Revelation: Chapter 5
As seen in the chronology of Revelation, John is viewing these events of this chapter from the perspective of heaven. The events here are also described in the timeline of the tribulation saints. As is described in that web page, there are several events that are expected to occur following the rapture of the church but prior to the beginning of the tribulation. The events in this chapter describe the great glory of Jesus Christ that are bestowed to Him by the Father and the response of all creation.
|1-3||The BOOK in the hand of the Father|
|4-5||The Lion of Judah|
|6-7||The slain Lamb|
|8-10||The song of the four creatures and 24 elders|
|11-14||All the creation sings blessings to the Lamb|
In Revelation 5:1, after describing the awesome view of the throne of God with all the activities surrounding it, John's attention is drawn to the Father on His throne. In the Father's right hand is a scroll with writing on both sides. At this time, John is a witness to all of these great sights, as they were revealed to him by the angel sent by the Lord, Revelation 1:1. The scroll itself was a normal manner of recording and preserving information in John's day, bound books were not used for another century. The information on this scroll is complete, and there is nothing left to document. The scroll was sealed with seven seals.
A scroll is sealed for several reasons:
- For disclosure of information that is directed to a specified group at some future time, Daniel 12:1-4
- God uses the allegory of the scroll to demonstrate the blindness of Israel to His word and is used for judgment, Isaiah 29:9-13
- To identify official recognized documents, which in this case is the deed and title to a parcel of land, Jeremiah 32:6-12, Psalms 2:2-9, Matthew 21:33-46
This is similar to the mystery of Christ, which was kept until its revelation to Paul. It was the intent of God to show through the church the manifold wisdom of God to be made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly realms, Ephesians 3:10-13. Similarly, this sealed scroll is the Father's deed to the earth and all it contains, Psalms 2:2-9, Matthew 21:33-46. This is when the Father gives dominion to the Son as recorded in Daniel 7:13-14.
As John will observe and report in Revelation 6:1-17, each seal leads the final conclusion of God's wrath upon the world, which results in the end of man's willful submission to the seductive wiles of Satan at the end of the tribulation. Satan's seduction against man, began in the garden of Eden, and man from that point forward lost his dominion over this earth that the Lord given him, Genesis 1:27-30, Genesis 3:1-10. This is demonstrated by the following passages in scripture.
- To those whom you obey, you are servants to, Romans 6:15-18
- The Lord never questioned the authority of Satan who offered Jesus all of the kingdoms of the earth if he would just bow down and worship him. Instead, the Lord rebuked Satan because all worship belongs to the Lord our God, and we are to serve Him only, Matthew 4:1-2, 8-11
- Satan, the prince of this world, John 14:30-31, in the time of judgment will be driven out of this world, John 12:27-31, Revelation 20:1-3, and ultimately thrown into the lake of fire, Revelation 20:7-10
As each of the first six seals are opened, they will reveal the work of Satan, and the culmination of his sinful nature and their impact on this world during the seven years of tribulation, Revelation 6:1-17 and Revelation 7:1-17. The opening of these seals parallel the many examples of the other judgments of God visited upon His people and other nations as a result of sin and of their rebellion, such as recorded in Isaiah 29:1-24.
The information within the sealed scroll provides the evidence of the sins, disobedience, rebellion, and utter contempt of God by Satan and his followers. Once opened, the seventh seal will reveal the beginning of God's judgment, which are the seven trumpet and seven bowl judgments, Revelation 8:1.
In Revelation 5:2, John observes a mighty angel, the first of many in Revelation, ask who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll. Some interpret later appearances of mighty angels as Christ, but this is unlikely as in each case they may exhibit the qualities of Christ, but only because they are in His presence.
In Revelation 5:3, John sees that no one in creation, those in heaven, those on earth, or those under the earth who was worthy to take the sealed document from the Father's hand.
In Revelation 5:4, John wept as his response to the observation that no one was found worthy to take the scroll from the Father's hand. Though not explicitly revealed concerning John's reaction, recall the question of the disciples prior to Christ's ascension in the clouds to the Father, Acts 1:6-9. The apostles had high expectations the kingdom would come in their lifetime, Acts 1:6-9. John and Peter were proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, the day of refreshing and restitution, Acts 3:19-21. As long as this book remained sealed, the judgment upon Israel would continue and the promise of His return would not happen. The question they asked was when the kingdom would be restored to Israel, the age of peace and restoration. The Lord responded to them that they were not know the times or the seasons, as that was reserved by the Father as to when He will reveal that information, Acts 1:7-9. So, until that time, and as long as this book remained sealed, the judgment upon Israel would continue. However, once the tribulation begins, the emphasis will upon Israel since the church will have been raptured and appear before the throne, as seen in Revelation 4:1-11.
In Revelation 5:5, John is comforted by one of the elders before the throne of God, not the angel whom was given to reveal these things to John. The elder, who represents the church as discussed in Revelation 4:1-11, views Christ as the lion of the tribe of Judah. This is in fulfillment of prophesy given by Jacob on his death bed, Genesis 49:8-10. The scepter will never be removed from the tribe Judah, Ezekiel 21:25-27. Christ Jesus was identified asa the Lion of Judah, who would rule and reign over Israel. He is also the slain Lamb who is the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ; He died according to scripture, was buried and on the third day was resurrected according to scripture, John 1:29-31, 1Corinthians 15:1-3. The elder also refers to Jesus as the root of David who has triumphed, Isaiah 11:1-5, Isaiah 11:10-11, Romans 15:8-12. Christ Jesus is the one who prevailed at the cross, and is able to open the book and loose its seven seals, Psalm 8:5, Hebrews 2:7-9.
The Kinsman Redeemer
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who is able to break the seals and reveal its contents because He is our Kinsman Redeemer. He was identified as Emanuel, Christ with us, Matthew 1:22, and therefore He is our kinsman. More importantly, Jesus alone paid the price in full our redemption from the wages of sin. He is the only person born in this world who could serve the position of Kinsman Redeemer, Ruth 3:12-13, John 14:6-7. Two important events are recorded in the book of Ruth that bring into light the role of the Kinsman Redeemer:
- The land lost to Naomi was returned by her Kinsman Redeemer, Ruth 4:5
- Ruth became a gentile bride to the kinsman, Ruth 4:5, who was Boaz
Finally, this event ties directly to a part of the Mosaic Law what is described in scripture as the Kinsman Redeemer, Leviticus 25:23-28, Leviticus 25:47-49, Numbers 35:19-21, Deuteronomy 25:5-10, as described in the book of Ruth 2:20, and illustrated in Jeremiah 32:1-44 before the final fall of Jerusalem to King Nebuchadnezzar. There are three parts to being a Kinsman Redeemer. First, as a near kin to the person needing help, he redeems the family member from bondage, just as the Lord Jesus redeemed all mankind from the bondage of sin by His shed blood on the cross. Second, He redeems the land back from the land brokers, just as Jesus Christ does by taking the sealed scroll from the hand of the Father, being the only one found worthy to do so. Finally, the Kinsman Redeemer avenges against the usurpers who took the land. As a result, the family members can regain possession of the land and enjoy the promises of God to them. In this case, the Lord will judge the world until the final battle of Armageddon when Satan and all his forces are defeated and removed from earth, the Lord establishes his first 1,000 years of His eternal reign over this world, and He restores the land back to Israel and to God's original design.
From the book of Ruth, Boaz who was a near Kinsman was able to secure the land that was lost to Naomi, who represented Israel, and was the mother-in-law to Ruth. Boaz then took Ruth, a gentile, to be his wife. Ruth was identified to Boas, who represents the Lord in this story by a nameless servant, who represents the Holy Spirit. This is similar also to the account of Abraham asking his servant to find a bride for his son Isaac, Genesis 24:1-67.
Similarly, Jeremiah was commanded by the Lord to by a parcel of land from his uncle, during the impending and certain fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 32:6-15. The Lord used this law of the Kinsman Redeemer to show the houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land, though the copies were put in a clay jar so they will last a long time. Jeremiah then prayed to the Lord expressing not only God's greatness, grace and long suffering, but the rebellion of Israel to all that God commanded them. He then closes asking for the meaning of the act as a Kinsman Redeemer the Lord instructed him to provide to his Uncle, Jeremiah 32:16-25. The Lords response is twofold: First, He rehearses the evils done by the Jews and Israel and hence the judgment of removing them out of the land, Second, the Lord is going to return them to the land as their Kinsmen Redeemer so that in the end they will enjoy the new unconditional covenant the Lord made with them and they will again buy their lands and all their fortunes will be restored to them by the Lord, Jeremiah 32:26-44. This will all be accomplished when the Lord establishes His millennial reign over the world, and centered in Jerusalem following the seven years of tribulation.
This scene points to Christ as the one who is the complete fulfillment of all the prophesies concerning Him to establish His kingdom on earth, sitting on the throne of David, Revelation 5:6-7.
- After His ascension, He sat at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:12, 1:13
- As the Lion of Judah, He would rule and reign over Israel, Genesis 49:8-10
- As the slain Lamb, He would draw all men to Himself, John 12:31-50
Embedded within this great scene is the book of Ruth:
- Jesus is Emmanuel, Christ with us, Matthew 1:23
- He was the only person who could serve as our “kinsman redeemer”
- His work fulfilled two elements
- He secured the land that was lost to Naomi, who represented Israel
- He took to himself a Gentile bride, Ruth, who was identified to Boaz, representing Jesus Christ, by a nameless servant, representing the Holy Spirit, just as in Genesis 24:1-67
Further in Revelation 5:6, John observes the Lord as a lamb slain, the figure of Christ's sacrifice on the cross to give His shed blood for our ransom from the judgment of sin. The Lord is both a king and servant, Isaiah 53:5-7, John 1:29. There are several attributes to the Lamb:
- The location of the Lamb is at the center of God's throne, where is evidenced the trinity
- The lamb has seven horns indicative of complete power
- He is encircled by the four creatures and the 24 elders
- He has seven eyes which depict complete knowledge, Psalms 66:7, Proverbs 15:3
- The seven eyes are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth, Isaiah 11:1-2, John 16:13-15, Zechariah 4:2, 6, 8-10
- The Spirit of the Lord
- The Spirit of Wisdom
- The Spirit of Understanding
- The Spirit of Counsel
- The Spirit of Power
- The Spirit of Knowledge
- The Spirit of the fear of the Lord
In Revelation 5:7, John observes a most significant event; the Lamb took the scroll from the Father, the only one worthy to do so.
In Revelation 5:8-10, the scene concerning the four creatures and 24 elders changes slightly in that:
- They all fall down before the Lamb
- They each had a harp
- They each were holding bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints, Psalms 141:1-2
- There is an implied association or expectation of fulfillment of the prayers of the saints with the dominion being given to the Son for they are remembered and presented at this time
John hears a new song that is sung in response to the Lamb receiving the scroll to inaugurate His kingdom on earth, Psalms 144:5-10, Mark 10:42-45, 1Corinthians 6:19-20. This chorus of exaltation continues with the status that they now have because of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose shed blood on the cross redeemed all mankind who believed on Him and confessed His name and made all of us a kingdom and priests, 1Peter 2:4-5, 9-10, Revelation 5:10, Revelation 20:4. Imagine being John and observing all of these wondrous sights and sounds. One can only imagine the deafening sound of joy, excitement, and sold out admiration of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. There could be no comparison to anything that we, in our physical state could ever approach such an awesome state. Notice too that the four creatures and the 24 elders sing that by His blood the Lord purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. As mentioned earlier the Lord is our Kinsman Redeemer! As a result He has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God and they will reign on earth, (during the millennial reign of Christ). They sing:
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.", Revelation 5:9-10
In Revelation 5:11, the activity about the throne is further described by John, which is very similar to what was reported by Daniel when he viewed the throne area. Daniel's account is congruent with what the Apostle John wrote.
As with Daniel, John reports a great number of angels that encircle the four creatures and 24 elders and the throne. These numbers are associated with angels (thousands upon thousands), but it is not certain that the ten thousand times ten thousand are angels as well, but may still be the church, Hebrews 12:18-24.
In Daniel 7:9-14, Daniel reported on the appearance of God's throne room just prior to the beginning of the tribulation, to judge the indescribable beast. What is missing from the previous instances of visions concerning God's throne by Moses, Ezekiel and Isaiah? Two groups are mentioned by Daniel, those that attended the Lord (thousands upon thousands), and those who stood before Him (ten thousand times ten thousand). It is not thought that this is an absolute number 100,000,000 to be a limit of those who make up the raptured church and bride of Christ. Rather, this is representative of a huge number saints and their proximity to God before the throne. Daniel saw a court being seated before the throne of God and the books of judgment were opened, 1Corinthians 6:1-4.
It is contended that Daniel 7:13-14 provides details of the events surrounding the throne of God that directly relate to the events as they unfold in Revelation 5:1-14.
Following the singing of the of the four creatures and the 24 elders, John now hears the response of the Angels in song:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"
In Revelation 5:12, John hears all of the saints continue in their praise to God, who are joined by the Angels in singing and loudly shouting. There are several elements in this praise to the Lord in that He was slain to receive:
Notice that there are seven elements in this praise to the Lord, which is the number of completion.
It is the whole creation who joins in the song, Revelation 5:13:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever!"
Then in the final act of praise, Revelation 5:14, the four living creatures conclude the singing and said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped God.