In Revelation 4, John sees all things before the throne of God and Him who sat on it. In chapter 5, John’s focus narrows to a scroll in His right hand. It is a scroll that is written on the front and the back, and sealed with seven seals. The idea behind a double-sided scroll, in light of Ezekiel 2, is that it is filled up and complete, and therefore, ready to be executed. However, this scroll is perfectly and divinely sealed. A seal and its imprint testify of the scroll’s authenticity and of the authority of the sender. It also conceals and protects the document from those who have no right to open it.
The natural question is declared by the angel, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” All of heaven is laid impotent at the question. No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the book. What frail angel can execute the redemption of man and bring about the salvation of God’s elect? What sinful man, born of Adam’s race, dares to approach the mountain of God and attempt to execute perfect judgment on every living thing? Who can bring about the decrees of God upon the earth? The fate of all of creation is at stake.
John weeps as none is found worthy. Then one of the twenty-four elders approaches John and tells him that “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” The elder refers to Old Testament passages that speak of the coming Messiah (Genesis 49:8-10; Isaiah 11:1-5, 10). The passages speak of the One who would not only be exalted but would come with incomprehensible power and would defeat His enemies. However, when John looks up to see this ferocious Lion, he sees a Lamb as if slain, but yet lives. The Lamb has seven horns and seven eyes, indicating that He is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). The Lamb takes the scroll, and all of heaven is focused on Him.
This calls for worship. It beings with those who are closest to the throne and, with a ripple effect it moves outward until it encompasses all of creation. The elders declare the worthiness of the Lamb who was slain, for He “purchased for God with His blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” An incalculable number of angels join the song in affirming, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” He deserves all of these things because that is who he truly is. Though veiled on earth, here in the heavens, it is as if He has stepped into the light and finally and clearly seen by all of creation. All of creation joins the song of the worthiness of the Lamb.
- In what ways is this heavenly scene intended to be an encouragement to the persecuted church, or any church in this fallen world? What encouragement and hope have you found in the truths of this passage?
- Jesus Christ is the Lamb who was slain for sinners. He shed His precious blood to ransom and reconcile His enemies to Himself. Have you begun to appreciate His kindness, humility, and love? Have you bowed in submission and trust before Him? How should an understanding of His kindness and love for you affect the way you live today?
- Seeing all the nations rejoicing at the worthiness of the Lamb serves as great motivation and incentive for believers to long for His glory among the nations. How does an understanding of this passage affect your understanding of missions? What is the ultimate aim of missions? Do you pray for God’s Name to be made great among the nations?