Is Elton John Right? (Rev. 4-6 & 19:11-21) [sermon notes]

Posted: March 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

A few weeks ago, Elton John stated that he believes Jesus was gay.  It stirred a lot of controversy but it goes to the whole question of who Jesus was, is and will be.  Many, like, apparently Sir Elton, have crafted their view of Jesus apart from the whole witness of Scripture.

The Bible teaches that he created everything (see John 1) and that everything exists by the very power of his thought (Hebrews 1) but do you see him as powerful? Probably night, because many of us have been led to believe he looked like the hair metal/Jon Bon Jovi Jesus and acted like the unemotional, stoic of many bad movies. 

In other words, we think of Jesus as if he were an herbal tree drinking, hybrid car driving, tree hugging, sweet albeit rather effeminate guy who just wants to give everyone a hug.

Yet, his earthly life was very different from what many of us were led to believe. 

To begin with, artists usually depict Jesus as having long hair because they confuse him being from Nazareth with taking a Nazarite vow.  Jewish men typically had very short, kinky curly hair. 

Moreover, the inspired prophets of the Old Testament stated that the messiah would look “plain.”  A few years ago a number of forensic archeologists used bones from 1st century Israel to construct what the average Jewish male would look like at the time Jesus walked the earth.  So, here is what Jesus probably would’ve looked like:

Furthermore, Jesus is eternal, so he chose his family and his family was a working class family who lived in a backward, hick town.  Nazareth was the kind of place where people grocery shopped at convenience stores, counted down the days to deer season and believed that wrestling is real. 

Jesus grew up swinging a hammer out of doors while eating a steady diet of fish, veggies and fruits, which means that he would have been cut and calloused. 

In other words, Jesus was a dude.

That is how he walked the earth but the Bible teaches that after he died he rose and then took his throne again in heaven where he sits again.

Let’s look at how Revelation portrays him now:

4:1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”

9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”

4:1-11 grants us a peek at the very throne room of God, which resemble the ancient Temple, including the 24 elders who represent the 24 orders of priests in the Old Testament.

5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

5:1-11 an archangel cannot find anyone worthy to open a scroll, or royal decree, except Jesus who is portrayed as a sacrificial lamb.  Yet, Jesus laid down his own life willingly.  Like Bruce Willis in Armageddon Jesus laid down his life to save ours. 

6:1 Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.

3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”

7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants  and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave  and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

6:1-17 this is a stunning portrait of God’s judgment on a rebellious creation led by Jesus (v.2) and followed by war (v.4), famine (v.5) and plagues (v.7).  Jesus leads war, famine and plague to kill 25% of the world!

Moreover, those loyal to God who were killed for refusing to deny Him call out for justice and God responds by demonstrating his power over nature and terrifying the world.

Now let’s look at 19:11-21

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave,  both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

Then 19:11-21, Jesus is depicted again on a white horse, which was a Parthian war horse.  The Parthians were greatly feared by Rome.

 Jesus then proceeds to destroy all of his enemies with the words of his mouth.    

Thus, the Jesus we worship was, is and will always be the most powerful force in creation.

Yet, despite all of the power King Jesus possessed before creation, while he walked on the earth, and that he possesses now and forever, he is not averse to laying down that power to save his loyal subjects.  In fact, he will sacrifice great even for one of us.

For those of you who have read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and death, have you ever noticed that Jesus hung on the cross for 6 hours. I used to wonder why 6 hours? I mean, his mission was to live a perfect life that could be imputed to his followers and die a death to pay for their sins, so, theoretically, he could have hung on the cross for 6 seconds and the act would’ve been done.  Why 6 hours?

If you read closely, you will see that after 3 hours the “thief” (“terrorist” is a better translation) asks Jesus for mercy and then 3 hours later a Roman soldier proclaims that Jesus is the son of God.  So, Jesus hung on the cross for 3 hours to save an accused terrorist and 3 hours to save a Roman soldier. 

The divine king of all creation who sustains existence by the very power of his thought suffered agonizing pain for 6 hours to save 2 people.

Jesus is a powerful but good king who is solely worthy of our humble worship and obedience as an offer of thanks for his love.  That is who Jesus was, is and will forever be.

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