The Worthy Lamb

Rev 5:1-14

1 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.

2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?"

3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.

4 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.

5 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."

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.

7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

8 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.

9 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,

10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth."

11 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,

12 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!"

13 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!"

14 Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. (NKJ)

The subject of the sealed scroll is redemption. He who opens the scroll is the "Lamb,' still bearing the scars of crucifixion. His death was the "one sacrifice for sins for ever" (Hebrews 10:12) the wounds of which still bear witness to the substitutionary feature of that death (Zechariah 13:1,6). Then. too, the song that is sung is one of redemption (5:9). The scroll, while containing a message of divine revelation pertaining to prophecy, speaks of redemption. True, redemption has its roots in the past, but its final fulfillment lies in the future. Redemption is not confined solely to our Lord's first coming to earth it is very definitely linked with His Second Coming. When Jesus spoke to His disciples concerning those things which are to precede His Second Coming, He said, "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up. and lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28). The Holy Spirit gave the Apostle Paul to see that redemption is still largely a subject pertaining to the future. He says to believers, "Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession" (Ephesians 1:13-14). The possession has been purchased but not yet fully redeemed. All creation groans waiting to be redeemed. "Even we ourselves groan within ourselves. waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:22-23).

The subject of the seven-sealed scroll, then, has to do with redemption. In order to interpret the scroll we must examine the Biblical laws and customs in Israel's history as they are recorded in the Old Testament. Included in the numerous laws which God gave to His people. there was a law which dealt specifically with redemption. Three things could be redeemed:

(1) A man could sell himself into servitude, that is, if he had no money he could sell himself as a servant. However, a near kin could redeem him from his servitude (Leviticus 25:47- 55). The one who redeemed him, then, was called the kinsman-redeemer.

(2) If a woman's husband died, and he left no unmarried brother to marry her, or if a living brother of the deceased man chose not to marry his brother's widow, as provided for in Deuteronomy 25:5-10, then the nearest of kin could marry her. This man was likewise a kinsman-redeemer. Boaz marrying Ruth is a case in point (Ruth 4).

(3) If a man lost his land, a near kin could buy it hack, that is, redeem it, thereby keeping it in the family estate (Leviticus 25:25). The scroll on which the official transaction was recorded was rolled up and sealed, and placed in the court of the Tabernacle or Temple. These three things could be redeemed: a servant, a wife, and land.

M. R. DeHaan writes, "At this point in Revelation (chapter 5) the first two have been accomplished. The Church, the Bride of Christ, was caught up in the Rapture spoken of in Revelation 4, and we, His servants, have been fully redeemed, having received our resurrection bodies at the Rapture of the Church. But the earth and the creatures in the earth, both vegetable and animal, are still under the curse. The earth itself is still groaning under the curse of man's sin. These also must be redeemed, for Christ is the perfect Redeemer, and every realm which came under the curse of Adam's sin must also be delivered by the redemption of the Last Adam." The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 139-140

1 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.

The book that John saw in the hand of Him that sat upon the throne is the title deed to the earth. The earth and the atmosphere around it have been in the hands of an invader. The cruel usurper is Satan. He wrested it from Adam, whom God had given dominion over it (Genesis 1:26- 28), so that today the earth is in Satan's power. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 141

""Sealed up with seven seals."" ""Sealed up"" is katasfragizw from kata meaning ""down"" and sfragizw, ""to seal."" This compound verb means ""tightly sealed, firmly sealed,"" and so, ""very hidden, very secure."" ""Seven"" is the number of perfection or completeness. So all of this expresses the perfection with which the hidden counsels of God are securely hidden until they are disclosed by God Himself as here. Walvoord writes, ""Further, the document is made impressive by seven seals, apparently fixed on the edges of the scroll in such a way that the seals must be successively broken if the scroll is to be unrolled and read. John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press, Chicago, 1968, p. 113. Studies in Revelation by J. Hampton Keathley III

2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?"

The Roman Custom: The Roman custom of making a will included a ceremony involving a testator and seven witnesses. For each of the seven witnesses there was a seal. In addition, a very reliable friend was selected who would, for a coin, purchase the property for the family. In this way the property would become the property of the reliable friend, however, upon the death of the testator, the very reliable friend would return the property to the rightful heirs. For such a document, a long scroll of parchment was used. The writer of the document would begin writing and after a period, he would stop, roll up the parchment enough to cover his words, and then seal the scroll with wax. He would then resume writing, stop, seal another portion, and so on until the entire scroll was sealed with seven seals. In this way, the scroll would read a section at a time after each seal was broken. Studies in Revelation by J. Hampton Keathley III

In the analogy, the Lord Jesus is the reliable Friend who has purchased our redemption and is here seen opening the seals which provide us with our inheritance. In this case, He is reclaiming that which was lost by Adam. Further, this procedure was used to keep unauthorized persons from opening the seven-sealed scroll. Only a ""worthy"" person, the one with the right credentials, could open the seals, read the inheritance, and give it to the inheritors.

The Jewish Custom: Criswell points out that if a Jewish family were to lose its property or possessions by some kind of misfortune or distress, their property could not be permanently taken from them (the Old Testament law of jubilee and the kinsman redeemer protected them against this). However, their losses were listed in a scroll and sealed seven times. Then the conditions necessary to purchase back the land and their possessions were written on the outside of the scroll. When a qualified redeemer could be found, who could meet the requirements of reclamation (a kinsman like Boaz as in the story of Ruth), the one who had taken the property was required to return it to the original owner. Studies in Revelation by J. Hampton Keathley III

3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.

4 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.

John "wept much" when no one was found worthy even to look on this book. It was as if sin and Satan were to go on forever in the usurped control of affairs in this world. It was as if it must still be written:

Right forever on the scaffold,

Wrong forever on the throne.

Revelation; William R. Newell; Kregel Publications; 1994, page 98

5 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 allusion to "the Lion" is a reference to Genesis 49:9--10, where it is predicted that the future ruler of the earth shall come from the tribe of Judah, the lion tribe. Reference to Christ as the Root of David stems from the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots" (cf. Isa. 11:10). It is declared that He "hath prevailed" (Cr., enikesen, meaning "to conquer"). In the Greek the verb comes first in the sentence for emphasis. Hence, translated literally it is "Behold, he has conquered, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David." The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord ; Moody Press; 1966, page 114

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.

"A Lamb . . as though it had been slain." Do we wonder that the One who was so devoted to the will of God as to die in obedience to it,--so committed to holiness and righteousness as to be slain rather than submit to sin, should now be deemed worthy to take this book of judgment and open its seals? This thought of the wounds of Christ, blessed comfort to His own, (John 20:20) will strike stark terror to His enemies! For the slain Lamb cannot compromise with the iniquity they love! Revelation; William R. Newell; Kregel Publications; 1994, page 97

""He had seven horns."" The horn is the symbol of power and of government, and seven (the number of perfection) shows us that Christ''s power and government are perfect. He will be victorious over all His enemies and rule in perfect righteousness and justice as prophesied in Isaiah 11. Studies in Revelation by J. Hampton Keathley III

""And seven eyes."" Eyes are symbolic of Christ''s omniscience, wisdom and insight. Again, seven emphasizes the totality and perfection of His knowledge and insight. In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). Studies in Revelation by J. Hampton Keathley III

""Which are the seven Spirits of God."" Though Christ Himself is omniscient, He also is the One who sends forth the Holy Spirit into the earth, who likewise knows all and sees all. None of His actions and decisions in His righteous judgments against the sin of mankind will be made on partial knowledge. Studies in Revelation by J. Hampton Keathley III

7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

The purpose of this dramatic presentation of the seven-sealed book was to impress upon John the importance of its contents and of the revelation contained therein. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord ; Moody Press; 1966, page 114

8 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.

By their obeisance and worship of the Lamb as recorded in verse 8 it should be clear that the Lamb is not merely a prophet or an exalted angel but none other than the Lord Jesus Christ in all the majesty of deity, even though portrayed in His sacrificial role as the Lamb who died on the cross. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord ; Moody Press; 1966, page 116

The golden vials or bowls filled with sacred perfume or incense represent the prayers of the saints according to the text. Here in heaven the importance of prayer in the earthly scene is inferred. Later in the book testimony is made to the continued witness on earth of those who trust in Christ during the time of dreadful tribulation. Their prayers are said to be as sweet incense before the throne of God. The role of the elders seems to be one of sympathetic presentation, not that of a mediator of earthly prayers. The symbolism of bowls of incense representing the prayers of the saints is reflected in Psalm 141:2 where David cried to the Lord, "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord ; Moody Press; 1966, page 117

Why are harps and bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints (5:8), connected with the Lamb's taking the book of the inheritance? Did the prayers of the saints bring about this scene? Would our Lord have commanded His disciples to pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will he done, as in heaven, so on earth," if (a) God had not meant to bring this to pass, and (b) if the prayers of the saints were not a vital factor in bringing about this glorious result? Follow through the book of Revelation whatever is said about the prayers of the saints. Some day it will be found that every soul that has been saved, every blessing any saint has received, every thwarting of Satan, every victory for God, as well as this final consummation of our Lord's taking over the book of the kingdom--all have been brought about through the saints' prayers, inspired of God, as essential elements in His great, all-comprehensive purpose. Revelation; William R. Newell; Kregel Publications; 1994, page 97-98

9 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,

It is declared to be a new song, that is, a song which could not have been sung prior to His redemptive act, a song over and beyond an ascription of praise to His person or a recognition of His attributes. Here He is declared to have the right to rule, not simply in virtue of His deity but in His victory over sin and death in His act of supreme redemption. The right to the book has been secured by conquering death and providing a complete sacrifice for sin. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord ; Moody Press; 1966, page 118

There is nothing of self-praise in this worship. The worshipers recognize that they have been redeemed. Here we see grace reigning. "Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests." On earth the unsaved proudly feel they should do something in order to become saved. And even among Christians there are some who like to receive credit for their faith. But in Heaven all glory goes to the Lamb, for what we are He has "made us." Actually we know this now, and from time to time we testify, "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10). But here on earth the old nature tends to be proud. At times we speak of our accomplishments, and we proudly listen when we hear someone else speak of them. In Heaven there will be none of this. Without exception, every redeemed heart in Heaven and every redeemed tongue will join in the song. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 148

10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth."

The fact that there is a variation in texts in this passage, however, by no means determines beyond question that the text used by the Authorized Version is incorrect. . . . It merely leaves the matter open. In view of the fact that the twenty-four elders are pictured as having crowns of gold and clothed in white raiment, as if they are already a complete people judged and rewarded, the weight of evidence still is in favor of considering them as representatives of the church, the Body of Christ. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord ; Moody Press; 1966, page 118

It is not the escape to heaven by redemption that is being rejoiced over here, but the near-at-hand establishment upon earth of a reign of God by means of these redeemed ones, that gives joy before the throne of God. We should keep this in mind throughout The Revelation. God is at last setting His hand to interfere with the earthly sinful order of things to the extent of completely setting aside earthly authority, after overturning it by dire judgments: then causing certain saints to reign with Christ on earth with a divine absolutism for a thousand years (Revelation 20), and then bringing in final judgment and the disappearance from the scene of the present heavens and earth. The objective of God is the new heavens and new earth wherein righteousness will be at home (Greek of II Peter 3 :13). This should be our objective in thought, hope and prayer. Revelation; William R. Newell; Kregel Publications; 1994, page 99

11 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,

12 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!"

13 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!"

14 Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. (NKJ)

The same Lord and Redeemer who is the object of worship and praise on the part of the saints is also the righteous Judge of the wicked earth and the One by whose authority the terrible events of the tribulation unfold. For many Christians heaven is an unreal place. Even Christians tend to be occupied too much with the things of this present world, which can be seen and touched and felt. Too often goals in life have little to do with eternity's values. Though to the ordinary Christian the privilege of a vision of heaven such as was given the Apostle John and the Apostle Paul is seldom granted, what they saw has been plainly written in the Word of God, and we can see through their eyes the glorious picture of the majesty which surrounds the Lord in heaven. By comparison to the heavenly scene, earth is revealed to be temporary and transitory, and its glory and glitter are tarnished. As far as the heavens are above the earth, so far the glory of heaven transcends what the natural eye can see in this world. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord ; Moody Press; 1966, page 121

 

Heaven's Tears & The Worthy Lamb

Rev 5:1-14

1 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.

2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?"

3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.

4 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.

5 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."

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.

7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

8 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.

9 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,

10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth."

11 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,

12 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!"

13 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!"

14 Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. (NKJ)

We come to a most solemn point in this passage this morning.

Chapter 5 is just a continuation of chapter four and there is no division there except in our Bible for reading purposes.

As John looks at the throne and God who is seated there, he sees in God's hand a scroll. The scroll is quite impressive. It is written on the inside and the backside which indicates that it is full and nothing more could be written on it.

It is sealed with seven seals. Each seal as it is opened seems to reveal a greater portion of the contents of the scroll.

As John is looking at this impressive scene a strong angel proclaims the question, who is worthy to open the scroll and to look on it. At this time a search is made in all of the universe to see if there is any one who can open the scroll. No one is found who is worthy to take the scroll and open it.

At this point John begins to weep and wail. He is distressed because there is no one who can open the book and to look on it. The idea in is that he just keeps on weeping.

Then one of the 24 elders tells John that there is no worry for the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David is worthy to open the book and to look on it.

John turns and looks expecting to see a lion and instead sees a lamb. A little lamb is the word in the Greek. In the New Testament it is found only in Revelation and in the passage where Jesus told Peter to feed my little lambs.

But this lamb has deadly wounds in His body. It is clear to see that this lamb has been slain but yet is alive. Even today Jesus bears in His body the scars of our sins for which He suffered and died.

The lamb has seven horns which indicate power and authority. He has seven eyes which indicate the fulness of the Spirit and His omniscience.

He goes to the one on the throne and takes the scroll. When He does this it seems as if all of creation burst into praise, glorifying God and the Lamb.

The twenty four elders and the four living creatures fall down before this Lamb and begin to sing a new song. Each of the elders has a harp and a golden bowl filled with the incense which is the prayers of the saints.

They glorify the Lamb for redeeming them to God and making them kings and priests.

When all this takes place John sees the host of heaven with millions and millions of angels praising God and declaring His majesty. Worthy are you, they say to receie power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor glory and blessing.

Then John sees all of creation praising the Lamb saying, Blessing, honor, glory, and power be to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, forever and forever.

And the Living creatures said Amen.

And the twenty four elders fall down and worship Him who lives forever and ever.

Now that is quite a scene. And there is no way that we could cover all that this morning. But let us look at just a few things.

  1. WHAT IS THE SCROLL?
    1. There are about nine different ideas as to the identity of the scroll.
    2. But there are two things that it undeniably represents.
      1. It represents the remainder of the book.
        1. This seems obvious for as each seal is broken and as the scroll is unrolled the drama unfolds.
        2. It seems that the revelation comes to a halt when no one is found who can open the scroll.
      2. It represents the consummation of all things and the giving over of the creation into the hands of the Lamb who has purchased it with His blood. It is the title deed to all of creation.
        1. That is why only Jesus is to open it.
        2. He is the heir of all things, not simply by relationship to God but as creator, as we saw in last week's message, but He is heir of all things by right of redemption.
        3. He has redeemed us to God.
        4. He has purchased the creation that is now groaning under the sin of mankind.
        5. He is worthy of all the honor, of all the blessing, of all the praise that we can give Him.
        6. He is worthy of our obedience, of our dedication, of our commitment.
        7. He is worthy of our life and of our death if He should require it and of everything else in between.
      3. What this passage is telling us is that Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.
        1. We owe all that we are and that we have become to Him.
        2. It is when we get away from that single mindedness toward Jesus that we fall into hurtful snares.
        3. Paul said that what ever we do in word or deed that it ought to be all done for His glory.
        4. Someday every knee will bow and every one will confess that He is Lord.
  2. WHY DOES JOHN WEEP WHEN NO ONE CAN OPEN IT?
    1. If this is just the rest of the story that John will not find out unless someone opens the seals, I cannot see that He would be so upset with continual crying.
    2. But if this is the title deed of the earth, of all creation then I can understand why He weeps.
      1. When God made the earth and put man in charge, everything was perfect and beautiful.
      2. Then along came Satan and deceived Eve and Adam plunged the whole world into the darkness of sin.
      3. All the sin we see in the world with its terrifying results is a result of that evil beginning.
      4. How many have suffered because of needless wars.
      5. Look at the Balkans this morning, we wonder how anyone could be so brutal and lead an entire nation to such brutality.
      6. Look at North Korea where reports are that parents are eating their own children all because of sin.
      7. I know that you say preacher is this the place for such talk.
      8. I am trying to tell why John was weeping.
      9. John understood that if no one was found worthy to open the seals then the world would continue as it was.
      10. Can you imagine the world continuing as it is. With sin and unrighteousness claiming victory after victory with no hope of relief.
      11. When I see the sin even in our own nation where we slaughter the unborn, where under the guise of liberty we teach our children to become homosexuals.
      12. But let me tell you that there is a day coming when the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Branch of David is going to take the scroll, the title deed to the earth from the hand of the sovereign God and Jesus will come to judge this world in righteousness.
  3. HOW DO WE TESTIFY THAT THE LAMB IS WORTHY?
    1. By keeping our own lives free from sin.
    2. By yielding our selves a living sacrifice.
    3. By spreading the good news that Jesus saves.
    4. By supporting God's people in this place where today Satan is in charge.  

    This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com  

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