Revelation 5:9-10

Sermon preached on August 26, 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.

I love getting new things—especially if they're related to technology. About every five years I get a new computer and I just love it. By that time my old one is slow and outdated and it can't do some of the things that new computers can do. My current iPhone is over two years old. I'm looking forward to getting a new one. I still like my old iPhone, but the home button sticks once in awhile and it takes four or five seconds for it to work. It doesn't have Siri, which is the voice activated personal digital assistant. Siri is really cool. At my daughter Patricia's wedding two weeks ago, the groom gave a speech. It was a great. He thanked Marg and me, he thanked his parents, he thanked his best man, the bridesmaids. But at near the end of his speech he said he was going to use Siri. So he took out his iPhone and said,

"Siri, am I supposed to say anything else in this speech?"

Siri responded,

"Dan, you're an idiot. You're supposed to tell Trisha that she is beautiful and that she is the love of your life! …that your life is infinitely better now that you are married to her."

It was all a joke. Although it sounded like Siri, Siri couldn't really answer like that. Dan had rigged the answer beforehand.

It was funny. And it shows how much fun new technology can be. But technology is moving so fast, that not long after you get the latest and greatest device—something better comes out and what you have becomes old. After awhile it becomes obsolete. What is new rapidly becomes something old.

In our text we don't have anything like that. It's about something new, but something that will never get old. Our text is about the four living creatures and the 24 elders falling down before the Lamb and praising Him by singing a new song. The thrust of our text is that Jesus is altogether special, thoroughly unique, and so worthy. It's because He is restoring God's original plan for creation. We read, (verses 9-10)

"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.
You have made them to be a kingdom
and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.'"

There is no one like Jesus.

This whole chapter shows us

how special, how unique Jesus is.

We saw this first in verse 3 where we saw that no one else in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.

The first thing that shows us this is the fact that

their praise is characterized as a new song.

The new song is related to the new order of things. We see this expression in the Psalms. We saw it in our Responsive Reading in Psalm 96. We also saw it in our call to worship today in Psalm 98:1. It said,

"Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him."

What's important to note about those Psalms is that they are, in a certain sense eschatological psalms. That is, they are related to the end times—they refer to the end of all things, the restoration of all things. For example, verses 12 and 13 of Psalm 96 say,

"let the fields be jubilant,
and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest
will sing for joy;
they will sing before the Lord,
for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his truth."

Grant Osborne suggests that the use of the Greek word, kaivos, which is translated 'new',

"stresses the qualitative rather than the temporal…"

Kaivos can refer to something new as opposed to something old, but it is sometimes used of something totally new, qualitatively new. For example, in Revelation it is used of the 'New Jerusalem', the 'new heaven and new earth'. In other words, the point is that it's not new just in the sense that it's the latest, but that it is 'new in kind'. It is something unlike anything before it. It is unique, final, something that will never get old, something that will never need to be replaced. It is new and has a sense of finality to it.

In his book, "
A New Testament Biblical Theology" G. K. Beale explores how the Old Testament has an 'end times' storyline. The making of everything 'new' in Christ is the fulfillment of what the old creation was meant to be. Beale says of the original creation, (p. 88)

"Adam was established as a priest-king in a pristine creation, but his kingship and the creation itself did not reach their destined goal of victory over evil and ultimate security against sin, against corruption of the body, and against corruption of the creation itself. This goal was eschatological in nature, since it is apparent that the eternal state would have commenced for Adam and creation once this objective was reached, and final judgment would have been pronounced and executed upon the primordial antagonist."

We see this principle in chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation. In chapter 4 God is praised for His act of creating all things. Chapter 4 ended with the song of the 24 elders. They said,

"You are worthy,
our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being."

Then in chapter 5, in the very next section of praise, the Lamb is praised with a 'new song'. They praise Him as worthy,

"because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men
for God from every tribe and language
and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom
and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.'"

Jesus fulfills God's plans for the original creation. Human beings were meant to live in close contact with God, to serve Him by exercising dominion over the earth, by reigning on earth. Jesus restores God's creation and brings it to it's intended purpose. The new song reflects this great new reality, one that will never pass away.

There's nobody like Jesus. There's nobody like Jesus. There's nobody like Jesus. He did what no one else could do. He will restore creation, and people to the purpose for which God originally created them.

The second thing that shows us the worthiness of Jesus is the fact that

He was slain and with His blood He purchased men for God.

This is very significant. It goes back to the original creation. Adam and Eve were told that if they disobeyed God they would surely die. Death is the curse of sin. Romans 6:23 tells us

"the wages of sin is death…"

When Adam sinned it seemed that everything was lost. It seemed like God's original plan was thwarted.

How could human beings be saved? How could they escape the curse of death? How could God's plan for them to be His people and reign on earth be accomplished? We saw in verse 3 that no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or look inside it. Human effort would not accomplish God's goal. The greatest efforts of angels would not be able to save humans. What was needed was for the curse of sin to be taken care of. That's what Jesus did by dying.

Hence the emphasis of blood and sacrifice in Revelation 5. In verse 6 Jesus is introduced as,

"a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain…"

In verse 9, He is said to be worthy,

"because you were slain
and with your blood
you purchased men for God…"

In verse 12 we see the same thing.

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain…"

Jesus is worthy to take the scroll because of His sacrificial death. It is through the sacrificial death that Jesus redeemed us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says,

"God made him who had no sin
to be sin for us,
so that in him we might
become the righteousness of God."

In Romans 5:9 the apostle Paul wrote

"Since we have now been justified
by his blood, how much more
shall we be saved from
God's wrath through him!"

This theme also runs through the Old Testament. The very first mention of the Messiah in Genesis 3:15 tells how Satan would strike His heel. The whole Old Testament sacrificial system pointed to the work of the Messiah. They knew that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin. In Isaiah 53:4–7 we have a detailed description of the Biblical doctrine of substitutionary atonement.

"Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace
was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep,
have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth."

We are saved through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus. The end of Isaiah 53 makes it clear that Jesus' work would be effective. We read

Isaiah 53:11–12

"After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light[of life]
and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant
will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion
among the great, and he will divide
the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors."

With His death Jesus took care of the curse of sin.

The result was that Jesus 'purchased' men for God.

The word that is used here often refers to ordinary commerce. Grant Osborne, (p. 260)

"this verb is a commercial metaphor used for the freeing of a prisoner of war from bondage. Jesus' death has been a 'ransom' payment through which God has 'purchased' people for himself (see 1 Cor. 6:19-22, 7:23; 2 Pet. 2.1; Rev. 14:3,4)."

By His death Jesus purchased us for God. As the apostle Paul told Christians in 1 Corinthians 6:20,

"you were bought at a price."

Or as Jesus said in Mark 10:45,

"For even the Son of Man
did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give his life
as a ransom for many."

A ransom is about securing the release of a prisoner by the payment of a price. Jesus bought us by His death.

Thirdly, we see that the result of purchasing men for God is that

God's people are made a kingdom and priests who will reign on earth.

Jesus has made it so that all of God's people will be royalty and priests in the new kingdom of God. As royalty they will reign with God on the new earth. As priests they will serve Him in worship.

All of this means two things.

First, this shows us the only way into the kingdom of heaven. How can you get into heaven? How can you share in the joys of God's kingdom? Are there different paths to God? Can some get there by their works? Can some merit it because of who they are? No. Most emphatically no. For what this whole chapter shows us is that

if you want a part in the new age, the new order, with life to the full, you need Jesus. He's the only One that can get you there.

As Jesus said in John 14:6

"I am the way and
the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father
except through me."

In Acts 4:12 the apostle Peter said,

"Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name
under heaven given to men
by which we must be saved."

Where would we be without Jesus? Verse 4 gives us the answer. We would have no hope. There would be no salvation. Weeping and weeping would be our lot. How horrible it would be.

Whoever you are here today, you need Jesus.

Secondly, for Christians this means that

your life should be filled with praise to Jesus.

The praise of the 4 living creatures and the 24 elders ought to be summarize your life. Jesus is to be at the center of your life. You should be praising Jesus in everything you do. Colossians 3:17 says,

"And whatever you do,
whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father
through him."

But it's not to be just praising Jesus—

it's to be praise to Jesus for His death.

Your worship of Jesus is to be very personal, praising Him for His sacrifice. He died for your sins. The One you are to praise in the Lamb looking as if it had been slain.

Even in heaven, he has the marks of death about Him.

What is the significance of this?

One of the things that it means is that we should never forget His sacrifice. There are lot of things that we should be praising Jesus for. We should praise Him for His love for us. What love He has. We should praise Him for coming to earth and taking our nature upon Himself. That's what the angels did when they appeared to the shepherds. We ought to be praising Jesus for His resurrection and His ruling all things at the Father's right hand.

But we must never forget His being slain.
If we continually praise Him for His death it will have many great effects on our lives.

it will help us to hate sin and temptation. We will always remember what our sin did to Jesus and we will hate it with everything in us.

Secondly, it will help us to know assuredly that our sins have been completely taken care of. When we think of our sins, we might have a tendency to become fearful, or discouraged. But thinking of Jesus, as the Lamb, looking as if he had been slain, standing at the center of the throne—should assure us that our sins have been thoroughly dealt with. They have been paid for, completely—in the Lamb.

, it will help us to never trust in our works for our standing with God. It will constantly remind us that our sins demand death. This will check any pride that tries to enter into our lives. How can we have pride when we are looking at the Lamb who was slain?

it will assure you of how much God loves you. When we go through the trials of this life sometimes it seems that while God does love other people, He doesn't love me because of all the terrible things that are happening to me. Sometimes it seems that you're all alone and that no one, not even God, cares for you.

Consider what happens to some of those in prison. In spite of their belief in Jesus, their lives go from bad to worse. They're put away. They then get bad news from home, their wives abandon them. The parole board turns down their hope to get home to prevent things like that. Does God love them? They could look at all their circumstances and conclude that, no, He doesn't.

But if they look at the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain—they will see how dear they are to Jesus and just how much He loves them—that He loves them so much that He died in their place, for their sins.

And there are many other ways in which our lives will benefit if we constantly praise the Lamb who was slain. Think about them and continually praise the Lamb who was slain. He is worthy!