Revelation Episode 5

Beth's Notes

1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”  13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”  14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. Revelation 5:1-14 (NIV)
Prayer - Open our eyes that we might see wonderful truths in Your Law Oh Lord. Make Your Word come alive Oh Lord! Make it come alive!  
Up to this point the Apostle John has seen and described the magnificent throne of God, the Great Ruler of all things. Now in Chapter Five, his attention  focuses on an object in the right hand of God – a sealed Scroll.  There are three characteristics mentioned of this Scroll: First, it is in the right hand of God; Second, it is written on both sides; and Third, it was sealed shut by seven seals. God held this Scroll in His right hand declaring its Authority. It is known to no one except Himself until He allows it to be opened. It is sealed with seven seals. Each part seems to have its own particular seal. These seven parts are not unsealed and opened all at once rather in succession – one scene of Providence introducing another and explaining it. The number seven may represent the importance and completely unbreakable nature of the Scroll. This is marking a change in History or His-Story and it is a dramatic one. And within the Scroll, is a transcript of as much as is necessary for us to know – one scene of Providence introducing another with explanation.
Next, John hears the declaration of who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll. The crier was a strong, mighty angel who appears to have come out with a challenge to any and all the creatures. The challenge was, “Who is worthy?” This is an indication that its contents are impressive and pure and righteous, requiring the power of God for their revelation as well as for their execution. Perhaps this is a rhetorical question to get his hearers to understand that no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth – including none of the fallen angels - could accept this great challenge and undertake this task. Only God can. Only God is able. Only God. As the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 3:9-12:
9 What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
And again in Romans 3:23:
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  
Only God can read the Scroll and at this the Apostle John weeps and weeps. He knew the inestimable importance of the contents of this Scroll and it was a grave disappointment to him for it not to be opened. His great desire was to know more of God’s mind and His will and His ways as well as His plans and purposes. This is to be our heart’s desire too and we go to His Word to fulfill it. When one tastes and sees that the Lord is good, they desire more, Amen? And there is never an end to what we can learn as He is an over flowing, ever flowing, inexhaustible fountain. Those who have experienced His glory always long to go “further still” in their knowledge of Him. One never gets to the end of the knowledge of God. Indeed, the Apostle Paul exclaims in Philippians his ardent desire to know and grow more in His knowledge of the Lord – a lofty goal for us as well - in Philippians 3:10-14:
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Next, we discover one of the elders telling John not to weep as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed and is able to open the Scroll and its seven seals.  God had revealed this to His church through one of the twenty-four elders around His throne.  Notice who would do it – the Lord Jesus Christ – from the tribe of Judah according to His human nature and the root of David according to His divine nature.  Such a magnificent description of the Lord Jesus! The Mediator between God and man is both fit and worthy to open and fulfill all the purposes of God towards His people.
Next, John saw a Lamb looking as though it had been slain.  He was called a Lion as He conquered Satan and now a Lamb as He satisfied the justice of God.  He was – standing - in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.  He had seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God - the perfect power to fulfill all the will of God and the perfect wisdom to understand it all – He has the Holy Spirit without limit. John 3:34 states of Jesus:
34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.
Jesus gives the perfect truth of God as He speaks the words of God, because He has the full endowment of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit without limit. This implies that Christ is completely worthy and has full authority and sovereignty over the contents of the scroll.
I love that the Lamb – looking as if it had been slain - is standing in the midst of the Throne and of the four living creatures. He wears the wounds which wooed our souls and redeemed them by His complete atonement. Donning these scars as a badge of love and honor for the saints. They are the trophies of His love for us and of His victory. His wounds are far fairer in our eyes than all the splendor of earthly kings. He did this for us as we could not save ourselves. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-10:
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
And He is standing – Our Lord stands - of course He is! He has also called us to stand firm through His power as well. Further, He is faithful and able to cause us to stand. Just as Moses told the Israelites in Exodus 14:13-14:
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
And just as the Spirit of the Lord told King Jehoshaphat through the Jahaziel son of Zechariah in 2 Chronicles 20:17:
17 “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.”
And just as Job explained in Job 19:25-26:
25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 
27 I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

And lastly – though there are countless more – Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10-18:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
We are to stand firm through His power and for His glory just as He stood firm for us.  This is also a perfect description of Christ in His first coming as the Lamb who submitted to death for our sakes as Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5-11:
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Christ left this world as a slain Lamb and He will return as a Conquering King described as a Lion here in Revelation. This is the only place in Revelation where Christ is referred to as a lion.
To end this section on “standing” I would be remiss not to include Psalms One as it fits perfectly here:
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
In Christ taking the Scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne - who is clearly God the Father - it is evident that the judgment and power of the earth are committed to Christ the Son of God. His worthiness cannot come from a created being and it allows Him to approach God the Father and receive the Scroll with the permission to open it. Jesus, as God, is the Source and not merely the reflection of God’s glory. Daniel 7:13-14 prophesy’s this:
 13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
The Lamb takes the Scroll from God’s right hand and when He had taken it the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders recognized the great importance of this scene by falling down and worshiping the Lamb.  This makes it crystal clear that this Being is not merely a prophet or an exalted angel, but the Lord Jesus Christ in all the majesty of His deity, even as He is portrayed here in His sacrificial role as the Lamb who died on the cross. Divine worship continued as each had a harp which are symbols of divine worship and also bowls of incense said to be “the prayers of the saints”. This same Lamb who suffered the abuse of the soldiers and the agony of the cross is here being given His rightful worship.  Apart from the trumpet, the harp (or lyre) is the only instrument mentioned in heavenly worship and was commonly employed in Old Testament worship. The prayers of the saints mentioned suggest the importance of prayer in the earthly scene. Our prayers are a sweet smelling fragrance to the Lord God. Later in the Scroll, testimony is made to the continued witness on earth of those who come to trust in Christ during the time of the dreadful tribulation. Their prayers are said to be like sweet incense before the throne – an acceptable sacrifice pleasing to God.  King David writes in Psalms 141:2:
2 May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
May we all echo his sentiment.  
There is now a new song of praise sung, praising Christ for His work of redemption and for making His people to be a kingdom of priests – a royal priesthood as Peter states in 1 Peter 2:9-10:
9 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. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
God is giving us a glorious picture of heaven and it builds.  It is a marvelous symphony of praise – bursting with joy - ascribed to the Lamb and could not have been sung prior to Christ’s redemptive act on the cross on our behalf. Presently even nature groans as Paul writes in Romans 8:22-25:
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Believers have been purchased by His blood from every tribe and language and people and nation - no exclusivity apart from faith in Christ alone. There is a vastness and comprehensiveness of redemption. God has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve Him as well as to reign on the earth. This refers to the earthly millennial reign of Christ on earth in which believers (the Church) will participate – Hallelujah! This glorious scene follows the dark hour of tribulation. It is hope that is presently unseen but sure. The church will share the glory of Christ as joint heirs with Christ and partakers of His sovereign rule. God will right every wrong and wipe away every tear. You can take that to the proverbial bank.
And the worship continues to get grander and grander to include thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand, encircling the throne and singing in a loud voice of the worthiness of the Lamb. It seems like all the saints of all the ages are swept up in praise and adoration reaching a grand crescendo! This rejoicing and beauty in heaven stands as a stark contrast to the judgment and trials happening on the earth. There is a building excitement that overrules a patient endurance, Amen? It is a coming transfer of earth to its rightful Owner and they are bursting with joy as it will restore a rightful state of oneness and fellowship with God. It is joyful anticipation of the coming King and a celebration of all raptured. It is their Magnificent Obsession and everything has been building towards this great crescendo from Genesis on. Amazing! To Him is due all glory and honor!

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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