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!” Revelation 5:11-12
Angels took heavenly messages to Zechariah, to Mary and to Joseph, setting up the King’s arrival on earth. They announced the birth of the Messiah to lowly shepherds. Perhaps they watched over the Christ Child as he grew from an infant to a toddler to a young boy. Angels tended to Jesus after His forty day fast and confrontation in the wilderness with Satan. These celestial beings strengthened Christ after He wrestled with the crushing decision to go to the cross.
I wonder if they watched in horror as their Lord writhed in pain from nails and thorns and verbal abuse. Did they look at the Father, hoping He would give them a sign to go and rescue the Beloved Son? Were they perplexed as to why He would go to such lengths for those simple and crude creatures who didn’t return His love?
Angels do the Lord’s bidding, usually in quiet, behind-the-scenes ways. But when the Lamb of God and Lion of Judah enters the throne room of heaven as Victor, the heavenly beings will not be able to contain themselves. Too many to count, they will lift up a song with such loud voices, the skies will reverberate. They will add as many words as they can think of to heap on their praise.
Jewish rabbis in the ancient world believed that whenever people gathered together to sing hymns of praise to God, they were joining their voices with the perpetual music of heaven. So let’s jump in.
Worthy is our Jesus — worthy of power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise and ….. and…… and……
Lord, I’d like to add my voice to the throng singing Your praise. Well done! You fought the good fight and won the day! Bravo! Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Thank you for reading along on this Lenten journey! Blessings on your Holy Week observance and your Resurrection Day celebration!
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Revelation 19:6-7
On game day at U-W Madison, Camp Randall can seat 80,321 Badger fans. The stadium is listed in the top five loudest venues in college football. Things really get rocking between the third and fourth quarters when the “Jump Around” tradition cuts loose. Eighty thousand people jumping up and down create seismic movement that has been measured on a Richter scale two miles away from the stadium.
That’s nothing compared to what we have in store for us when we hear the great multitude roar in heaven as the triumphant Lamb of God takes His place on the throne. John did his best to explain what he saw in his vision, but there just weren’t words for this scene. He heard a sound that was something like a stadium full of cheering people. It sounded something like rushing water at flood stage or kind of like booming thunderclaps. John witnessed a tremendous uproar as millions upon millions shouted in unison, “Hallelujah!”
In the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, John the Baptist was the first to recognize the Messiah by saying, “Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” At that point, no one was cheering and there were no “Hallelujahs”. That was before the cross.
A total and complete victory over Satan, sin and death took place on Mount Calvary. The Romans may have intended the cross to be an instrument of torture, but Christ turned it into a symbol of triumph. And one day we will add our voices to the great multitude, roaring His renown with peals of praise.
Lord, I have yet to experience the most exciting event in my life. The day I join in Your victory celebration at the close of the age will be like nothing I’ve ever seen or heard. Hallelujah!
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. Joel 3:14-16
When C. S. Lewis chose a character to represent Christ in the Narnia series, he didn’t think twice. A lion was the perfect central figure in the retelling of Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection.
From “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”:
“Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
The only place in scripture where Jesus is referred to as a lion is in Revelation 5:5, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.” In the next verse, Jesus appears as a Lamb. So what was He? A Lion or a Lamb? The answer is “Yes.”
Jesus was led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7), but He roared from Zion. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” it was not spoken with a weak gasp. Oh no. This was a triumphant shout of victory! Every bit of every person’s sin in the past, present and future was stamped PAID IN FULL. The cup of suffering was drained, as life drained out of the Son of God. His voice rent the air, “Done!” Complete. Accomplished. Fulfilled. Nothing left unfinished.
We are among the multitudes in the Valley of Decision. The great day of Jesus’ return to earth is near and we must choose before He comes. Will you follow Jesus, a Lion-King who is not safe, but good?
Lord, Your voice of triumph filled the air on that day. I look forward to another day when with a shout and with the trumpet call of God, You will return to rule and reign. Oh, victory in Jesus, my Savior forever!
Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15
The Message version of Colossians 2:15 says it like this: “He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.” Now that’s a word picture for you! It may seem to us like a strange thing to say, but everyone in Paul’s day knew exactly what he was talking about.
“Upon conquering an enemy, the Romans would hold a parade. They would take the conquered king, strip him naked, and drag him through the crowd behind the conquering king or commander for all their subjects to see. He would be humiliated and insulted, but that’s not all. They would also cut off the thumbs of his hands and the big toes of both feet. This was to assure the subjects this enemy would never be a threat to any of them again. He could not hold a sword and he would never be able to run again. There was no need to fear him any more. Any rumor about him ever challenging Rome again would be scoffed at because the citizens had seen him in the parade.” (Andrew Wommack)
This is what the cross did to Satan. Jesus not only beat the devil, but He had a triumphant procession to display the devil to the universe as a totally conquered foe. Rumors have been circulating for centuries that Satan is still a powerful opponent to be reckoned with, but that’s not true. All our enemy has left are lies and fear. When temptation or attack comes our way, we just need to remind the devil that Jesus triumphed over him at the cross and that he has been stripped of his authority and power. Tell him you were at the victory parade.
Lord, thank You for disarming the powers of evil by putting them on public display and shaming them in front of the whole world. Help me to resist Satan’s lies and stand firmly on the truth that You have conquered the enemy.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32
The Old Testament patriarch, Abraham, experienced the forbearance of God. When God decided to wipe Sodom and Gomorrah off the map because of their heinous sin, Abraham began to wheedle with the Almighty, saying, “For the sake of fifty righteous people would You spare the place? How about forty-five? What if there’s only forty? Would You spare it for thirty? Maybe twenty? Ten?” Later, Abraham took his son to Mount Moriah in obedience to God’s command to sacrifice the boy. But at the last second, God provided a ram instead, sparing Isaac’s life and Abraham’s grief.
God spared Lot from destruction in Sodom, He spared Noah from the flood, and David from Goliath. Paul’s life was spared in a shipwreck and Peter was rescued from prison. Yet, God did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us. What can we possibly say to that? Certainly, we can trust the heart of the Father who would go to such extreme lengths to rescue us!
There is an old story of a ship passenger who lived on crackers and cheese all the way across the Atlantic ocean only to learn that his meals were included in his ticket. Likewise, our salvation includes more than pardon from sin, deliverance from hell and a ticket to heaven. It includes all that we need while on our earthly journey.
If there had been a limit on what God was willing to do in order to save us, surely He would have kept back His own Son. But no, God gave His very best, so we can trust that anything we need will be small potatoes in comparison.
Lord, what can I say in light of all You have done for me? You have spared me even though it cost Your Son His life. I know I can trust You to take care of everything else.
Today we enter into the sixth week of Lent
and we consider Jesus’ sixth statement from the cross.
Word of Triumph:
When he had received the drink, Jesus said,
“It is finished.”
he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Triumph: to gain a victory, to prevail
to win, to conquer
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin….I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20
Christ wasn’t the only one crucified on that Friday at Golgotha. And I’m not referring to the two thieves on either side of the Savior. I’m talking about you. And me.
When Jesus died, He took part of us with Him. The Apostle Paul called it “the sinful nature” or “the flesh”. Jesus took that person we used to be and gave us a new spirit to take its place. As believers in the resurrected Savior, we now have power to resist the sin that always tried to enslave us. Although we will never be “sinless”, we can sin less because of the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
In Roman times, if a person was convicted of murder, the punishment was to strap the body of the victim onto the back of the murderer. He was sentenced to carry that dead body around for the rest of his life. Without going into detail, I think we can imagine how gross that would be. By His crucifixion, Jesus untied that old dead weight of our sinful nature and carried it with Him to the cross. It’s dead.
If we have been crucified with Christ, then that means His victory is our victory. As Paul said, “If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” (Romans 6:5) “In the same way look upon yourselves as dead to the appeal and power of sin but alive and sensitive to the call of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:11, JB Phillips)
Dear Lord, before I came to saving faith, I had no power within myself to resist sin. Thank You for taking that part of me to the cross and putting it to death. I don’t want to carry that dead body around anymore. Give me Your Spirit — breathe Your life into me and make me sensitive to Your call.
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who desires take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17
Jesus opened his ministry on earth by calling out to fishermen casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee: “Come, follow me!” Later, He sent out invitations to the tired and poor: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened.” Jesus made it clear to His disciples that children were included in the Kingdom: “Let the little children come to me.” In the final words of John’s Revelation, the Spirit once again calls out, “Come!” It seems fitting that the Bible should end with yet another invitation. Our God is a gracious Father, continually bidding us to come.
He understands our thirst for meaning and purpose, so He holds out the gift of eternal life to anyone who desires it. The free gift of salvation came at a great cost, however.
After six hours on the cross, the purchase price of salvation had been paid with the blood of the Son of God. Just hours earlier, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had asked the Father three times to let the cup pass. The “cup” represented the suffering He would experience as He received the wrath of God unleashed upon Him for our sins. Jesus was hoping for a way out of drinking down the sin of the world. Yet, He said, “Not my will but Yours be done,” and He agreed to drink the cup of suffering, the entire cup, down to the dregs.
As Jesus was nearing the end, perhaps He was pointing to the fact that the cup was now nearly empty and that He didn’t want to miss a drop. His own thirst for our salvation compelled Him to leave nothing unfinished, no sin unaccounted for.
Lord Jesus, my heart aches with sorrow knowing my sin held you on the cross. And now, instead of the punishment I deserve, You offer me the free gift of life. Your victory over death changed everything, including me.
It’s been a big weekend!
We now return to our regularly scheduled Lenten devotional series.
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Isaiah 55:1-2
Pastor John Piper calls this passage “The Great Invitation”. Through the prophet Isaiah, God calls out, “Hey! Hey, you! Come! No really! Come on! You’re invited!” How kind of God to beg His own creations to come to Him.
Two types of people are invited to God’s party. The first are those who have nothing to contribute. They have no money, no means to pay for what they need, but they are thirsty. God says, “Even though you have no resources, no power, no prestige, no pull, you are just the kind of person I want. Come and enjoy the banquet!”
The second group of people who are issued invitations are those who have plenty of money to spend and plenty of strength to work, yet are unfulfilled and empty. They are just as thirsty as the others, but think they can pay or work their way to satisfaction. God urges them to come as well.
What does God offer at His banquet? Water for refreshment, milk for nourishment and wine for good spirit and cheer. Piper writes, “God is willing to revive us from the heat of Death Valley with the miracle of his water; and make us strong and healthy and stable with the miracle of his milk; and then give us endless and ever-fresh exhilaration with the miracle of his wine.”
How will you respond to this invitation? It doesn’t matter if you are short on cash or rolling in riches, your soul thirsts for truth and life. Come to God’s banquet and see what it’s like for your soul to delight in the richest of fare.
Lord, this is an invitation I can’t refuse. Here is my RSVP: count me in. I bring only myself and my thirst. Thanks for Your generous hospitality.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
Reading the gospels is kind of like listening in on Jesus’ conversations with people. Have you noticed that Jesus didn’t talk the same way to everyone? He figured out where people were coming from first, and then geared the discussion around their frame of reference. For instance, when Jesus faced the teachers of the law, he chose legal jargon: valid testimony, execute judgement, witness, evidence, investigate, proof. But when he talked to the woman at the well he used words like water, thirst, drink, spring. The Master didn’t talk about living water to the lawyers; He didn’t use legal vocabulary with the woman at the well.
In John 4, an interesting conversation takes place between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. She comes to draw water and Jesus asks her for a drink. She is surprised a Jewish man would even talk to her. Jesus mentions “living water” and she asks, “Where can I get some of that?” She thinks Jesus is talking about H2O, but He’s really talking about eternal life. As a result of their conversation by the well, a two day revival takes place in Samaria.
True satisfaction will never come from external sources. It’s like trying to fill a bucket that has a hole in the bottom. We keep straining and striving to find contentment from things that can’t promise fulfillment. We try shopping, partying, jumping from relationship to relationship, counting “likes” on social media and binge-watching Netflix. Jesus offers an internal source that is like a spring of water — pure, refreshing, deep and unlimited. His life in us wells up and overflows.
Lord, I want what You have. This world just doesn’t deliver what I most desire. Pour Your living water into my soul and I will be satisfied. I choose to let You fill me on the inside so Your love, joy and peace show on the outside.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2
A young man asked a wise elderly teacher how he could find God. The gentleman asked the young man to come with him to the river. The young man expected to receive some wise words along the riverbank. But when they arrived, the old man walked out into the water, so the young man followed. Suddenly, the teacher grabbed the young man and forced him under. The seconds ticked by and the young man began to fight against the firm grip holding him down. Right before everything went black, the hand released him and he blasted out of the water, gasping for air. As he gagged and choked, he shouted, “What were you doing? Trying to kill me?” The teacher said, “When you want God as much as you wanted that breath of air, you will find Him.” How much do you want God?
There are two possible reasons why a deer pants and searches for water. One, it has been on the run. Perhaps a predator or hunter has given chase and the animal is faltering under the pressure. Two, it has been living in drought conditions and the heat is taking a toll.
These same reasons should drive us to seek out the living God. First, we can spend all our lives running — chasing after security, significance, wealth, fame, or affirmation. The pace and pressure of constant striving wears us out. We need rest for our souls that only God can give. Second, we may experience times of dryness — periods of emptiness that come with disappointment or failure. We need living water to bring life back into our desert and refreshment to our spirits.
A panting deer, desperate for water, seeks until it finds relief.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
Dear Lord, I want more of You in my life — more of Your guidance, more of Your assurance, more of Your grace. Slow me down when I am running ahead of You. Lift me up when I am faltering. Help me to seek You with all my heart.