Who Is Worthy?

Rev. 5:1-5:14

Lots and lots of variety represented by views people hold on significance of what are about to take up, chapter 5 and following. Is essential we keep feet firmly planted in Scripture when we seek to understand what Sovereign Lord intended to communicate through apostle John. From chapter 4 thru end, “I saw” almost 50x; “I heard” about 25x! Significantly weighted toward pictures / images over words. When we look for meaning of the pictures, need to start with God’s word the Bible first, then consider cultural relevance… not other way round.

Too often get it backwards, need to remember letter was written to the church, builds on / summarizes / brings to conclusion all other things written to church. Stands to reason, reading book and something comes up you’re not sure about, look back to earlier chapters to figure it out. Don’t put book down, turn on TV or check daily newspaper to find the answer. Just like John’s vision of chapter 1 bears strong resemblance to Daniel chapter 10, similar holds true for present chapter and following. To gain good understanding, need to ask “where have I seen that before… in the Bible?”

Chapter 4 & 5 really a unit, go together to describe single scene that opens third section of the book. A prop captures the focus and another person enters the drama. All leads to celebratory worship by all gathered around the throne. A sealed scroll at first causes great consternation, then contributes to great rejoicing. Scene has indications of being a flashback, to time when apostle John was much younger, stood watching with brother James and others as cloud took Lord Jesus out of their sight (Acts 1:9).

Ever wonder what happened when Jesus got to heaven? what his coronation looked like? Perhaps is what we see in v.6, the “Lamb as though it had been slain” standing between throne and those surrounding it. Strong angel asks “Who is worthy”; also important to know why this one is worthy, also what he is worthy of.

A. Who is worthy? v.1-5 – The Lion of Judah

the scroll – Dan. 12:4, 8-10

Daniel given amazing insights into God’s plan for his people – series of 4 visions starting ch. 7, each shedding further light on succession of world empires

clear from Daniel’s experience – there is strong connection between physical and spiritual realms: physical captivity in Babylon God’s punishment for disobedience; angel interpreters who helped Daniel understand; battle between Gabriel and prince of Persia

told to “seal up the scroll until the time of the end” – significant portion of what God revealed was to remain concealed… temporarily

filled with writing on both sides – like two tablets brought down by Moses from mountain… the writing of God

no empty space, no room for adding further details; “sealed with seven seals” – whatever it contains is complete, no need for any additions

where it is

held by “Him who sat on the throne” – One of indescribable glory seen by John at beginning of vision, described by Paul:

“the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.” (1 Tim. 6:15-16)

this One the absolute Sovereign ruler of all things – no exceptions, no boundaries to his authority, supremacy

in his right hand

symbolic of rulership, authority, sovereignty, blessing, and strength; to be seated at right hand shows equal dignity / honor

logically follows that whatever significance scroll has, is closely connected with rulership, God’s covenant relationship

Isa 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

what it contains

can know what it contains – just read ahead!! 6:1 through 8:1 tell what happens when scroll opened, contents carried out

comprehensively covers God’s will for this entire age, his redemptive plan from time of Jesus’ ascension until the end – after that… new heavens and new earth!

teaser for what’s coming up in Revelation: 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls each cover same period of time, with differing emphasis

why unopened

no one yet had been found worthy – must be one who has both legal and moral right to open God’s will, then implement it

should come as no surprise… no one found, in any part of created order – neither man, angel or demon – to open up God’s plan for future and simply read it, much less discern its significance

lets us know: are boundaries to what we can know of the future – limited to what One who opened the scroll has revealed in Word… and we shouldn’t push boundaries

and one more thing: once that scroll is opened, things inexorably set in motion – no turning back, no altering course, outcome is absolutely certain… decreed by God

B. Why is he worthy? v.5-7 – The Lamb of God

do not weep

as if John has moved back in time, prior to Jesus’ death/burial/resurrection/ascension – new covenant ready to be implemented

no one found worthy, God’s redemptive plan appears to be on hold; then one of elders: wipe your eyes, see what’s happening

the Lion, the Root

this the Promised One, the Messiah sent by God into the world to overcome mankind’s greatest enemies: Satan, sin, death

this second Adam did what first Adam failed: resisted Satan, remained free from sin, rose from dead since even grave could not hold him captive

this the Warrior-King, Commander of Lord’s Army the one who wages war to defend his people and conquer their enemies is Son of David, Son of God who is worthy because of who he is

the Lamb

the perfect sacrifice “who lives, and was dead, and behold, is alive forevermore.” (1:18) – that he is alive confirms sacrifice was valid and accepted, actually accomplished salvation of his people

Lamb’s victory further seen in marvelous spread of his church – Holy Spirit most present and active in world in the church

is as Holy Spirit moves in his people throughout the world that Christ’s kingdom advances, those he has purchased from “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” hear Gospel truth and respond in faith

Lamb is worthy to open the scroll, loosen the seals, implement what it contains because of what he has done

has prevailed / conquered

appears from v.5 Lord Jesus had this moment in view all along – part of “joy that was set before him” while endured the cross

“the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” ESV

is worthy to approach the One on the throne

all the rest are “around the throne”, “before the throne” – this One came and took the scroll… just walked right up to God and took something from his hand

if thinking about that doesn’t give you chills, goose bumps, check for a pulse… seriously – can picture as continuation of account in Acts 1

“when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, (Acts 1:8-9a) he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. (Rev. 5:7) And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:14)

C. What is he worthy of? v.8-14 – Worshipping the Lamb who Rules

heaven immediately erupts in worship… of the Lamb

WSC 6 How many persons are there in the Godhead? A. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

representatives of all creation and Christ’s church surround this glorified and exalted Lamb, the eternal Son, worshiping with harp and voice and prayers

an innumerable host, numbers that go beyond comprehension – praising the Lamb: he alone is worthy of worship and honor

for what he has accomplished

fully satisfied all God’s demands on behalf of his people – sacrifice of himself received as payment in full for debt we owe

as the forerunner, the pioneer who conquered death, is now alive in heaven – is our guarantee of resurrection and hope

all pieces now in place for Gospel to permeate to ends of earth, Christ’s kingdom to be established in all parts of the globe… in hearts and lives of those he has redeemed

for what he has yet to accomplish

application of redemption to remaining saints – redemption has been fully accomplished, only partially applied

now, all that is left: Matt. 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

Gospel message as it goes out will be resisted by all spiritual forces of evil, Satan and all his agents, but will not overcome it

vindication of saints and judgment on their enemies still to come

see very soon (next chapter) cries of those who have given lives for sake of Gospel: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood?”

yes, God’s people have joys of heaven in their sights – thank God for his grace / love / mercy; God’s enemies have horrors of hell before them

God will reward his people and he will judge his enemies on that great and final day by Man he has ordained (Acts 17:31)

Our first duty which should also be a delight: sing the new song of worship that praises the Lamb for our redemption, that gives him glory he deserves, adding our voices to countless number around the throne. Second duty which should also be a delight: be credible and useful ambassadors representing Christ, declaring glorious truth of Gospel to all who will listen, that more would join us in worshiping the Lamb who is worthy to receive praise / honor / glory / power forever.

 

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