Worthy is the Lamb – Revelation 5:1-14

 

                At the beginning of our study of the book of Revelation, we mentioned how that we should study this book not to just learn about future events, but to get to know Jesus more. The entire theme of Revelation, and the whole Bible for that matter, is all about Jesus. The apostle John finds himself in the throne room of heaven. The description of the throne is seen in chapter four. In chapter five we see the entrance of the Lamb of God, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

                The scroll. In verse one, we see God the Father holding in His right hand, a scroll. And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.”[1]The scroll here is very similar to a Roman will. It was rolled up and sealed and could only be read by the rightful heir. “The scroll represents Christ’s “title deed” to all that the Father promised Him because of His sacrifice on the cross.”[2] The fact that the scroll was written both on the front and back suggest the amount of content that this document contained. The Holman New Testament Commentary says, “The outside was much more difficult to write on, so normally only the inside was written on. That this scroll was written on both sides means that it contained many details. Further, remember another solemn communication from God to mankind written on both sides: “Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets” (Exod. 32:15–16).”[3] The writing of this scroll was the writing of God. The scroll was sealed by God Himself and only the authorized authority could break the seal and reveal the contents of the scroll. “To seal an ancient letter or scroll with wax on the outside edge was customary. This guarded the privacy of the contents until some authorized person broke the seal and opened the scroll. The scroll that John saw was sealed with seven seals—meaning that it had been completely and totally shut by God himself (see also Dan. 12:4). An important part of understanding the material in the next chapter of Revelation, in which the seals are broken, is to visualize properly the location of the seals. To read any of the contents other than what was on the very outside edge, you had to break all seven seals.”[4] As we will discover later on in our study, the scroll contains the judgments of God upon the wickedness of the world.

                Who can open the scroll? The question is asked by an angel, ‘who is worthy to open the scroll?’ We see this in verses 2-5. “Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”[5] The entire cosmos is searched for one who is worthy to open the scroll. No one is found worthy to open the scroll. The apostle John weeps because of this. He is weeping because he knows that the scroll contains God’s final judgments which will usher in the finality of God’s redemptive plan. John is weeping over his concern that if the scroll is not open, then redemption will never be complete. John is comforted as he is introduced to the one who is worthy to open the scroll. The only one worthy to open the scroll is none other than Jesus Christ. He is described as the Lion of Judah and the Root of David. He has prevailed. He was victorious on the cross and is now the only one who is worthy to open the scroll. As Jesus comes on the scene, we see all of heaven and earth break out in spontaneous praise to the Lamb of God.

Why do we worship Jesus? As this worship breaks out, we see four reasons as to why we worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

The first reason is found in verses 5-7. “But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.”[6] Here we find that we worship Jesus because of who He is.  There are three phrases in these verses that describe who Jesus. The first is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. “The image of ‘the lion’ speaks of dignity, sovereignty, courage, and victory. Jesus Christ is the only living Jew who can prove His kingship from the genealogical records.”[7] Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He alone is worthy to break the seals of this scroll. He is the sovereign king. He is all-powerful. He has all authority. Jesus is also described here as the Root of David. This description of Jesus shows that He came first. He is the creator. He was before David. “As far as His humanity is concerned, Jesus had His roots in David (Isa. 11:1, 10); but as far as His deity is concerned, Jesus is the Root of David. This speaks, of course, of our Lord’s eternality; He is indeed the “Ancient of Days.” [8] Who else would be worthy to open the scroll? Jesus is the eternal Lord and King. He alone is worthy. A third description of who Jesus is that is given in these verses is the fact that He is the Lamb. This Lamb appears as though it had been slain. “The theme of “the Lamb” is an important one throughout Scripture, for it presents the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. The Old Testament question, “Where is the lamb?” (Gen. 22:7) was answered by John the Baptist who cried, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The choirs of heaven sing, “Worthy is the Lamb!” (Rev. 5:12)”[9] The Lamb is described symbolically here in several ways. Each description points to the attributes of God. The ‘seven horns’ describe His omnipotence. Jesus is all-powerful. He has perfect power. The ‘seven eyes’ points to His omniscience. He is all-knowing. He has perfect wisdom. There is absolutely nothing that Jesus does not know. He knows more about you than you know about yourself. The ‘seven spirits’ represent the fact that He is omnipresent. He is everywhere at all times. This does not just mean that He is present in all places, but deeper than that, He is present in every time. In other words, He is in the past, the future, and the present. What a comforting thought! Whatever you are facing in life and whatever you are going to face, you do not have to worry, because He is already there. What an awesome God we serve! We worship Jesus simply because of who He is.

We also worship Jesus because of where He is. This is found in verse six. “And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”[10] The Lamb (Jesus) is seen in the midst of the throne. We know that at this very moment, Jesus is in heaven. He is in heaven because His work of providing a way of salvation for mankind is complete. He has already been in the manger. He has already walked on the earth. He has already died on the cross. He has already risen from the grave. He has already ascended into heaven and that is where He is today. As He is in heaven, He is in the midst of the throne. This is very important to note here. Jesus is the center of everything that takes place in heaven. All of the activity of heaven surrounds Jesus. Since Jesus is the center of everything in heaven, He should also be the center of our lives. All of our activity should surround our relationship with Christ. Everything we do should be about Him and giving Him glory. Examine the activity of your life. Can you truly say that everything you do is wrapped up in your relationship with Jesus? Is Jesus Christ the number one priority of your life? I have said many times that you can tell where someone is in their walk with God by looking at their checkbook and their day-planner. How a person spends his or her time and money is a good indication as to where their priorities lay.

A third reason as to why we worship Jesus is found verses 7-10 and that is that we worship Jesus because of what He does. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”[11] The Lamb came and took the scroll out of the hand of God the Father. At this point, praise broke out in heaven. A celebration occurred. The Lamb came forward as the one who has the authority to open the scroll. “He to whom all power was given in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28.) is the only One who can penetrate the mysteries and dispense the power of God’s right hand. Of him that sat upon the throne; of him that sitteth. That is, the Triune God. The Son in his human capacity as indicated by his sacrificial form of the Lamb, can take and reveal the mysteries of the eternal Godhead in which he, as God, has part.”[12]  As the Lamb takes the scroll there is a great doxology of praise that rings throughout all of heaven. “God’s people and the representatives of God’s creation joined their voices in a new song of praise.”[13] They rejoice as the prayers of the saints, represented by the ‘golden bowls full of incense’, is offered up before the Lamb.  “The idea is, no doubt, taken from the shallow bowls which were placed upon the golden altar (Exod. 30:1–10), and in which incense was burned. The odours are the incense. In the same chapter of Exodus directions are given concerning the preparation and use of the incense, which was always a symbol of prayer, and always offered to God alone.”[14] In verses 9-10 those present in heaven begin to sing a hymn of praise to the Lamb. They praise Him as the one who is worthy to take the scroll and open its seals. In their song,  they list the reasons as to why the Lamb is worthy to take the scroll. First of all, He is worthy because He has redeemed us. Redemption is beautiful thing. It gives the idea of one who is a slave and they are bought out of the salve market and set free. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus paid the price for our sin. His blood was the payment necessary in order that we may be bought out of the slave market of sin. This redemption is made available to the whole world. The song continues by mentioning that Jesus has redeemed those out of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. “How far-reaching was the Lamb’s purchase? Persons of every tribe and language and people and nation were included. His redemptive work was not for Jews only, but included representatives from ethnic groups and societies around the world. Today we have a much better understanding than John did of how widely varied human societies are. The worship of the elders anticipated the time when the Great Commission of Christ had reached its fulfillment (Matt 28:19–20).”[15] Secondly, the Lamb is worthy because He has made the redeemed to be kings and priests to God. Because we are made as kings and priests, we will reign with Christ on the earth. Easley writes, “This marks a wonderful transformation and fulfillment of what God had told the Israelite people in the days of Moses: “If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exod. 19:5–6). Throughout the centuries from John’s day until now, the Lamb’s purchased people have been fulfilling this privilege. The apostle Peter also understood this: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9).”[16] As priests of God we have complete access into the throne of God. Our prayers reaches into His throne and one day we will physical enter into that place to worship Him as priests of God. We will also rule and reign with Christ. “The saints do spiritually reign now; but certainly not as they shall when the prince of this world shall be bound (see on Rev 20:2–6).”[17] What a glorious day that will be when Satan is bound and we will rule and reign with Christ!

Not only do we worship Jesus for who He is, where He is, and what He does, but we also worship Him for what He has. Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.”[18] John describes an amazing scene in heaven. There is an outburst of praise coming from the countless numbers of angels, creatures, and the redeemed. As they sing, they acknowledge that He has all power, riches, wisdom, strength, and honor! “All of heaven’s praise came because the Lamb took the scroll from the Father’s hand. God’s great eternal plan would now be fulfilled and creation would be set free from the bondage of sin and death. One day the Lamb will break the seals and put in motion events that will eventually lead to His coming to earth and the establishment of His kingdom.”[19]

As we get a glimpse of that wonderful worship service in heaven, the question should be raised as to your standing with God. Are you one of the redeemed? Will you join in that heavenly choir and sing praise to the Lamb?

 

 

 


[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 5:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 584). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Easley, K. H. (1998). Revelation (Vol. 12, p. 90). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Easley, K. H. (1998). Revelation (Vol. 12, pp. 90–91). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 5:2–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 5:5–7). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 584). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[8] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 584). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[9] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 584–585). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[10] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 5:6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[11] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 5:7–10). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[12] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Revelation (p. 165). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[13] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 585). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[14] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Revelation (p. 165). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[15] Easley, K. H. (1998). Revelation (Vol. 12, p. 95). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[16] Easley, K. H. (1998). Revelation (Vol. 12, p. 95). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[17] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Re 5:10). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[18] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 5:11–14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[19] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 586). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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