My last installment in this series of teaching Revelation to children covered the first three chapters of that book. The fourth chapter was covered in a blog entry I made several months ago and is entitled “Teaching Revelation to Children”. Now we get into the hardest teachings of this book: the judgement of God on our sinful earth. I recommend having a parchment and some sealing wax available when teaching this chapter so that the children can understand what seals are.
Remember that God was sitting on His throne surrounded by the 24 elders and the four living beings as they all worshiped Him. Then John noticed that God was holding in His hand a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. (Hold up a paper rolled up once. Light a candle or a stick of sealing wax and drip wax on the roll of paper, sealing it shut. You may want to do this before class, although doing it in front of the students would be cool. You can make all seven seals, or just do it once to demonstrate how it’s done.)
As John noticed this scroll, a mighty angel called out, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth was found who was able to open the scroll and read it. John realized in his spirit that this scroll was really important, because he wept when he realized that the scroll could not be read. That’s when one of the 24 elders spoke to John and assured him that he did not need to weep. “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and break its seven seals.” Now, who would the Lion of Judah and the Root of David be? It’s Jesus, of course. He is called the Lion of Judah because He is of the tribe of Judah, the tribe of Israel that David and all the kings after him was from. He is called the Root of David because although the line of kings had been cut off, Jesus as the descendent of David is the true king of Israel.
John looked around for Jesus or for a lion, but what he actually saw was a Lamb. This Lamb looked as if it had been killed. Its throat was cut like a lamb that was to be sacrificed on an altar would be. And yet, it was standing up, as alive as could be. The Lamb was, in fact, now sitting on the throne where God had been just seconds before! Why do you think that is? Jesus IS God, isn’t He? Here’s another strange thing about this Lamb on the throne. He had seven horns and seven eyes. Remember that seven is the number of perfection or completion. Horns are symbols of power, so since Jesus had seven horns, His power is perfect and complete. Eyes are symbols of–bet you can’t guess! Seeing! Since Jesus has seven eyes, He is all-seeing; His vision is perfect and complete. The eyes also represent wisdom. Jesus’ wisdom is perfect and complete as well. John identified the seven eyes of the Lamb with the seven Spirits of God. Remember that in an earlier lesson we said that the seven spirits of God symbolized the fact that all of God’s works are perfect and complete. Jesus’ work, bringing us salvation, is perfect and complete. There is nothing more He needs to do to save us. His death on the cross and His resurrection is all that was needed.
John then tells us something very interesting about the 24 elders that were sitting around the throne of God. He says that each of them held a golden bowl of incense, which contain the prayers of believers. Think about that for a minute. I’m sure you are aware that your mom has saved many of the pictures and notes and presents you given her over the years. They are precious to her because you gave them to her out of love. God does the same thing! He saves all our prayers to Him and keeps them right by his throne where He can see them all the time. Our prayers are even more precious to Him than any present we might have given to our parents. Isn’t that amazing? Doesn’t that make you want to pray to Him more often, now that you know how much he treasures our prayers?
When Jesus takes the scroll with its seven seals, the 24 elders and the four living beings surrounding the throne of God fall down before Him and worship Him. They sing a wonderful song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
Did you ever think about the fact that Jesus actually bought and paid for you? The price He paid for you was His own life’s blood. And because we are now His, He is going to make us rulers over the earth when He returns.
After this song was over, a multitude of angels began to sing. They encircled the throne and sang this song:
“Worthy is the Lamb, Who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
Of course, Jesus already has all of those things. All the power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and praise in the universe already belongs to Him. The meaning of the song is that Jesus is worthy of all these things. That is what the word “worship” means. The original word was “worth-ship”, to attribute worth. When we worship, we are telling Jesus that He is worth all we can give Him and more.
After this song was finished, John says that every living created being in heaven and earth began to sing. Have you ever thought about the fact that animals and plants praise God? We can’t hear them, but God can! In fact, Jesus once said that if humans didn’t praise Him, the rocks of the ground would break out in praise! Here is the song which John says all living creatures sang to God:
“To Him Who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
After this worship service, Jesus began to break the seals that closed up the scroll. Each seal was a judgement on the earth. The first four were what we now call the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Apocalypse is just another word for Revelation. It means to uncover. The Four Horsemen, who were sent out from heaven to the earth as Jesus opened the first four seals, were War on a white horse; Violence on a red horse; Famine, or Hunger, on a black horse; and Death on a pale horse. The earth will in the end experience everything we’ve asked for. If we insist on making war on each other, we will get war and all that goes with it–bloodshed, hunger, disease, and death.
When Jesus opened the fifth seal, John noticed under the altar before God’s throne the souls of people who had been martyred, people who had been killed because they believed in Jesus. These martyrs asked Jesus how much longer it would be until they received justice. They were given white robes and told to wait just a little bit longer.
When Jesus opened the sixth seal, there was a great earthquake. The sun turned black and the moon turned red like blood. The stars fell from the sky and the mountains and island on earth moved out of their places. This was God’s judgement on those who rejected His Son and refused to accept His gift of salvation. This judgement was not so much a punishment, though, as it was a final plea from God to come to Him. “This is what will happen if you don’t accept Me,” He was saying. Even then, the people had the opportunity to be saved. But most still would not accept God. Aren’t you glad you have already made that decision to accept Jesus and follow Him? No earthquake or falling stars can harm your eternal soul, because you already belong to Jesus.