Revelation 5:11-14

Sermon preached on September 2, 2012 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

When we were traveling back from vacation last summer we stopped for the night in a little town in Nova Scotia. It was about 9:30 and we hadn't eaten and most of the restaurants in the town were closed. But we found a KFC that was open and we went there. It looked like they were getting ready to close. There was no one behind the counter and the two or three people that were working there were all in back and they didn't notice that we came in so no one came to serve us. The only other customers in the restaurant were a man and his teenage daughter. They already had their sodas and they were waiting at the counter for the rest of their order. I thought they were Jamaican because of the accent they had. So we just waited for someone to come and take our order. After a couple of minutes, the Jamaican man snapped to attention, he said, "Oh," like he remembered something. He then walked past us toward the door. But instead of going outside, he went through the door that led to the area behind the counter. He walked up to the register where we were waiting, put on a big smile and said,

"May I take your order?"

I hesitated for a split second because I did a double take. Obviously he didn't work there. He didn't have a KFC uniform or hat on, he was in ordinary clothes. But we were hungry so we weren't going to argue with him. So we gave him our order and he took it. He then took our money and shouted our order back to the people in the back. He then left the counter area and came back out where we were. The people who worked in the restaurant didn't treat it as unusual at all. They came out and gave him his order and then gave us our order. As we were eating we needed more napkins but the dispenser was empty. He saw us looking for them and he got up, went behind the counter and got us more napkins.

The whole thing was very weird. He acted like he owned the place. The way that the workers deferred to him also seemed to indicate that. So that's the we decided—that he must have been the owner. The whole scene led us to that conclusion. We didn't ask him or any of the workers—but there were clear indications that that was the case.

We have something like that in our text. There's something unusual at first. John saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain. That seems strange. But the Lamb is standing at the center of the throne or very near the center. He takes the scroll of destiny from the right hand of the Father. When He does, the four living creatures and the 24 elders break forth in praise to Him with a new song. After they do that, the whole heavenly host of angels breaks forth into praise to Him as well. Then, in response to that, every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and the sea and all that is in them praise God who sits on the throne and the Lamb.

Nowhere in our text is it stated that Jesus is God. But it is so obvious that it should be beyond dispute. This is what I want to look at this morning—how the praise given to Jesus here proves that He is God.

This is a very important doctrine that is at the very heart of Christianity. It is one that we need to get right. Donald Macleod says of Jesus, (A Faith to Live By, p. 37)

"If He is God, it is right to worship Him. If He is not God, then it is blasphemy and idolatry to worship Him. For that reason the whole of our religion is involved in this doctrine."

Thankfully, we are not left in doubt. Even though there are many who do not believe that Jesus is God, the only way they can do so is by denying or disbelieving the biblical evidence. The evidence is overwhelming. Our text shows us clearly that

Jesus is God.

The New Testament gives many proofs of this. If you look at any good systematic theology book you'll find that there are various ways the Bible shows that Jesus is God. There are passages like John 1:1 which specifically state it. It reads,

"In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God."

There are also the words of Jesus where He emphatically stated that He and the Father were One. (John 10:30) There are also passages like in John 8:58 where he claimed that He was eternal, an attribute that only God possesses. He said,

"I tell you the truth,
before Abraham was born, I am!"

There are other passages which ascribe divine titles to Jesus—titles like the 'Son of God' and the 'Son of Man'. The proof of the deity of Jesus Christ is all over the pages of the New Testament.

One of the main proofs of that the New Testament gives that Jesus is God is the fact that it ascribes to Him worship that is only appropriate for God.

We see it in John's gospel in the worship of Thomas in John's gospel. After Jesus revealed Himself to Thomas and proved to Him that He had been raised from the dead, Thomas said to Jesus, (John 20:28)

"My Lord and my God!"

Jesus accepted that worship.

In our text we have worship of Jesus on a much grander scale. Robert H. Mounce writes, (Revelation, NICNT, p. 129)

"Nowhere else in the literature of worship will one find a scene of such unrestrained praise and adoration."

And who is it for? It's for the Lamb! The first part is exclusively for the Lamb. The second part is for God and the Lamb. The Lamb is included in both. This effusive and extravagant praise is directed to Jesus. We read,

"Then I looked and heard
the voice of many angels,
numbering thousands upon thousands,
and ten thousand times ten thousand.
They encircled the throne
and the living creatures and the elders.
In a loud voice they sang:
'Worthy is the Lamb,
who was slain,
to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!'
Then I heard every creature in heaven
and on earth and under the earth and on the sea,
and all that is in them, singing:
'To him who sits on the throne
and to the Lamb be praise
and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!'
The four living creatures said,
'Amen,' and the elders
fell down and worshiped."

Let's break down this praise to help us see the fact that He is indeed God.

First, this praise is exactly the same as the praise given to God in other places in Scripture.

For example, at the end of chapter 4 we saw that God was praised. The 24 elders laid their crowns before the throne and said, (Revelation 4:11)

"You are worthy,
our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,"

Glory, honor and power are ascribed to God. Here in our text, there are seven things that are ascribed to God, and three of them are 'glory', 'honor' and 'power'. The same ascriptions of praise are given to Jesus that are given to God.

What's important for us to note is that nowhere in the New Testament are these attributes (the Greek words) ascribed to anyone else in worship except God. It is true that at times some of these terms are applied to people, like in Romans 13:7. It says,

"Give everyone what you owe him:
If you owe taxes, pay taxes;
if revenue, then revenue;
if respect, then respect;
if honor, then honor."

But that's not about worship. It just means that we are to honor other people, just like we are to honor our mother and father. The New Testament Christians were told to honor the king (1 Peter 2:17) but that certainly didn't mean that they were to worship him. Those texts are not about worship. But when worship is in view, honor is only given to God.

It's the same with the word '
glory'. In worship it's only used of something that belongs to God. In Luke 4:6 the devil ascribed 'glory' to himself, but that that was obviously illegitimate. The very context there, the temptation of Jesus, shows that the devil is a usurper and that he's not deserving of any type of glory. When the devil wanted Jesus to worship him, Jesus replied, (Luke 4:8)

"It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God
and serve him only.' "

Acts 12:23 also shows that 'glory' is only to be given to God. King Herod didn't give the glory to God when the people praised him, saying, (verse 22)

"This is the voice of a god,
not of a man.

Glory, in worship, in Scripture, is only applied to God. It's the same with 'power'. It is true that other beings have 'power', but when the New Testament uses this word in regard to worship, it is only used of God.

Revelation 7:12 is noteworthy too. In their worship of God the angels said,

Praise and glory and wisdom
and thanks and honor and power
and strength be to our God
for ever and ever.

Seven things are attributed to God. Six of them are exactly the same that we see in our text. The only difference is that our text has 'wealth' and Revelation 7:12 has 'thanks'.

For these same attributes to be given to Jesus shows that He is God. He receives the same praise that God does.

This is confirmed by what we see in verse 13. Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and on the sea,

worship God and the Lamb together, with the same praise.

They say,

"To him who sits on the throne
and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!

The same praise is given to both of them. Robert H. Mounce writes, (Revelation, NICNT, p.135)

"That the same ascription of worth is directed both to the One upon the throne (4:11) and to the Lamb (5:9) indicates the exalted Christology of the Apocalypse."

Jesus is clearly God. Grant Osborne writes, (p. 266)

"he shares all the attributes and acclamations with God.”

G. K. Beale writes, (Revelation, NIGTC, p. 365.

"The emphasis on glorifying Christ is enhanced by the fact that God also is to be glorified, no doubt because it was through God's sovereign arm that redemption was wrought through Christ. But, even more so, God is mentioned as being glorified together with Christ to highlight that Christ is in the same divine position as God and likewise to be glorified."

The praise given to Jesus is appropriate only for God.

The second thing in our text that shows the deity of Jesus is

the fact that the angels worship Him.

In verse 11 we read,

"Then I looked and heard
the voice of many angels,
numbering thousands upon thousands,
and ten thousand times ten thousand.
They encircled the throne
and the living creatures and the elders.
In a loud voice they sang:
'Worthy is the Lamb,
who was slain,
to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!'

Now we know that angels aren't always a reliable guide. When Satan sinned he dragged a third of the angels of heaven with him. We're not told specifically but it seems likely that some of the other angels worshiped Satan.

But having said that, the worship of the angels here shows us that Jesus is God. After they worship the Lamb, we don't read of any war in heaven like there was after Satan sinned. Rather, they lead the whole creation to praise God.

Heavenly angels—the ones that never fell into sin in Satan's rebellion—know that worship belongs to God alone. John lost his way twice in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 19:9–10 we read that the angel said to him.

"'Write: 'Blessed are those
who are invited to the wedding supper
of the Lamb! ' And he added,
'These are the true words of God.' "

At that point John fell at his feet to worship the angel. But right away the angel said to John,

"Do not do it!
I am a fellow servant with you
and with your brothers
who hold to the testimony of Jesus.
Worship God!"

We see the same thing in Revelation 22:9. The point is that the angels who didn't fall into sin are very careful to ensure that only God is worshiped.

The thrust of this is that the heavenly angels are very careful that only God is worshiped. To have the whole heavenly host of angels worshiping God, like we see in verse 12 shows without a doubt that Jesus is divine. There can be no doubt about it.

Note that after their worship, we read that, "
every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea…" sing praise to God and the Lamb. Every creature in heaven follows the lead of the angels in praising the Lamb. The praise of the angels in verse 11 is no sin nor a mistake. No. No. No. Their praise in exceedingly appropriate because Jesus is God.

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!"

The heavenly host praises Him as their God.

What does this mean in practical terms?

The first thing it means is that

you are to be worshiping Jesus as God.

Do you honor Jesus as you should? Grant Osborne writes, (Revelation, p. 266)

"Christians are guilty of the syndrome, 'Your Jesus is too small.' We have made Jesus our 'big brother' and 'friend' to such an extent that we have lost the sense that he is also our sovereign Lord. We must recapture the realization that he too is our God and worthy of worship at the deepest level."

Honor Jesus! Jesus is the living God. He is one with the Father and Spirit. We should worship God in His triune fullness, acknowledging the Father, Son and Spirit.

There is no one like Jesus. He has done so much for you. Your life should be filled with praise to Him.

Secondly, this means that

you should be doing everything you can to get everyone to worship Jesus.

Jesus is not a small, provincial God. He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords.

Consider the worship here. There are three parts to it. The first has the four living creatures and the 24 elders singing a new song. The second is a group of angels that cannot be numbered—they are focused on praising the Lamb. The third is every creature in heaven and on earth. What does that tell us?

It tells us that everyone, everywhere should be praising Jesus. He is the Lord of all. He has created all things. They were created by Him and for Him.

We need to be very missionary minded. Not only is Jesus the only hope for the world—but the whole world owes Him praise for everything good that they have.

As a congregation we dare not be inward looking. We need to win the world for Jesus. Everyone should be praising Him.

Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians, what this means for you is that

unless you go to Jesus you're going to miss out on the greatest thing ever.

The 4 living creatures, the 24 elders, the heavenly host of angels, and every creature in heaven, and on earth are participating in the greatest event, the great activity ever. They have been brought near to God, to the Lamb, and they are basking in His glory and are filled with delight and praise to Him.

Yet, that is just a preview of the eternal state and the joy that will come from knowing Jesus. Go to Him today. Ask Him to save you. Do it today.