Second Reading: Revelations 5:11-14
Praise to the Lamb!
11 I, John the Elder, saw the throne of God. It was surrounded by four living creatures, twenty four leaders, and an uncountable number of angels. I heard the voice of the angels. 12 Together, they all said:
"The Lamb who was slain is truly worthy to receive all the power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise."
13 Then I heard all of heaven, earth, and the underworld, all the oceans, and every creature in them say:
"Praise, honor, glory, and strength to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever!"
14 "Amen" said the living creatures. And the leaders fell down in worhsip.
11 I saw, and I heard the voice of many angels in a circle (around) the throne, and the (four) living ones and the (twenty four) presbyters, and the number was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying in a loud voice:
"Worthy is the LAMB, having been slain, to receive the power and the wealth and the wisdom and the strength and the honor and the glory and the praise."
13 All creation which is in heaven and on the earth and beneath the earth, and on the sea, and the (beings) in them, I heard everyone saying:
"To the One sitting on the throne, and to the LAMB, praise and honor and glory and strength into ages of ages."
14 The four living ones kept saying, "Amen." The (twenty four) presbyters fell and worshiped.
5:11 "the (four) living ones and the (twenty four) presbyters" The number of the living creatures and the presbyters was mentioned in 5:8.
"the number was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands" In other words, the number was uncountable. A "myriad" is ten thousand in New Testament Greek.
5:12, 13 "honor" is literally "(high) value."
5:13 "All creation" can also be translated "every creature." The three levels of creation (heaven, earth, and the underworld) along with the watery depths, AND every creature give praise to God (the One enthroned) and to the Lamb, the title for Christ.
These verses denoted the praise and worship that everyone gave as the scroll with the seven seals was received by the Christ figure (5:1). There has been much speculation as to the meaning and the content of the scroll (the "Book of Life" or God's plan for creation). In any case the scroll has writing on both sides, like the hand written Torah scrolls found in synagogues. The only one worthy to open the scroll was the "Lion of Judah, the (victorious) Root of Jesse."
After the Christ figure received the scroll, there were three praises listed. The first praise was directed toward the Christ figure who was worthy to open the scroll because of the suffering he endured and the Kingdom of saints he created (5:9-10).
The second and third praises can be found in this reading. The throne (representing the presence of God) was surrounded by four "living ones" and twenty four elders ("presbyters"). The "living ones" were angelic "messengers," those who personified the divine presence and manifest the divine power. The elders were saint-kings who ruled creation along with the One enthroned; their number (24 or 2 x 12) represented a fullness of God's people (two leaders for each of the twelve tribes of Israel). The "living ones" and the elders sang the first praise. Surrounding them were an uncountable number of spiritual powers and beings. These joined with the "living ones" and the elders in the second praise. All three groups, this manifestation of the Kingdom, praised the Christ figure again with an song that was meant to be eternal ("into ages of ages").
The last praise was sung response by creation itself (as the note above discussed). The praise was directed in general toward God and the Lamb. The final response was agreement by the "living ones" and worship by the elders. This drew the reception ceremony to a close.
While the Book of Revelation may be mysterious with its emphasis on symbols, the context for the symbols should not cause wonder. The context was worship. John the Elder witnessed heavenly praise. The kind that we should emulate. The kind that, if we look closely, we can easily imagine creation itself offering to its maker.
Let us praise God. And his Son. They are truly worthy.
In this season of Easter, make a habit of daily praise time. That would be a nice counterbalance to the spiritual exercises found in Lent.