There is much to take in with today’s reading as John describes the throne room of heaven and the events that unfold, marking the Kingdom of God being set into motion. There are angels, horsemen, and elders, each executing and exacting the will of God. If you are a bit overwhelmed by today’s reading, you are not alone. John, who spent more time with Jesus than most, is still awestruck by the worship of God happening before him, and he is doing his best to describe heavenly things for which there is no earthly vocabulary (something important to keep in mind as we examine the remainder of this book and prophecy). With a resounding question, John’s attention is drawn to the hand of God:
“And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.” Rev 5:2-4
John weeps, for the content of the scroll could very well never be known. Salvation’s plan locked inside this scroll with no one on heaven or earth who is worthy of removing the seven seals that keep it shut. This is seemingly the end of the road. Without a Savior, life on earth has no redemption. This is most definitely worth a weep, knowing that for some, their story stops here. They have put everything in what they alone can achieve, yet they are like every other creature in heaven and on earth. Without the hope delivered in the next verses, all that would remain is remorse and regret (Luke 13:27,28).
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Rev 5:5
Salvation is a gift of God, paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8,9). In the moments when we are overcome with great grief, sense the defeating drift of sin, are lost or lonely, feel pressed or persecuted, let Jesus Christ step forward. Do not reach deeper into empty stores, pour out of a broken vessel, or pick up the shattered pieces; let him do what we cannot. We need only lift our heads – to pray, to seek, to take heart – as we listen to the words of the elder that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, has triumphed. He will step forward and unfurl a new banner, renewing and restoring the purpose of our life. He alone is worthy to open the scroll, yet we are indeed the beneficiaries of the prize of his propitiation.
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Rev 5:9
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Revelation 4-8.
Tomorrow we continue with chapters 9-13.