These next few chapters of Revelation begin to get more difficult to interpret as the action begins. Chapter 5 speaks about the Scroll and the Lamb – what is the scroll? what is written on it? why does it have seven seals? why is there no-one worthy to open it?
We see in verse 1 that the one sitting on the throne of Heaven is holding a scroll in his right hand with writing on both sides. It is sealed with seven seals. a mighty angel asks “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” A search begins but no-one is found to be worthy. John weeps because no-one can be found. Why is this scroll so important? and why does John weep so when there appears to be no one able to open it.
In later chapters we read about the events which unfold with the opening of the seals and the scroll but nowhere do we see an actual transcript. We are not told directly what is written on the scroll but it appears that each seal releases a “command” for the living creatures and angels to go forth and bring some calamity on the earth or some event which brings forward the end. We therefore conclude that it is a transcript of what must happen to bring forth the end of the earth’s history and usher in Christ’s Kingdom. This is why John wept; because Christ’s Kingdom could not yet come, the final destruction of evil cannot yet take place – we pray “Your Kingdom Come” when we pray what we refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer” but it seems that a series of events must still happen before this can take place.
One of the elders then comforts John saying;
Look! The Lion from Judah’s tribe, the great descendant of David, has won the victory, and he can break the seven seals and open the scroll (v5)
Then John sees the Lamb with seven horns, seven eyes (which are the seven spirits) and the Lamb takes the scroll from the one sitting on the throne. At this moment all the elders and living creatures fall down and worship; they have harps and gold bowls filled with incense representing the prayers of God’s people. (Remember that when the priests entered the Holy Place they burned incense which symbolised the prayers lifting to heaven but also shielded them from seeing God’s glory face to face)
You are worthy to take the scroll and to break open its seals. For you were killed, and by your sacrificial death you bought for God people from every tribe, language, nation and race. You have made them a kingdom of priests to serve our God, and they shall rule on earth. (v 9-10)
This song is quickly joined in by the angels, thousands and millions of them..
The Lamb who was killed is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom and strength, honour, glory and praise. (v 12)
Soon every creature on heaven and earth, in the sea and the world below; every living creature in the universe begin to sing;
To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be praise and honour, glory and might for ever and ever (v 13)
To which the response is “Amen”
But why the wait? why must the Lamb come and open the seal before God’s Kingdom can take over? He has already shown that he can destroy the earth such as in Noah’s day or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah so why does he wait?
The Lamb we see has 7 horns, symbolising maturity, strength and perfection (remember the number 7 is considered the perfect number).
He is from the tribe of Judah – the Lion symbolising a King, descended from David as God promised David that he would always have one of his descendants on the throne.
We have studied through some of the letters of Paul, James and Peter how we must endeavor to be obedient to God, to constantly strive towards Him and allow us to mould us into his likeness and become more like Christ. This is our training to be able to take up our position with Christ as Kings, priests and rulers of his coming Kingdom. God does not need to wait, but he is waiting for US to be ready. This is why Christ told us to pray “Your Kingdom come” to allow us to prepare our hearts to be ready to bring in His Kingdom. He is waiting to allow time for everyone to turn to him.
The lamb was sacrificed so that we can sing this new song with the angels
To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be praise and honour, glory and might, for ever and ever!
All quotes from The Good News Bible