Scripture Focus- Revelation 5
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The meaning of the biblical word revelation, is to reveal what was before hidden. The Apostle John is given a vision that in effect, pulls the curtain back on future events to reveal what we should anticipate. John was imprisoned on the island called Patmos and he is given a vision.
Ch 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.
1:12-17 Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was one like the Son of Man, dressed in a robe and with a golden sash wrapped around his chest. The hair of his head was white as wool- white as snow- and his eyes like a fiery flame. His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of cascading waters. He had seven stars in his right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from his mouth, and his face was shining like the sun at full strength.
John is given a message to deliver to the 7 Churches in Revelation in Chapters 2-3.
The Church at Ephesus left its first love.
The Church at Smyrna the persecuted church.
The Church at Pergamum compromised with the world.
The Church at Thyatira tolerated sin.
The Church at Sardis was spiritually dead.
The Church at Philadelphia that endured patiently.
The Church at Laodicea was spiritually lukewarm.
1:19 Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this.
Time is revealed: What must take place after this– refers to after the Church Age. “After this” reveals the beginning of things to come. After Ch 3:22 the church isn’t mentioned here on earth. This is one of the primary arguments for holding to the belief that the church will be taken up into Heaven prior to the time of the Great Tribulation.
We came to a transition point in Revelation where the scene of the vision given to John focused on Heaven, specifically the Throne of Heaven.
The throne of heaven reveals the power of God– it is magnificent, with the appearance of jasper and carnelian, with the appearance of a rainbow resembling an emerald encircling the throne. There are 24 elders around the throne seated on lesser thrones and clothed in white clothes wearing golden crowns on their heads, and seven fiery torches burning before the throne, and a sea of glass similar to crystal out in front of it.
The throne of Heaven reveals the holiness of God- there are four living creatures around the throne with eyes in front and back. The first is like a lion– Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the second is like an ox– Jesus as the Suffering Servant, the third has a face like a man- Jesus as the Son of Man, and the fourth is like a flying eagle- Jesus as the Son of God. Praises rise up to the throne- holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come.
The throne of Heaven reveals the worthiness of God- the 24 elders fall on their faces and cry out- you are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things, and by your will they exist and were created. The twenty-four elders receive their crowns from God and they respectfully return them to God to give him glory and honor.
We now come to Chapter 5.
John saw in the right hand of God a scroll with writing on both sides, sealed with seven seals. A scroll was a long piece of papyrus or animal skin, rolled from both ends to the middle. They used these before square pages as we know them came about. Roman wills were sealed up with seven seals. This scroll is not a will but a deed or contract of sorts. The Romans would write on inner pages and seal it with seven seals making it official, and then three witnesses would certify it.
The scroll in God’s hand perhaps is the title deed to the earth, and most certainly the events to come in the judgment of the Great Tribulation. The details of what he will inherit is not the primary focus, but how he will reclaim his rightful inheritance and what must come to pass in doing so. His rightful inheritance will be reclaimed by means of divine judgment poured out on the earth.
A strong angel asks- Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals? No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or even to look in it. John wept and wept because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or even to look in it.
One of the elders said to John- Do not weep. . . Then Jesus stepped forward and took the scroll, and the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Our focus today is, and for eternity will be- Worthy is the Lamb!!
I want to show you in Revelation 5, why the Lamb is Worthy.
The Lamb is worthy because of who He is.
Worthy= having qualities meriting recognition. The word is used quite a bit in academics, athletics, business.
V5 He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah- this designation comes from Jacob’s blessing on the Tribe of Judah in Genesis 49:8-10 Judah, your brothers will praise you. Your hand will be on the necks of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. Judah is a young lion, my son you return from the kill. He crouches, he lies down like a lion or a lioness, who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah or the staff from between his feet until he whose right it is comes, and the obedience of the peoples belong to him.
Out of the tribe of Judah in Israel would come a strong and fierce ruler- the Messiah.
V5 He is the Root of David– the Messianic title comes from Isaiah 11 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The birth genealogies of Jesus remind us in Matthew 1 and Luke 3, Jesus was a descendent of David on both his mother’s and his earthly father’s side.
God the Son (BFM 2000)
Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.
Eternal, Creator, God Man, Lived, Crucified, Buried, Raised, Seated at God’s Right Hand, Soon to Return- Worthy because of who he is!
The Lamb is worthy because of what He has done.
V5 He has conquered- at the cross he defeated sin, death, and hell.
In the midst of the glory of God emanating from the throne- John looked, and saw. . . a Lamb. He could not be the Lion of judgment or the ultimate King of glory unless he was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Lamb= a little lamb. The image comes from the Passover when Jewish families were required to keep a sacrificial lamb for four days before it was sacrificed. Every lamb sacrificed under the Old Covenant pointed forward to the promise of the Messiah, the Lamb of God. He is referred to as a Lamb once in the Old Testament in Isaiah 53:7 and four times in the New Testament in John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32, 1 Peter 1:19. In Revelation he appears as the Lamb 31 times.
When Jesus is called the Lamb of God it is referring to Him as the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for sin. The sacrifice of lambs played an important part in Jewish worship.
He was no ordinary lamb. He was v6 like a slaughtered lamb standing in the midst of the throne. The deadly wound and the scars he received were visible, they were evident, and still he was alive.
He had v6 seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth. Seven is the number of completion, perfection. His power is absolute. The horns are symbolic of strength and power. The eyes reveal his omniscience. The seven spirits of God are symbolic of the fullness of the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.
How do we measure the magnitude of the problem of sin? Well, how do we measure the size of a fire? By the number of firefighters and fire engines sent to fight against it. How do we measure the seriousness of a medical condition? By what it takes to fight it. How do we measure the magnitude of sin? By considering what it cost God to defeat it in His Son Jesus.
Climactic moment- the crescendo of all eternity- The Lamb of God v7 went and took the scroll out of the right hand of the one seated on the throne. Redemption completed, paradise reclaimed, eternity secured!!
This is the same scene as described in Daniel 7:13-14 I kept looking at the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.
The Lamb of God is worthy, and he has conquered. He steps up to the throne to claim what is rightfully His!!
The Lamb is worthy because of what He will do.
When Jesus took the scroll, v8 the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp.
Harps are frequent in Old Testament worship. An example is from Elisha. When Elisha was about to prophesy, he said, bring me a harpist. While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came upon the prophet. 2 Kings 3:15 King David of course played a harp.
There were also golden bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. The bowls were used in the Tabernacle and Temple at the altar. They symbolized the priests interceding for the people. The incense in the bowls represents the prayers of God’s people rising up to the throne of God.
Psalm 141:2 May my prayer be set before you like incense.
The Tabernacle and Temple included an Altar of Incense. The Old Covenant was a shadow of what Christ would accomplish in His atoning work. The sacrifice of Christ is the sweet aroma that goes before the Father on our behalf. In a general sense, incense typifies prayer.
John Owen in his commentary on Hebrews gave four ways incense is like prayer:
Incense was beaten and pounded before it was used. Acceptable prayer proceeds from a broken and contrite heart.
Incense rises toward heaven, and the point of prayer is that it ascends to the throne of God.
Incense requires fire for it to be useful, and prayer has no virtue unless it is set on fire by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Incense yields a sweet aroma, and our prayers are a sweet aroma to the Lord.
The elders sang a new song- not something never sung before at all, but a new version of something that previously existed.
The focus is on redemption- V9 You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and you purchased people for God by your blood.
The focus is on mission- v9. . . from every tribe (descent) and language (tongue) and people (race) and nation (culture).
The focus is on inheritance- v10 You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.
We will eternally be a community of God’s people.
We will have complete access to God for communion, worship, and service.
We will reign upon the earth in the millennial kingdom to come.
John looked again and heard the voice of angels around the throne- their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. They said with a loud voice-
V12 Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!
Then the praise stepped it up another notch from the elders and the angels to the whole of creation!
V13 I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say, blessing and honor and glory and power.
The host of Heaven in Revelation 5 is on the brink of going out of heaven to bring judgment upon the earth, to gather the elect, and to return with Christ when he sets up His kingdom.