I have been amazed this week at how relevant Revelation is to our lives today. Revelation 4-5 give us a picture of heaven in the form of a vision. In this vision, we see the redeemed people of God gathered around his throne to worship him and the Lamb who was slain. As I reflect on the events in our nation and the world, I see more clearly how this vision of heaven addresses all things here and now.
The throne in this vision is the place where God is, and it speaks of how he is the sovereign center of all things. Representatives from his people and from all of creation are around his throne worshiping and honoring him. There is a scroll in God’s right hand. The scroll contains the plans and purposes of God for all of eternity, being played out in human history. But the scroll is sealed, and no one can see its contents or open it up to reveal them. Then we are introduced to a Lamb. The Lamb looks to be slain, but he is standing in the center of the throne of God. He is the only one who can open the scroll and show us the plan of God that gives us hope for the future. For this reason, the Lamb is worshipped with God, as God, by all the inhabitants of heaven.
How is this vision of heaven relevant to what’s happening today on earth? Heaven helps us understand Jesus Christ. As the slain Lamb, we see that Jesus Christ is the one who died for sins to redeem sinners. Jesus became the sacrificial lamb, the one on whom the punishment for sin was laid, and the one who died in our place. This act of dying “ransomed” people for God (5:9). Jesus is the Savior we need today.
Heaven shows us our true identity. As Christians who repent of sin and trust in Jesus for salvation, we are the people of God. We are a kingdom (new people) and priests (servants and worshipers) to our God (5:10). Everyone is looking to identify with the group that represents their perception of themselves. These are identity groups. Any threat to them is a threat to our sense of being. Jesus gives us the new identity as the “ransomed people of God.” The vision of heaven tells us we will be there worshiping him. There is no threat to our identity, so there is no reason to see others as threatening to us. Instead, we invite them to join us in trusting Jesus.
Heaven gives us a new perspective on the diversity of God’s creation. This week, we have seen the division that exists in a world of diverse people. In heaven, we see the unity of God’s diverse people as they worship the Lamb. We see that Jesus “ransomed a people from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (5:9) When the redeemed people of God see the diverse people of creation, we don’t see a threat and a reason for division, we see a plan to make one new people from many. We see a Savior who extends grace and the call to salvation to us and to all.
Heaven shows us what to pursue on earth. The scene is of a new people from all the peoples of the earth worshiping God and Jesus Christ the Lamb. Today God is calling out this new people. Today he is sending out those whom he has called to call others. He is filling his church with his Spirit and with the vision of heaven so she will remain faithful to him, stay hopeful in him, and show the world what it means to be “in him.” Since this is what God is doing, this is what we should be pursuing. Jesus told us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Brothers and sisters, let me humbly exhort you to think more on the things in heaven as you think about the things of earth. We are Christians. Jesus has opened the scroll for us and given us a picture of the end that is the future. Let this vision shape your thoughts, words, and actions about the events of last weekend in Charlottesville, and the events of today in your home and workplace. Let this vision of heaven take over your life. If Revelation seems irrelevant to you, ask God for new eyes to see and new ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.