Week - 11 A Vision of The Worthy Lamb Revelation 5
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Authored by Jerry Marshall
When old Fred arrived in heaven, there was hardly any line. He didn’t have to wait more than a minute before having his entrance interview. Naturally, he was a bit nervous about getting through the gates and into the heavenly city. Very quickly, he found himself standing before a very impressive looking angel with a clipboard who started getting his entry data down.
After name, address, and a few other particulars, the angel said, “Fred, it would help the process if you could share with me some experience from your life on earth when you did a purely unselfish kindly deed.”
Fred thought about it for a minute and then said, “Oh yes. I think I have something you might be interested in. You see, one day, I was walking along, and I came upon a little old lady who was being mercilessly beaten up by a huge fellow who looked like he belonged in a motorcycle gang. He was smacking her back and forth. Well, I just stepped right up and pushed his motorcycle over - just to distract his attention. And then I kicked him real hard in the shins and told the old lady to run for help. And then I hauled off and gave this guy a great shot right to the gut with my fist.”
The angel said, “Wow, that’s quite a story, I’m very impressed. Could you tell me just when this happened?” Fred looked at his watch and said, “Oh, about two or three minutes ago.”
That was certainly not the way the Apostle John found himself in heaven. He was given the privilege of entering into the very throne room of God in heaven by divine command and enablement (Revelation 4:1-2).
It would be from the vantage point of the throne room of God, that John would behold the unfolding of the Lord’s divine program for the culmination of world history.
From this vantage point, he would behold that period of time called the Great Tribulation, which features the rise and fall of the coming Antichrist, the casting of Satan and his demons into the lake of fire, the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom, the Great White Throne judgment and finally, the eternal state.
But there is only one who possessed the power and the virtue necessary to unfold this prophetic plan to John - John now has the privilege of beholding him in this fifth chapter.
There are three scenes that John views in this chapter. The first is that of....
I. The Seven Sealed Scroll (Revelation 5:1-5)
A. The scroll’s description (v.1)
The word “scroll” or “book” is a translation of the Greek word biblion, from which we get our English word Bible. But here, that word is used to describe a number of papyrus sheets sown together and rolled up to make a scroll or a book. This was the typical writing material of the first century Greco/Roman world.
This particular scroll that John beheld in the right hand of God the Father had writing on both sides, which was unusual because it was hard to write on the outside of such a scroll. Nevertheless, this is an indication of the extensiveness of the details revealed in this divine document.
The inside of the scroll contained all the details of the contract, and the outside—or back—contained a summary of the document. In this case it almost certainly is a deed—the title deed to the earth (cf. Jeremiah 32:7ff.) sealed with seven seals.
It was also customary to protect the privacy of the content of such a document by placing wax seals on the outside edge of the scroll. Such a seal could only be broken by the person authorized to open the scroll. There were seven such seals on this scroll. The implication of the text is that it is God himself who placed these seals on this scroll.
Although there has been much debate about the content of this scroll, it seems apparent from the very nature of the book of Revelation that this book contains the account of God’s future program of divine judgment, exercised against this sin cursed world, the defeat of all of God’s enemies and the full restoration of paradise in the eternal state (Keep in mind the title of this book, The Revelation of Jesus Christ.).
It is God’s eschatological record; His judgment scroll containing the divine plan of the condemnation of the wicked and the eternal reward of the righteous. It is the ultimate and accurate record of that which is yet future. A written record of what will take place later.
Can you imagine, for just a moment, the sense of anticipation that the Apostle John must have experienced as he saw in the right hand of God the very document which contained all the details of what is yet future in the Lord’s scheme of things?
Would the scroll be opened? Would its content be revealed? What would it say?
B. The angel’s proclamation (vs.2-3)
The identity of this strong Angel is not revealed here, although a greater description of him is found in Revelation 10. But he heralds forth in a loud voice so as to have his proclamation heard in every corner of the universe. He sought the one who would be morally qualified to open this scroll and to break its seals, someone who possessed the divine right to do so.
1MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. Re 5:1
The opening of this divine document was reserved for a uniquely qualified person.
3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it (NIV).
One commentator stated: “The powerful archangels Michael and Gabriel do not answer the proclamation of this angel. Uncounted thousands of other angels remain silent. All the righteous dead of all the ages, including Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Peter and the rest of the apostles, Paul, and all the others from the church age say nothing.”
No one qualified could be found in the entire universe. No one possessed the authority or virtue to open the scroll thus revealing the mystery of the unfolding of God’s final judgment of this world and the ultimate reward for the saints.
This situation broke the heart of the Apostle John and so he laments.
C. The apostle’s lamentation (v.4)
To have one’s expectations raised to such a level only to have them quickly dashed caused the Apostle John to weep.
The phrase in the NIV; “I wept and wept” captures the sense in the original language which conveys the idea of “I began to weep and continued to do so for a time.” John states what caused such a reaction on his part, for “no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.”
D. The elder’s exhortation (v.5)
John’s lamentation was interrupted by a commanding exhortation from one of the 24 elders who now answers the mighty angel’s question in verse 2. There is one who has the authority and the virtue to open the scroll containing the drama of the final days of history.
The Lion from the tribe of Judah and The Root of David are familiar O.T. designations for the one who is the Messiah. The Lion from the Tribe of Judah comes from Jacob’s blessing on that Tribe recorded in Genesis 49:9-10. This is a prophetic word that out of the line of the tribe of Judah, the ultimate king who will rule the nations would come. The Lion is symbolic of His messianic royal reign and power.
The Messiah would also be a descendant of King David. He would come from the Root of David (cf. Revelation 22:16).
Isaiah 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
5 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will raise up to David
a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The LORD Our Righteousness.
The genealogical record of Jesus found in the Matthew and in Luke both affirm that Jesus on both His mother and His stepfather’s side was indeed a descendant of King David.
The Apostle Paul certainly recognized the connection of Jesus to King David.
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
The elder declares to John that the worthiness of this one who is the Lion from the Tribe of Judah and the Root of David to open this scroll is because He Triumphed.
“Overcome” is a translation of the Greek word nikao (Nike), which means to carry off a victory or to come off victorious, to conquer. The elder’s song of worship recorded in verse 9, tells us how this victory was accomplished that qualified the Lion and the Root of David to open the scroll.
II. The Slain Lamb Standing (Revelation 5:6-7)
A. The appearance of the Lamb (v.6)
As John turned to see this mighty Lion from the lions of the greatest king of Israel, he beheld instead a Lamb who had been slain and yet was standing.
The Lion and the Lamb surely refer to Christ, with the Lamb referring to His first coming and His death and the Lion referring to His second coming and His sovereign judgment of the world.
This is the only place in Revelation where Christ is called a Lion, whereas the word “Lamb” (arnion, “a small or young lamb”) is found 27 times in Revelation and nowhere else in the New Testament.
The word slain is a translation of the Greek word sphazo, which means to be put to death by violence or to have the throat cut. This is a reference to Christ yet bearing the physical marks of His sacrificial death, bearing the wounds of death.
Here, like no other place in the Scriptures, there is the linkage of the O.T. victorious Davidic Messiah with the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. Here the Messiah is identified as the slain Lamb - the Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. In our glorified state, the only evidence that sin had existed will be those marks of death on the slain Lamb of God.
The fact that He is standing in the center of the Throne of God, affirms his resurrection, His ascension and the acceptability of the atonement made for our sins.
He had seven horns - In the O.T., horns often symbolized power. Seven horns would convey the idea of perfect power and authority possessed by the Lamb. The "eyes" are more explicitly identified as the "seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth," probably a symbolic reference to the divine Holy Spirit who is sent forth by Christ into the world (1:4; 4:5). The teaching of the fourth Gospel is similar, where the Spirit is sent forth to exalt Christ and convict the world of sin (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-15).
B. The affirmation of the worthiness of the Lamb (v.7)
This short verse is what this entire vision of John has been leading up to. Without opposition or delay, the slain Lamb takes the scroll from the right hand of God the Father. Now the revelation of the drama of the end of history would be disclosed.
At the opening of the seals, there would be the revelation of how things will ultimately end for all people, disclosing the final judgment upon the world as well as the final reward of the saints. By this act, there is the affirmation of the worthiness of the Lamb to take possession of the scroll and to reveal its content.
III. The Song of Affirmation and Collective Adoration (Revelation 5:8-14)
A. The song of the elders (vs.8-10)
This act of the slain Lamb in taking the scroll inaugurates praise and worship to break out from everywhere in the universe. As an affirmation of the deity of Christ, the heavenly court falls down in an act of worship.
2Walvoord, John F.; Zuck, Roy B.; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:945
In reference to the prayers of the saints, we are not told the nature of these prayers. Only that they are the prayers of the saints. (those set apart to God because of the redemptive work of Christ). These may have been the prayers of the martyred saints, crying to God to avenge their blood (cf. Revelation 6:10).
MacArthur says of the nature of these prayers… these prayers represent all that the redeemed have ever prayed concerning ultimate and final redemption. This becomes a major theme throughout the book (cf. 11:17,18; 13:7,9,10; 14:12; 16:6; 17:6; 18:20,24; 19:8; 20:9).
The taking of the scroll by the Lamb prompts the elders to break forth in a song of praise.
(The grammatical structure of the Greek text seems to indicate that it was only the elders, not the living creatures who held the harp and the golden bowls and began to sing)
“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals.” This is a direct answer to the question asked by the mighty angel (5:2). Jesus is worthy because of His great act of redemption. From verse nine, we get insight into the composition of the body of Christ.
The word purchased is a translation of the Greek word agorozo, which pictures slaves being purchased from the slave market in order to set them free. The currency for this purchase is the shed blood of Christ.
This substitutionary death is what makes the Lamb worthy to take possession of this scroll and to open its seals. A high price was paid for such a privilege.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:18-10).
The ultimate end of Christ’s redemptive work is that the saints will reign with Christ on earth. This co-regency with Christ takes place during the eternal state in the new heaven and the new earth.
Beyond redemption, the Lord has made believers kings and priests to worship Him, to witness for Him, and to reign with Him over the millennial earth.
B. The ascription of the heavenly court (vs.11-12)
The next sight experienced by John in the throne room of heaven was that of an incalculable multitude of angels speaking in a loud voice of the worthiness of the Lamb and of a laudatory list that should be given or ascribed to Him.
The word “saying” is a translation of the Greek verb lego, which means to express
3MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. Re 5:8
4MacDonald, William; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. electronic ed. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S. Re 5:9 something in words. So, what we have here is an incalculable number of angels, the living creatures and the twenty-four elders, all speaking in a loud voice about the exceptional worthiness of the Lamb who was slain for our redemption. They give to the Lamb a sevenfold tribute. They in unison declare with certitude that the Lamb who was slain is worthy to receive…
Power - The slain Lamb is worthy of all power in the sense of authority or the right to reign over all things, all the world, all of life and the church. He is worthy to possess unlimited authority and power.
Riches- The slain Lamb is worthy to possess all wealth or all that is considered to be valuable because of his willful redemptive work.
Wisdom - The slain Lamb is worthy of all wisdom since He is omniscient. He should be esteemed as eminently wise. This should be worshipfully recognized.
Might - The slain Lamb is worthy because he possesses all ability to accomplish his purposes. He possesses unlimited power.
Honor – Is a translation of the Greek word “Time” which describes the attitude one has toward that which is highly prized, that which is considered precious and priceless.
Glory - The slain Lamb is to be viewed with the highest of opinions and his perfect character is to be proclaimed so that others may come to the same high opinion of Him.
To give him glory is to elevate his perfect character is such a way so as to stimulate reverence and submission to him.
Blessing - A translation of the Greek word eulogia. From this word we get our English word Eulogy. The basic idea of the word is to speak well of someone, to give praise and to proclaim their worth.
C. The ascription of every creature (v. 13)
Then John hears all intelligent life in the universe expressing their worship and praise “To him who sits on the throne,” which is a reference to God the Father. “And to the Lamb” - God the Son, who is the Messiah, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David - the slain Lamb standing, who has redeemed a people from every tribe, tongue and nation from the slave market of sin.
Can you just imagine such a collective worship of God and the slain Lamb? The elders sang the song of redemption of people from every tribe, tongue and nation being purchased from the slave market of sin, through the redemptive blood of the lamb. The incalculable numbers of angels as well as the living creatures and the elders expressed in unison a loud declaration proclaiming the worthiness of the Lamb. This then is followed by the affirmation of all intelligent life in the universe prompting all to give praise, honor, glory and power perpetually to the Father and the Son.
D. The response of the heavenly court (v.14)
The rightful reaction of the living creatures that encircle the throne of God is to declare in response to all of this - AMEN! That is the best-known word in all of human speech. It means, so be it - or that’s the truth! Or may it be so! It’s an affirmation of the worthiness of the slain Lamb to receive all glory, honor and praise, as well as the heavenly Father. The word amen does not refer to males or any gender specific person. Gender has no connection with this word!
And the twenty-four elders express their worship with their bodies. They fell down and worshipped.
1. This scene in the throne room of God affirms that salvation is only accomplished through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Note the absence in heaven of any words of praise or adulation directed to any person in recognition of earning their salvation.
The central focus of this throne room scene is on the slain Lamb who is worthy to take the scroll, and break it seals. He surrendered His life and shed his blood, to redeem people for God from every tribe, language, and nation.
2. It is only the worthy Lamb that was slain who has the right to set in motion those culminating events in world history that are yet future. The result is the final judgment of the world and the ultimate reward for those who are His saints. The world will not come to an end at the hands of man. It is the sovereign Lamb of God who will guide it to its final chapter, final paragraph and final sentence.