Grace For The Journey
We are continuing our series of studies on the Book of Revelation. We are making our way verse by verse through this last Book of the Bible and God is going to be teaching us about the things that take place in the future. In chapter 5 we are back at the scene of heaven. Chapters 4 and 5 really go together. John has been called up into the throne room of heaven. He is called up in a vision. He sees things that are beautifully symbolic of God and His creation.
In chapter 4 we see God in His glorious splendor.
The vision continues in chapter 5 as we read now
About John’s seeing the Lord Jesus Christ, described
In our text as the “lion of the tribe of Judah”
And as “a lamb who had been slain.”
John tells us that he sees God sitting on the throne. And God has something in His right hand. It is a scroll.
Have you ever been so focused on the details of something that you completely miss something right under your nose? Often, I will get my mind on something, or I will be thinking about what I have got to do. I will be on my way to go see someone at the hospital or something and I will be thinking about things I have got to do and I will walk right by someone I know without even realizing it. Have you ever done that? What is really bad is when the person you walked right by is the person you were going to see!
In John’s vision in chapter 4, he tells us some of the things he sees as he is right there in the presence of God on His throne. He tells us about seeing beautiful stones like jasper and sardius stones. He sees a rainbow around the throne like an emerald. Before the throne John sees a sea of glass like crystal. He tells us about seeing four living creatures and 24 elders around the throne of God. And yet, he has apparently missed something. We find out what John missed in chapter 5. The Bible says that in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and the 24 elders stands the Lord Jesus Christ, described as “a lamb who had been slain.”
Wonder how John missed Jesus?! He had seen precious stones in heaven, heard thunder, saw lightening, and gazed at a rainbow like an emerald and a sea of glass like crystal, but he missed Jesus. I was listening to Adrian Rogers the other day and he said that one of the dangers of studying prophecy is that we can get so focused on the details of prophetic events that we can completely miss Jesus.
We must remember that . . .
The main point of prophecy is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The main person of the Bible is the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have said many times that the Bible is a “Him book,” it is about Him. Jesus Christ is the focus of all creation. John reminds us of this in chapter 5. We see some wonderful truths to grasp because of the Lord Jesus Christ. First, because of Christ . . .
I. We Can Know God’s Plan – Verses 1-5.
Verse 1 says, “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.” In John’s day they did not have books like you and I have, they had scrolls. They had long pages – sheets from the papyrus plant – and these sheets would be written on, glued together from end to end and then rolled up into scrolls. The scrolls were then sealed with a big dab of hot wax to keep the scroll from unwinding and to keep the scroll from being read until the proper time. The scroll John describes has a lot of writing on it, front and back. And it is sealed with seven seals. It is a very important scroll. Remember that John has been called up to heaven, in order to see the things that are to take place in the future and so this scroll represents the details of future events. With the breaking of each seal, we learn of future things that will happen according to God’s plan, God’s perfect plan centered completely around the Lord Jesus Christ. The seven seals teach us that it is God’s perfect and complete plan. John sees this scroll in the right hand of God.
Verse 2 continues, “Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?’” We see again the importance of this scroll. The contents reveal the perfect plan of God. Not just anyone may open it. God has a perfect plan for all of mankind as revealed through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Who is worthy to open the scroll and loose the seals?
Verse 3 tells us, “And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.” No one in all of creation is worthy. No angelic being is worthy. No human being is worthy. No great leader liker like Napoleon or Alexander the Great. Not even a biblical leader like Moses, Elijah, Elisha, or the Apostle Paul is worthy.
Verse 4 shows us John’s response, “So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.” It seems for a moment that God’s perfect plan may not be realized. If no one is worthy to open the scroll, then the events may not be detailed. This is why John weeps. He is concerned that God’s perfect plan, including the ultimate righting of all wrongs, and the ushering in of a time of universal peace, may not be realized. He weeps.
Verse 5 tells us, “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.’” The Lord Jesus Christ is described here as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” In In Genesis 49:8-10, Jacob gives to his son, Judah a prophecy. Jacob tells Judah that the Messiah, described there as a lion, will come from his line. The Messiah is “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” Another specific detail in disclosing Who the Messiah would be.
Jesus is also described as “the Root of David.” Jesus comes from the line of David, too. This is a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 11:1. It pictures the royalty of the Messiah. He is the one who comes from the royal lineage of the great King David. He is worthy because he “has prevailed.” He has conquered Satan and won. He has died for our sins and rose from the grave. That is what it means when it says he “has prevailed.” He is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.
Because of Christ,
Know God’s plan.
Remember that God has a perfect plan for all of His creation. This world is not just rolling along with no rhyme or reason. God is working out a perfect plan. You may feel like John at times. You feel like weeping. You wonder if it is all going to work out, if God’s perfect plan is going to be realized and actualized. You wonder if there will be any justice in your particular situation at work or home. You may recoil at the events that are happening in the world and you may wonder if God really is on His throne. But . . .
You must remember that
He is and He is in control.
Because of Christ,
God’s perfect plan
Is being worked
Out and actualized.
In the midst of
Uncertainty, God is there.
Because of Christ we can know God’s plan.
Secondly, because of Christ . . .
II. We Can See God’s Power – Verses 6-7.
John tells us in verse 6, “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.”
It is a fascinating thing. The mighty angel says, “Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah.” John hears about a lion and he turns to see a lamb! He sees “a lamb as though it had been slain.” The mixed metaphor is intentional. The point is that this strong powerful mighty lion conquers as a lamb.
The power of sin
The power of sacrifice.
The Greek word for “lamb” there is hardly used elsewhere in the New Testament. It is used 28 times in the book of Revelation to describe Jesus. It is the word for a “little lamb,” like a “pet lamb,” a lamb that was kept four days in the Jewish home before the family partook of the Passover. During the Passover that little lamb was sacrificed as a reminder that our sins needed to be paid for.
This is why Isaiah, prophesying 700 years before Christ, described the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ in Isaiah 53:7 as, “a lamb being led to the slaughter.” And when He was killed, Isaiah says in Isaiah 53:6, “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
That is why we read of John’s seeing a lamb “as though it had been slain.” The Lamb had been slain, but He arose. He died for our sins, but He was raised from the grave. That is how the mighty lion conquers. He conquers as a lamb. Because of Christ, we can see God’s power.
You can also see His power in the way John describes what he saw in his vision. Remember that this is a vision. These things are not literal representations of Christ. John sees the Lamb as having “seven horns” and “seven eyes.” The horn represents strength and might. Seven is the number for perfection and completion. We see Christ has perfect might and perfect sight. He sees everything. He knows everything.
I heard about a bunch of children lined up in the cafeteria of a religious school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The teacher made a note: “Take only one, God is watching.” At the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A boy wrote a note: “Take all you want, God is watching the apples.” God is watching everything and everyone. That is convicting and encouraging. He knows what you need. He sees you. He will provide. You can trust Him.
The “seven eyes” is John’s way of describing the Lord Jesus Christ Who sees everything and is everywhere present. The “seven spirits” of God is a reference to the perfect, complete Holy Spirit. God is everywhere present in perfect might and sight. Because of Christ, we can see the power of God.
Verse 7 states, “Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.” This action represents power and authority. The right hand is the hand of authority and power. Only the one who is worthy can come and take the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sits on the throne. Because of Christ we can know God’s plan and see God’s power.
God’s power is revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who, as a lion, conquers as a lamb. He has won the battle at Calvary, at the cross 2,000 years ago. All of history is to be interpreted by the cross. That is why we need not fear the future battle of Armageddon, because the battle of Calvary has been won. The war is over. The Battle of Armageddon is just Satan’s last visible loss. He is already defeated. We need not worry about the future. Because of Christ, we can know God’s plan and see God’s power.
Thirdly, because of Christ . . .
III. We Can Give Our Praise – Verses 8-14.
1) He Receives Praise For The Work Of Redemption – Verses 8-10.
Verses 8-10 tell us, “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.’”
The four living creatures and the 24 elders praise the Lamb because of His work of redemption. The harp is an instrument of praise and the bowls of incense were used during times of prayer. The Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of our prayers and praise. Why? Because of His work of redemption.
They teach us what to say: “You are worthy . . . for you have redeemed us to God by Your blood.” Redemption describes the purchasing of a prisoner of war, freeing him from bondage. The death of Christ is Christ’s “ransom payment,” a death that makes possible the purchasing of souls who are prisoners of sin, thus freeing them from the bondage of sin, including its penalty, power, and presence. Christ has purchased us not with gold, or silver, or money, but He has purchased us by His blood. We were bound to sin, destined to die for sin, destined to be separated from God forever. But Christ freed us from the slave market of sin by shedding His blood for us, by dying for us, and by dying for our sins. That is why the four living creatures and the 24 elders say, “You have redeemed us by Your blood.” You have redeemed us and “made us kings” (we will reign with Christ) and “priests” (we will serve) and we will “reign on the earth” (during the millennial reign).
Have you been redeemed? Have you been saved from the penalty of sin by looking to Jesus, accepting His sacrifice for you, and asking Him to be your personal Lord and Savior? If you have been redeemed, then you will love to proclaim it. In the words of the hymn-writer, Fanny Crosby:
Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.
Christ receives praise for the work of redemption and:
2) He Receives Praise From The Whole of Creation – Verses 11-14.
Verses 11-14 tells us how all creation praises Him, “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 (the Greek word is “myriad,” literally, “without number), 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.” Notice that Jesus Christ receives worship, yet worship is meant only for God. At the very end of the Book of Revelation we read that John is so carried away by what he has seen that he falls down at the feet of an angel. The angel says, “Don’t do that! Get up. Don’t worship me. Worship God.” That Jesus Christ receives the worship of the whole of creation illustrates His deity. He is worthy of worship, worthy of praise.
Worship literally means to recognize Christ’s “worth.” That is what the Old English word means, “to describe worth.” Jesus Christ is worthy. Worthy is the Lamb. When we worship Christ, we are ascribing worth to Him.
Do you really believe He is worthy? Do you? Is He worthy of your life? Worthy of your time? Is He worthy of your talents? Is He worthy of your treasures? Is He worthy of your faithful attendance to the worship services of your church? Is He worthy of your witness? In light of what Christ has done for you, what are you doing for Him? When we remember what Christ has done for us, everything we do will flow from gratitude to Him.
I read about a tourist in a foreign country who was looking at unusual sights in the rural town he was visiting. In this rural town he was attracted by a beautiful building there and as he was looking at that building he noticed something unusual. Looking up to see it better he noticed about two thirds of the way up the building, on the outside of the building, there was a little stone lamb. The man stopped a nearby citizen and asked him why this figure of a lamb was there on the side of the building. A citizen then told the man that the lamb was there to mark a place from which a mason had lost his balance while working on the building and fell down to the earth below. The tourist asked, “Was he killed?” The citizen said, “No, it was a miracle. When the mason’s fellow workers hurried down expecting to find his body crushed on the pavement, they found their co-worker shaken and badly bruised, but otherwise completely fine.” The citizen then relayed how, at the exact same moment the mason had fallen, another man was leading several lambs off to be slaughtered. As the mason fell he landed on the back of one of those lambs. The lamb was killed but he had broken the mason’s fall and saved his life. That worker was so impressed and so grateful that he had that stone lamb placed on the outside of the building as a lasting memorial to the sacrificial death of that lamb – he did not want anyone to forget how the lamb had died for him.
The Bible teaches that we all have this problem called sin. We do things we are not supposed to do. Our problem goes all the way back to what is called “the Fall.” When Adam and Even sinned, they brought sin into the world. Because of their sin, we sin. Because of their fall, we fall. The best news of the Bible is that God visits us in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one John the Baptist describes as, “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” While I rightly deserve the punishment of death for my sin, Jesus Christ dies for me. He dies for my sins. He takes my sins upon Himself. He takes my place. Like that little lamb upon which the mason fell, Jesus Christ takes my fall. He dies but His death saves my life. The Lamb of God dies for me.
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!