Today’s Reading: Revelation 1
When music, lights, and atmosphere are what we need to get us to praise God, we have chosen cheap praise. Cheap praise needs props to inspire. Real praise needs a revelation.
In today’s reading, we’ve reached the final book of the New Testament. Get ready for a roller coaster of a ride through the book of Revelation. The book’s title and first words keep us centered and steady in a very controversial book: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” The author, John, wants us to know throughout this book that we are not looking for events to happen but for a Person to come, Jesus. The word revelation actually means “unveiling.” It’s the unveiling of Jesus. And it is this unveiling that inspires us to praise.
Notice the praise that comes out of John when he speaks of three things Jesus does: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6, NIV).
What are the three things that Jesus has done for us that inspire praise?
1. to Him who loves us
2. freed us from our sins by His blood
3. He has made us to be a kingdom and priests to God
Let this sink in. First, He loves us. We have this mischaracterization of God that if we can get rid of our sins and clean ourselves up, then God will really love us. Nothing can be further from the truth of Scripture. The word order is so important here in 1:5. He loves us before He frees us. He loves us dirty but loves us so much He won’t leave us that way in our dirt. He loves then frees us. And thank God, He continues to set us free. Or to quote a familiar saying, “He loves us just the way we are, but He loves us so much that He won’t let us stay that way.”
Second John says He freed us from our sins by His blood. Every time we celebrate Memorial Day and remember the amazing sacrifice our soldiers made for the greatest nation on the planet, I am reminded that freedom is not free. People paid with their lives to make us free. And nowhere does this price come out than in the freedom that Jesus gives us. He doesn’t just love us, He frees us. His love was costly, which John emphasizes in these three words, by His blood. Our freedom from sin cost the Son of God His life.
Third, and finally, He made us kings and priests. We have three parts to what He desires to do in and through us: love, free, and make us. To be forgiven of sins is not the end of our journey. To make us kings and priests to God and Father is His goal and purpose.
Kings and priests are two Old Testament words that were used only of special and exclusive groups of people. A king had authority, and a priest had access. And now John tells us because we are loved and free, we have access to God and authority in His name.
Then before John can go any further with this thought, he bursts into praise: “Has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 1:6, NIV). When John realizes that God loves us, God frees us, and God makes him something we have no chance of becoming on our own, he also realizes he has a reason to praise God.
When you have a revelation of who Jesus is, you recognize praise is not limited to a building, a day of the week, or a time of the day. Praise is based on your knowledge of who God is and what God has done. Cheap praise needs props. Real praise needs a revelation. And the book of Revelation gives us plenty of fuel for praise.
I grew up during a time when praise and worship came out of the book that was in the back of the pew in front of us called a hymnal. Then when I went into ministry, cassette tapes from a group called Integrity Music gave us new choruses to sing. Then songs began to expand and change as churches and ministries started writing them. We began to sing the songs of Israel Houghton and Graham Kendrick from across the Pond. And now there is Hillsong, Elevation, and Bethel. While all of these changes are good, even good music is not enough. We need good revelation. I think that’s why God saved the best for last.
For the remainder of our 260 journey, we are going to see Jesus unveiled. And when that happens, we won’t need any music. We will simply be like John and shout out, “To him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”