The four beasts said, Amen - Acknowledged that what was attributed to Christ was his due.
The four and twenty elders - The word εικοσιτεσσαρες, twenty-four, is wanting in the most eminent MSS. and versions.
Fell down and worshipped - Επεσαν και προσεκυνησαν· Fell down on their knees, and then prostrated themselves before the throne. This is the eastern method of adoration: first, the person worshiping fell down on his knees; and then, bowing down touched the earth with his forehead. This latter act was prostration.
Him that liveth for ever - This clause is wanting in ABC, thirty-seven others, Syriac, Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, some copies of the Slavonic, Itala, and Vulgate; and in Andreas, and Arethas, ancient commentators on this book. It is also wanting in some editions, and is undoubtedly spurious. Griesbach has left this and the above twenty-four out of the text.
Now follow the least intelligible parts of this mysterious book, on which so much has been written, and so much in vain. It is natural for man to desire to be wise; and the more difficult the subject the more it is studied, and the hope of finding out something by which the world and the Church might be profited, has caused the most eminently learned men to employ their talents and consume their time on these abstruse prophecies. But of what use has all this learned and well-meant labor been to mankind? Can hypothesis explain prophecy, and conjecture find a basis on which faith can rest? And what have we better in all attempts hitherto made to explain the mysteries of this book?
And the four beasts said, Amen - The voice of universal praise came to them from abroad, and they accorded with it, and ascribed honor to God.
And the four and twenty elders fell down, - The living creatures and the elders began the work of praise Revelation 5:8, and it was proper that it should conclude with them; that is, they give the last and final response (Prof. Stuart). The whole universe, therefore, is sublimely represented as in a state of profound adoration, waiting for the developments to follow on the opening of the mysterious volume. All feel an interest in it; all feel that the secret is with God; all feel that there is but One who can open this volume; and all gather around, in the most reverential posture, awaiting the disclosure of the great mystery.
The truths taught in this chapter are the following:
(1) The knowledge of the future is with God, Revelation 5:1. It is as in a book held in his hand, fully written over, yet sealed with seven seals.
(2) it is impossible for man or angel to penetrate the future, Revelation 5:2-3. It seems to be a law of created being, that the ability to penetrate the future is placed beyond the reach of any of the faculties by which a creature is endowed. Of the past we have a record, and we can remember it; but no created being seems to have been formed with a power in reference to the future corresponding with that in reference to the past - with no faculty of foresight corresponding to memory.
(3) it is natural that the mind should be deeply affected by the fact that we cannot penetrate the future, Revelation 5:4. John wept in view of this; and how often is the mind borne down with heaviness in view of that fact! What things there are, there must be, in that future of interest to us! What changes there may be for us to experience; what trials to pass through; what happiness to enjoy; what scenes of glory to witness! What progress may we make in knowledge; what new friendships may we form; what new displays of the divine perfections may we witness! All our great interests are in the future - in what is to us now unknown. There is to be all the happiness which we are to enjoy, all the pain that we are to suffer; all that we hope, all that we fear. All the friends that we are to have are to be there; all the sorrows that we are to experience are to be there. Yet an impenetrable veil is set up to hide all that from our view. We cannot remove it; we cannot penetrate it. There it stands to mock all our efforts, and in all our attempts to look into the future we soon come to the barrier, and are repelled and driven back. Who has not felt his heart sad that he cannot look into what is to come?
(4) the power of laying open the future to mortals has been entrusted to the Redeemer, Revelation 5:5-7. It is a part of the work which was committed to him to make known to people as much as it was proper to be known. Hence, he is at once a prophet, and is the inspirer of the prophets. Hence, he came to teach people what is to be in the future pertaining to them, and hence he has caused to be recorded by the sacred writers all that is to be known of what is to come until it is slowly unfolded as events develop themselves. The Saviour alone takes the mysterious book and opens the seals; he only unrolls the volume and discloses to man what is to come.
(5) the fact that he does this is the foundation of joy and gratitude for the church, Revelation 5:8-10. It is impossible that the church should contemplate what the Saviour has revealed of the future without gratitude and joy; and how often, in times of persecution and trouble, has the church joyfully turned to the developments made by the Saviour of what is to be when the gospel shall spread over the world, and when truth and righteousness shall be triumphant.
(6) this fact is of interest to the angelic beings, and for them also it lays the foundation of praise, Revelation 5:11-12. This may arise from these causes:
(a)from the interest which they take in the church, and the happiness which they have from anything that increases its numbers or augments its joy:
(b)from the fact that in the disclosures of the future made by the Redeemer, there may be much that is new and of interest to them (compare notes on 1 Peter 1:12); and,
(c)from the fact that they cannot but rejoice in the revelations which are made of the final triumphs of truth in the universe.
(7) the universe at large has an interest in these disclosures, and the fact that they are to be made by the Redeemer lays the foundation for universal joy, Revelation 5:13-14. These events pertain to all worlds, and it is proper that all the inhabitants of the universe should join in the expressions of adoration and thanksgiving. The universe is one; and what affects one portion of it really pertains to every part of it. Angels and human beings have one and the same God and Father, and may unite in the same expressions of praise.
The pure element of love will expand the soul for higher attainments, for increased knowledge of divine things, so that it will not be satisfied short of the fullness. Most professed Christians have no sense of the spiritual strength they might obtain were they as ambitious, zealous, and persevering to gain a knowledge of divine things as they are to obtain the paltry, perishable things of this life. The masses professing to be Christians have been satisfied to be spiritual dwarfs. They have no disposition to make it their object to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; hence godliness is a hidden mystery to them, they cannot understand it. They know not Christ by experimental knowledge. 2T 266.1
Let those men and women who are satisfied with their dwarfed, crippled condition in divine things be suddenly transported to heaven and for an instant witness the high, the holy state of perfection that ever abides there,—every soul filled with love; every countenance beaming with joy; enchanting music in melodious strains rising in honor of God and the Lamb; and ceaseless streams of light flowing upon the saints from the face of Him who sitteth upon the throne, and from the Lamb; and let them realize that there is higher and greater joy yet to experience, for the more they receive of the enjoyment of God, the more is their capacity increased to rise higher in eternal enjoyment, and thus continue to receive new and greater supplies from the ceaseless sources of glory and bliss inexpressible,—could such persons, I ask, mingle with the heavenly throng, participate in their songs, and endure the pure, exalted, transporting glory that emanates from God and the Lamb? Oh, no! their probation was lengthened for years that they might learn the language of heaven, that they might become “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” But they had a selfish business of their own to engage the powers of their minds and the energies of their beings. They could not afford to serve God unreservedly and make this a business. Worldly enterprises must come first and take the best of their powers, and a transient thought is devoted to God. Are such to be transformed after the final decision: “He that is holy, let him be holy still,” “he which is filthy, let him be filthy still”? Such a time is coming. 2T 266.2
Those who have trained the mind to delight in spiritual exercises are the ones who can be translated and not be overwhelmed with the purity and transcendent glory of heaven. You may have a good knowledge of the arts, you may have an acquaintance with the sciences, you may excel in music and in penmanship, your manners may please your associates, but what have these things to do with a preparation for heaven? What have they to do to prepare you to stand before the tribunal of God? 2T 267.1Read in context »
To the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos were revealed the things which God desired him to give to the people. Study these revelations. Here are themes worthy of our contemplation, large and comprehensive lessons which all the angelic host are now seeking to communicate. Behold the life and character of Christ, and study His mediatorial work. Here is infinite wisdom, infinite love, infinite justice, infinite mercy. Here are depths and heights, lengths and breadths, for our consideration. Numberless pens have been employed in presenting to the world the life, the character, and the mediatorial work of Christ, and yet every mind through which the Holy Spirit has worked has presented these themes in a light that is fresh and new. 6T 59.1
We desire to lead the people to understand what Christ is to them and what are the responsibilities they are called upon to accept in Him. As His representatives and witnesses, we ourselves need to come to a full understanding of the saving truths gained by an experimental knowledge. 6T 59.2
Teach the great practical truths that must be stamped upon the soul. Teach the saving power of Jesus, “in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”Colossians 1:14. It was at the cross that mercy and truth met together, that righteousness and truth kissed each other. Let every student and every worker study this again and again, that they, setting forth the Lord crucified among us, may make it a fresh subject to the people. Show that the life of Christ reveals an infinitely perfect character. Teach that “as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” John 1:12. Tell it over and over again. We may become the sons of God, members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. Let it be known that all who accept Jesus Christ and hold the beginning of their confidence firm to the end will be heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:4, 5. 6T 59.3Read in context »