Listening to preachers and messengers over the years that have been deeply impacted by the grace of God and have seen glimpses of His glory has motivated me to reach for more of God myself. One of the common denominators in these preachers is their preoccupation with Revelation 4 and 5. One friend of mine who is a recording artist and sings songs from the place of intimate encounter spent a year walking through the 11 verses of Revelation 4 at the pace of one word per week. This slow, methodical, devotional approach to Revelation 4 and 5 released powerful imagery for him to turn into song and prayer back to God. It’s now several years later and he is still singing and mining out the beauty, majesty and worth of the Father from Revelation 4 and the glory of the Son from Revelation 5.
Another shepherd in the body of Christ who has written two powerful books and travels around the world teaching and preaching with great clarity on the subject of Eschatology said that no other chapters in the Bible have impacted his life of worship and prayer more than Revelation 4 and 5. I can’t agree more with both of these guys experiences in these two glorious chapters.
For me personally, when I close my eyes in worship and prayer the first two places that I set my heart on is God the Father on His throne from Revelation 4 or the resurrected and indwelling Christ from Revelation 5 who’s living in me through the Holy Spirit. It’s those two scenes that help me move into the place of worship and prayer, setting a steady gaze on the glory of God and His beautiful Son. These two chapters are worthy of our time and devotion searching out the truths that are locked up inside them for the purpose of provoking personal worship and grace to call others into the same place.
In the previous chapter I covered the security of God’s throne, and the Holy God Himself from Revelation 4. And now in this chapter I am going to cover the Highly exalted Son who alone is qualified to take over the ruler-ship of all nations. In the flow of the overall book of Revelation, Revelation 4 and 5 are critical chapters in helping us understand the conflict that will take place throughout Revelation 6-19. The imagery from Revelation 4 gives us great confidence in the One who is seated upon the throne and in Revelation 5 we see how qualified Jesus is to take over the nations of the earth.
There have been many people throughout history that have attempted to take over the nations of the earth. Some have made a good run at it while others have dreamed far beyond reality and as they fell short of their intended goals. The power of understanding Revelation 5 is that we see Jesus’ primary means of taking over the nations of the earth is because of His great sacrifice and servant Spirit, not because of His great slaughter and oppression of the human race. Had any of those men who made a good run at taking over the nations of the earth actually pulled it off it would have been terrifying. The terrifying reality is that they have all attempted to do it through bloodshed, oppression and global tyranny. But not the resurrected Son of Revelation 5. Now this isn’t to say that Jesus won’t have His share of bloodshed as He removes everything that hinders love, but He’s not doing it in a mode of oppression but in love, vindicating His name and the bride whom He loves so dearly. The Jesus of Revelation 5 is a sacrificial King, who when He had everything, laid it all aside to redeem humans to God. This is the exalted Christ whom our hearts love so deeply!
The Scroll In The Right Hand Of God (Revelation 5:1-4)
Revelation 5:1 opens with these words “And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.” It’s clear from Revelation 4 that this the Father who is pictured as sitting upon a throne. The thing that’s different and that isn’t mentioned in Revelation 4 is that in the Father’s right hand there is a scroll that has writing on both the inside and the outside. Through this verse our attention is moved away from the One who is seated upon the throne, to the scroll that He is holding in His right hand. It’s as if the scene is shifting and moving away from the Father and begging to focus on something different in this apocalyptic encounter that John’s is experiencing.
It’s my personal belief that this scroll that’s resting in the Father’s right hand is the Psalm 2 title deed to the earth. This scroll contains all the information about Jesus’ end-time battle plan to end this earthly age in which we currently live and to usher in God’s eternal Kingdom upon the earth. Psalm 2:7-8 says “I will declare the decree; the Lord said to Me, You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.” Here we see the drama of Revelation 4 and 5 playing out in prophetic statements from history past. David said in this Psalm that God the Father gave God the Son a decree, that He could ask of Him and He would give Him the nations as His inheritance. It’s mind blogging that God’s kingdom is set up in such a way that even Jesus, the uncreated Son asks His Father for the nations. As mind blogging as this is, it’s important that we see God the Father has predestined the Son to take over the nations of the earth and this scroll in His right hand is the title deed that rightly belongs to Jesus.
The power of seeing the scroll of God resting in the Father’s right hand is that it’s resting in the power and strength of God. The right hand of God throughout the scriptures speaks of the power of God and this wording is important for our understanding. Regardless of what’s going on in the earth and regardless of who’s trying to take over the nations of the earth, it’s clear through this passage that the plan to give Jesus the nations is resting securely in the Father’s right hand. It’s as good as done and nobody is going to pry this scroll out of His hands prematurely.
We see that the scroll is written on both the inside and the outside which is also making a powerful statement about what God has included in this scroll. In ancient times there were two main reasons why a scroll was written on both sides and it was because either the owner of the scroll was too poor to purchase another one, or because they wanted to keep all of the contents together. I believe in this case it’s clearly not because God the Father was too poor to purchase another one. This scroll is a legal document and instead of separating the contents over several scrolls, it’s all in included in one keeping everything together for that great and soon coming Day.
This scroll is what I like to call God’s end-time battle plan (Psalm 2) to fully redeem and deliver the righteous as well as cleanse the planet of evil, removing everything that hinders love (antichrist, false prophet, Babylon and those that resist Jesus). You can’t separate the positives from the negatives within this scroll because God has rolled them up together. This doesn’t mean that God partners with evil, it just means that this scroll includes both positives and negatives and it doesn’t’ separate one from the other. The events that unfold leading up to the consummation of life in this age will be the perfect mixture of positives and negatives. And all those that love this book must never isolate or pit one aspect against the other making it only positive or only negative.
After looking at the scroll and the Father who’s holding it, John hears something that totally disrupts his vision. This is what he hears in Revelation 5:2-4 “Then I saw a strong (mighty) angel, proclaiming with a loud voice, who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose it’s seals? And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.” This mighty angel is asking a difficult question and it’s not being pointed mainly at John but it is being said to him in an indirect way. The reason why the angel is called strong or mighty is because his voice is heard in heaven, on earth and underneath the earth. This qualifies him as being a mighty angel. The question he asks is better understood when it’s said like this “who is worthy (qualified), or who has the power, humility, meekness and wisdom to take over the ruler ship of all the nations of the earth?” What a question that’s being asked of all the creatures within God’s creation.
It’s clear that nobody responds with a raised hand to accept the challenge that this mighty angel is sounding. What’s even more powerful is that there isn’t even a person found that can look at the scroll, let alone take it and loose it’s seals. There’s an old adage that says “power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts.” This situation reminds of the Lord of The Rings and the power that’s locked up within that ring. Whoever touches that ring is totally overcome by the power of the ring and it takes over their life. The idea here is similar.
What’s clear from John’s writing is that there isn’t an angel, an elder, a devil, an apostle or an Old Testament saint who’s qualified to touch the scroll, let alone to even look at it. What happens next is powerful when we understand scroll’s and seals in the ancient world. After John hears the charge and sees that nobody is able to respond he begins to weep bitterly. The reason why John is weeping is not because he’s curious and wants to know what’s inside the scroll and now he will never know. John understands the symbolic language of what’s taking place. In John’s day the person who opens the scroll is also the legal person who can enact what’s included within the scroll and without this person the contents of the scroll is never revealed. And because this scroll contains God’s end-time battle plan to fully remove evil off the planet including satan and to redeem the righteous, John weeps. Without this person all is worthless. The wicked win and the righteous lose. World missions is worthless, suffering is worthless and sacrificial living is worthless because the Day of divine retribution is never coming. Like John we also would weep at the conclusion of Revelation 5:4.
The Slain And Worthy Lamb (Revelation 5:5-7)
Thank God Revelation 5 doesn’t end with verse 4. It’s here at this place of great despair that John hears the mighty angel saying something much different than what he heard in the previous verse and it’s enough to restore hope for the future. In Revelation 5:5-6 John hears “But one of the elders said to me, do not weep, behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose it’s seven seals. And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it was slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” It’s here that John’s hope in the future is fully restored and his joy is once again placed in the slain Lamb who’s already visited him back in Revelation 1:16.
What’s interesting is that John first hears that it’s a Lion (the Davidic King) who prevailed and overcame but when he looks he’s doesn’t see a Lion but a Lamb (the Suffering Servant) who had been slain. What John is wanting us to see is that the Lion who has prevailed over His enemies has brought about His victory through suffering. It was a win victory that was won through death and what seemed like defeat. Paul tells us Christ was crucified in weakness but raised up in great power (2nd Corinthians 13:4). What’s important for us to see is that John’s readers were well acquainted with the need to overcome from John’s personal life which presently included suffering and persecution, the death of all the other original Apostles and Jesus’ teachings to the seven Churches that included numerous calls to overcome. So when they would have read these two verses they would have clearly understood that this was also their way forward in victory. It’s victory though martyrdom.
Something that struck me in reading about Christ’s victory or the fact that the Lion of the tribe of Judah prevailed is that His victory is unnamed. What I mean by unnamed is that there isn’t any one specific aspect that His victory covers. What is clear is that this victory was over many things, first of which is satan. But I think it’s important to leave this victory unnamed so that it includes all things, for the scope of this boundless Stag, this Gazelle is truly over all things (Song of Songs 2;8:14).
Something else that I love about the only worthy or qualified One who is standing in the midst of God is that this Man is a Man of sacrifice and love, not of anger and violence. When John turns to see this Lion of has prevailed he sees an apocalyptic Lamb that received His victory through His suffering. Nobody wants’ to follow a leader who calls people do things that they themselves aren’t willing to do. One of the reasons why so many love Jesus is because He never asks us to do what He Himself hasn’t already done. He calls us to suffer and die because He Himself suffered and died.
Now to explain a few of the things mentioned about Jesus and around the throne of God. Firstly, we see that this Lamb has seven horns. Throughout the Bible and even in the Revelation horns are used to speak of power, authority and dominion. They have been a common symbol speaking of strength (Deut. 33:17; Psalm 18:2; 112:19). Secondly, the seven eyes that John sees also about the Person of Christ speaks of wisdom, revelation, knowledge, discernment and God’s omniscience (Col. 2:3). Thirdly, John again mentions the seven Spirits of God that are sent off into all the world. Seven throughout the Bible and here in the Revelation usually speaks of perfection, God, fullness and of completion. The idea here is that Jesus has the fullness of the Spirit available to Him without measure (John 3:34). Summed up, it’s clear that the Lamb in the midst of the Throne has the fullness of power (7 horns) and the fullness of wisdom (7 eyes) to accomplish the task of cleansing the earth and redeeming the saints.
And fourthly, John hears that Jesus, who is in the midst of the Throne is the Root of David. This is both an Old Testament and a New Testament title speaking of the Davidic King Jesus who is both the Root and the Shoot of David. In Isaiah 11:1 the prophet says “There shall come forth a Rod (Jesus) from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch (Christ) shall grow out of his (David) roots.” And in Revelation 22:16 all is cleared up when Jesus titles Himself “…I am the Root (before) and the Offspring (after of David…” It’s true that the tree or the dead stump of Jesse fell, but from that dead stump grew a Branch and that Branch is promised to restore the Davidic era in a new Adam, Jesus Christ the Root of David. Beloved, Jesus Christ, the Son of David, is now standing in the midst of the Throne. In Luke 1:32-33 when the angel was speaking to Mary he said to her “He will be great, and will be called the Son of Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the Throne of His Father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
The implications of Jesus being seated upon a Throne are too many to list here. But one simple reality is that this verse, along with the ones listed and the many others that aren’t listed here, speak of a physical restoration, not just a spiritual one. This means that Jesus’ intentions aren’t to just reign spiritually but to reign physically, not only in heaven but also on this physical earth. And if Jesus is going to reign physically on the earth that also means that the various passages that speak about humans ruling and reigning with Him aren’t only spiritually, but physical. Jesus is going to rule on earth and His beloved ones will be alongside Him, ruling and reigning as well.
The narrative continues to move forward now that John has seen the worthy Son who alone is qualified to take the scroll and open it’s seals. In Revelation 5:7 John sees what Daniel saw in the Old Testament but with great clarity after living and following Jesus during His earthly ministry. Here is what John sees “Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the Throne.” Now when Daniel seen this event taking place hundreds of years prior to the incarnation in Daniel 7:13-14, Daniel had no grid for a Human Being approaching the uncreated God and taking this Psalm 2 scroll from the Father’s right hand. What Daniel seen was the unthinkable; a Man approaching God and taking something from Him. But now in John’s day this wasn’t nearly as stunning for John had come to know Jesus was both fully God and fully Man.
Still, even though John knows about Jesus’ humanity and His divinity he watches Him approach the Father and take the title deed to the earth from His right hand. This title deed is the leadership over the earth, it’s kingdoms, wealth, resources, the peoples and everything else that it entails. It’s clear that Jesus is the only Human qualified to cleanse the planet by loosing the judgments within this book (6-19) and restructuring all the governments of the earth establishing global, legislated righteousness throughout the nations for what the Bible calls the millennial reign of Christ. It’s easy to see this through John’s eyes, but image what Daniel was thinking when he seen this same vision, but without clarity on the incarnation. A Man approaching God!
The Worship of The Worthy Lamb (Revelation 5:8-14)
The scene shifts again from vision of the worthy One to the worship of the worthy One. Here in Revelation 5:8-10 we see the implications of the Lamb taking the scroll. “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song saying; You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your own blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” It’s here that the song of Jesus’ worth begins to sound fourth throughout the heavens. All of the created order around God the Father (4 living creatures and the 24 elders) agrees with the worth and qualification of Jesus to take over the leadership of every nation. It’s because of His great sacrifice that He is empowered to receive that which belongs to Him.
We see Jesus’ worth in three primary applications. Firstly, it’s because Jesus is worth it. Many times the devil tries to deceive us by getting us to believe that we are receiving a bad deal from Jesus. He works to get us to quit, give up or stop reaching for Him in an intentional way. Isaiah said in Isaiah 8:18 “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.” Paul said in Romans 8:18 “For is consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” And lastly Paul said Philippians 3:8 “I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish.” Count Zinzendorf from Hernnhut Gremany during the 1800’s coined a phrase from this 100 prayer meeting and the first major western missions movement that said “that the Lamb would receive the reward of His sufferings.” This mantra empowered hundreds of missionaries to give their lives as martyrs for the worth of Jesus. We must not agree with the lies of the devil that our sacrifice and allegiance to Jesus isn’t worth it!
Secondly, it’s because Jesus is capable. It’s true that only Jesus is qualified because of His sacrificial death to drive evil off the planet and reorganize all the governments of the earth. His worth is seen in the fact that He is fully capable of doing what needs to be done without regard or partiality. This One, who alone is worthy, has perfect wisdom. And thirdly, it’s because Jesus’ deserves it. The Father will give the leadership of the earth to Jesus as He first gave it to Adam in the garden. Jesus has proven Himself by making every choice in love and righteousness (2nd Corinthians 8:9). There is Nobody more deserving than Jesus to receives the nations of the earth and everything else including in the nations.
Something else that’s clear through these two verses is that the saints on the earth play a central role in Jesus taking the scroll and enacting the battle plan to take over the nations. It’s through the worship (harps) and prayers (bowls) of the saints that Jesus has moved forward to take the scroll from the Father’s right hand. Human’s play a central role in God’s eschatological drama. This is not a contradiction to God’s sovereignty because as the sovereign Ruler, He has chosen to use men. This is why the global worship and prayer movement gaining such great steam among the nations is so electrifying. This movement, led by the Holy Spirit is refocusing the gaze of Jesus’ Church back on Christ for the purpose of empowering an army of believers to share the Gospel with signs and wonders in the darkest hour of human history. Our worship and prayers are moving Jesus and the accumulative prayer for Him to come will all be manifest within one generation.
The worship of Jesus continues here in Revelation 5:11-12 when John says “Then I looked, and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice; Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive POWER and RICHES and WISDOM, and STRENGTH and HONOR and GLORY and BLESSING!” Wow, what a dramatic increase in the worship that’s already taking place around the throne. The increase in worship moves beyond the 24 elders and the 4 living creatures to include all the angelic hosts of heaven. The number of angelic worshipers is 10,000×10,000 (100,000,000) and 1,000’s of 1,000’s which equals A LOT! What a song they are singing to Jesus’ worth!
Through this song of worship that’s being sung in heaven we can see that the Father has given Jesus’ favor over seven clear spheres of leadership now in part but in fullness during the millennial reign of Christ. Let’s take a brief look at these seven spheres mentioned in Revelation 5:11-12. Firstly Jesus receives Power. This is speaking about Jesus’ political rule which is seen in part through the Church but will be seen in fullness as He receives all the governmental power of every nation. Secondly, Jesus receives Riches. This speaks about the all the money that currently belongs to Him, but will be openly manifested in the way that He rules the earth during the millennial reign. Thirdly, Jesus receives Wisdom. This speaks about the intellectual wisdom Jesus possess now but will be openly seen throughout all the nations as He replaces every evil government on earth with new leaders and laws as He restores every sphere of life (political, economical, family, education, agricultural, media, environmental and social). Only Jesus possess the intellect to rightly overturn all nations and set in order His God’s kingdom throughout those very nations that He overturns. He alone is wise!
Fourthly, Jesus receives Strength. This speaks about the emotional strength that Jesus will possess in His innerman to continue steadfastly as He restores all nations. Revelation 19:12 says that Jesus has a name written on Him that nobody knows but Himself. This tells us that He is fully confident to carry out the will of God and the plans of God regardless how hard, how long or how much opposition there is. He has the strength. Fifthly, Jesus receives Glory. This speaks of the spiritual component to Jesus’ life. Some in this age boast in Jesus with loving delight and joyful trust, but in the age which is yet to come, all people will openly boast in Jesus. He will be the only One praised throughout the nations. Sixthly, Jesus receives Honor. Jesus receiving honor speaks about the relational aspect of Jesus life. Right now some listen to Jesus and respect Him, but in the age to come all will openly respect Jesus and listen to His voice. He will be respected among the nations.
And lastly, Jesus receives Blessing. This speaks of the social dynamic. Here today in this age, some people cooperate with Jesus, but in the age which is yet to come, all peoples will fully cooperate with His leadership, resulting in the mightiest workforce in human history. The nations will bless and love Jesus for His righteous policies. What this chapter confirms is that though all things aren’t as they will be, there is coming a day when they will. Jesus possess these realities within Himself right now, but there is coming a day when the earth will be filled with these realities in fullness. We have some of it now, but we are longing and even mourning for that coming day of fullness.
And finally, in Revelation 5:13-14 John sees the worship of Jesus increase yet another level. It says here “And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying, Blessing and honor, glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb, forever and ever. Then the four living creatures said, Amen! And the twenthy-four elders fell down and worshipped Him who lives forever and ever.” The category of those who worship the Father and the Son increase once again to not only include the heavenly created order, but all (heaven, earth and under the earth) of the created order. These verses are stating that the whole earth is converted but it’s speaking rather in poetic terms of Christ’s universal reign over all things.
John, prior to his conversation to Christ, would have been monotheistic (only one God) in his beliefs. But here, after his conversation to Christ, in the Revelation is making a huge statement to the Trinitarian beliefs in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as Jesus is being worshiped alongside the Father and sharing His Throne in heaven. This is glorious to say the least.
The close of this chapter also reminds us yet again that our Theology (the study of God) should always lead us into doxology (worship). The right response to the highly exalted Christ is giving our lives in worship to Him and possibly in death. Our goal is to give Him the worth through our lives that’s rightly due His name. He truly is worthy of all our worship!