Teaching Series
Sunday—Jesus. All.

Series: Overflow
Message: Jesus. All. 
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Jessyka Dooley
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Purpose: Vanessa Rivera
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Revelation 4:8-11 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: I had the privilege to preach at Crosswalk Church on Saturday, December 1, to launch this new series, Overflow. While there, I talked to so many incredible people including two Jesus followers and living legends, Bill and Noelene Johnsson, who together live in the overflow—proclaiming the name of Jesus in everything they do. I cannot resist quoting Bill to provide a little perspective as we enter into our study of this passage in Revelation. In his book, Where Are We Headed: Adventism after San Antonio, Bill argues that there are two main approaches to the Bible:

There is a sense in which every reader’s hermeneutic is private to themselves, because each of us brings to the text our individuality and life experience. That said, I think we can divide Adventist interpretation into two broad and contrasting camps— the “flat,” literalistic approach, and the nuanced approach. The former tends to deny the need to interpret, to go beyond the literal meaning of the text. The nuanced approach, on the other hand, comes to the text aware of the challenges to understanding caused by time, culture, type of literature, and so on. (p. 30)

The nuanced approach is really important to capturing the passion of this passage. There are many challenges in the book of Revelation. The deeper you get into the study of this passage, or the book as a whole, the more complex it becomes. This is  partly because it is a “live” book. By “live” I mean that there is so much yet to be understood about it, so much that has yet to be fulfilled. The purpose of prophetic literature is not to tell us what the future holds precisely but to let us know—once it has been fulfilled—that God already knew what was going to happen before it happened. The purpose of prophecy is to raise our levels of trust in God. Amos, the minor prophet, wrote, “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

To that end, I will avoid speculation about the elements within the book of Revelation that are still in the future. In fact, I have three suggestions for anyone who reads the book of Revelation.

  • First, pace yourself. Resist the urge to know what everything means instantly.

  • Second, enjoy the journey. The book of Revelation is from Jesus and about Jesus. It will show you the full character of God.

  • Third, the content of Revelation was true when it was written and it is true now. It meant something back then and it means something new to us now. Everything we read is in symbolic code. It made a lot more sense back then.  If you know the First Testament well, this will help with interpretation.

Recalibrate: ​​What things did you once believe that did not stand up to further study?

Respond: Pray for truth.

Research: What hermeneutic principles do you use for understanding the Bible? The Biblical Research Institute has some great suggestions.

Remember: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8, NIV).

Japhet is senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, and is co-founder of the One project. Originally from southeast London, he served in the South England Conference for nine years—as a pastor and later as conference youth director—before moving to the United States in 2006. He and his wife Becky have two sons, one at university and one in high school.

As a parent, you have to repeat yourself constantly. What are some of the phrases that have to be repeated over and over in your home? In this portion of Scripture, what is the phrase that is repeated without ceasing? “Holy, holy, holy!” Repetition is important for so many reasons, but in this case repetition comes so naturally. These creatures can’t help but to say “holy” because of who God is. Put your child’s favorite song on repeat today and sing it with them over and over again.

The book of the Bible we’re studying this week is Revelation. Revelation was written by a guy named John. God showed John special things about Jesus and what will happen when He comes back. In this verse, John tells us about seeing a throne in heaven. Our Words to Remember tell us about worshipping God. What do the four creatures say over and over again? “Holy, holy, holy!” What do you think the word “holy” means? Why do you think the creatures never stop saying it?

I have met five celebrities. In each of those encounters, I have made a complete fool of myself. I do this thing where I start rambling endlessly—it’s bad. During my last celebrity encounter, I ran into Alex Lacamoire downtown Denver. Of course, as expected, I started out my greeting by rambling. After a few seconds, I got myself together and asked for his autograph. After he pulled out his phone and started to give me his autograph, I blurted, “I’m unworthy!” So. Embarrassing. Luckily for me, he laughed it off and didn’t walk away super freaked out—and still took a selfie with me.  As I was walking away, I started to feel mortified. I told this guy I don’t even know that I am unworthy! And how silly, right? I do think I’m worthy to speak to him. He’s a person just like I am. This passage in Revelation depicts a beautiful scene of worshipping God. Read through the words of praise. It isn’t a mindless admiration of a total stranger. It’s intentional. Do you know God? Have you worshipped Him without knowing Him? How would your worship of God change if you knew Him?

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