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Only Jesus’ could step forth & buy back creation, he says

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–It is an experience every parent dreads. After an evening of fun at Chuck E. Cheese’s, the time comes to redeem the tickets won by a child playing the pizza restaurant’s various games. However, what seems to be a large amount of tickets is never quite enough to get the big prize on the top shelf. Instead of the big prize, the child must usually settle for only a small toy from the bottom shelf.

Jim Shaddix, dean of the chapel and associate professor of preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, used this all-too-familiar experience in a March 12 chapel message to illustrate the situation recounted in Revelation 5.

All of humanity and heaven seems to be without hope in the first few verses of this passage; no one is found worthy to open the scroll, said Shaddix, holding up a scroll for effect, in a chapel series, “Seeing is Believing: Selected Expositions for a Visual Age,” utilizing visual aids to augment biblical exposition in contemporary culture.

“For those of us who live in the day of salvation on this side of the cross … it’s hard for us to put ourselves in a position to understand [such despair],” Shaddix said. “I want you to think with me about the fundamental problem of the universe; that is, the absence of a redeemer, the absence of one who would pay the price to buy back God’s creation.”

Shaddix described the scroll of Revelation 5 as the “title deed” to the universe. Scrolls were often important legal documents such as marriage contracts and deeds, he noted. The angel was seeking one who could buy back that deed and fulfill God’s plan of redemption, which had been in motion from the beginning.

Creation accounts serve as the bookends to God’s revelation, Shaddix continued. In Genesis, God created the heaven and earth, and the New Testament closes with God creating the new heaven and the new earth. Between these creation accounts, Shaddix said, a “scarlet thread of redemption” is found.

But why would God need to buy back his creation? Shaddix asked. “God is Holy and he can’t have anything to do with sin,” he noted. “When sin entered the world, God in essence, took his hands off day-to-day management in order to be true to his nature. Satan has been in operation ever since.”

Satan, the enemy, “set up shop” in this world after the first sin, Shaddix said. On three occasions in the gospel, Jesus called Satan the ruler of this world, and the apostles Paul and John echoed the teachings of Christ on the subject.

Rev. 5:1-7 tells of God’s desire to take back creation, Shaddix said. “We look into the throne room of heaven and we see a strong angel looking for someone who has enough tickets,” he said, raising a roll of tickets in his hand. “This is an incredible fact to me that in the role call of physical history, there is no one that … has enough ‘tickets’ to buy the top prize.

“Because there on the top shelf sits the only thing that God desires, that is, his creation,” Shaddix continued. “It is so far out of the price range that no one can do it.”

Even the great heroes of the faith, like Noah, Abraham, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Paul, and modern-day Billy Graham were not able to open the scroll, Shaddix said. While all of them faithfully served God, none was found worthy to buy back creation.

“Somewhere in the midst of all of this, [the angel] comes to you, he comes to me and the invitation is extended to us,” Shaddix said. “We find ourselves holding our heads in shame, we don’t have enough ‘tickets’ [to open the scroll].”

Because all seems lost and no one is found to open the scroll and redeem creation, the apostle John begins weeping, according to the Revelation account. Just at the moment when hope seems dim, John noticed the “Prevailing One,” Shaddix said, explaining that a form of the word, “Nike,” is used in the Greek New Testament for “Prevailing One” and means conquer or prevail.

Holding up a Nike athletic shoe, Shaddix said, “Long before an athletic company chose this name to represent themselves to the public, God had chosen this name to describe the one who would get us out of the situation we are in.

“The Book of Revelation leaves no secret, no mystery about who is being spoken of here. It is the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.”

The angel of God was looking for someone worthy to open the scroll, someone with the legal right to break its seal, and this “Prevailing One” is the individual who can open and has opened the scroll, Shaddix said.

“John turns around and sees a horrifying sight; he sees a lamb as though it had been slain,” Shaddix said of the Prevailing One, using a Beanie Baby lamb to illustrate. “This imagery [of a lamb] obviously connects with so many portions of Scripture.”

The lamb of Revelation 5 brings to mind Exodus 12, for example, when God established Passover, Shaddix said. Families were instructed to find a young lamb without blemish and to take it into their home for four days; later the lamb would be killed and eaten. While many have wondered why God told the families to take the lamb into their home for four days, Shaddix said he believes God wanted them to become attached to the lamb before it was killed, to help the people understand the sacrifice he made in giving up his Son, who John the Baptist called the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

This Prevailing One, this Lamb of God, is the only one in heaven and earth worthy to open the scroll, Shaddix said; the Son steps forward, bruised, battered, but alive, to redeem the world.

It is as if “Jesus Christ jumps up and says, ‘I’ve got enough tickets!’ His tickets are crimson red [from] the blood that was shed to buy back God’s creation,” Shaddix said.

“We are given a glimpse in the Word of God of the resurrection from heaven’s perspective,” he said. “We are told that he is the one who has enough ‘tickets’ to have bought the whole thing back and that includes you, your family, your church, your ministry and your eternity.”

When Jesus stepped forward, praise and worship exploded in heaven, Shaddix said. All who are there praise the Lamb in ways that had never been seen before. Christian worship should be more like this glimpse of heaven than what is seen in today’s churches, Shaddix said.

The focus of the praise is particularly striking, Shaddix said.

“This is the worship service of all worship services. It ought to be the pattern of our worship today,” he said. “Our praise should be about him and not us.”