The key word for today is “sovereignty.” The dictionary defines the word “sovereign” as “a person exercising supreme authority, esp. a monarch”, and “sovereignty” as “supreme and unrestricted power.” When reading Revelation, we must keep in mind that this is a letter, written to the seven churches in Asia Minor. The churches at this time were experiencing extreme persecution. To be a Christian was to choose between safety and truth. Many believers were turning away from the faith, or selling out to the worship of the emperor in order to save their lives and property. Those who desired to cling to the gospel of Jesus were confused and appalled by the sell-outs. They were afraid, and, as they watched their property be taken away and their loved ones mercilessly tortured and killed they undoubtedly asked the question, “Where is God in all this?”
John’s answer to that question is found in chapter 4-5. God is where He always is. He is seated on the throne of the universe and is in control of everything. Let’s look at the imagery of the throne for a moment. (Please note that the following interpretation is very abbreviated and that many scholars throughout the centuries have debated the meaning of these images. I am just a mere mortal, giving it my best shot.) In front of the throne are four “living creatures”. As we discovered in Ezekiel’s vision, the imagery of these cherubim were common in the Persian religion that had so heavily influenced the Jews’ view of God. These creatures represent all life on Earth, and in the Persian tradition, were the guardians of the Temple of God. The twenty four elders represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles, demonstrating that the rulers of God’s people are present, both prior to Jesus and following Jesus. The glass sea represents the multitudes of people in the earth.
There are three major points to focus on from this passage:
- God is over everything, so don’t worry.
- Everything exists for the purpose of giving glory to God.
- Jesus, the lion who became the lamb who was slain, is on the throne and is “opening God’s scroll,” making all things right in the world.
Rather than enter into a lengthy explanation of all three points, I challenge you to meditate on them as they stand. Read them over in your mind a few times. Do you really believe them? In what ways does your lifestyle demonstrate that you believe them? How would your perspective on things change if you truly believed these statements with every fiber of your being?
The bottom line for John’s churches was this: No matter how bad things get, God is in control and justice will be served, so don’t worry, just stay focused.