Today’s reading: Rev 5
Yesterday and today we are privileged to read the vision of what is happening at the throne of God! We see that around the throne are twenty-four elders, these are human beings living in glory in Heaven. Today, we see what one of their roles is:
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty- four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints, and they sang a new song, saying…
So each elder has a bowl of incense and we are explicitly told that incense is the prayers of the saints. Note, here “saints” is used in the way Paul often uses it, to describe the faithful on earth. Thus, the elders in heaven are interceding (or mediating) the prayers of the faithful on earth. They bring the faithful’s prayers to the throne of God. Presumably, they know that the incense is the prayers of the faithful (otherwise we on earth would know more than they do in heaven which seems unlikely). Also, presumably they know what each individual prayer is (because again otherwise the person who prayed the prayer on earth would know more than someone in heaven – again unlikely).
The “new song” they sing is the song of the New Covenant. Because these Elders are Priests (verse 10) and sing of the New Covenant we know there must be Priests in the New Covenant. Finally, we know that in the New Covenant we are joined together in the common priesthood of all believers, so we, when we die, must have a similar role to play in Heaven as these elders do. THEREFORE, we see that in Heaven, those who have gone before us are there, interceding for us, taking our prayers to the throne of God. With this in mind, read the larger passage again!
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty- four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
Jesus stands BETWEEN the throne of God and the rest of heaven. Thus, he is quite literally the one final and unique mediator between God and Man. Here we see explicitly that we intercede for each other – the saints in heaven bring our prayers to the throne of God – but ultimately those prayers are delivered to the lamb and all worship and praise go through Jesus to the Father.
Tomorrow: Rev 6