Chapter 5: The Worthy Lamb Prepares to Open the Seven Seals
A book "sealed with
Seven Seals" is seen in this continuing Heavenly vision--
which began in chapter 4-- in the "Right
Hand of Him that sat on the Throne" (5:1). The Right Hand
is indicative of the power and authority of the LORD Jesus Christ, to Whom "all power is given unto"
(Matthew 28:18). "Let Thy hand be upon
the Man of Thy Right Hand [Jesus],
upon the Son of Man whom Thou madest strong for Thyself"
(Psalm 80:17). It will become apparent in verse 7 that the Father is actually here
indicated; but still, Jesus said, "All
things that the Father hath are Mine" (John 16:15).
The fact that the Book is "written within and on the backside" (Revelation 5:1) points to the fullness or completeness of Its contents. "But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full" (Genesis 15:16). The sealing "with Seven Seals" (Revelation 5:1) speaks of the importance of the Book's contents. "O Earth, Earth, Earth, hear the Word of the LORD" (Jeremiah 22:29).
Worthiness is a question that even the Angels of Heaven ask; but, the reply is anticipated. Unquestionably, our LORD alone is worthy "to open the Book" (5:2). "Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (4:11). Because the Saints submit their wills to Him that His Spirit may work in us "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13), we are then "accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36)-- which is a Promise for the Pre-Tribulational Rapture.
This matter of opening the Book and "loosing the seals thereof" (5:2) requires more than the strength and intelligence of the "strong angel" (5:2). In short, "no man" (5:3) was found to open the Book. "And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him" (Isaiah 59:16). Man is accounted as many "grasshoppers" in the sight of Him that "sitteth upon the circle of the Earth" (40:22). "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (2:22).
Not surprisingly, the Apostle John-- more than an excellent example for the Body of Christ-- wept because no one "was found worthy to open and to read the Book" (5:4). "8 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my LORD, what shall be the end of these things? 9 And He said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the Words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end" (Daniel 12:8-9).
One of the 24 Elders (4:10) tells John the Beloved to stop crying
because Someone has been found to "open
the Book" (5:5). This Someone had "prevailed" (5:5) or overcome, to
be able to open the Book. "And having
spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over
them in it" (Colossians 2:15). The "Lion of the tribe of Juda" (Revelation
5:5) refers to Christ in reference to Jacob's prophecy concerning his son, Judah.
"9 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art
gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse
him up? 10
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until
Shiloh come; and unto Him [Jesus Christ] shall the gathering of the people be" (Genesis 49:9-10).
The "Root of David" (Revelation 5:5) indicates that the LORD Jesus was not just the "son of David" (Matthew 22:42), but was also before David. "42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose Son is He? They say unto Him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call Him LORD, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool? 45 If David then call Him LORD, how is He His Son?" (Matthew 22:42-45). This enigma of understanding how the LORD Jesus can be both the "Root and the Offspring of David" (Revelation 22:16) is a secret, which is plain only to those who walk in faith. "A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth" (Proverbs 14:6). And, how does one enter this walk of faith? By submitting to the truth that is known by all men. "19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:19-20).
Surrounding the Throne were:
(1) the angelic seraphim, which are the "four beasts" (4:6), and
(2) the representatives of the Old and New Testament Saints, which are the "four and twenty elders" (4:10).
And, "in the midst of
the Throne", is a Lamb "as
It had been slain" (5:6). This, of course, is the LORD
Jesus Christ. "Behold the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). This
Lamb has "seven horns" (Revelation 5:6), which represent the perfection of power. Daniel understood
the horns to represent kingly power, i.e., "And
the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings" (Daniel
7:24). The "seven eyes, which are the
seven Spirits of God" (Revelation 5:6) represent the "eyes of the LORD [which] run to and fro throughout the whole Earth" (2Chronicles 16:9). "7 Whither shall I
go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into Heaven,
Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the
morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy Right Hand shall
hold me" (Psalm 139:7-10).
Again, the contrast of the LORD Jesus being both the "Lion of the tribe of Juda" (Revelation 5:5) and a Lamb (5:6) at the same time, demonstrate the all-sufficiency that the LORD Jesus is to His people. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God" (2Corinthians 3:5). God's people ought to take great joy in this revelation, because it demonstrates that the LORD is revealing His secrets to His people. "His secret is with the righteous" (Proverbs 3:32). And, secrets such as the Pre-Tribulational Rapture are meant to be revealed to the Righteous. "Surely the LORD GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
This verse indicates that "Him that sat upon the Throne" (5:7) is the Father. However, both the Father and the Son are identified as the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9 and Revelation 1:14). The unity of the Father and the Son is no trouble to the understanding of the Righteous. "I and My Father are One" (John 10:30). Though the Saints will always be His creation, we are intended to have a union with our Creator, in a fashion similar to the union of the Father with the Son. "That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me" (17:21).
Both the angelic seraphim, i.e., the
"four beasts" (5:8), and the 24 Elders worship the
Lamb. Twice in the Revelation, the Apostle John was told to only "worship God" (19:10;22:9). The classic
picture of angels with harps is seen here, but with the Saints as well, in harp accompaniment.
"Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto
Him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings"
What happened to all those prayers uttered by the Saints throughout the ages? "The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles" (Psalm 34:17). Our God must consider the "prayers of Saints" to be precious to place them in "golden vials full of odours" (Revelation 5:8). "The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth" (Psalm 145:18). It is a lie of the devil that our God does not hear or answer our prayers. "12 Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
A "new song" (5:9) is appropriate to be sung, because the Revelation is full of our LORD making "all things new" (21:5):
(1) a "new name" (2:17) is promised to all overcomers, which signifies a new relationship with the One Who Gives the Name,
(2) a "New Jerusalem" (3:12), which is the new residence of the Saints in the Father's House of "many mansions" (John 14:2), is also promised to the overcomers, and
(3) a "New Heaven and a New Earth" (Revelation 21:1) indicate our LORD's ability to give an absolutely fresh beginning to everything. "There is none like unto the LORD our God" (Exodus 8:10).
Why are the Saints overcomers? The Saints overcome because God has made provision for our victory:
(1) Victory over the world-- "4 This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Christ" (1John 5:4-5),
(2) Victory over the flesh-- "If ye walk in the Spirit, ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16), and
(3) Victory over Satan-- "The shield of faith shall quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Ephesians 6:16). And, "God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Romans 16:20). [See the "Conclusion" ---New Window of our article, "An Urgent Call to Christian Perfection" ---New Window , to see how Charles G. Finney attempted to demonstrate that Christian victory and overcoming are actually what Scripture calls sanctification-- and what Finney, Wesley, and myself have called Christian Perfection.]
The new song begins, "Thou art worthy to take the Book, and to open the seals thereof" (Revelation 5:9), because the LORD Jesus' worthiness is key to His ability to open the seals. "O sing unto the LORD a new song; for He hath done marvellous things: His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him the victory" (Psalm 98:1). The song continues, "Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Revelation 5:9), demonstrating that His atonement is the basis for His worthiness. "Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men" (Ephesians 4:8).
The hosts of Heaven have good reason to be singing the praises to the Lamb of God, for our LORD's victory is our victory. "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ" (1Corinthians 15:57). Because the LORD Jesus suffered, died, and rose again, it is we that are "partakers of the benefit" (1Timothy 6:2). For example, we will partake of the administration of the Millennial Reign of our LORD Jesus Christ. "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4).
The scene around the Throne is animated with "the voice" (5:11)-- a united voice-- of:
(1) "many angels",
(2) the angelic seraphim (angels who abide in the presence of the LORD), i.e., the "beasts", and
(3) the representatives of the Old and New Testament Saints, i.e., the "elders". Their number is more than 100,000,000-- "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" (5:11).
This hearkens back to Daniel's description of the scene around the Throne of the Ancient of Days. "A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the Books were opened" (Daniel 7:10). The scenes are so similar in both Daniel and the Revelation, that it is as if both writers were recording the same event from Old Testament and New Testament perspectives that were nearly 700 years apart.
The dwellers of the "sea
of glass" (4:6), or sea of tranquility, around the Throne
of God give forth a Mega Voice, i.e., "loud
voice" (5:12), praise of the Lamb. "7 Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD
glory and strength. 8 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His Name: bring an
offering, and come into His courts" (Psalm 96:7-8). Gratitude
and love-- for His Sacrifice of Himself-- have been the Saints' inspiration throughout
their Earthly sojourn for their obedience to the Son of God. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His Commandments:
and His Commandments are not grievous [or, burdensome]" (1John 5:3).
Praise to the LORD Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is becoming or appropriate-- "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing" (5:12)-- unlike giving praise to man. "Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely [or, becoming]" (Psalm 147:1). Praising God must take up much of the time of the Saints in Heaven, because the LORD Jesus alone is infinitely worthy of receiving praise. "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name" (Hebrews 13:15).
All of creation "in Heaven, and on the Earth, and under the Earth, and such as are in the sea" (5:13) realize the appropriateness of giving praise to the Worthy Lamb. At our LORD's Triumphal Entry at the beginning of the crucifixion week, the Pharisees objected to the unadulterated praise given by the disciples to Christ. Little did those Pharisees realize how appropriate that praise was. So appropriate was the praise, that the inanimate creation would cry out, if the disciples ceased their praise. "37 And when He was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the Name of the LORD: peace in Heaven, and glory in the highest. 39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto Him, Master, rebuke Thy disciples. 40 And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out" (Luke 19:37-40).
Some have labelled the word "Amen" the best known word in human speech; since both the Hebrew, Greek, Latin,
and English all mean the same thing. Before a discourse, "Amen" signifies a statement of certainty, i.e., surely, truly, of a truth. At
the end of a discourse, the "Amen" signifies hearty agreement from the hearers, i.e., so it is, so be it,
may it be fulfilled. For this reason, the LORD Jesus identified Himself to the Laodicean
Church as the "Amen, the Faithful and
True Witness" (3:14). The "four
beasts" (5:14) are voicing their agreement to the praise
offering, "Blessing, and honour, and glory,
and power, be unto Him [the Father] that
sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb [the Son] for ever and ever" (5:13).
The 24 Elders "fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever" (5:14). Satan requested this same worship from the LORD Jesus Christ, when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness before beginning His Earthly ministry. "9 And [Satan] saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the LORD thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve" (Matthew 4:9-10).
Worship is appropriate for the Lamb, because it is only appropriate to "worship God" (Revelation 22:9). "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth" (John 4:24). Understanding the character of God enables us to ascribe to Him the "glory due unto His Name" (Psalm 29:2). And, imitating that character-- or, following in "His steps" (1Peter 2:21)-- demonstrates that we are truly worshipping "Him in Spirit and in Truth" (John 4:24).
If we will worship God endlessly in Heaven, then our lives should now demonstrate that we give more than lip service to the High and Lofty One That Inhabiteth Eternity (Isaiah 57:15), that our worship would now be acceptable. "1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:1-2).
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