We previously covered Revelation chapter four, which opened with “after these things.” The terminology is understood by many to mean after the church age, and chapter four ends by describing the 24 elders. Having covered the clues as to who the 24 elders are in the previous study, it is evident that they, at minimum, represent the church.
Now we move into Revelation chapter five. After our journey into chapter four, one might think that the focus would remain with the church, or perhaps the elders and some role they might continue to play, but that does not happen because the focus of this book is that it is a revelation of Jesus Christ. We learn of this fact in the opening statement of the Revelation. With that in mind, we continue.
I give you the Complete Jewish Bible version, as it specifically refers to the document as a scroll and NOT a book.
Revelation 5:1 CJB Next I saw in the right hand of the One sitting on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals;
The CJB chooses to show respect for Jehovah by referring to Him as the One. The NASB uses what I have come to see as a standardized capitalization of Him, but insisted on referring to the document as a book.
Revelation 5:1 NASB I (John) 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.
Using the term “book” is a modern and logical direction as it gives us Gentiles an easy way to visualize this scene. If you felt the need to seal the “book,” why would you need to put seven seals upon it. Merely breaking one seal should give someone access to all aspects, whether you wanted them in there or not. To some degree, a bound book protects the words inside, but NOT on the outside; because of this, the mental imagery doesn’t work as this is a scroll, sealed and secured for a specific time and a specific person to open it, by breaking the “wax” seals marked with an official stamp.
The problem with the modern terminology became immediately apparent as I began looking for the term “a book” as a comparative so that I might understand what this book in God’s hand, was associated with. (My initial thoughts went to the Great White Throne.)
Revelation 20:12 CJB “And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done.”
We have nothing in Revelation 20:12 to tie this scroll to what we see in Revelation 5:1, but there is a correlation to Ezekiel 2:9-10.
Ezekiel 2:9-10 NASB Then I looked, and behold, a hand was extended to me; and lo, a scroll was in it. When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back, and written on it were lamentations, mourning, and woe.
Woes can also be parallelled to Revelation 8:13, which does not speak of a book, however, the information is the same and the result of a seal being opened.
Revelation 8:13 NASB Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in mid-heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”
We are continuing with chapter five and a question, who is worthy?
Revelation 5:2 CJB and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
- A mighty angel?
This is not a foreign statement to the Jewish community, as they are very familiar with the concept of angels and their power. Daniel, in an explanation from an angel, hears this.
Daniel 10:13 NIrV But the prince of Persia opposed me for 21 days. Then Michael came to help me. He is one of the leaders of the angels. He helped me win the battle over the king of Persia.
The Dake’s Bible, in his side note commentary, states that,
“[the prince of the kingdom of Persia] …is the satanic prince or ruler of the kingdom of Persia (a fallen angel,) one ruling the kingdom of Persia for Satan who is recognized in Scripture as being the god and ruler of this world, having usurped man’s dominion.”
Dake refers to many passages, but one of the first is Matthew 4:8-9.
Matthew 4:8-9 NLT “Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. (9) “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
The devil/Lucifer is a fallen angel. He was the prince/ruler of all the angels.
What you need to ask is, how did Satan obtain authority and ownership of the earth?
The answers are out there if you are willing to find them but I am not going into that here. Since an angel, with a simple touch, disabled Jacob, we should never try to exert power over an entity like this without the backing of the Holy Spirit.
- “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
John Gill’s commentary says this is “suggesting, that if there was any such person, that he was desired to come, and do it.”
This is like a teacher asking if anyone has the answer to a question, and NO ONE raises their hand. As I read this, I think it would be only the arrogant who would dare to approach the scrolls. Having been involved in the faith movement, I can picture a few who think their faith would give them the prestige to step forward; however, scripture proves that is NOT the case, as there is only ONE who is worthy, and that is Jesus because of the cross.
Here again, this should evoke other questions in your mind, such as, why is He the only one?
I am not going to into the why’s of Him being worthy, as that would be another six-page study; so suffice it to say that you should look at the events that include and surround the cross. Continuing on.
Revelation 5:3-4 NASB 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) Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it;
This is an intriguing plot. If we have been raptured, then our status, in Him, would perhaps be seen as worthy, but that does not happen. I suppose the practical reasons for not being able to open the seals that go back to a time before time. Jesus’ authority, responsibility, and right to open the seals may well have been established before time began.
Dake refers to this statement “no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth” as “Men Conscious in Three Realms.”
The realms then are:
- In heaven.
- On the earth.
- Or under the earth.
According to scripture, is what Dake says a valid assessment?
Those under the earth are those that have died without Christ.
Psalms 9:17 NLT The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.
Wicked is the Hebrew word râshâ‘ and conveys the meaning of wicked, criminal, hostile to God, or guilty of sin.
Since we don’t know why they did not go up in the rapture, we must leave it to God to sort out what He will do with them, and He does; but for the moment, we understand that they are in Sheol.
Sheol is “the OT designation for the abode of the dead.” (BDB)
Because of Revelation 5:3-5, we know that there is NO ONE in Sheol worthy to break open the seals.
Alright then, what about those on the earth?
Scripture tells us,
“The path of life leads upward for the wise That he may keep away from Sheol below.” Proverbs 15:24 NASB
Pay attention to the wording in Proverbs 15:24. It is the wise who walk the path leading upward; and the wording, “that the wise MAY keep away from Sheol below. I am going to put it this way, even if you are wise, you may potentially get yourself caught in a trap. Some traps will kill you. Many teach, once saved always saved, but doesn’t that apply to God’s attitude toward us? We are still liable and responsible for the poor choices that we make here on earth.
This response “who rescues us from the wrath to come” is froth with arguments, as some cannot see the church in heaven until the end of the time of wrath (the Great T. This argument commits the church to endure God’s wrath, which is what these seven years are designated. The problem with that presumption is that those who argue for it ignore the fact that Jesus took all of God’s wrath upon Himself.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 NASB (10) and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
This same Jesus bought us out of the slavery and bondage that we were due, thereby, once again escaping God’s wrath.
Ephesians 1:7 NASB In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
Here in Ephesians 1:7, the word redemption is the Greek word apolutrōsis and means a ransom paid in full. In other words, we were freed from the bondage that was our fate. None of this, however, gives us an escape from the tribulations that are a part of our daily lives as followers of Jesus Christ. Since we know that the number of those who accept Jesus Christ after the rapture will be innumerable, we could conclude that there are still Christians here on earth.
Why not draw from one of these?
(I can guarantee that some of you are pointing out that there is a simplistic answer, and there is, but it does not explain the reasons why Jesus is the only answer. Allow patience to work as the answer is provided and will soon be seen.)
We seem to set aside the fact that the age of grace has been removed from the earth along with the church; this removal has nothing to do with the action of the Holy Spirit, as He continues to draw all humanity to God. With grace being gone, all those acknowledging Jesus Christ will have to prove their loyalty through their death. When you think about this process, it makes sense why there is NO ONE worthy, on earth, to open the seals.
So then, the last option is to look for someone in heaven, and apparently, they do, but what an odd statement since we know that Jesus is in heaven, seated on a throne, next to the Father, ever making intercession for us. You have to believe that they looked around and see no one with their hand raised, saying, pick me.
What happens next?
Revelation 5:4-5 NASB Then 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.”
More so than anyone else, John would be the one who knew Jesus was already here in heaven. Jesus was John’s best friend. In the last hours of Jesus’ life, we find John with his head lying on Jesus’ chest. Try to imagine the significant loss he felt when He saw Jesus die, and the shock he felt, when, upon running to the tomb on the third day, found it open and Jesus was gone. You might think that John would expect to see Jesus strutting out on stage, dressed as a Messianic warrior, declaring that He would open the seals, but that did not happen.
One of the elders consoles John and says, “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.”
Even with this noble description, what does John see?
A lamb, as if it had been slain.
Revelation 5:6 NASB 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.
On a side note. As a city kid, I never saw horns on a lamb. All that changed one recent year at the county fair, walking around with my grandchildren. We saw a lamb that had massive horns. It was then I remembered a friend, who managed the small farm for his parents, and he told me they cut the horns off when the sheep are young.
A lamb as if had been slain?
I cannot detach myself from the imagery portrayed in the Mel Gibson movie, The Passion, and yet, I believe the brutality was worse than the film depicted. Now we have a lamb as if slain. To slaughter an animal for dinner is a different process than one to be sacrificed, as the throat is slit, and the animal is then hung up and left to bleed out. Indeed, in this case, the lamb is covered in its blood, so much so that there would be no reason to understand how this animal could be standing, but there He is triumphant.
Seven horns and seven eyes?
Initially, I wanted to back away from this section as it is bizarre and confusing. The Holy Spirit said to me, those people you lead are looking for answers, so give them an answer. I put aside the doubt and fears, and this is what I heard.
We are told they are seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. When Jesus left the earth, He said, He would send the comforter – the Holy Spirit. That Spirit of God went into all the earth.
Dr. J. Vernon McGee tells us,
“the Seven horns denote complete power. A horn speaks of power (see Dan. 7-8). He is omnipotent. Seven eyes denote complete knowledge. Christ is omniscient. He is the omnipotent and omniscient God. He moves in the fullness of the Spirit, who is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.”
To be honest, it is a freakish image, but if that completeness of power and knowledge is all that they mean, it would be enough, for certainly Christ was and is all of those things that Dr. McGee says.
Paul stated that by proclaiming Christ, they sought to present every man to Christ, complete.
Colossians 1:28 NASB We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
On the part of Paul and his missionary buddies, this goal was never fully accomplished and still goes on today. So, how could Paul then say, “… you have been made complete in Him.” Well, it does not say precisely that; it says that “in Him, you have been made complete.”
Colossians 2:9-10 NASB For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, (10) and in Him, you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
So being in Him is a mandatory aspect of our completeness.
Dake’s commentary indicates that there are 27 references to lambs in the Revelation. While that is fascinating information, they are not all of Jesus, and here is one that conveys an opposing and deceiving image.
Revelation 13:11 NASB “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon.”
What is newsworthy is how Satan has mimicked God at every turn. God marks those who are His own and Satan, will make it mandatory for people to take a mark to buy or sell anything at some point.
God has the 144,000 sealed with a mark on their foreheads; and what does Satan do? Enforces the mark on the right hand or the forehead.
Revelation 9:4 NASB “They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”
The point in time, where buying food is restricted to those who have a seal in their right hand or forehead, is three and one-half years into the time of wrath; and is associated with the Antichrist. On the other hand, we live in a period that, as they used to say on Star Trek, is moving at warp speed, and it feels as though taking a mark through a “harmless” vaccine may happen within months.
For the sake of brevity, I want to end here; however, I am not done.
Because of Jesus’ willingness to be beaten, go to the cross, and endure the taunts of Satan as he went down to Sheol, He can stand there, the Lamb as it had been slain, worthy to open the seals.
What is our proof that this happened?
Psalms 16:10 NLT For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
Psalms 71:20 NASB You who have shown me many troubles and distresses Will revive me again, And will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
Acts 2:23-24 CEV God had already planned and decided that Jesus would be handed over to you. So you took him and had evil men put him to death on a cross. (24) But God set him free from death and raised him to life. Death could not hold him in its power.
Let’s end on this.
Ephesians 2:13-21 NLT
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus.
Once, you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
For Christ, himself has brought peace to us.
He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.
He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations.
He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.
Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.
Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.
Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.
We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.