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A Cause for Celebration

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On the 1st of July Canadians from east to west, and north to south will be gathering together in their homes to celebrate, some will have festivities in backyards having barbecues, some will be getting together in parks to have community pick nicks, and many will be marching in parades waving the Canadian flag. Why will they be doing this, because it will be Canada day. A day that celebrates confederation and the beginning of new era cooperation and unity for Canada. They will be celebrating to commemorate hard fought bloody battles that paved the way for Canadians to live in peace and relative security. Our friends south of the border will be involved in similar celebrations. On July the 4th there will be fireworks, parades, and celebrations of all sorts to commemorate the day that the United States of America became of country of unified states free from the heavy rule of the British monarchy. They will be celebrating victory over British oppression.
Vernon Grounds tells of an incident that happened while he was in seminary. Since the school had no gymnasium, he and his friends played basketball in a nearby public school.
Nearby, an elderly janitor waited patiently until the seminarians finished playing. Invariably he sat there reading his Bible. One day my friend asked him what he was reading. The man answered, ‘The book of Revelation.’ Surprised, my friend asked if he understood it. ‘Oh, yes,’ the man assured him. `I understand it.’ ‘What does it mean?’ Quietly the janitor answered, `It means that Jesus is gonna win.’”[1]
[1] Galaxie Software, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations (Biblical Studies Press, 2002).
tells of a far more exalted festivity then what will occur on July 1st and the 4th. This glorious celebration will be taking place to revel in the final victory that Jesus will have accomplished over sin and tyranny. The chapter mentions a great multitude, the four living creatures, and the twenty-four elders. This morning we will take the time to focus on the twenty four elders. We will endeavor to answer the questions, “Who are the twenty four elders, and why are they celebrating? We will see that the twenty four elders have a unique experience that moves them to rejoice and celebrate. They are mentioned five times in the book of Revelation. They are important figures in the grand story of redemption.

Who Are the Twenty-four Elders?

Who are the twenty-four elders? Some scholars suggest that they are representatives from other worlds, part of the governing body in heaven. Some suggest that they are exalted heavenly beings or angels. Some suggest that they are representatives of redeemed humanity. The assertions concerning their identity varies quite a bit, even within Adventism. Can we be sure as to who they might be? If so, why should that matter to us today? Let’s get started.
The first time that they are mentioned in Revelation is in chapter . The text tells us that they are positioned before the One who sits on the throne, God the Father. In they are mentioned again, and we are given more pieces of the puzzle that will help narrow in on their identity. They have bowls in their hands… It is as though they are accumulating the prayers of the saints. What for, what does that suggest? Throughout the millennia, Jesus’s children have been severely persecuted, treated despitefully, robbed of their earthly goods, and cruelly murdered. I can imagine the fervent prayers that were being offered up by the faithful as they were about the be torn by lions, burned at the stake, or executed by firing squads. Today the most persecuted group of people on the planet are Christians. The collection of the prayers suggests that even though it appears that God is not doing anything, even though it appears that evil is going to triumph, God has heard their prayers and is going to act. He is not ignoring their prayers. He is attentive and storing up their prayers for the right moment in earth’s history.
tells us that the twenty-four elders sing a new song. Verse 9 and 10 contains language that points to the twenty-four elders as redeemed human beings. However, some scholars say that some manuscripts use the phrase “have redeemed them” and not “us”. This disputed discovery puts their identity into doubt.
[Explore & ] 11:16 tells us that they sit on thrones…
Let’s go back to , perhaps there is something that we have missed. We are told that they have crowns. Of course they have crowns, they sit on thrones, they are rulers or kings as indicated in . However, there is something particular about the crowns that they have. There are two words in the Greek for crowns, στέφανος, and διάδημα. [Quickly Explore , and ]. Who does Jesus promise the victors crown? Those who will have had the victory over sin. Unfallen beings have nothing to gain the victory over, only fallen beings. This tells us that the twenty four elders are human beings, just like us! But wait a minute, how did they get there []?
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” (, NKJV)
Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.”” (, NKJV)
Yes, at Jesus’s triumphal entry through the gates of heaven, resurrected saints went up with Him as a sample of humanity, as a sample of His crowning achievement, the redemption of humanity.
The twenty -four elders are humans just like us. Why should that matter to us? As you look at the life of Enoch, unreachable, Moses, meekest in all the earth, unattainable, Ellijah… I’m not even going to go there. Which of you has the courage and fortitude of Elijah? However, the twenty-four elders are nameless, but like us they have struggled through the disappointments of life. They failed their Lord miserably time and time again, having to fall on their knees with tears and agonize for forgiveness. Their reputations may not have been as stellar as Joseph's, but they are up there. They may have done shameful in the cover of night, but they are up there. They may have embarrassed God with their conduct, but they're up there. Around the throne. That gives me hope. Glory to God, the twenty four elders were conquered by the gospel and not conquered by their sins. They were conquered by the good news of Jesus’s undying love for humanity.They fell on the Rock, rather then have the Rock fall on them. They were given the victors crown that Jesus obtained for them through His bloody sweat and tears [, ]. He did all of the heavy lifting, and they followed in his footsteps in denying self and accepting His precious gift of righteousness.
So why are they celebrating? Well it’s becoming clearer why they are celebrating?

He Has Judged the Great Harlot

() All of the hidden deeds of darkness are exposed. All the secret dealings that have led to the suffering and death of millions are exposed, all of the corrupt judgments that were rendered against innocents are reversed. Jesus judges the great harlot in truth and righteousness. Is that a cause for celebration?

He Avenged on Her the Blood of His Servants

All of the blood that she has spilled… Luther, Huss, Wycliffe, Melancton... Those who were crushed under tanks in Tienanmen square.. Is that a cause for celebration? It sure is.

He Has Prepared His Bride for the Marriage

[, ] The twenty-four elders are celebrating, because they have seen with their own eyes the greatest spectacle of grace that the universe will ever witness. They have seen of whom Matthew tells us in chapter 25 a corrupt generation, accepting Jesus as their savior, but “slumbering and sleeping”... The Greek word for slumbering means “to be over come by sleep, negligent and careless”. The twenty four elders have seen the most corrupt generation in the history of earth develop into the purest generation that ever lived. They are submissive, humble, empty of self, pure, holy and undefined. They have the law of God, the character of God sealed in their foreheads. They are just like Jesus.
Did you catch what verse eight says? The righteous acts of the saints. Say what! Not the righteousness of God, no the righteous acts of the saints. The mystery of God is complete. The complete union of divinity with humanity, God’s cout d’etat, complete!. This final generation are just like Jesus, so much so that His righteousness is now considered their righteousness, His perfection is now considered their perfection. Not just credited righteousness, but actual and complete righteousness. They stand without sin, completely surrendered to God, completely devoid of self. What a spectacle. What a display. What a cause for celebration!
End with verse and focus on the διάδημα.
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