WORTHY IS THE LAMB Based on Rev. 5:1-14
By Pastor Glenn Pease
Colonel John Howard was ordered to retreat in the Revolutionary War. But as he did, the British started to charge, and he decided to surprise them. He ordered his men to attack. They did and won a smashing victory for which he received great honor. But General Morgan reminded him, had his plan failed he would have been shot for disobeying orders. His decision could have led to disgrace rather than honor. Opposites can be so close, and in the case of Jesus as the Lamb of God, these opposites comes together as one. The disgrace of the cross became the basis for Jesus to be honored, not only for all history, but for all eternity. A song we will never cease to sing is the song, Worthy Is The Lamb Who Was Slain. Every joy and every pleasure of the eternal kingdom will be ours because of his sacrifice for us.
After ten billion years we might forget every aspect of the history of earth and time, but we will never forget this song. Rev. 5 is the worthy chapter of the book. Out of 7 uses of the word in Revelation, 4 of them are here in this chapter, and they all refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God who died for the salvation of a lost world. This song of heaven exalts Jesus in a way no other does, for it is not just the redeemed humanity that praises His worthiness, but the angels, and all the beings of creation. We are focusing on verse 12 which is the angelic chorus portion of this grand universal musical.
The whole creation joined in one,
To bless the sacred Name,
Of Him that sits upon the throne,
And to adore the Lamb.
I think the church has underestimated the roll of angels in the whole plan of God. This text tells us they are together as a multitude beyond number praising the worthiness of the Lamb just as loud, if not louder, than the redeemed. I fear we have underestimated the cosmic consequences of the cross. We are told that angels cannot know what it is to be redeemed by the Savior, and there is no doubt truth to this, for they were never lost. But Christians have gone to far in separating the angels from the joy of salvation. They know and feel more than we realize. They are the ones who rejoice over every sinner who repents. They are the ones who sing of the Lamb being worthy of 7 things: Power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise. Seven being used all through the book for completeness and totality. In other words, there is nothing imaginable for which Jesus is not worthy of honor.
The angels actually know more about what Jesus deserved and merits for His sacrifice than do the redeemed. We tend to want to make salvation man-centered, but the fact is, the Bible expands the picture to include all of creation, and the angels are deeply affected by this. It is superficial, therefore, to put the angels down as does Anna Grannis in her poem:
There's a song the angels can never share
While the endless ages roll;
The song of one who has been redeemed,
The song of a ransomed soul:
Shall we sing it together, thou and I,
With the wondering angels standing by?
Shall we sing it there in the courts above-
The heaven gained through redeeming love?
Our text tells us it is not so. The angels are not just standing by. They are singing just as loud as the saints. They understand that Jesus deserves every honor that heaven is capable of bestowing. To be worthy is to deserve what you get. We are not worthy of the least of His favors. We are saved totally by His grace. But Jesus is exalted as King of Kings and Lord of Lords because He earned that honor. He deserves it, and every knee will bow to Jesus because He is worthy. Aristotle said three hundred years before Christ, "Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them." The whole point of heaven's praise is that the Lamb of God deserves all the honors He receives. The greatest rewards in heaven will be given to Jesus, for He alone deserves them. We can't consider all 7 of His honors but I want to select three to focus on that all began with the letter W. Worthy is the Lamb to receive Worship, Wealth, and Wisdom. These represent all of which He is worthy. The first is the word praise which is the same as worship.
I. HE IS WORTHY OF WORSHIP.
We need to grasp this basic truth that praise or worship is not to be founded on the worthiness of our circumstances alone. When all is well and we flourish under showers of blessing, we naturally praise our Lord with hearts full of thanksgiving. But we can easily let this lead us to conclude that our blessings are what makes Jesus worthy of worship. The fact is, He is just as worthy when we are up to our knees in mud, because the showers of blessings have become a cloud burst of calamity.
His worthiness does not hinge on our well-being. That is a great aid in helping us praise, but we need to see Jesus as worthy and richly deserving of praise even when we are going through terrible days. Sammy Tippit, founder and president of God's Love In Action, and international evangelistic ministry, tells of his discovery of this truth in his book, Worthy Of Worship. He was leaving for Romania where he had preached before and saw many come to Christ. The night before his flight he had an accident in which he totaled is car. No one was injured, but he had to board the plane with a heavy heart, for he was leaving his family without transportation. He felt down and lonely. The next day he joined two friends in Budapest and boarded a train for Romania. When they arrived at the border, soldiers came aboard and said, "Mr. Tippit, please take your luggage and come with us." He tired to ask what was happening, but got no response. The train pulled out with his two friends looking out the window. He felt so bad the tears began to well up in his eyes. He was tired and lonely, and felt God-forsaken. But in that dark moment the Holy Spirit brought to his mind the song, Great Is Thy Faithfulness. He began to sing it. Great is thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed thy hand hath provided. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me."
The guards looked at him like he was crazy. It didn't make sense to him either, for his feelings were not in conformity with those words. He had to make a choice: Do I follow my subjective feelings, or the objective revelation of God? He decided to praise the Lord for who He was, and not focus on the mess he was in. He began to sing praise songs, and had a private worship service. His feelings began to lighten, and a sense of peace and joy replaced his sense of defeat. His crisis did end, and he was on his way, but he learned a vital lesson for life. Jesus is worthy of praise, not just in good times, but always. When we practice this truth we will find our bad times are easier to endure. Paul and Silas were praising the Lord at midnight in a dungeon locked in stocks. It is not the environment that is likely to produce praises, but the never changing reality that Christ is worthy, regardless of the setting, made them sing to him who is ever worthy of our praise.
Tippits experience again illustrates the point. He was in a small village in a mountainous part of Germany. He went jogging even though a fresh foot of snow had fallen. For the first half hour it was complete drudgery, for he kept his eyes on the ground. He was getting exhausted as each step became more difficult. Then he looked up and saw a view that was magnificent as the mountains and trees sparkled in the sunlight. It was awesome, and he decided to slow down and look at the splendid scenery. His run was now and immense delight, and he enjoyed renewed vitality because of where he placed his focus. Again, the lesson is, look to Jesus and get your eyes on the glory. If you look at the hard road and the heavy load life can be a burden. But get your focus on the brightness of His glorious whiteness, and the unchanging worthiness of his praise, and the burdens grow lighter, and this world becomes brighter.
The basic issue in worship is not, is the choir worthy, is the soloist worthy, is the organist or pianist worthy, is the pastor worthy-the issue is, is Jesus worthy? And if He is, then we can worship and praise Him regardless of all other short comings. They are aids to worship, but if the aids fail to achieve the goal appointing us to Jesus, then we have an obligation to look beyond the aids to Him who is worthy, and let His worthiness alone be our aid to praise.
The point is, there is never an excuse to fail in worship. No human defect, or flaw in the circumstances, can rob us of our joy in praise if we look to Jesus. There is no end to what is not worthy of praise in even the best efforts of men to glorify God. If the works of men are your focus, you will be a complainer and a disturber of the peace. But if your focus is on the works of Christ, you will be an never ending praiser and distributor of peace. You have a choice in life as to where you will put your focus. If you choose to focus on what is bad in the body, you will be dominated by negatives, for the body has endless defects. But if you chose to focus on what is good in the Head, you will dominated by positives, for the Head has endless perfections. It's a matter of, heads you win and tails you lose, for the body is often not worthy, but the Head is never not worthy of worship and praise. Next, we note of the Lamb of God that-
II. HE IS WORTHY OF WEALTH.
In other words, if anybody in history is worthy of being rich forever, it is Jesus. There are a lot of people who are rich who do not deserve to be. They have acquired their wealth at the expense of the health and well being of others. By drugs or pornography, or even by murder, there are those who are millionaires. There status as rich will be very temporary, however, for they are not worthy.
Others have produced products that are of great value to life, and they became wealthy in a way that is deserving. Firestone made a tire that race track drivers trusted with their lives. From 1920 to 1966 every winner of the Indianapolis 500 came in on Firestone tires. People made him a rich man because they said it's worth the price for his product, and so he is worthy of wealth.(How times change!)
When the doctor has the skill to save your life you are grateful, and you pay your bill feeling they are worthy of wealth, for they have restored you to health. There are many who receive riches who are deserving of them. How much more the Great Physician who has found a way to heal all our diseases forever? He alone has the cure for that which robs us of health and wealth, and our relationship to God. Sin robs us of our identity as children of God. Sin is a plague that is so devastating it makes all the other plagues of history look like acne in comparison. Find a cure for sin, and you have the greatest hero of history, for he will be the benefactor of all mankind, and the entire creation of God.
That is what the song is all about. The Lamb who was slain was that hero, and He is, therefore, worthy of wealth. The richest person in eternity will be Jesus, and rightly so, for he did what no other could do. Isaac Watts expressed it in his hymn-
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away.
A sacrifice of nobler name,
And richer blood than they.
Nobody will ever walk down the golden streets of the New Jerusalem and complain, "How come the Lord Jesus has a palace the size of the Mall of America, and the rest of us only get these 50 room mansions?" No one will ever envy the fact that Jesus will be the riches being in the universe with more jewels on the doorknob of His palace than are in all the crown jewels of Europe. There will be no envy of the luxury beyond our wildest dreams, but rather a sincere song of praise acknowledging that He, and He alone is worthy of such wealth. We will love the lavish luxury of our Lord, for we know there is no way we can adequately reward Him for what He has done for us. Thank God the Father that He has a way of richly rewarding His son even in a context where all will be rich forever.
Have you ever thought of it: If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, you can tell people that you have an older brother who is richer than the richest men in the world. There are billionaires, but I haven't heard of any trillionaires yet. But even trillionaires are not in the class with our older brother in the family of God. If Jesus gets the wealth He deserves, then He inherits all the riches of God, and as King of Kings and Lord of Lords possesses the wealth of the universe. We are talking about figures so astronomical that in comparison the combined wealth of all the nations of the world is equivalent to the value of the mineral deposits under your little finger nail.
That is why heaven is so full of the songs of praise. That is all you can give to the man who literally has everything. There is nothing we can add to the wealth of Jesus. All we can offer Him is the sacrifice of praise. That is why we will enjoy the angels in all creation in singing forever-worthy is the Lamb to receive wealth. Next we see-
III. HE IS WORTHY OF WISDOM.
Solomon was the wisest man in history, but that was due to God's grace, and not his worthiness. He became very unworthy of God's favor and suffered judgment. But a greater than Solomon is here as the theme of heaven's song. Jesus was the wisest man in history, and will be for all eternity, and He deserves it. He earned His degree in the school of hard knocks, and is worthy to have the very mind of God knowing all that can be known, and having the wisdom to use that knowledge for the good of all, and the glory of the Father.
No one else in all the universe was worthy to open the scroll of heaven and see the future. The spotless angels who never fell were not worthy. The geniuses of history who were already in heaven were not worthy. Only one being existed worthy of sharing the very mind of God. He only had the wisdom to look beyond the moment and obey God at any cost. This is where all others have fallen short of being worthy. Lucifer could not see the glory of the long-run. He wanted the glory of the moment, and so in folly he fell from grace. Adam and Eve could not see the glory of obedience to God, even when they did not understand. They grasped for the glory of the moment and they fell. It is the story of all God's creatures, but Jesus came on the stage of history and was offered fame and fortune and power if He would bow to Satan, but He had the wisdom to say no to the glory of the moment so that He and we might enjoy the glory of forever. Nobody else ever had that kind of wisdom. His ability to see the long-run, and the long range picture, is what made Jesus the wisest man to ever live, and thus worthy of wisdom forever.
If that is heaven's estimate of Jesus, then we need to enter into that estimate on earth and recognize Jesus is worthy of our best. He is worthy of our best thinking and planning, and worthy of excellence in all that we do. We are to love Him with all of our mind, and give heed to Paul who says, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." We are to be wise and not foolish. We are to live and think and create on a level of excellence that conveys this conviction-worthy is the Lamb to receive wisdom. He does not receive it from God the Father, but He only receives it from us when we are conscience of His worthiness and present ourselves, body, mind, and spirit, as living sacrifices for His glory.
He is worthy of our best now and for all eternity, because He alone had the wisdom to figure out how to turn filthy ragged sinners into white robed saints. J. W. Ham tells of his wonder at visiting a paper mill where he saw a huge pile of dirty rags thrown into a vat and made into pulp. Then chemicals were added, and this stuff was rolled out into pure white paper for people to write messages of love on, and send to loved ones. Man is deserving of honor and reward for the wisdom of this process that benefits us all. How much more the Lamb of God whose wisdom devised a way to turn the filthy rags of our righteousness into the white robes of redemption, making us acceptable in the presence of God?
Wise are we who will not wait
To in His praise participate,
But right now on this present date
Join all heaven to celebrate.
Let us never cease to sing, worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive worship, wealth, and wisdom, and every other honor conceivable. As part of the Bride of the Lamb, this is our song now and forever-worthy is the Lamb.