The Third Sunday of Easter
May 5, 2019
Worthy is the Lamb!
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (NIV1984)
Dear fellow worshipers of our Living Lord and Savior,
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Do you remember a man by the name of Hulon Mitchell Jr.? Perhaps you remember him by the name He gave himself— the name YAHWEH BEN YAHWEH (which when translated means Jehovah Son of Jehovah). This is how YAHWEH BEN YAHWEH describes himself: “ YAHWEH BEN YAHWEH is the THE MESSIAH that the whole world has been waiting on. Through me all Families and Nations shall be blessed. My Father JEHOVAH promised to make of me a great nation, bless me, make my name great and make me a blessing.” YAHWEH BEN YAHWEH founded the Nation of Yahweh in Southern Florida. He had thousands of followers. When we first got to Miami in 1985 the Nation of YAHWEH was in the news quite a bit. At first they were in the news because he and his followers were purchasing all kinds of property in economically depressed areas of Miami. They would clean up those areas and start all kinds of businesses. Then we started to hear that the way they got rid of the drugs and the crime was by fear and intimidation. By the late 1980’s YAHWEH BEN YAHWEH was in the news because he was charged and convicted of leading a conspiracy that was blamed for 14 killings, arson and other attacks. YAHWEH BEN YAHWEH spent eleven years in prison. Do you know what happened to YAHWEH BEN YAHWEH? On May 7, 2007 he died of prostate cancer. He was buried in Pembroke Pines, Florida on May 13. His followers maintain that even though his mortal remains were there at his funeral, he actually “ascended” into heaven.
Have you ever heard of a man by the name of Rev. Sun Myung Moon? He started the Unification Church— also known as the “Moonies.” Did you know that Rev. Moon received a coronation ceremony in the Capital building of the United States? According to The New York Times, “One congressman, Representative Danny K. Davis, Democrat of Illinois, wore white gloves and carried a pillow holding one of two ornate gold crowns that were placed on the heads of Mr. Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, at the ceremony which took place March 23 and capped a reception billed as a peace awards banquet. Mr. Davis says he held the wife’s crown and was ‘a bit surprised’ by Mr. Moon’s Messiah remarks, which were delivered in Korean but accompanied by a written translation. In them, he said emperors, kings and presidents had ‘declared to all heaven and earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity’s Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent.’” When word of this coronation ceremony got out Rep. Davis and others backpedaled and said they were “duped” and did not know the coronation was going to take place. Do you know what happened to Rev. Sun Myung Moon? He died in South Korea on September 3, 2012. His funeral (or Farwell Ascension Ceremony as the church called it) was attended by 35,000 people and live-streamed to 194 countries.
Whenever I come across people like this I shake my head and say, “Oh my!” Then I scratch my head and wonder how anyone could actually believe their claims. Then I bow my head and pray that they are brought to a knowledge of the Truth before they die and suddenly find themselves standing before the Judgment throne of the only One who truly is worthy of having the title of the Messiah, the Christ, the Lord’s Anointed One, the only One who is worthy of being praised as humanity’s true and only Savior!
As you and I continue our celebration of Easter we once again focus our attention on a portion of John’s vision of heaven as it is recorded for us in the book of Revelation. Today let’s join the hosts of heaven as they sing their glorious song of praise: Worthy is the Lamb! There are two things that we want to see this morning. First, let’s see that the Lamb is worthy of the praise that is brought to Him by the hosts of heaven. Then let’s see that the Lamb is worthy of the praise that we bring to Him today.
The key word that we are focusing on this morning is the word that is translated as “worthy.” Other possible translations for this word include: “fit” and “deserving.” This word first comes into the picture in the verses preceding our text for today. In Revelation 5:1 John writes, “Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.” This scroll contains the future. This scroll contains what the future has in store both for this earth as well as for God’s people here on this earth. Much to John’s dismay, however, no one was able to unseal the scroll; no one was able to reveal the future— because no one was “worthy.” Then John saw the “Lamb looking as if it had been slain”! Immediately a song of praise resounds in heaven concerning the Lamb: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (verse 9).
The Lamb is “worthy,” the Lamb is “fit,” the Lamb is “deserving” to unseal the scroll and reveal the future because the Lamb was willingly “slain.” The Lamb is “worthy,” the Lamb is “fit,” the Lamb is “deserving” to unseal the scroll and reveal the future because with His own holy precious blood the Lamb “purchased men for God…from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
God’s entire Plan of Salvation, my friends, has always centered on sending His only-begotten Son into this world as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Because the Lamb of God was willing to be slain for you and for me, we have now been “freed…from our sins by his blood” as we heard in our sermon text last week. (Revelation 1:5b) What is the only proper and acceptable response to all of this? The angels of heaven tell us! Look at verses 11 & 12 of our text. John writes, “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’”
What an absolutely breathtaking sight! Just try to picture it in your mind: Angels beyond number gather around the Lamb of God who has now returned Home as the victorious Conqueror and they bring Him their praise! Why do the hosts of heaven praise the Lamb of God? The angels knew, my friends. The angels knew that because of our sins— because of all of the times we have rebelled against the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, because of all the times that we have both hurt each other and failed to help each other, because of all the times that our hearts have been filled with pride and greed, jealousy and envy, because of all the times that the conduct of our lives has caused our Lord to cry— because of all of this the angels knew that all we were “worthy” of receiving was an eternity of suffering in hell.
The angels also knew that since we could not save ourselves the Lamb of God came into this world to save us! And so just as “a great company of the heavenly host” burst into a song of praise on the night the Christ-Child was born (Luke 2:13-14), and just as I am confident that the heavenly hosts burst into a song of praise the instant the dead body of the Lamb of God came back to life again, so also the angels of heaven joyfully gather around the risen and ascended Christ and they sing! They sing their glorious song of praise: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Yes, my friends, the angels of heaven proclaim the Lamb of God to be “worthy” of praise because He has now made it possible for you to live forever in the glory and the perfection and the happiness that the angels of heaven already enjoy! (See Luke 15:10)
Now look at verses 13 & 14 of our text. John continues, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
The circle of praise is widened here, isn’t it. The circle of praise to the Lamb who once was slain and is now alive again forever and ever is widened to include absolutely all of God’s creation— including you and me! When you and I stop to remember the cradle of the Christ-Child and realize that the eternal Son of God was willing to humble Himself and come into this world as our true Brother in order to save us from our own sins (Matthew 1:21), when you and I stop to remember that the cross on Calvary’s hill (Pointing to the cross) is the heavenly Father’s way of proclaiming to us just how much He loves us (John 3:16), when you and I stop to remember that Jesus’ empty grave in the garden on Easter Sunday guarantees us a glorious eternity in heaven (John 11:25-26), when you and I stop to remember how much God has done for us— how can we not join the hosts of heaven and bring our praises to the Lamb of God!
So praise Him, my friends! Praise the Lamb of God by the way that you live your life as His holy redeemed child! Praise the Lamb of God with the words that you allow to come out of your mouth! Praise the Lamb of God by the way that you treat each other! Praise the Lamb of God by telling others what He has done for them! Praise the Lamb of God by gathering together here in His house and joining your voices with the all the saints and all the angels of heaven in singing that glorious song of praise: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!”
YAHWEH BEN YAHWEH and Rev. Sun Myung Moon are certainly not the first nor will they be the last mortal sinful human beings to deceive themselves into thinking that they are “worthy” of being worshiped as this world’s Savior. What makes it even more profoundly sad is that they have deceived so many others into thinking that they are “worthy” of this honor and worship. What this reveals to us, my friends, is that even though Good Friday and Easter Sunday guarantee to us that Satan has been defeated, that does not mean that the devil is going to simply roll over and go away. Satan is willing to do everything he possibly can to divert your focus, the focus of your children and the focus of your grandchildren away from both the cross and the empty tomb of the victorious Jesus as your only source of salvation. Satan is constantly trying to plant a seed of doubt in your heart and in your mind so that you will perhaps look to someone other than the Lamb of God as being worthy of your praise and your worship.
Don’t listen to the devil no matter how “charismatic” his messengers might be and do not let him deceive you! Listen to what the Lord your God has revealed to you on the pages of His holy inspired Word! Listen to what your Savior proclaimed to you from the cross on Calvary’s hill! (Pointing to the cross) Listen to what the God of heaven proclaimed to the people of this earth when He raised His Son from the dead on Easter Sunday! Listen to the thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand holy angels as they sing their song of praise to the Lamb! Listen to all of this with the gift of saving faith that God has created in your heart so that every single day you can join the saints and the angels of heaven in singing: “Worthy is the Lamb!”
To God be the glory!