No one likes to be alone and unappreciated. A sincere ‘thank you’ goes a long way in encouraging us to continue the work before us. But consider our Lord in the days of his flesh. He sometimes trod a very lonely path to the cross. He “was despised and rejected of men … and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isa 53:3). We can only begin to imagine the awfulness of the words of Psalm 69:10-12, which inform us that he was not only reproached for his kindness but he was in fact the main subject of the songs of drunkards. Indeed, the strength of those taunts and reproaches finally broke his heart (Psa 69:20). He was scorned and hated by the very people he came to save (Isa 49:7; Psa 22:6).

Once he began his work of teaching and heal­ing, he became isolated from his family (John 7:5). He sought companionship with twelve men but, repeatedly, they were unable to understand his sayings (Luke 18:34). In the garden, in his hour of desperate need, he sought his three closest friends to watch with him for just a brief hour, but they were unable to stay awake. They could have watched with him, sympathised with him and supported him; but they didn’t.

At the time of his arrest he was betrayed by his own familiar friend (Psa 41:9) and the other eleven were scattered in every direction. As he had said to them: “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (John 16:31,32). He was alone, yet not alone. His Father never left his side, even though all men forsook him. In the words of the servant song he could find solace and consolation: “He is near that justifieth me” (Isa 50:8).

No one stood next to him at his trial. No one came forward to attest his godliness and his inno­cence. He had healed thousands and yet there was not one single individual whom he had healed who was prepared to step forward to affirm his good­ness. He who could sympathise with our needs so fully was himself without sympathy in the darkest period of his life.

Isolated though he was, he never allowed this rejection to defeat him and deflect him from his Father’s work. The natural instinct would have been to say: “You have forsaken me, so I will forsake you!” But there was none of that. There was no resent­ment, no bitterness; only a sense of unswerving trust in his Father who was always nearby. In his solitude he stood constant, courageous and forgiving. “I am not alone,” he said, “because the Father is with me.” What a powerful example he leaves for us to follow. We may feel downcast and isolated at times. We might experience rejection and loneliness and, if we do, we need to consider the example of our Lord who trusted in his Father’s presence throughout every stage of his life.

Now the Father has promised His Son “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11). The recognition he so richly deserves will one day be given by the world and will be ac­complished to the honour of his Father’s name.

 

Today, the ungodly take the name of Jesus Christ in vain at every turn. But all this is about to change very soon. The recognition that the Lord so wonderfully deserves will involve an interna­tional recognition of breathtaking proportions. We know this because the Lord himself revealed all this to John in Revelation 4-5. Imagine that – two complete chapters of the Apocalypse devoted to describing the fulfilment of God’s promise to His Son. As each scene unfolds the intensity of the drama increases proportionally. Recognition starts around the throne and ripples out across the world until every creature responds in praise.

The vision commences with the king seated upon his throne, surrounded by 24 crowned elders and four living ones. This is a symbol of the Father manifested in His Son, enthroned in Zion and sur­rounded by the saints recently rewarded with glory and immortality. The symbol of elders (presbuteros in the Greek) is a fitting representation of the saints in their role as mature and wise counsellors ruling a subdued world as kings and priests. The four liv­ing ones are the same group but in an earlier phase of the work. In this symbol they are aligned with the cherubim and seraphim of the prophets, going forth to judge the world in righteousness. Like a lion, they exercise royal leadership and dominion. Like an ox, they demonstrate strength and enduring service. Like a man, they are able to show humanity and compassion towards anyone who is prepared to submit to their king and like an eagle, they soar on the wings of the spirit in wisdom and insight.

In Revelation 4:8 these cherubic hosts are de­picted as calling out continually, “holy, holy, holy,” to the one on the throne, the Lord God Almighty. This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew title, “Yahweh El Shaddai,” which can be translated, “He who shall be the power of the powerful ones.” It is a declaration of recognition that the Father has unveiled His power in His Son and in His glorified saints and they are willing to uphold the holiness and sanctity of the Father’s Name in their work. They are all God-centred in their outlook.

This chorus from the living ones is amplified in verse 9. It is a recognition that glory, honour and thanks are due from them to the one sitting on the throne. They are first to acknowledge the greatness of the Son of God and this becomes the signal for the 24 elders to fall down before their Lord and cast their crowns at his feet (v10). All through their mortal existence they have lived in faith and acknowledged their dependence upon him, earnestly desiring to be in the Lord’s pres­ence. Now the time has arrived for them to declare that in person:

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev 4:11).

As living ones they recognise his greatness in the field of combat and victory. As elders they continue that same thankful appreciation when they rule the world in his name. They are thankful because the Lord Jesus Christ is described as initiating a new creation. His good pleasure is aligned to the Father’s good pleasure and the foundations of a new millennial society have been laid. As the “father of the future age” he has made all things new (Isa 9:6; Rev 21:5) and hence their praise is renewed with increasing appreciation in his presence.

He is now publicly declared to be worthy and deserving. It is right and fitting for him to take control of the world and the neglected recognition he has suffered at the hands of mankind for the last 2,000 years is now going to be reversed.

The word “worthy” occurs five times in this vision (4:11; 5:2,4,9,12) and each occurrence demonstrates how important this recognition of the Lord’s deservedness becomes. Sometimes we become too familiar with our weekly remembrance of the Lord’s work. But look at John’s reaction to the work of our Lord. He openly, unashamedly wept because “no man” could open the scroll and read it. Can we imagine the aged apostle thirsting to know and understand, visibly distressed because no one was worthy to unveil the future? Can we imagine the joy of hearing the news that “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book” (5:5)? No one else but Jesus Christ had prevailed over sin and death; no one else could superintend the unfolding future except him.

John describes the elation of those saints-elect looking on. As the Lamb that had once been slain arose and took the book they fell upon their faces and erupted spontaneously in song (5:9-10). It is styled a “new song” in the sense that it could never have been sung in the days of their mortality and its words express their unspeakable joy: “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

Its refrain is immediately taken up by an in­numerable company of angels who proclaim with a single voice: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (5:12). And no sooner have they finished their acknowledgement when “every creature” throughout the world echoes the same sentiments: “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (5:13).

At last the Lord will receive universal and public recognition for his wonderful work of redemption and for his worthiness to rule as king. As Psalm 72:15,17 indicate, “prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised” and “his name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.”

He once trod a lonely path of rejection but soon “every creature” will acknowledge the work of redemption accomplished in him. We may walk along a similar path but one day that will all change. We will receive the Lord’s commendation: “Well done!” and he will receive his rightful due from all the world: “Worthy is the Lamb!”