Revelation 4:1-11-“Christ, the King”—Satoru Nakanishi

I came back from Japan last Sunday night after spending 4 weeks there. The first half of my stay was with the Japan Mission Team in Ishinomaki…and we were able to have a very meaningful time there. We will have an opportunity to share our stories with you at a later time…possibly in September…but I just want to thank you again for all your support and prayer for the Japan Mission Team. We could not have done this without you.

The second half of my stay in Japan was some vacation time, spending time with family and friends there, which was very special.

Some people ask me what I especially enjoyed in Japan. Well, I enjoyed a lot of things, but I got to say, I enjoyed the Japanese food. Today I was able to bring one of Japanese delicacies. I wish I had enough to share with you all…but I don’t have enough…so I have it here to show you. Here it is.

This is called Natto. Natto is fermented soy beans. How many of you have tried Natto before? How many of you don’t need to try it again? Don’t worry, I won’t get offended. A lot of Japanese people don’t like it either…especially people from western Japan. And I think it’s pretty understandable. It’s understandable because looking at it…all your senses tell you IT IS BAD!

I mean, it looks bad…it’s slimy with lots of sticky strings. It smells pretty bad…I have heard some people say it smells like sweaty feet or even like a dead rat. Let me tell you, Natto seems really bad…but Natto is not as it seems.

It seems bad…but it is actually very good for you…it is considered as a health enhancing food. Natto is rich in protein, fiber, and Vitamin K…the recent studies show that it reduces the risks of heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and possibly cancer…and it may even have a cholesterol-lowering effect. On top of that, it includes chemicals that are excellent for the skin.

I think many of you agree with me that once you acquire the taste, it tastes pretty good…even addictive. That’s why some of the Japan Mission Team members, like Michael Kunugiyama, had Natto almost every morning.

Natto seems bad, but the reality is that Natto is really good. And in our lives, we experience something like this…that…things are not as they seem.

And this theme…Things are not as they seem…is one of the main lessons God is revealing to us through the last book of the Bible. Things are not as they seem. Looking at our world, things seem pretty bad, don’t they? Let’s face it…There are a lot of bad things happening… a lot of pains, deep sorrows, sadness…we lose our loved ones…we get sick and weak. Looking around us, we see injustices in the world and evil operating in the society… it seems our world is in chaos…and completely out of control. It does not seem that God is King. It does not seem our God truly reigns.

But todays scripture, Revelation 4 tells us: Things are not as they seem. The truth is just the opposite. Even though it does not seem like it, God truly sits on a throne as King of this universe. And we need to look at His throne.

Today’s scripture verse is full of wonderful symbolism about God’s sovereignty as King…like jasper and ruby, rainbow, lightning and thunder. I wish I had enough time to unpack them…but let me just focus on verse 6, where it says, “Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. (Rev 4:6 NIV)”

A sea of glass clear as crystal….at the time when John wrote the book, the sea was something people were afraid of. The sea represented the power of chaos which opposed God’s will. The sea was seen as something unpredictable and uncontrollable….utterly powerful.

The Japan Mission team witnessed this utterly destructive power of the sea in Ishionomaki. In 2011, in a matter of hours, possibly in minutes, the powerful tsunami followed the earthquake, and destroyed thousands of houses and took the lives of tens of thousands of people. On the coastline, many of the houses were completely washed away and today it’s a huge empty field, in which you can see only their remaining foundations.

In the next town of Onagawa, where the tsunami reached especially high…almost as high as 50 feet…we saw a concrete building probably about 4 stories tall…completely tipped over. Can you imagine…a big concrete building, removed from its foundation, and is lying sideways? That’s how incredibly powerful the tsunami was.

And because of this raging, destructive, chaotic nature, the ancient people considered the sea as something to be afraid of. Plus, the sea is mysterious because we don’t know exactly what it contains. Even today in the 21st century…even with today’s technology, much about the ocean remains unknown. It was even more so 2000 years ago. Back then people wondered what kind of monsters and evil forces resided in the sea. So if you jump to Chapter 13, we see the first beast coming out of where? From the sea.

So the sea was the symbol of chaos that opposed God. And this sea in front of the throne of God is not raging, not destructive, and not something to be afraid of. It was clear as crystal.

Boy, do we need this vision today! Things are not as they seem. We see and experience overwhelming chaos today…which threatens to discourage us, to blind us, and to break us. And we cry, “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be!”

And look! Look! This is the most frequent command in Revelation. Look! God sits on the throne…and the sea in front of the throne is as clear as crystal.

It seems as though destructive evil is swallowing us up. But it does not prevail at the end. Our God, our King, conquers with His sovereignty…finally and decisively.

What’s really exciting is Chapter 21, where God showed John “a new heaven and a new earth.” “there was no longer any sea.” (Rev 21:1 NIV)

Things are not as they seem. And faith is assurance about what we do not see (Heb. 11:1). My prayer today is that we see by faith what we do not see….and we show what we see by faith.

The ministry of Jesus Christ was a ministry of God’s kingdom….Jesus proclaimed that God is King….and he demonstrated in a vivid and concrete manner what it’s really like when God is King. Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, announced forgiveness of sins…and he loved to the extent that he gave his life as a ransom for many…so that we can enter God’s kingdom…so that we can make God truly our king. God is King. Jesus saw it. Jesus showed it.

God is King. Can we see it? Can we show it?