Christ is, and ought to be worshipped. Jesus redeemed us with His blood from the bondage of sin. Satan and all strongholds lose their grip on us through the power in the blood of Christ.
The Scroll with seven seals represents God’s plan of redemption. Jesus is worthy to open the scroll. He died the just for the unjust. The worth of Jesus Christ and the blood shed at the cross go hand in hand.
Before Jesus went to the cross he gathered his disciples for the Last Supper. He took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
It is matter of good news of great joy for all men that God deals with us in through the blood of Christ. Like slaves on an auction block we were bound to sin. But he purchased us through His blood.
He has not only purchased men for God, but He has bestowed upon us the highest honor as kings and priests. When we submit to Christ through faith his cleansing blood saves us. His blood will ultimately redeem from among every tribe people and language.
This is God’s redemption through His blood. It is the power for the transforming of individual lives and extends to all tribes and nations. We look to God for people groups and whole nations to know the redemption in the blood of Christ. This is what God said He would do. The means of Gods purposes was brought about through the blood of Christ, shed on the cross.
At the time of the crucifixion, the temple veil was torn in two. The temple veil was separating the Holy of Holies where the blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat. Now the torn veil represents the way made available for people everywhere. This is because Christ shed his blood. He purchased men. The blood of Christ is the stronghold breaker.
Jesus is pure and blameless and perfect in holiness. Jesus the eternal high priest made himself an eternal sacrifice, once for all. His sacrifice is able to cleanse us of our sin. His blood shed for us removes our guilt. The Passover Lamb has been slain. When we view ourselves in light of Christ our spiritual poverty is exposed. We need the redemption that only Jesus gives through His blood.
“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22) We have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus. This confidence is based upon the pouring out of his blood on the cross. (Ephesians 1:7) His blood made atonement for our sins. He took upon himself the punishment for sin. Christ’s death on the cross made it possible for all things to be reconciled. He made peace through his blood. (Colossians 1:20)
III) Every people group
From every tribe and language and people and nation.
The purpose of God is to bring his renown and redemption to every ethno-linguistic people group on earth. Jesus used a very unusual strategy to accomplish this work to reach every tribe, tongue and nation. Jesus called out and trained a mono-ethnic group of disciples to accomplish His all-inclusive multi-ethnic purposes.
“All of the disciples were Jews and at least ten, and possibly eleven were Galilean Jews. This was a multi-racial, multi-creedal society. During this training He confined them to work with their own people. They were expressly forbidden to go to others. And during most of their training they were in the general area of their homes, among relatives and neighbors. When the training was complete he entrusted his church entirely to them. He charged them as a group to go to groups with the gospel.” (The Dynamics of Church Growth form every tribe and people and tongue, 44-45, J W. Pickett)
But the Lord modeled His purposes. The disciples marveled when Jesus went to the ethnically down caste Samaritan woman. His commission was to go and make disciples of all ethnic groups. His purposes only became more clearly defined as Paul received his call on the Damascus road to be an apostle to the Gentiles.
God desires worship. That worship comes from a multiplicity of cultures and is expressed in a variety of ways. Missions takes the message of Christ to the neglected fields. To the people who do not yet honor Christ. Missions should not transport cultural. People with different ways of seeing things will begin to worship, doing different things based on the tapestry of human diversity. We should follow the example of Stanley Jones, missionary to India, who made it a deliberate strategy to carry the message of Christ to where He was not previously honored.
Illustration: When missionary Stanley Jones, came to India he, for nearly ten years served the church as pastor and district superintendent in the Methodist church in Lucknow, and other places. There was one significant event that turned his life. He and his daughter Eunice joined an officers club for tennis and tea. Stanley Jones was a young man and very fashionable and cultured and the Indian people would very much love a person like him to belong to their club.
One day it happened. They sat down after the playing tennis. A judge, a Hindu, and Indian, he spoke up, Mr. Jones why do you Christian people only go after the Dalits, the poor? The Hindus at that time were seeing a lot. Hundreds of thousands of poor were coming to Christ. Leather makers, Chamars and other lower caste people in Uttar Pradesh had already become Christians. They saw that Stanley Jones was district superintendent, of whom, these low-caste people. So, the question of the judge was why was the church so altogether sold on reaching the low caste.
And the mission at that time had a very patent answer and Stanley Jones was familiar with it. He said, because they are responsive, and the higher caste, they are not responsive. That was his answer. And the judge replied forthwith, No. That is wrong. We are responsive if you come in the right way.
My, that word changed Stanley Jones, and he is known for that. He is not known for his district superintendent work. He is known for his ministry to the educated classes in India.
No one in India has seen more, among Brahmins and Hindu intellectuals come to honor Christ than Stanley Jones, in mission history. Even today when I go out to Bombay where I have my Satsangs I meet so many people, Hindus who now worship Christ, so fond of Stanley Jones. (DPT)
If we are giving our lives to the purposes of God then we will seek to see His name honored among all peoples. It will mean strategic prayer and it will mean we present the Gospel in a culturally relevant way to unreached people groups. It is too late in history to ignore this. What is a very acceptable approach to the Gospel for one people may not work for another. Not only the language must change, but the manner in which we present the good news.
Too many of the unreached people groups see Jesus as a foreign God. We must work according to God’s purposes so that they see He is not foreign God. He made them. He shed his blood to purchase them. At any given moment He sustains them with the air they breathe. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. God desires that they acknowledge His goodness.
We are called to share Jesus Christ with all the peoples and languages. We must pray, mobilize laborers and go. Jesus calls for whoever thirsts to come to Him. We find the thirsty peoples all about us. We see the final outcome that some from every people will come to Christ. There is going to be a great and final blessing among all peoples. The gates of hell cannot prevail against it. The outcome is certain. It will come forth. The glory of Christ will be known. The day will dawn.
We see the fulfillment in this multi-cultural, multi-linguistic, multi-ethnic host praising God. The great conclusion of all people groups around the throne. The revelation of Jesus Christ, and his plan for all peoples.