May 31st, 2020
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 80 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes, or so, we are going to be talking about getting a handle. At the time of the release of this episode, the world is going through a year that is rather pandemonic in nature. As a result, folks seem to be ignoring the simplest of reason in trade for pride and rebellion. Well, more so than usual. Not to mention that in the United States it’s a presidential election year, so that’s brewing. No matter who’s president this upcoming January though, in an effort to avoid all of that mess, I probably won’t reinstall Facebook on my phone till 2022, if even then.
All of that’s not exactly what we’re focusing on here, but it does help set the stage. Let’s look at Revelations 5:1-4 CSB, in that John writes, “ Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides, sealed with seven seals.  I also saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”  But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or even to look in it. I wept and wept because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or even to look in it.” When we read, we sometimes gloss over really meaningful statements and forget to ask ourselves probing questions like, “Why was John weeping?”
You see, John grew up under the law of Moses, what Paul calls the laws of sin and death. The law was ingrained in their culture as righteousness. They were taught that their people were special to God, that God chose to give them the law because they were worthy to have it. They were taught that following the law put them at peace with God and made them worthy of His secrets, of resurrection, and of eternity with God. John grew up, met Jesus, became His follower, and even considered himself the most valued Disciple of Jesus. He believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, he was there on the mount when Jesus was transfigured, witnessed His death where He fulfilled the law, met with Him after His resurrection, was present when Jesus rose into Heaven, was arrested for preaching Christ, dipped in hot oil for preaching Christ, was exiled to the Isle of Patmos for preaching Christ. And after all of that, John learns that despite the law and Jesus, No One is worthy. It’s more than just a disappointment, more than just a punch to the gut. It’s the end of his world. Stick with me, 'cause there’s more here, that’s not the final word.
Lately, I’ve seen the increase of an old insult. The utilization of demeaning anyone who doesn’t agree with your group's point of view to the role of sheep, and over-inflating the value of those who do see things your way to that of lion. In the New Testament, we see the icon of the lion used in two ways. The roaring lion and the conquering lion.
We find the roaring lion in 1 Peter 5:8 CSB. It says, “ Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” The roaring lion is the old, tired, and most importantly loudest lion. The roll of this lion is to stand on one side of a clearing and roar to scare prey into the waiting jaws of the younger more capable lions on the other side of the clearing. To compare someone or thing to this lion is most definitely an insult.
The conquering lion shows up in the book of Revelations, we started reading the passage earlier in Revelations 5. When John weeps he’s approached by an elder in verse 5, it says, “ Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Look, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered so that he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” This must be the lion people are comparing themselves to.
The conquering lion is a tricky one though. What if I told you the conquering lion didn’t conquer by being a lion, but by being a sheep? Turning our attention back to Revelations 5:5-14 CSB we read, “ Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Look, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered so that he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.  Then I saw one like a slaughtered lamb standing in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the Earth.  He went and took the scroll out of the right hand of the one seated on the throne.  When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and golden bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and you purchased people for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.  Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands.  They said with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!  I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say, Blessing and honor and glory and power be to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!  The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
If you’re a Christian, then I hope you recognize that being a “lion” the way it’s intended in today’s terms is the exact opposite of that which the scriptures teach us to aspire. I would even go as far as to characterize it is anti-Christian to esteem a lion as something to aspire to and sheep as an insult. Throughout scripture we are encouraged to emulate the character of Christ who is praised as a sheep, and as believers we are categorized as sheep. Looking at John 10:22-27 we read, “ Then the Festival of Dedication took place in Jerusalem, and it was winter.  Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s Colonnade.  The Jews surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”  “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify about me.  But you don’t believe because you are not of my sheep.  My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.”
In 2020 we saw Australian wildfires, the assassination of an Iranian General, a U.S. president faced and was acquitted of impeachment, The United Kingdom left The European Union, the Summer Olympics were postponed till the next summer, the democratic party nominee for U.S. president with the largest popular following dropped out of the race and endorsed the only remaining and least popular democratic party nominee, in East Africa not one, but two plagues of locusts, a pandemic grip the world putting most populations on lockdown, the state of New York, by itself, confirm more cases of coronavirus than any country in the world. All of this, and it is just now the beginning of June.
You can take a note from John and weep, or you can relax, trust, be a sheep, and follow the voice of your shepherd.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”