Rev. 4:1-6; Rev. 5:6-14.
J. A. Trench.
Article 38 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.
One is almost afraid to say anything about such a scene as this, lest one should detract from its glory, and hinder our own joy in contemplating it. My thought about it is that which forms our link with the scene. It is nothing less than He who is the central object of it all, the One around whom we are gathered. In reading Revelation 4 you cannot fail to feel that in all the glory of it — wonderful as it is — there is a lack, something wanting to fix the heart. John finds in it no home object; but this lack is more than filled up in chapter 5, when we get for the first time the centre of all these circles of glory. "In the midst of the throne, and of the four living creatures and of the elders, stood a Lamb." They said to John, "behold the Lion," and he looked and beheld a Lamb! yes, and a Lamb as slain. John recognises in Him the very One he had known and loved on earth. His first sight of Him in heaven is in the same character, too, as that which had first attracted him away from all else, to follow Jesus on earth.
It was at the testimony of the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God" that his two disciples dropped off from him, and followed Jesus. Peter's brother Andrew we know was one of them, and I have no doubt the nameless one was John himself, for he avoids mentioning himself in writing the Gospel. Jesus hears the question "Master, where dwellest thou?" and replied "Come and see." They came and saw where He dwelt and abode with Him that day. Precious unison with the heart of God, that found all its delight in that lowly One on earth. And now John sees this same Lamb in heaven, as slain. That linked him with the scene, and us too, beloved.
It is true we have in these chapters our own place, and I need hardly say we are not there yet; but, the Lamb in the midst of it all is the sum and substance of all our blessing. He has redeemed us by His blood. All in heaven fall down before Him and worship; but we lead the song. We are able to say as angels cannot, "Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood."
Here around His table we have the same object before us; the same occupation, worship. In John 3:34-36, we find how this brings us into communion with the Father. "The Father loveth the Son." All His delight is in the Son; and in this we have common thoughts with Him, for He has become the object of our delight too. All the Father's counsels are for Him. When once He is put forth, everything is decided in reference to Him. This is the connection of verse 36, "He that believeth," etc. Those who honour the Son by believing on Him, the Father will bless; those who do not, the wrath of God abides on them. Thus we see He was the Father's object upon earth, as in Revelation 5 we find He is in heaven.
John 12 gives us a new centre of attraction; yet the same Jesus. "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." It is the cross; there He was lifted up between the earth and heaven; to be the centre to which everything that is of God on earth must flow. But further, He is exalted to the Father's right hand. It is there that we know Him, Hebrews 2:6-9 (read), made a little lower than the angels; now crowned with glory and honour. The day is coming, when all things shall be put in subjection under Him. But "we see not yet all things put under Him, but" (as we gaze into the open heaven) "we see Jesus."
Ephesians 1 connects us with Him there. He is Head over all things to His church, which is His body. When He ascended, the Holy Ghost came down to earth; was it that the object of the Father's interest was changed? Had the Holy Ghost come down to take the place of Christ on earth, or to be a new centre for our hearts? Oh, no, beloved! The Holy Spirit is here to associate us with Him there, and to lead up our hearts into constant occupation with Him to unfold all His perfections to us, that we may love Him better and count Him to be the alone worthy One in heaven or earth of our adoration.
Now we are prepared for such a word as Hebrews 13:13, "Let us go forth unto him, without the camp." The camp was the earthly system of religion, once ordained by God, but now set aside; we are to go forth to Him and that will necessarily lead us outside all that is recognised among men as religion — all accredited systems. For as truly as He is the centre and gathering point in heaven, so truly is He the only divine centre and gathering point on earth; and to follow Him must take us outside all that is owned by men.
2 Thessalonians 2 is deeply interesting from this point of view. "We beseech by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him." Impossible that He should come, and we not be gathered to Him! His place always decides ours. If He is "outside the camp," we must go forth unto Him. If He comes, we must be gathered to Him. When He moves, we move. When He moves from the throne on which He sits, to the air, we move from the earth to the air — our new gathering point, where He is coming to take us back with Him to the Father's house. Think what the Father's house will be! The home of such a heart as Christ's! Where all His divine affections flow out, and are fully answered. That is where He is going to take us to, where He is at home! Oh, beloved, truly our blessing and joy will be full then!
It is the same people who are now gathered round the Lamb on earth — their object the same — their occupation the same. The difference is, that then the worship will be unrestrained, unhindered by the flesh, in the full energy of the Spirit of God. Now we have so often to mourn over failure — to grieve that our hearts are so slow to lay hold of what is before us. Then, blessed be God, there will be no failure to mourn over — nothing to turn us aside from absorbing occupation with Christ.