The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 5:9–14)

Passage Summary

Responding to the Lamb’s taking the scroll, the four creatures and twenty-four elders (cf. 5:8) sing a new song to ascribe worth to the Lamb for having ransomed a people with His blood (5:9). A diverse people, they are a kingdom of priests to God to reign upon the earth (5:9–10). Innumerable angels join the four and twenty-four and claim the Lamb worthy for all that is His to exercise and enjoy for having been slain (5:11–12). All creatures left in creation join these two groups, ascribing blessing, honor, glory, and might to the Enthroned and the Lamb (5:13). The elders “amen” and fall to worship before the judgment begins (5:14).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
5:9 Ps 40:3; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa 42:10 The psalmists and Isaiah exhort or example singing a new song to the Lord.
5:9 Dan 5:19 The various peoples God gave to Nebuchadnezzar are parallel in diversity to those ransomed by Christ to be a kingdom.
5:10 Exod 19:6; Isa 61:6; Dan 7:22b, 27a As Israel was characterized by its priesthood, so also the church shall reign with its entire constituency being a priesthood.
5:11 Dan 7:10 Each throne scene enjoys the presence of innumerable heavenly beings.
5:12 Chr 29:11–12; Dan 2:20 Blessing, wisdom, might, and glory are ascribed to the Recipient forever and ever.
5:13 Exod 20:11; Neh 9:6; Ps 146:6 Whatever creatures God created anywhere―all worship Him and will praise the Lamb.

 A Parting Thought

The great crescendo of voices and its confirming “Amen” brings a sobering worship of the Father and Son who soon are seen in wrath. What God has created would soon be seen by John to be ruled in full. Let us likewise praise God for His creation, rule, and judgment and anticipate the fullness of His kingdom to come!


Moses, Reproach, and Suffering for Christ

2016-09-07-moses_and_pharaoh_5608036782What does it mean that Moses “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb 11:26)? Did Moses understand who Christ was and thus knowledgeably suffer His reproach? Or does “the reproach of Christ” mean something else? Consider three options below suggested by others.

First, and dodging these questions altogether, some see this passage as being translated to refer not Christ but to Israel as God’s “anointed.” This translation and interpretation is similar to how the psalmist refers to Israel as “your anointed” in Ps 89:51. Thus, Moses takes the reproach of the nation upon himself as God uses him to rescue Israel from Egypt. Christ is not in view in this translation or interpretation.

Second, following the standard translation (Christ, not Israel as the “anointed” people), some see Moses as being cognizant of Christ and knowledgeably suffering His reproach in Egypt. Since Christ was the rock in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4), Moses would have known of Him then and chose to take on His reproach instead of enjoying what Egypt could offer. This choice would be similar to how Paul thought of his gain as something to be “counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Phil 3:7).

Third, some see Moses as being described in terms of the readers for the sake of encouraging the readers to persevere by faith like Moses. In this sense, just as the readers suffered reproach for Christ, so also Moses suffered a similar kind of reproach. How much Moses understood about Christ is not directly in view. Because the author of Hebrews speaks of reproach in this way elsewhere (cf. Heb 10:32–33; 13:13), this interpretation is most likely.

To clarify, Moses did know quite a bit about Christ. For example, Moses’ writings indicate he knew the Seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15) and that He would come from Israel (Num 24:17) and specifically from Judah’s tribe (Gen 49:10). His coming was future (Num 24:17), and He would be the greater Prophet to come (Deut 18:15–18).

What is not likely is that he understood Christ as well as the NT authors (cf. 1 Pet 1:10–12). It could at least be said that many things recorded by Moses certainly provide the background for understanding Christ better today: 1) the blessings of Abraham are through Christ (Gen 12:1–3, 7; 22:18; Gal 3:1); 2) Christ is a priest like Melchizedek (Gen 14; Heb 7); 3) Jesus is God the Son who was also the I AM who spoke to Moses (Exod 3:15; John 8:58); 4) Jesus is our Passover (Exod 12; 1 Cor 5:7); 5) Jesus is our great High Priest who atoned for our sins (Lev 17; Heb 8–10).

A Brief Word on Contentment

2016.08.25 - contentment pic - job 1.21If you could wish for the one thing you want most and have this wish granted, what would be your wish? What is it that you want above all other things?

The Bible speaks quite a bit about what we should want. One point for us to remember as Christians is that we already have everything we need. Anything we want beyond our salvation and perhaps some earthly necessities is really not worth our attention or affections. We should be content to have a saving relationship with God, and when it comes to earthly matters, only the bare essentials should really be our concern.

In contrast to false teachers whose passion is earthly gain, leading to chaos for themselves and others (cf. 1 Tim 6:5), we are to strive for godliness with contentment (1 Tim 6:6). We came into this world with nothing and will leave just the same (1 Tim 6:7). We should be content with food and clothing (1 Tim 6:8), and even if these basic possessions were to be taken away, we should be content with God Himself and bless Him in our suffering and simplicity (Job 1:21; Hab 3:17–19).

Being content with God alone is emphasized in other passages as well. Having little and being righteous is infinitely better than having many goods and being wicked (Ps 37:16; 84:10), especially if it was by wickedness that goods were gained (Prov 16:8). Even if one’s goods are honorably acquired, having little and fearing the Lord is greater than having much and being distracted by the practical demands of tending the treasures of this world (Prov 15:16). The saving presence of God in our lives should be enough (Heb 13:5).

For whatever needs we think should be met, we can present these needs to God in prayer, knowing He will sustain us and give us what is best (Ps 55:22; 1 Pet 5:7). Knowing He knows our needs allows us to be anxious for them no more (Matt 6:25–34).

While we often think of contentment as something to gain when void of this world’s goods, it is a virtue to obtain and exercise when we possess much as well. In Phil 4:11–12, Paul spoke of learning to be content when brought low or facing hunger and need, but his contentment was learned as well when he faced plenty and had abundance. His true joy was found not in what this passing world had to offer but in Christ Himself who strengthened him for service whether or not he fared well in earthly matters (Phil 4:13).

If you should want anything, hunger and thirst for God Himself, and He will satisfy you with Himself (Ps 42:1; Matt 5:6). For all that seems to be missing otherwise in this life, it is simply the absence of something that will pass away with this world in time. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven….seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:20, 33).

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 5:1–8)

Passage Summary

Still in the setting described in Rev 4:1–11, John now sees a scroll in the right hand of the Father, complete with writing and seals (5:1). An angel asked loudly who could open the scroll, received no reply, and John wept that no one worthy was found (5:2–4). Halted by an elder, John’s attention was brought to the Lamb and Lion who was qualified to open the scroll by virtue of His victory in His life and on the cross (5:5; cf. 3:21). Between the throne and creatures, the Lamb stood as all-powerful (seven horns) and all-seeing (seven spirits; 5:6). He took the scroll, moving the four creatures and twenty-four elders to worship with the knowledge that the Lamb was sovereign and would answer the prayers of the saints for justice against evil (5:7–8).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
5:1–2 Ezek 2:9-10; Dan 12:4 A scroll, written on front and back, is in the hand of Him who sits on the throne (Ezek; Rev). The scroll is sealed (Isa; Dan; Rev).
5:5 Gen 49:9; Judah and Jesus from Judah were both known as lions.
5:5 Isa 11:1, 10 The Messiah is the Root of David, the King who restores the Davidic dynasty.
5:6 Isa 53:7 Jesus is the Lamb who was slain for us.
5:6 Zech 4:2, 10 The Spirit sees all on earth in perfection, nothing of which escapes the very presence of God (cf. Ps 139:7; Rev 3:1; 4:5; 5:6).
5:7 Dan 7:13 The Son goes forward to receive.

A Parting Thought

Only Him who knew no sin and died as such is qualified to put down sin in its entirety. And He will―an answer to the prayer He taught us to pray―Thy kingdom come!


The Speech of Fools and Wise Men

Below is a very brief array of verses in Proverbs that describes the speech of fools and wise men. The verses below were chosen for explicitly mentioning the fool or his foolishness in speech and the wise man or his wisdom in speech as well. Many more verses on speech from the Proverbs could be added, to be sure.

These are good reminders for all of us, and you can profit the most by looking up these verses for yourself, meditating on them, and hiding them in heart. May these descriptions and admonitions take root in us in our attempt to live out Ephesians 4:29: “You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear” (ESV).

The Speech of a Fool in Proverbs

A fool is hasty to speak (Prov 29:20) and speaks his mind instead of listening and learning, bringing about his ruin (Prov 10:8, 10, 14). He delights in expressing his own opinions (Prov 18:2) and exercises no control, holding nothing back (Prov 29:11). He pours out words full of foolishness and void of knowledge (Prov 14:7; 15:2, 7). His foolish words stem from the foolishness in his heart (Prov 12:23).

His foolish words are crooked (Prov 19:1), filled with slander (Prov 10:18) and quarreling (Prov 20:3), and he is entertained and angered when presented with wisdom (Prov 29:9). His words bring about difficulty in general (Prov 18:7) and even physical retaliation (Prov 14:3; 18:6).

Because he is so characterized by foolishness in his speech, he is assumed to have nothing to offer when wisdom is needed (Prov 24:7). In fact, his wisdom is best shown when he remains silent (Prov 17:28). Even if he were to say something wise, his characteristic foolishness would make this momentary oracle of wisdom of no influence and even difficult to hear in light of his reputation (Prov 26:7, 9).

The Speech of the Wise in Proverbs

Wise speech comes from the Lord (Prov 2:2) and lodges itself in the heart of those who would be wise (Prov 2:10). A wise man speaks wisdom in general (Prov 10:31), spreading his knowledge to others (Prov 15:7). His words are persuasive in their wisdom (Prov 16:21), being carefully contemplated in his heart before they leave his mouth (Prov 16:23). His words are those to which all should listen (Prov 22:17).

He speaks when necessary (Prov 10:19), sometimes responding to foolishness and sometimes not (Prov 26:4–5; 29:9), exercising self-control (Prov 29:11) and keeping peace when he chooses to speak (Prov 14:3). When he reproves someone who listens and heeds his wisdom, his words bring healing to the listener (Prov 12:18) and encouragement to all who observe (Prov 25:12).

How much more could grace reign among us if our words were consistently wise! Let us strive towards uttering grace into the ears of others with every word we say.

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 4:6b–11)

Passage Summary

Distinct and yet similar to the creatures in Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1 and 10, four creatures were on all sides of the throne, covered with eyes on their bodies and wings (4:6, 8). Their faces were like a lion, ox, man, and eagle, perhaps symbolizing the honor, strength, intelligence, and speed whereby God through them would execute His judgment upon the world (4:7; cf. 6:1–8). Day and night they ceaselessly brought attention to the holiness, sovereignty, and eternality of the Father (4:8). When they would give such glory, honor, and thanks to the Father, the twenty-four elders would prostrate themselves in worshiping the Father, cast their crowns before His throne, and likewise ascribe to the Father worth, glory, honor, and power in light of His role as the Creator (4:9–11).

 Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
4:6 Ezek 1:5, 18 Each prophet records the presence of four creatures. (Isaiah 6 records multiple seraphim but does not specify how many there are.)
4:6, 8 Ezek 10:12 The chariot rims are full of eyes, as are the creatures recorded by John.
4:7 Ezek 1:10; 10:14 The four faces are similar, though Ezekiel’s four creatures each have all four faces in Ezek 1. In Ezek 10, an ox is switched for a cherub.
4:8–9 Isa 6:2–3; Both sets of creatures ascribe to the Father holiness and sovereignty.
4:9 Deut 32:40; Dan 4:34; 6:26; 12:7 God is Him who lives forever.
4:11 Gen 1:1 The Father created all things.

A Parting Thought

Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John describe different beings. Imagine what our awe for God shall be as we see and hear them together giving glory to Him!


The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 4:1–6a)

Passage Summary

Jesus called John to heaven to look through a door to see what would take place in the future (4:1; cf. 1:10, 19). John went up and had his second vision in the Spirit (4:2; cf. 1:10; 17:3; 21:10), which begins with a description of the Father’s throne and its background (4:2–3; cf. 5:7). The jasper is clear (cf. Rev 21:11), the carnelian perhaps a dark red, and emerald a green (4:2–3). Twenty-four men who lead heaven’s worship (see below) have their own thrones (4:4), but it is the Father’s throne that emanates glorious phenomena to bring attention to Himself (4:5). Before Him is the seven-fold Spirit, indicating His all-seeing presence, and sea of clear glass, similar to the clear jasper of his throne (4:6a).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
4–5 Dan 7:9–28 The setting is similar―both look and see thrones, fire, and the Father. Both see the Son approach the Father.
4:1 Ezek 1:1 Both see into heaven and have a vision.
4:2 Isa 6:1; Ezek 1:26–28; Dan 7:9 All four see a divine figure on a throne, whether Father (John, Daniel) or Son (Ezekiel, Isaiah; cf. John 12:41).
4:3 Exod 24:10; Ezek 1:26; 10:1 The throne of God is made of some kind of clear, heavenly stone.
4:3 Gen 9:13–17; Ezek 1:28 God displays Himself on occasion with a rainbow in the background.
4:4 1 Chr 25:1, 31 Both temples had twenty-four who ministered in music with harps (cf. Rev 5:8).
4:5 Exod 19:16; Ezek 1:13–14 Thunder and lightning sometimes accompany the presence of God, sometimes being creatures whose movements are described in this way.
4:5 Exod 25:37; Zech 4:2, 10 The Spirit sees all on earth in perfection, nothing of which escapes the very presence of God (cf. Ps 139:7; Rev 3:1; 4:5; 5:6).
4:6 Ezek 1:22, 26; 10:1 Each throne scene has something like glass or crystal in either the background or foreground.

 A Parting Thought 

“Like,” “likeness,” and “as it were”―there are no human words to accurately describe the glory of God. Be amazed!


Choke-Check: What Keeps the Word from Bearing Greater Fruit in Your Life?

2016.08.17 - thorns18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:18–19 ESV).

While this passage describes why some unbelievers never believe, it can be applied to believers who struggle to bear fruit because they struggle with these same thorns. Let’s examine the three thorns identified above.1

The Cares of the World: A “care” is a “worry” or “anxiety” and is related to whatever produces such a reaction. A busy schedule, grass to mow, a car to fix, a house to maintain, ―these cares of the world are not necessarily sinful. However, we carelessly increase these cares or care for them so much that we care more for them than how the Word is bearing fruit in our lives. Remember that these cares can choke the growth of the Word in your life. Care for what is necessary, and make sure that your chief care is not of this world―taking time to let God’s Word bear fruit in your life.

The Deceitfulness of Riches: If we are not careful, we can easily orient our lives towards the deceitfulness of riches. Excessive overtime, a side business, a second job, obsessively watching the stock market―we think we’ll have an edge or get ahead of the game with our money. In reality, riches are fleeting, and consuming ourselves with these activities robs us of letting God’s Word bear fruit in our lives.

The Desires for Other Things: The desires for other things are desires for things extra that are not necessary to life. “Cottages, boats, campers, time-shares, real estate, snowmobiles, new cares, new houses, new computers, new iStuff, new video games, new makeup, new DVDs, new downloads” are some examples.2 While these things are not inherently sinful and can be wisely managed, our desire for others things can move us to work for them, get them, and maintain them, taking away from the greater priority of tending the soil of our hearts so that God’s Word will bear fruit in our lives.

John Calvin exhorts, “Each of us ought to endeavor to tear the thorns out of his heart, if we do not choose that the word of God should be choked; for there is not one of us whose heart is not filled with a vast quantify, and, as I may say, a thick forest, of thorns” (emphases original).3

Be mindful of your thorns and tear them out. Order your life around what is most important. Set priorities and stick to them. Say no to the unnecessary, even when you’ve been saying yes for some time. Habits are hard to break, but fruit is hard to grow. Tend the soil of your heart and tear away what robs you from bearing fruit for God.

  1. This passage was brought to mind as I read through Kevin DeYoung’s Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003). Anyone seeking to free up their schedule for better “fruit-bearing” would do well to read this book. He discusses this passage on pp. 28–30. 

  2. DeYoung Crazy Busy, 29–30. 

  3. John Calvin, Harmony of the Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 116. DeYoung cites this quote by Calvin in part in his discussion as well. 

Did God Choose Some unto Damnation?

2016.08.06 - Flame

If God decreed all things, did He actively decree that some would sin, be unbelievers, and thus be punished forever? If we were to ask Jesus for an answer to this question, He might point us to His words in Matthew 25, a prophecy of the judgment of believers and unbelievers to come at His return.1

In this setting, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt 25:34).  Those on the right were blessed by Father to inherit a kingdom that He planned to give them even before the time He created the world. The Father knew who these kingdom citizens would be and planned to bless them in this way. To state it in terms of this article’s title, He decreed in eternity past that there would be a kingdom and that these blessed would be its citizens.

As for unbelievers, however, Jesus does not state that a place of damnation was prepared by the Father in like manner for them. He states to those on His left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). There is no mention of the Father, and the place of punishment was not even prepared for them but the devil and his angels. The implication is that the unbeliever is not guilty of not being one for whom the Father prepared the kingdom. Rather, the unbeliever, like the devil and his angels, rejected God and was cursed and would be held responsible for his unbelief by being punished forever.

In short, the Father prepared a kingdom for those would believe. The Father is not said, however, to have prepared eternal fire for unbelievers. In all of this, we see one of the texts in the Bible that holds the mystery of the sovereignty of God side-by-side with the responsibility of man. God did not prepare a kingdom for some, but these outcasts chose to shun His kingdom, for which they find themselves cursed and forsaken to eternal fire.

Seeing that men shall answer to God for how they have loved and lived for Him, may we implore the lost all the more to repent and turn to Him!

  1. Says Spurgeon from his Rom 9:15 sermon “Jacob and Esau,” commenting on Matt 25:41, “At the last great day, when all the world shall come before Jesus to be judged, have you noticed, when the righteous go on the right side, Jesus says, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father,’—(‘of my Father,’ mark,)—‘inherit the kingdom prepared’—(mark the next word)—‘for you, from before the foundation of the world.’ What does he say to those on the left? ‘Depart, ye cursed.’ He does not say, ‘ye cursed of my father, but, ye cursed.’ And what else does he say? ‘into everlasting fire, prepared’—(not for you, but)—‘for the devil and his angels.’ Do you see how it is guarded, here is the salvation side of the question. It is all of God. ‘Come, ye blessed of my father.’ It is a kingdom prepared for them. There you have election, free grace in all its length and breadth. But, on the other hand, you have nothing said about the father—nothing about that at all. ‘Depart, ye cursed.’ Even the flames are said not to be prepared for sinners, but for the devil and his angels. There is no language that I can possibly conceive that could more forcibly express this idea, supposing it to be the mind of the Holy Spirit, that the glory should be to God, and that the blame should be laid at man’s door.” To see this sermon in whole, go to 


What Is Propitiation?

2016.08.04 - crossWhat is propitiation? John states that Jesus “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2) and, similarly, that the Father “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). The Greek term for propitiation in these instances is hilasmos, and we can understand it better by examining related words in the NT.

Romans 3:25 uses the noun hilastērion―Christ is He “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Hebrews 9:5 uses this noun in identifying the mercy-seat in the Holy Place of Israel’s tabernacle: “Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat.”

The verb hilaskomai is instructive as well. Luke 18:13 records the tax collector’s plea, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” Speaking of Christ, Hebrews 2:17 states “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Some conclusions from above: (1) propitiation was possible in the OT through the mercy seat (Heb 9:5) but not completely as it would be in Christ (Rom 3:25); (2) Christ Himself is the propitiation (1 John 2:2; 4:10); (3) propitiation is for our sins (1 John 2:2; 4:10), the sins of the people (Heb 2:17), and the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2); (4) Propitiation was made possible by the blood of Jesus (Rom 3:25); (5) propitiation was made possible by Jesus because He was human (Heb 2:17); (6) propitiation is something Jesus has done in His service to God as our High Priest (Heb 2:17); and (7) propitiation is for those who humbly acknowledge their sin before God (cf. Luke 18:13).

From these conclusions, we can describe propitiation more fully. Being the infinitely holy God that He is, God justly responds to our sins with infinite wrath. Sadly, many experience (and others will come to know) this infinite wrath in hell, a punishment that lasts forever. Others, however, humbly acknowledge their sin before God and place their faith in Jesus who paid the infinite penalty for their sins on their behalf, made possible because Jesus is both God and man. The wrath of God was temporarily satisfied through animal sacrifice in the OT which anticipated the sacrifice of Christ (Heb 9:5; cf. Lev 16), and His wrath is now completely satisfied through Christ’s shed blood (i.e., His death on the cross).

In short, Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, meaning that He is the one who set aside the wrath of God by taking our due penalty for sins upon Himself on the cross. What an amazing Father we have to send His Son to die for us, and what an amazing Son He is to be the propitiation for our sins!