And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. Revelation 5:8–13
Read More Than Conquerors, pp. 111–113
No sooner has the Lamb taken the scroll, and thus accepted the office of King of the universe, than there is a great burst of exuberant joy in three doxologies:
A. THE FIRST DOXOLOGY, verses 8–10
These doxologies begin at places nearest to the throne. The innermost circle, consisting of the four cherubim and the four and twenty elders, taken up the opening measures of a new song. This time it is not the song of Creation but the song Redemption, the anthem of praise of the blessed Redeemer. Try to picture it and to hear it, as it were. Out of the fullness of their hearts they sing.
“Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain,” etc.
B. THE SECOND DOXOLOGY, verses 11 and 12
And now the second grand refrain. This is sung by those standing a little farther away from the throne. There they stand, tier upon tier, angles s all of them. There are so many of them that John could never have counted them. There are in fact: “ten thousand times then thousand and thousands of thousands.” Their jubilation is nothing less than a seething sea of ecstasy, as they sing again and again,
“Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power and riches,” etc.
Yes, their theme-song is Christ in all his power, riches, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing. The Lamb has all these to enjoy for himself. He has all these also to grant to his beloved ones, whatever be their need (see Matthew 11:27–30).
Who are these angels? Not the cherubim of 4:6–9; 5:8, 14, but all the other angels.
AND WHAT ARE ANGELS?
Angels are the Bearers of good tidings concerning our salvation; the heavenly Choristers, who rejoice in the conversion of a sinner; our Defenders; our Examples in obedience; and our Friends, who will convey us into the bosom of Abraham, and will execute judgment upon God’s (and our) enemies. Yes, angels, too, rejoice in Christ!
C. THE THIRD DOXOLOGY, verse 13
And now the grandest chorus of them all. John hears the combined praises of “every created thing which is in the heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth,” etc.
“Unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, be the blessing, and the honor,” etc. It is the song of Creation and Redemption combined; the anthem of praise to both the Father-Creator and to the Son-Mediator.
D. THE RESPONSE, verse 14
After every ascription of praise and adoration the cherubim say, “Amen.” The elders are so thoroughly filled with ecstasy that for a moment they cannot speak even a single word. They simply fall down in worshipful adoration! What a tremendous scene this is! What a foretaste of heaven! What a comfort even here and now, to know that literally all things—hence, also our tribulations—are governed from above!
1. Does verse 9 favor ecumenicity?
2. Do the angels love Jesus? If so, why do they?
3. There are those who say that the worship-service on the Lord’s Day as it was carried on in the early church is reflected in the book of Revelation. Do you find in this book any helpful hints as to liturgy?
4. Why do the angels stand farther away from the throne than do the elders?
5. Why is the symbolic description of the trials which believers must endure (chapter 6) preceded by the glorious Throne-vision of chapters 4 and 5?
6. How is God’s Sovereignty brought out in chapters 4 and 5? Why do you consider that doctrine important?
7. Explain the golden harps and the bowls full of incense, verse 8.