The Tribulation: The Lamb takes The Scroll
"Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 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. 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." Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: "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." Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped." (Revelation 5, NIV)
We left off in Pt 1 at the point where a scroll has been presented by God. Unfortunately, no one could be found to open it, until the Lamb cones forward to do so. But as we see, until the lamb came forward, John weeps because no one was worthy to open it.
Why is John crying?
We know John loved the Lord, and we know that he wanted to see the Lord's will done. He wanted to see what was written in this, which was obviously penned by the Lord's hand. But when no one was found worthy to open it, that closed off that possibility, and it struck John tremendously. All John could do was weep, until one of the creatures told him:
"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." (Revelation 5:5, NIV)
The verse is pretty clear that it is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the Lamb: "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, NIV). The description of him as a lamb who was slain, having seven horns and seven eyes tells us a great deal: A horn is symbolic of power and authority; eyes mean that one can 'see' i.e. is not blind. And the number seven is God's number, and that these things are seven times upon the lamb. Further, we are told in scripture that these "are the seven spirits of God, sent out into all the world."
Yes; "the seven spirits of God" has me puzzled too, but the Lord will reveal its' meaning when the time comes.
But as far as Jesus being the Lamb of God, we see this reflected in the Gospel:
"The next day John (the baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29, NIV, parenthetical mine, emphasis mine)
And Peter also recognized him as such:
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake." (1 Peter 1:18-20, NIV, emphasis mine)
We see now that Jesus is the Lamb; what we don't immediately see is the nature and purpose of the scroll.
Looking at the description of the scroll in chapter 5, we see that it is it is held in God's right hand as he sits on the throne. Even further, it is written on both the front and the back, and that it is sealed with seven seals. This is not some small scroll, having enough room for seven full seals on it; seals back during John's day were most likely clay or wax, that a signet was pressed into while still wet or hot, then allowed to harden. And the fact that it was sealed seven times; seven has long been know to be the number of God. This indicates that God himself has sealed up this scroll with his own 'signet", and as such, only God can UNseal it. The Lamb, who is Jesus, who IS God Almighty (part of the trinity), is able unseal it. Because Jesus has died for us on the cross at Calvary, he has won the RIGHT to unseal it in the Father's eyes, as we are told in scripture. God the Father could not allow the scroll to be unsealed until his plan of salvation for man had been initiated, and the time for it to be unsealed had come.
The fact that is was held by God as he sat on the throne, shows us that the scroll is a royal document. Holding it in his right hand is also an important clue: the right hand has historically been the hand of power and favor concerning kings. Those who are said "to sit at his right hand", as speaking concerning God, enjoy favor from the Lord and whatever authority he sees fit to give them.
Being written on both sides shows us that the scroll is "full", that is, there is no more to be written; all has been said in it that will be said concerning the matter. In history, documents had to be carefully written, because whatever was NOT in the document had no effect and were not considered part of the contract, deed, title or decree.
Speaking of the contents of the scroll: we do not read later on in scripture that Jesus THEN read the scroll after all seven seal were opened; it simply goes on to describe the next series of judgments. Because of this, we can infer that as each seal is broken the judgment is read off. It's possible that each judgment is on a separate leaf that is sealed individually, and read after the seal is broken. This would mean then that the contents of the scroll are the Seal Judgments, Trumpet Judgments, Bowl Judgments, and everything else that is described in Revelation from that point on. In the entire book of Revelation, it never says that the scroll was closed, so I think we can safely go with that.
At the point that the Lamb takes the scroll, the elders and the creatures fall down in worship before him, and sing a new song to him. They are described as: "And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." (Revelation 5:8, NIV)
Joining them in praise and song are the angels of heaven:
"Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (Revelation 5:11-12, NIV)
In fact, ALL of creation joins them in singing to the Lord Jesus! That the elders, the creatures and the angels in heaven give worship and praise to the Lamb serves to reinforce that it is indeed Jesus, and that it is God that they are praising. This is the point where Jesus the meek Lamb who willingly went to the slaughter, is now preparing to claim his rightful place as ruler of the Earth. And when we think about ti, it is fitting that it is Jesus who is opening the scroll for yet another reason; as the Son of Man and the Son of God, the intermediary between God and Man, Jesus is the only one who may reveal to us what is yet to come in the plan that the Lord has for the earth and all for creation.
And as we watch, Jesus takes hold of the first seal...
...and breaks it.
We'll continue in Part 3.
I bid you all peace.