On a youth camp as a teenager, I remember a group of guys noticing a pretty girl walking towards us, someone said ‘wow, she’s beautiful’ and the next person to speak was Geoff who said ‘you don’t often see them in yellow.’ He was looking the other way at a Porsche 911. Everyone finds things to be impressed with or excited about. There’s a desire in all of us to honour something outside of ourselves. Annie Lennox sang ‘everybody’s looking for something.’ The problem we encounter is that nothing our eyes land on can cope with the affection we have to offer. We have a desire to worship but nothing is found to be worthy of it. We’re looking for perfection that is not available in human relationships or on the shelf.
I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Rev 5 vs 4
Pretty girls or sports cars maybe beautiful but they leave us in tears because they were never intended to be the ‘something’ that everybody is looking for. They do not have the capacity to receive the love placed inside of us by Our Maker. We get cheated out of true worship continually. It’s like we’ve been a victim of fraud. Worship that should only go to our Creator has been taken from us by creation. In Revelation 5, John has a vision that reveals to us the ‘something’ that everybody’s looking for.
Then one of the elders said to me ‘do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals. Rev 5 vs 5
The picture here is of Someone who is: perfect, up to it, able and worthy to receive the affection in our hearts. One Man who can open the scroll and unveil perfectly the purposes of God. The Lamb of God who was sacrificed and had victory over death. He’s alive. It’s this image that’s supposed to comfort the people of God who are experiencing hard times and frustrated by the resources available in a broken world. Jesus’ victory at The Cross is a lens through which we see all brokenness, suffering and disappointment. These things are not the end of the story for the people of God. The vision is of a great crowd worshipping what they were always intended to worship. We’re given a picture of the people coming from every tribe, language and nation. To honour One who can receive it.
you are worthy to take the scroll
and to open it’s seals
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation
Rev 5 vs 9
If this is the vision God grants to us to sustain us in difficult times and give us hope for the future then it’s obviously crucial how we relate to other nations and languages and tribes as we wait for that Day. The church in Northern Ireland has hit the headlines in recent days because prominent leaders such as Rev Mervyn Gibson and Pastor James McConnell have used their influence to reinforce bigotry and prejudice that has no place in Biblical Christianity. God repeatedly urges His people to be distinctive from the world by loving people with whom we disagree! Reaching out to others who are different from us and using any position of strength to bless those who are weak. The ultimate expression of God’s love for His enemies and interaction with those who are ‘other’ is that – on The Cross Jesus prays for our forgiveness and becomes the means by which we can be forgiven. Perfect sacrificed for imperfect, Sinless One becomes sin, Light steps into darkness and Life becomes death.
If we claim to be followers of Jesus [who are sent in the same way as He was] then we must be willing to acknowledge that all humans are made in the image of God and therefore have equal dignity, value and worth. We must remember that it’s only because Jesus left heaven and stepped into enemy territory on earth, that we have experienced God’s love in the first place. Only He is worthy of our worship. We must hold ‘unswervingly to the hope we profess’. Namely that ‘there is salvation in no one else’ ‘Christ died for the ungodly’ and our eternity is tied to the scandalous Good News that Jesus is the ‘Friend of Sinners.’
From every tribe and flag.