The Scroll and the Lamb
5 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
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.”
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Revelation 5 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“I wish I could take every Christian and dangle them over the pit of hell for 30 seconds. This would change the way they live here on earth the rest of their lives.”CT Studd
What a bold statement! But this does draw a thought to what the reality of hell would do to us. How would it affect us in the life we live, the only life we have been given, and the decisions we make? To be dangling over the fires burning in hell, the screams and noises we would hear would be something we’d never forget. There is no doubt this would change our perspective.
Francis Chan took this quote and switched it up a bit. He said, “I wish we could dangle someone over the throne room of heaven. The incredible grandeur and magnificent room where God sits upon His throne would be something that could change our lives.” He posed the questions then of how would that indeed change the way we live? Would it change us to the core? Would we stop being casual in our relationship with Jesus?
Casual: Without ceremony, relaxed, showing little interest or concern, shallow, superficial.
When you think of these words in regards to our faith in Jesus and more importantly our obedience and following do these words describe or fit us? Without ceremony, relaxed, showing little interest or concern, shallow, superficial?
Revelation 4 gave us a slight peek into the throne room of heaven. It’s opening words make an important statement:
“I will show you what must happen after this…”Revelation 4:1
As Revelation continues, we know scene after scene is an absolutely brutal and dreadful fulfillment of things to come as life here on earth as we know it comes to an end. The horrors to come, which John had no idea of at that moment, was prefaced by the very sovereignty and complete throne room of God. We should remember this scene as everything else unfolds.
Where do we need to remember this today? What situations and circumstances, what relationships do we need to remember that no matter what, God is on the throne? God is in control!
The praise sung here is the central theme of the throne room declaring the sovereignty of God. In the end, the message of Revelation is clear: Believers need not fear what Caesar or any worldly empire may do to them. God is on the throne. He rules, not man.
Jesus, the Lamb of God, who had been slaughtered stood within the throne room alive. Jesus was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. He gave His life so we could live. And here within the throne room stands alive.
By His sacrificial death, the Lamb has taken control of the course of history and guaranteed it’s future. He’s alone worthy to break the seals and open the scroll. The hosts of heaven break out in jubilant song honoring the redemptive work of the Lion and the Lamb. His triumphant sacrifice has transformed men and women from every part of the planet. Countless angels circle His throne declaring His power and praise.
As the world itself unravels, as people turn away from God and the ante is amped up with destruction and turmoil, persecution even, God was and is still on the throne. Jesus is alive! We must hold tightly to this fact.
Again, if we were allowed to have such a vision, to be dangled within the throne room for 30 seconds, the casualness of our relationship with Him would change. Our hope and trust in life, no matter what comes our way and no matter what the headlines scream would certainly change and more importantly our hope would be secure.
Revelation 5 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
In ancient times, the Romans would seal their wills seven times. Each wax seal usually contained an engraved emblem and sealed the letter for security or to designate ownership. Marriage contracts, leases, and title deeds would all have the details written on the inside of the scroll and a summary of the document written on the outside. We can deduce that the contents of this particular scroll symbolize a full account of the destiny God has determined for the entire world.
In this dramatic scene of Revelation 5, John is completely devastated that it appears no one is capable to open the seals. The call went out to all of creation (in Heaven, on Earth, and below the Earth) and initially, no one was found who was worthy. John wept bitterly.
This reminds me of so many times in life when we feel that God is incapable or slow in His sovereignty. John was not crying for His own sake, but because He wanted to see God’s will come to fruition. He longed for righteousness and justice! When we hear of children being abused and trafficked for sex, we long for God’s holy judgment. Our hearts are devastated. When a loved one continually goes back to their addiction after we’ve done everything we can to help them, we weep. When someone we love walks away from Jesus, we throw up our hands and cry out to God… WHY!?
John felt immense grief from the situation and circumstances. God had promised Him to “show him what would take place after this” and now there was seemingly no one who could deliver. It mirrors our sin condition to which we were dead in our trespasses and utterly hopeless in our own strength. Enter Jesus Christ.
The Lion from the Tribe of Judah / The Slain Lamb of God
The lion from the tribe of Judah is a throwback to Genesis 49. The root of David is a throwback to Isaiah 11. Both were familiar to the Jews as the Messiah. John was not only a Jew but a Christian. He understood the significance of these descriptions and was able to connect the dots. This is significant because he first is told of the lion and then sees a lamb looking as if it was slain. The lion is the lamb.
The ultimate power of God (lion) has become a sacrifice (lamb) for the sin of mankind. We read Jesus being described as a lamb 28 times in Revelation and John is the only writer to refer to Him this way in the Gospels.
The appearance of the lamb is strange but symbolic. The seven-horned seven-eyed creature is a common description among other apocalyptic literature. The seven horns represent His unmatched power and the seven eyes represent perfect vision leading to infinite knowledge. He is complete and lacks nothing.
Praise and Worship
As the slain lamb comes forth, John hears the roar of Heaven’s praises. Thousands upon thousands of angelic beings burst into a triumphant song. Not only that, but Scripture says that “…every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them…” praised Jesus Christ in that moment. No living creature failed to join in this new song of worship. This is very likely a fulfillment of Paul’s writings in Philippians 2…
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9-11 NASB
Please do not let the graphic symbolism of this chapter distract you from the vital big-picture truth.
For a brief moment, John was overcome with emotion. We don’t know exactly why, but I think we can speculate that John’s greatest desire is to see man’s kingdom destroyed and God’s Kingdom fully revealed.
He is ready, as are many of us, for Jesus to return. He is waiting with anticipation to see God’s Kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. All the ancient promises that have been spoken seem just a few moments away. We can see the sun beginning to rise on the horizon when suddenly, there is a glitch. There is a pause. There is a problem.
And for a brief moment, John loses his focus. He loses his faith and he loses his trust. Standing in the throne room of God, surrounded by the 4 living creatures and 24 elders, with flickering flames dancing among the emerald rainbow the stretches over God’s seat of judgment, John begins to weep. Though he has had the promises sewn in his heart, though he walked personally with Jesus, and though he is in the most desirable place a human being could ever want to be in all the unseen realm, John is still human.
As all of creation waits to see who could be worthy of taking up this task of possessing and opening the title deed to earth, in the deafening silence of the corridors of heaven, all that is heard is the echo of John’s sorrow. It is the weeping of a man who desperately wants to be with God for eternity, but cannot.
John’s tears represent our destiny. We weren’t supposed to be in the throne room with God. We screwed up. We fell to sin. We rebelled against Him. We abandoned His Kingdom to wallow in the slop of the pigpen. John’s tears represent what should have happened to each one of us. This is our story and our destination in our own strength. We appear before God and He tells us the truth. You can’t open the scroll. In fact, no one can.
Humanity has no place here and John knows it. So, John does what every single one of us has done at one time or another. He weeps because he is incapable. He weeps because he is weak. He weeps because he has lost hope. This isn’t how it was supposed to be.
Have you been there? Are you there now? What is your “this isn’t how it was supposed to be” moment?
Here’s what I want you to know. Heaven doesn’t leave John weeping. God doesn’t give us what we deserve. When all seems lost, when hope has vanished, and when, in our strength, we come to the darkest dead end of our lives, the impossible becomes reality and God makes a way.
Don’t weep! Don’t cry John! The Lamb of God is worthy! He has conquered sin and death! The Lion of Judah is roaring in victory!
Revelation 5 shows us many things about the future, but we must not miss what it shows us about today. Though we struggle and fail daily, though we lose trust and hope and faith and weep because all seems lost, Revelation 5 summons us forward to the eternal hope that resides in the one and only lamb of God: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Don’t weep. Don’t cry. Our King has overcome.