A Hero Shot

Revelation 5

Sunday, November 20, 2022

I think that Revelation 5 sets up a “hero shot” for us, as a film director might express it. A moment when we really get to be happy with who the main characters of the story are. I don’t expect us so much to explain all the details as to take it in as an image. We are allowed to see Jesus exalted, set apart for how great and powerful and significant he is.

Chapter four has already laid out the main setting, with God in heaven in the midst of thunders and voices, adored and honored by beasts and elders. The start of chapter five focuses in on the hand of the one in the throne (God, of course) – John sees in God’s hand a book covered in writing and sealed with seven seals. Maybe the book was always there and is only just now noticed. Or maybe the book has just emerged, as a gift or challenge or whatever role it takes. And the question is ‘who can open this book,’ and some time must pass because the answer comes back that no one can. No one anywhere is found capable of that act. And in his vision John understands the importance for this book which is being offered by God to be able to be opened, because he weeps.

But John is then told by one of the 24 elders not to weep, because the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David (two descriptions of Jesus as the Messiah) had prevailed, and would be able to open the book and its seals. (The seven seals themselves are finished being opened by chapter 8, and of course we could view that as setting off the further sequences of the seven trumpets and bowls, but notice that the book itself may be seen as a separate issue which involves a larger scope of God’s intentions.) But John is not shown a lion, but a lamb looking like it had been slain. The one who died for us, alive again and forevermore, victorious, ruling and serving.

He took the book, and the beasts and elders took up a new song proclaiming his worthiness. The lamb redeemed us to God, by his blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. He is worthy to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessings.

The scene described in this chapter shows us human history in the balance. It shows God providing the right weight to allow things to swing to our redemption. There may be no literal moment in history that this scene matches to, but the scene John describes allows us to see what God has done for us, and to praise Him for it. And it allows us to honour Jesus for what he has done for us. And of course they both continue to work for us. On our own we would never have been able to change the world to what it needs to be. God loved us so much that He gave us what we needed to save our lives, and to reshape our world.

Lord, thank you for your awesomeness. Thank you for allowing us the blessing of seeing some portion of your glory, in your creation, in the scripture, in the blessing of your Spirit in my life, in the work of your Church. Please allow our trust in you to continue to grow. Let us raise our hearts and our words in praise to your name and the name of your Son. Thank you for so carefully preparing and guiding Jesus that he could do what he has done for our lives, and for this world. Amen.

-Daniel Smead

Reflection Questions

  1. What do we learn about God in Revelation 4 & 5? What do we learn about Jesus? What are their similarities and differences?
  2. What is your favorite part of Revelation 5? Why?
  3. What do you praise God for? Tell Him – and others. How will you honor Jesus for what he has done for you and the world?

1 Short Chapter – 49 Cross References

Revelation 5

Imagine, for a moment, your favorite movie or tv show. How much of it can you quote? How many references have you made to your friends who have seen it with you a thousand times? How many times have you watched, acted it out, or recited memorable lines?

Revelation 5 is one of the most theologically packed chapters of the Bible. Why is that? Because the Bible is a complete, unified story that spans thousands of years and dozens of authors, and they all point to a single narrative. The author of Revelation, John, knows his Bible like a movie that he’s watched hundreds of times. In Revelation 5, my Bible shows 49 cross references to other verses. John really knows his Bible!

What’s the purpose, then? When we read Revelation 5, we’re reading the fulfillment of lots of God’s promises. In just 5:1, for example, we’re reminded of the throne room of God in Ezekiel 1, and the sealed scrolls in Daniel 12:4 and Isaiah 29:11. (Tip: when a biblical author makes a clear reference to a different spot in the Bible, they usually want you to go back and read it to see what they mean!!)

What is this scroll, anyway? And why is it that no one in heaven or on earth is worthy to open it? We have to keep reading to find out. And here lies the secret behind all of Revelation 5: God’s written plan, which he held in his own hand, could only be carried out by one very, very, very worthy individual. And his name is Jesus. 

The rest of Revelation 5 lists off the many qualifications that Jesus holds. He is the lion of Judah. (See Genesis 49:8-12, when God says that the ruler of Israel is like a lion, and he will be of the tribe of Judah). Jesus is the Root of David (see 2 Samuel 7:14, when God promises that one of David’s descendants would rule forever). Jesus is the lamb that was slain (read about the passover lamb in Exodus 12, and how Paul calls Jesus our Passover lamb in 1 Corinthians 5:7). We see how these immensely powerful creatures, who dwell constantly in the presence of God, sing about this important role of Jesus– that he can open the scrolls because he was slain, ransomed us for God, and made us a kingdom of priests to God, so we can reign on the earth. 

I hope you’re starting to see the story of redemption that God had been planning since Genesis. Jesus is the fulfillment of that story. And the four living creatures, the myriads and myriads and thousands of thousands of angels of heaven, are all “in on” this great story and its many references and quotes from history. They know that Jesus is the climax of God’s great story. 

So when we read Revelation 5, let us sing along with all of God’s angelic host in proclaiming that to God and the Lamb “be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

-Levi Salyers

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Obadiah and Revelation 5

Who is Worthy?

Revelation 5

Revelation 5 2 4 NIV

I remember when I was younger trying to open the jam jar and it was almost impossible. All I wanted was my PBJ and needed to open the seal of the jar so I could be successful. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get it open, so naturally I asked my brother if he could somehow open it. Then with ease and hardly a second he had it open. My brother was the key to my Peanut Butter and Jam sandwich.

In revelation 5 John is in the middle of a vision and he has in front of him a throne and next to this throne was a book with 7 seals. He is having a difficult time figuring out who could open this book with these seals but could not find any worthy person. But then it describes the one who was worthy to open the seals in verse 5:5 “The lion that is from Judah, the root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its 7 seals.”That Lion depicted in this verse is Jesus he is the one who has overcome death and has made it possible for us to do that same thing.

Having someone stronger than us in our lives so we can succeed is vital to being a Christian. We have Jesus to rely on and he makes it possible for us to worship God with pure hearts and minds. He was worthy so we can also be worthy.

I would like you all to write down on a post-it note the one thing that holds you back from your greatest potential and hang it on your mirror that you use daily. Remember this when you read it, Jesus overcame sin and death, and He gives us the power to do the same.

Jesse Allen

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