Friday, May 6, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 8, 2011

HEAVENLY WORSHIP
(Perfect worship is always GOD-centered)
(Revelations 4)

The book of Revelations is the last book of the Christian bible to be written (circa A.D. 95-96). It is also rightfully positioned, as the final book of the New Testament, and, as the final book of the biblical assemblage in general. The second advent of CHRIST JESUS, and, those years that immediately follow, are much more vividly detailed than in the Old Testament book of Daniel. In Daniel’s book, he writes of a time that spans from the days of King Cyrus of Persia, up until the time of the first advent of CHRIST. He writes only briefly of the Tribulation Period, and of the time of CHRIST’ rule (Millennial Kingdom) here on earth.
The book of Revelations was written by the Apostle John after he received a vision from CHRIST, while he was still imprisoned on the Greek island of Patmos, during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Domitian. After a few challenges from the early Church leaders to gain acceptance into the biblical assemblage, John’s revelations were finally acknowledged as being divinely inspired. In fact, by the end of the third century, they were being widely quoted as scripture. GOD’s purpose for these revelations is to reveal those events which will take place before, during, and after the second coming of CHRIST JESUS.
In the opening chapters of the book of Revelations, John delivers both positive and negative messages to the seven churches that existed in the province of Asia at that time. Here in chapter 4, however, he paints for us, a depiction of what has come to be known by most scholars as “The vision of Heaven’s Throne Room”. And just as is with most of this fascinating book, there are also two basic interpretations of the visions seen here by John. In fact, the way a person views this book actually defines what group they would fall under, as most are either “premillennialist”, or “amillennialist” in their thinking.
The premillennialist sees the call for John to “come up”, in verse 1, as “the Rapture”, and therefore, everything that happens after that point, is considered by them, to be occurring in “the great Tribulation”. The amillennialist sees this call as a “call to worship”. They see the 24 elders mentioned in this chapter as representing the Old Testament, “Twelve Tribes of Israel”, and the New Testament, “Twelve Apostles”. But no matter what one’s interpretation may be, it is abundantly clear that these verses are focused exclusively on praising and worshipping the Almighty GOD.
In this spectacular vision, John sees GOD sitting on HIS throne, surrounded by 24 thrones with an elder seated on each throne. In front of GOD’s throne were seven lamp stands with flames burning inside them. They represent the seven spirits of GOD, and symbolize the perfection of the HOLY SPIRIT.
Also there in front of GOD’s throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal. In the center, and around the throne, were four living beings, each covered with eyes, both front and back. These four beings are reminiscent of the ones seen by Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 1:5-10, and they may symbolize various aspects of divine majesty. The lion, for instance, could be thought of as a symbol of “nobility”. The ox could represent “strength”, or even “faithfulness”. The human face of the third living being could symbolize “wisdom”, and the forth creature, the eagle, could represent “control”.
There is, however, another popular view among scholars concerning these living beings, and that is, that, they may represent JESUS in the four gospels. In Matthew, for example, the “lion” shows JESUS as “the lion of the tribe of Judah”. In Mark, the ox shows HIM as “the servant of GOD”. In Luke, JESUS is “incarnate” as a human being. And finally, in the gospel of John, the eagle represents the divine SON of the LIVING GOD.
However, in the end, I guess that’s neither here nor there, as some might say. And in the final analysis, we can certainly all agree that the worship by all beings who were present was attributed by them to the ONLY WISE, SOVEREIGN GOD, WHO created the universe and all that is within it. It is only through HIS will and purpose that all things exist, and only HE can make something out of nothing.
The great truth is, that, in every sense, everything in the world belongs to GOD, and absolutely everyone in this spectacular glimpse of the future, shown to us by the Apostle John’s shared vision, totally submitted themselves to GOD in worship, 24 hours a day. It has long been known, that, that’s just how everything all began, and now we see, through this wonderful passage in the book of Revelations, that, that’s just exactly how it all will end. Everyone, in the end, will consider it an honor and a privilege, to worship the Almighty GOD, on a continuous basis.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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