Sermon delivered July 2, 2005 by Bernie Baerg

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New King James Version NKJV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Can You Catch a Rainbow?

(RealAudio Version available)

Thank you sister Alicia Anderson for reminding us that God is alive. And He's sitting on the throne in heaven above. In fact, the bible says that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us. Today I would like to talk to you about that throne room of the universe where Jesus is alive and where he's working in our behalf. Whenever I pick up the telephone to talk to a friend or a relative, I like to imagine in my mind's eye just where this person is. Perhaps they're in the living room, or the kitchen, or their office, talking to me on the other end of the line. When I lift my heart to God in prayer, I like to imagine where God is. I like to imagine where Jesus is in the throne room of the universe.

And so, I would like to invite you to open your Bibles with me to Revelation 4, as we enter the thrown room of heaven. Revelation 4:1. After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." We don't often hear voices as loud as trumpets. I think of Brother Tuttle as he plays his trumpet. Imagine a voice that loud. That would be piercing, wouldn't it. And here we find this voice instructing us to come up here. We need a tour guide as we enter into the throne room of the universe.

It reminds me of some visits to England my wife, Jeanie and I have taken in the last several years. We decided to visit Buckingham Palace and the throne room of the queen. As we went into the palace, they gave us a tour guide. Actually the tour guide was just a little plastic receiver. First, you pressed a button to decide what language you wanted hear the tour in. Then you started. As you went through one stately rooms after another, you pressed the button to hear more about that room and what was involved in it. I was anxious to get to the throne room to see what was in there. As we entered the throne room, it was a room sixty-five feet long. At the far end of the throne room I could see the throne, a large gilded chair on which the queen sits when she meets ambassadors and heads of states. Around the sides of the room were other chairs, ornate as well, but not quite as decorated as the throne chair. I could imagine her courtiers and ministers and other people sitting on these chairs ready to do the bidding of her majesty whenever she should require.

We also have a tour guide into the throne room of the universe, and we read about this in Revelation 4:2. Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

Our tour guide is the Holy Spirit, a member of the Godhead, Himself. What better tour guide could we have? In fact, Jesus promised us in John 16:14 that He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. Jesus said He would be our tour guide in this life after Jesus left.

And so, as we enter the throne room of the universe, the Holy Spirit is there to show us the room and what's in it. And He opens the door to God's presence, where we saw in Hebrews 7:25, ....He ever lives to make intercession for them.

Revelation 4:3 gives us a description of God Himself. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius (carnelian) stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

This is a description of our God, and to me it sounds like He is a beautiful God. Perhaps you never thought of God as being beautiful, or gorgeous. But here He is, He's translucent. That's what jasper is. And sardius is translucent orange to red. I like to think of the red as also a symbol of the blood of Jesus. Even though we know the only marks He'll carry are the scars in His hands and in His feet and His side, yet, there is this tinge of red in the appearance of God. How beautiful our God must be.

And the Bible says that He is surrounded by a rainbow. A rainbow is over the head of Christ. And the color of the rainbow begins with the emerald color, which is brilliant green, the basic color of rainbows. As I think about this rainbow, I was remembering that Jeanie and I were traveling on the highway just the other day when we entered a terrible storm. As we came out of the storm, we saw a beautiful rainbow. Many of you have seen beautiful rainbows after the storm, too. We thought about our childhood and the nursery rhymes an how we used to think, 'Well, at the end of every rainbow there's a pot of gold.' Did you ever try to catch a rainbow? Did you ever try to get to the end of the rainbow? What happens when you try to catch a rainbow? It disappears. It vanishes. And that pot of gold? It's never there. I'll tell you that God has much better than gold at the end of His rainbow.

I like to think of the rainbow when it's first mentioned in Scripture, because where a symbol first mentioned in the Bible it teaches something very specific about God. Where is the rainbow first mentioned in the Bible? It's at the flood, isn't it. Let's turn in our Bibles to Genesis 9. Let's read the story of the first rainbow. Something that is around the head of God is of very great importance to us today, I believe. You might want to count how many times the word, 'covenant' is mentioned in this section. Genesis 9:8-. Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him saying: "And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. Thus I establish My covenant with you. Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood. Never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."

And God said: "This is a sign of the covenant that I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud: and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the water shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."

And God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth."

The word, 'covenant' is used seven times. Seven in the Bible is a symbol of perfection. The rainbow is a symbol of the covenant. This word, 'covenant' means 'promise.' God's promise in this instance is the He will never, never, ever destroy the earth with a flood of water. I'm so thankful that this rainbow is around the throne of God. Ellen G. White was a prophet in the Seventh-day Adventist Church for seventy years. She wrote a beautiful book on lifestyle, called 'The Ministry of Healing.' Commenting on this rainbow on page 94 she wrote, "The rainbow of promise, encircling the throne on high is an everlasting testimony that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Did you catch the promise? Did you catch the rainbow? I believe that the promises of God are like rainbows, that whenever we see a promise, we can see the rainbow around the throne of God.

Mrs. White goes on to say that "It testifies to the universe that God will never forsake His children in the struggle with evil. It is an assurance to us of strength and protection as long as the throne itself shall endure."

so, every time I read a bible promise, I like to think, 'I'm catching a rainbow.' And maybe you'd like to put a bright R in the margin for rainbow when you realize that this rainbow surrounds the throne of God. Do you think that God can ever forget His promises?

Let's look at two or three of these promises and see if we can catch some rainbows ths morning. The first one I'd like to suggest for you to look at is Micah 6:8. He has shown you, O man, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Many people wonder what God expects of them. Here He tells us very simply, to walk humbly, to do justly and to love mercy. And the rainbow around God's throne is a symbol of the justice and the mercy of God.

Another beautiful rainbow that I have found in the scripture is found in James 1:16, Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Isn't it wonderful that God never changes? It reminds us of that text in Hebrews 13:8. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. We serve a God that constantly remains the same. He doesn't vary. There's another promise in Hebrews 13:18. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits if His creatures. Here it talks about us becoming first fruits. Later on in the book of Revelation it talks about the first fruits that are redeemed from the earth and before God. This verse tells us that He brought us forth by the word of truth that we might become first fruits. The Bible, God's Holy Word imbibes into our lives makes us to be first fruits.

I didn't realize the importance of first fruits until a church member of mine reminded me of it one day. Most of us have been listening to the news about Aruba lately. I had the privilege of pastoring churches on the island of Aruba and its sister island of Curacao for about five years. At one of my churches I had a pianist who was very gifted. This pianist had the gift of being able to sit down and play any hymn in the hymn book without the music. That was because he couldn't read music. He didn't know a note of music. But he had the gift of playing by ear. So, we would announce the hymn and he would sidle up to the piano and start playing it beautifully. One Sabbath morning after church he said, "Pastor, I'd like you to come to my house tomorrow. I have a first fruit for you." I said, "What in the world is a first fruit?" He said, "You come tomorrow and I'll show you." I never realized the importance of first fruits until one Sabbath morning I was pasturing in the Netherlands Antilles. Actually I pastored for five years on the island of Aruba which has been on the news these last few days. And the island of Curacao. The pianist in one of my churches had a wonderful talent. He knew every hymn in the hymn book, but he couldn't read a note. So when we announced a hymn he would just step up to the piano and play it by ear. And he played beautifully. His name was brother Sweeney. And after church one Sabbath he said "Pastor, I want you to come to my house, I have a first fruit for you." And I said, "What in the world is that?" I had no idea what a first fruit was. And he said to me, "Well, you come by tomorrow morning and I will show you." So the next morning I went by his house. He took me into the kitchen. He said, "Pastor, here is a first fruit. You know in the Bible, the first fruit was brought to the tabernacle for the ministers. I want you to have this first fruit from our papaya tree." It was the most beautiful fruit of papaya that I had ever seen, the first one off of his tree. I thanked him graciously. I felt very humble and unworthy of such an honor. I took it home, we cut it open. My mouth waters right now, just to think about it. Delicious papaya fruit. The first one off of his tree. And I got a new glimpse of what God was saying when he is going to make us first fruits. When you and I fill our lives with the word of God, and allow it to transform us He turns us into a first fruit, the most delicious, the most beautiful thing that God can imagine. I'm so thankful for this beautiful promise that He has given us in His word.

One last rainbow. 2 Peter 1:4. which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

God's promises make us partakers of His nature, His divine nature. So, when I catch a rainbow, when I catch the promises of God's words and claim them for myself, they change me. They transform my life. And they can't help it because the rainbow is around the throne of God. How wonderful that God gives us His promises and they lead us to partake of whose nature? The divine nature. Did you catch the rainbow? We can catch many rainbows as we study the promises of the word of God.

Let's get back to our throne room. We find that our beautiful God is not alone, there are other beings in the throne room. Let's take another look at Revelation 4:4 around the throne were twenty-four thrones and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes, and they had crowns of gold on their heads.

In the Bible word elder applies only to human beings, so we can only deduce that these elders were people who were resurrected with Jesus at His resurrection and taken to heaven with Him. The have crowns, which is a symbol of victory. They have white raiment, a symbol of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And they have been taken from the earth to sit as counselors in the throne room of the universe. Isn't that a comforting thought? There are other human beings there to assist God in His great work in the throne room of the universe. Who else might be there? Let's take a look at verse 5. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. which depict the power and majesty of God. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

Again we remember that seven denotes perfection in the Bible. And so the Holy Spirit, the perfect other member of the Godhead along with the Father and the Son Jesus Christ, is there. This is an awesome center of communication, where God communicates throughout the world and the universe.

Driving along the highway south of Manchester, England, Jeanne and I were surprised to see an enormous circular space-age object towering up among the green fields and cow pastures of the Cheshire plain. We knew we had to visit it. This turned out to be the Mark 1-A radio telescope which was designed by Sir Bernard Lovell in 1957 for Manchester University. It is one of the world's largest moveable radio telescopes. It's reflector is 250 feet across, and towers above the Jodrel Banks Science Centre. Like all radio telescopes, it vastly outdistances optical telescopes in the extent of space that it can view. But nothing that man has built, including the giant radio telescopes, can communicate with the universe like the Holy Spirit of God from the throne room of the universe. The Holy Spirit, with His capacity to be in all places at all times, can send and receive information instantly from God's throne to anywhere in God's great universe. Why is this important to me and to you? Because this is why your prayer and my prayer is always heard in the throne room of the universe. Aren't you thankful for that?

What else do we find in God's throne room ? Notice verse 6. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. Now, I can't imagine the size of this sea of glass. The apostle calls it a sea because it's so enormous. Later on in the book of Revelation we find that the redeemed of all ages stand before the throne of God. The Bible doesn't tell us, but further on in the book of Revelation it does say that before the throne was a multitude of people without number. This sea of glass in the throne room of the universe is large enough to hold the millions and perhaps billions of the redeemed of all ages standing before the throne of God. And in the book "The Great Controversy," p. 645.8, Ellen White saw in vision the redeemed standing in a hollow square with Jesus in the middle of them on the sea of glass. Do you plan to be there? What a glorious place, what a wonderful thought! And as I press my prayers into the throne room of the universe, I can glimpse Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit. I can see the sea of glass, the rainbow around the throne.

What else do I see there? Verses 6-8. "And in the midst of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures, full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest, day or night, saying, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come!" Here we find the angels. Ezekiel 1 calls some of these Cherubim because they were there top bless and to pray. Isaiah 1 calls some of them seraphim, burning glory. They are sent to co-operate with human beings. Hebrews 1:14 says, Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who are called to be heirs of Salvation? Psalm 34:7 says, The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him , and delivers them. I'm thankful for the angels, aren't you? I'm grateful that God sent them.

While serving as a foreign missionary in Venezuela, South America, it was my privilege to visit a people called the Davis Indians. They were called that because of the pioneering missionary Davis who was the first Seventh-Day Adventist to work among them. Around 1902 one of the several village chiefs in that area was praying to what he called the "Great Spirit" for light on how to help his people improve their lives. In response to his earnest prayer God sent an angel from Heaven to instruct him over a period of time in visions and dreams. The angel also gave him a new name, Okwa, which means Great light. The angel instructed Okwa in the areas of healthful living, Sabbath observance, family values, the second coming of Jesus, heaven, the new earth, and the resurrection of the dead. Okwa and his village had been visited by different religious missionary groups and were not certain which of them they should allow to establish a mission. In answer to the prayer of Okwa the angel instructed him that only missionaries bearing Bibles bound in black and printed in England should be received. When Pastor Alfred and Betty Cott heard of this village that kept the Seventh-day Sabbath they set out to visit them and were the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries to make personal contact. The villagers greeted them but asked only one question. "May we see your bibles?" Having come from British Guiana, the Cotts produced their Bibles, which were bound in black, and as they were opened, it said on the first page 'Printed in England.' The Indians were overjoyed that at last they had been visited by God's designated missionaries. Isn't God fantastic? What a wonderful God we serve.

And so the angels and the elders respond in verse 11: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power for you created all things and by your will they exist and were created." Let's catch some rainbows today. Let's meditate on God's inspired works and what He has done for us and praise Him for His goodness and mercy to each one of us.

Hymn of Praise: #7, The Lord in Zion Reigneth
Scripture: 2 Peter 1:2-4
Hymn of Response: #316, Live Out They Life Within Me

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