INDUCTIVE STUDIES ON REVELATION

The Heavenly Scene

The Lamb is Worthy
(Rev. 5:1-14)

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THE SCRIPTURES (5:1-14)

1 And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?" 3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. 4 And I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it;

5 and one of the elders said to me, "Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals." 6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came and took it out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

8 And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art Thou to take the book and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchased for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 "And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." 11 And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever." 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped.


WHO IS QUALIFIED TO BRING JUDGMENT UPON THE ENEMIES OF GOD'S PEOPLE (5:1-4)

God's people are experiencing great tribulation at the hands of the Antichrist. God is on His throne, and He is full of wrath against those who would harm His people. In God's hand is a book sealed up with seven seals, a book which, when opened, will unleash God's wrath upon the enemies of His people. Why doesn't God just break the seals and get on with it? What question does the angel ask in verse 2 which accounts for the delay?

Why does John weep in verse 4?

If John is right, then he knows that all is lost because the Beast/Antichrist is waging a successful campaign against his fellow Christians.

We are fortunate as American Christians to have escaped the suffering so many of our fellow Christians around the world have experienced. When you have time, please read The Hiding Place, the story of Betsy and Corrie Ten Boom and their imprisonment in Ravensbruck, a Nazi concentration camp, during WW2. They were incarcerated for having hidden Jews in a secret room in their house. The horrors they went through as so sad. At one point, Betsy turned to Corrie and said: "We are in hell."

Even today we read about the sufferings of Christians in the Sudan and Nigeria. A very important website Christians need to access is http://www.persecution.com which updates the sufferings Christians are experiencing across the globe. It will break your heart. It was actually started by Richard Wurmbrand, a Christian who had suffered for 14 years in Communist Romania. In a poll taken among Romanians in 2006, he was listed as the 5th greatest Romanian of all time. John understood the kind of suffering many Christians have experienced during the last 100 years. He weeps in fear that it will never end, that the church will suffer horrific persecution forever if nobody is found worthy to break open the book.


JESUS IS WORTHY TO EXECUTE JUDGMENT (5:5-7)

Why does one of the 24 elders tell John to stop weeping (5:5)?

Whom does John see standing between the throne (with the 4 living creatures) and the circle of 24 elders (5:6)?

Fill in the following blanks to help you understand the reason Jesus is qualified to execute wrath upon His enemies and the enemies of His people:

"Behold, the __________ that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of ___________, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals." 6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a ____________ standing, as if ___________."

The first reason Jesus is qualified is that He is David's heir, the son God promised to David. What promise did God make to David concerning Jesus (2 Sam. 7:12-13, 16)?

I think that 2 things are operating here:

  1. Kings are authorized to defend their people and destroy the enemies of their people.
  2. Jesus, by virtue of being David's Son, has been promised a kingdom over this entire world. Satan through the Antichrist has established a rival kingdom upon the earth, a kingdom which "threatens" the kingdom of Christ. As the rightful king over this earth, Christ has both the right AND the responsibility to put down this rebellion. Revelation details the squashing of this rebellion.

The second reason that Jesus is qualified to execute judgment is that He was the Lamb that was slain. This is pointing to Jesus' humanity.

But why is the Lamb the One worthy to bring wrath upon the enemies of His people? In John 5:23, Jesus claims that He is qualified to judge all mankind because He is the son of man, the one who suffers for His people. The fact that Jesus was human and yet never sinned qualifies Him to be judge. Of the 3 Persons in the Godhead only Jesus became man. The Father should not judge us since He has never walked in our shoes. The Holy Spirit shouldn't judge us because He doesn't know what it is like to walk in fragile human flesh. Yet of the Godhead, Jesus HAS walked in our shoes (Heb. 2:18) and as such is qualified to judge you, me, and the enemies of His people (John 5:23).


VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS OF PRAISE (5:8-14)

As soon as Jesus is identified as the One qualified to judge His people and the enemies of His people, He marches up to the throne and "snatches" the sealed book of wrath from the hand of God. This snatching is not one of arrogance; rather it shows that He is ready, right now to bring judgment upon the world.

How do the 4 living creatures and 24 elders respond to Jesus' action (5:8-9)?

Because Jesus has purchased for us with His blood on the cross, He has made us to be what (5:10)?

Priests: people with direct access to God. Kingdom of those who will reign upon the earth: signifies the royalty we possess as sons and daughters of God, and brothers and sisters of the King Himself. According to 1 Cor. 6:2-3 we will rule over at least which 2 groups of beings?

At this point, heaven erupts into praise. In case you think that worship in heaven will be boring, take a deeper look at John's description of this worship service in heaven. Those worshiping God and the Lamb numbered in the myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands. A myriad is the number 10,000. Myriads of myriads then means 10,000 x 10,000. Thousands of thousands means 1,000's x 1,000's which means a LOT of people.

According to verse 12 why is Jesus worthy to receive power and riches and honor and glory and blessing?

This agrees with Paul's claims about Jesus. In Philippians 2:9-11 Paul claims that on that great day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord! In Phil. 2:5-8, Paul explains why God will make every knee bow and every tongue exalt Jesus. What reason does Paul give in Phil. 2:5-8 for Jesus' exaltation in Phil. 2:9-11?

According to Paul, how much of the universe (spiritual as well as physical) be subjected to the Lordship of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:24-28)?

In the 1 Cor. 15 passage, we see that the Father has exalted Christ to the highest point in the universe with only the Father not being subjected to Christ. Why has the Father exalted His Son to that extent? The principle is this: to the degree Christ was humiliated is to the degree that He will be exalted. Since He was humbled to the greatest extent IN OBEDIENCE TO THE FATHER'S REQUEST, the Father will exalt Him to the highest degree.

We see this not only in 1 Cor. 15 but also in Matt. 28:18-20. Many times when you ask somebody to quote the Great Commission, they will say: "Go, therefore, . . ." Actually, they started one verse late. The GC actually begins in Matt. 28:18; 28:18 actually explains what the purpose of the GC is all about: The resurrected Christ claims, "[Because I was humbled to the greatest extent], All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." How do we make the lordship of Christ real throughout the world? How do we implement God's vision of exalting Christ? "Go, therefore, and make disciples."

In Revelation, John follows this same format. Christ is humbled (slain), is exalted, and then and only then does the focus shift from the Son to the Father. Christ will reign for 1,000 years upon the earth, the universe will be radically transformed into a suitable dwelling place for God and His sons and daughters, and then our focus will shift to the Father who will sit upon the throne in the center of the New Jerusalem. And who is sitting on the throne next to the Father? None other than the Son Himself.

At the close of John's description of this worship service, what do the 24 elders and 4 living creatures do (5:14)?

The stage is now set. Heaven is prepared. Christ the Judge is now about to execute judgment--salvation for His people and wrath for the enemies of His people. Victory for Christ's followers is not a matter of "if" but only of "when."