Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Scroll of Destiny
1 Then I (John) saw a scroll (book) in the right hand of the One (God) who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll (book), and it was sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel, who shouted (proclaimed) with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll (book) and open it?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll (book) and read it. 4 Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll (book) and read it. 5 But one of the twenty-four elders said to me (John), “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Heir (Root) to David’s throne, has won (overcome or conquer) the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll (book) and its seven seals.” 6 Then I saw a Lamb (Jesus) that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God (the sevenfold Holy Spirit) that is sent out into every part of the earth. 7 He stepped forward and took the scroll (book) from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne. 8 And when He took the scroll (book), the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song with these words: “You (Jesus) are worthy to take the scroll (book) and break its seals and open it. For You were slaughtered (slain or sacrificed), and Your blood has ransomed (purchased) people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 And You have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. 12 And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered (slain or sacrificed), — to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” 13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” 14 And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb. Revelation 5:1-14 (NLT)
Revelation chapter 5 continues John’s throne room vision of heaven. Chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation are the central and most important vision from the book of Revelation. These two chapters are one vision with two parts and contain the glorious and most magnificent picture of the true and living God and His Son Jesus Christ in all the Scriptures.
In chapter 5, the focus moves from the eternal God of Creation to Jesus as the Lamb of God who alone is worthy to open the scroll of destiny. Revelation chapter 5 begins with John seeing a book or scroll in the right hand of God sitting on the throne (Revelation 5:1). The scroll had writing on the inside and the outside and sealed with seven seals (Revelation 5:1). Significantly, the scroll contained the full destiny and future course of the world history. Beginning with chapter 6, various dramatic events take place and the start of God’s wrath.
Before chapter 6, John saw a mighty angel with a loud voice shouting or proclaiming throughout the whole creation this question: “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” (Revelation 5:2, NIV). In other words, who is worthy to unloose the next phase of history? No one in all heaven or earth or from among the dead was worthy to open and read the sealed scroll (Revelation 5:3). The angel did a complete search, and no one was WORTHY to open this book. No one in all creation could take the book from the hand of the One seated on the throne and read the scroll.
Then, John began to weep with sadness and disappointment because no one anywhere was worthy to open and read the scroll (Revelation 5:4). Nevertheless, one of the twenty-four elders said to John, “Stop crying, for look! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered or won the battle, and proved Himself worthy to open the scroll and to break its seven seals” (Revelation 5:5, TLB). The Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Root of David are the Messianic titles ascribed to Jesus taken from the Old Testament (see e.g., Genesis 49:8-12; Isaiah 11:1, 10). In the Old Testament, the Messiah is a military conqueror and ideal king like David who will judge with righteousness and usher in an era of peace (see also Romans 15:12; Hebrews 7:14; Revelation 22:16).
Amazingly, when John turned looking for the Lion, he did not see a Lion but a Lamb standing before the twenty-four elders, in front of the throne and the living creatures (Revelation 5:6; see also Isaiah 52:13-53:12). The Lamb was alive with the marks of slaughter yet standing in readiness for action (Revelation 5:6; see also Revelation 1:18). On the Lamb, John saw wounds that caused His redemptive and sacrificial death that took away the sins of the world (Revelation 5:6, 9; see also Isaiah 53:5; Mark 10:45).
Moreover, the Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which represented the Seven Spirit of God, sent out into every part of the world (Revelation 5:6). The Seven Spirits of God was coming from God’s throne (Revelation 4:5) and now the Seven Spirits of God is on the Lamb (Revelation 5:6). The Lamb stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of God sitting upon the throne (Revelation 5:7). Only the Lamb was found “worthy” to take the book from God seating on the throne by virtue of His moral excellence. As the Lamb, Jesus was the only One that triumphed over sin and death and therefore worthy to open the scroll of destiny.
Images of Jesus abound in Revelation. After His glorious appearance in Revelation chapter 1, Revelation presents as a Lion, an Heir to David’s throne, a Child, a Warrior on a horse, the Lord of the whole world, King of kings, and the Husband of a bride. Of all the images of Jesus, none is as amazing as John’s second vision of Jesus in chapter 5 as a Lamb! Jesus’ depiction as a Lamb repeatedly appears throughout the book of Revelation – over 29 times. Jesus Christ the King is also the Lamb, the One who died for our sins (see e.g., John 1:29, 35-36; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:19). Jesus’ sacrificial death appears to be a great defeat, actually ushered in a decisive victory as the Lamb to open the scroll. Jesus accomplished the conclusive victory over all evil and death by His self-sacrifice on the Cross!
With the handing of the scroll of destiny to the Lamb, we enter into one of the greatest scenes of universal adoration and praise anywhere records (Revelation 5:9-14). The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before Lamb in worship (Revelation 5:8). Notice, these same living creatures and twenty-four elders that worshipped before God on the throne (Revelation 4:8-11) now falls down in worship before the Lamb (Revelation 5:8-14). The Lamb is separate from God the Father, but the Lamb is God (John 1:1-5)! The Lamb receives the same worship given to the true and living God.
The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders each held a harp, and they were holding golden bowls (vials) full of incense, which were the prayers of the saints – God’s people (Revelation 5:8; see also Psalm 141:2; Revelation 8:3-4). Then, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders began singing a new song to the Lamb for His redemptive work of salvation. Through His death, Jesus fulfilled the promise to the Israelites at Mount Sinai (“You will be for Me a Kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Jesus established the church through His sacrificial death, and corporately all true believers are a Kingdom, and individually they are priests of God (see Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6). Therefore, all true believers can join with the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders to sing a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For You were slaughtered (slain or sacrificed), and Your blood has ransomed (purchased or bought) people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And You have caused (made) them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10 (NLT)
Then, John looked again, and he heard the singing of countless millions of angels surrounding the throne and of the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders (Revelation 5:11). These majestic angels sang in a mighty chorus:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered— to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” Revelation 5:12 (NLT)
Even more amazing, John heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea exclaiming and singing:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” Revelation 5:13 (NLT)
Then, the four living beings kept saying, “Amen!” and the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb (Revelation 5:14).
Revelation chapters 4 and 5 are a heavenly worship scene. Nowhere in all the Holy Scriptures will one find scenes of such unrestrained praise and adoration. All of heaven breaks out in jubilant praise from an immeasurable multitude of people. The multitudes are singing with a loud voice to God and the Lamb, Jesus Christ. All of heaven’s praise came because the Lamb took the scroll from God’s the Father's hand and Jesus’ redemptive work of salvation to save humanity.
The book of Revelation is filled with songs of praise and worship (see Revelation 4:8, 11; Revelation 5:9-13; Revelation 7:12-17; Revelation 11:15-18; Revelation 12:10-12; Revelation 15:3-4; Revelation 16:5-7; Revelation 18:2-8; Revelation 19:2-6). A study of Revelation chapters 4 and 5 will help believers understand how to worship God and His Son Jesus. To worship means “to ascribe worth” and to use all that we are and have to praise God and His Son, the Lamb of God (see Revelation 4:11; 5:12).
The closing hymn of Revelation 5:13 direct praise and worship to both God the Father and the Lamb, Jesus. Every part of creation worships! One day, “at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11, NLT).
New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
Loyd, Melton, Ph.D., Senior Professor of New Testament (Due West, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, 2016).
Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary –New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).