The cry has gone throughout heaven and earth looking for the one who is worthy to open the scroll. John looks and sees the Lamb standing, as though it had been slain. We noted in our last lesson that this shows the way the Lion of the tribe of Judah would conquer. The Christ will not conquer by physical force or military might but through his sacrificial death on the cross.
The Lamb (5:6-8)
The Lamb has many unique characteristics that we need to observe. First, the Lamb has seven horns. We will notice throughout the book of Revelation that the number seven represents completeness and perfection. A horn on one’s head represents power and strength, like an animal that has horns on its head shows power (cf. Daniel 7:7,20). Christ is the Lamb that was slain, but he is seen with perfect power and strength. This is not a defenseless lamb. This is not a weak lamb. This lamb has complete, sovereign power. Further, the Lamb has seven eyes. John tells us the meaning of the seven eyes, “which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” This is the third time we have read about the seven spirits of God. Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 4:5 are the other places where the book also refers to the seven spirits of God. In our previous studies in mentioned that we would wait until Revelation 5:6 before we fully explored the meaning of this symbol.
“The seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” comes from Zechariah 4:10. Zechariah 4:10 says, “These seven are the eyes of the Lord, which range through the whole earth.” The prophetic picture in Zechariah is the promise that God would accomplish the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. The word of the Lord tells Zerubbabel, who was the leader of the people of the first return from Babylonian captivity, that it would not be by physical might or power, but by God’s Spirit that these things would be accomplished. God sees all that is happening (hence the seven eyes representing perfect knowledge and perfect sight) and will accomplish his plans and purposes. Remember that the people were prevented from rebuilding the temple when they first returned. Thus, the temple of the Lord remained desolate. God is declaring in this prophecy that he sees all that is going on in the earth. God knew that their plans of rebuilding had been frustrated. But God had decreed for the temple to be rebuilt and therefore it will be rebuilt by the power of God’s Spirit. Bring this meaning into Revelation 5. God knows and sees all that is happening on the earth. God knows their persecution and suffering. However, God’s plans will not be thwarted. The Lamb will rule. The Lamb will conquer. God’s Spirit is at work and God will fulfill his promises and prophecies. The Lamb is the instrument through which all of God’s plans will be fulfilled.
In verse 7 we read the Lamb takes the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. When he took the scroll, look at what happens. The four living creatures and the 24 elders fall down before the Lamb. Remember in chapter 4 that the four living creatures and the 24 elders were worshiping the one who sits on the throne. The 24 elders were falling down before God as he sits on the throne. Now the four living creatures and the 24 elders are falling down and worshiping the Lamb. The point is simple yet powerful. The Lamb is divine. The Lamb is God. The Lamb is worthy of worship.
We are shown one other interesting aspect concerning the 24 elders. Verse 7 tells us that the 24 elders are holding a harp and the golden bowls of incense. John tells us the golden bowls of incense represent the prayers of the saints. We see prayer pictured as the smoke of the incense rise up to God in Psalm 141:2 and Luke 1:9-10. The saints are not special people, as sometimes thought of by those in religion. Rather, in scripture the saints is a shorthand way of speaking about God’s people who have been set apart and made holy. A beautiful picture is placed before us. The prayers of God’s people rise up to the throne room of God and the Lamb.
Application: Have you ever wondered if there is value in prayer? Have you ever thought that praying seems like talking to one’s self? Perhaps you have wondered if anyone hears your prayers. Revelation 5 shows us definitively that prayer reaches the very throne room of God. God hears your words. God sees and knows all that is going on throughout the earth. Even still, God hears your prayers.
Worthy Is The Lamb (5:9-10)
At the beginning of Revelation 5, a cry went out from the strong angel, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” The answer comes in song in verse 9. The 24 elders are singing a new song concerning the Lamb. In the Old Testament, a “new song” is an expression of praise for God’s victory over the enemies. In Isaiah 42:10 we read about singing to the Lord a new song. The praise concerns how the Lord had restrained himself but now will cry out, act, and judge (Isaiah 42:14-17). I believe the point in Isaiah is the same point in Revelation. God has restrained himself from acting. The new song reveals that God is now going to act and judge.
What are the words of the song? “You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals.” Why is the Lamb worthy to take the scroll and open the seals? The song goes on to explain the Lamb’s worthiness. The Lamb is worthy because he was slain. It is not simply that he died. Rather, the meaning of his death is what is in view. Through the death of the Lamb he has ransomed people for God from every tribe, language, people, and nation. The word “ransom” means to acquire something by paying a price. By the blood of the Lamb he bought the people for God. His death bought us. The cross is the single defining act that makes us possible for us to be God’s people. We were lost. Jesus bought us. The cross is the Lamb’s act of victory.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:13–15 ESV)
Notice that the victory is not only over our sins. Christ disarmed the rulers and authorities. He triumphed over them through the cross. The Lamb is worthy to open the scroll and reveal its contents because the cross shows victory.
Not only is the Lamb worthy because of the cross, he is also worthy because of the power he exerts toward his people. The Lamb has made his people a kingdom and priests to our God and reign on the earth. Through the cross he has caused us to have a special relationship. We are in the kingdom of God receiving his blessings and inheritance. We are priests given direct access to God. We reign on the earth. We are the conquerers. We are the victorious ones who rule with the Lamb now.
Praise the Lamb (5:11-14)
John looks again around the throne room and hears the voices of myriads and myriads of angels. The voices of thousands and thousands of angels are saying with a loud voice that the Lamb is worthy. The Lamb is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing. Jesus deserves these things because of what he has done. Because of his sacrifice, we must give him glory, honor, and blessing. Because of what Jesus has done, the spiritual beings are praising him. Notice that every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, in the sea, and all that is in them declare praises to the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb. Everything ever created is praising and worshiping God and the Lamb. With these blessings, the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
- We must see what Christ has done for us. Through his death on the cross, he has bought us so that we can be God’s people. Christ paid the price so that we can be in a relationship with God. Not only can we be in a relationship, but we can be in the ruling kingdom of God. We are part of the indestructible kingdom. We are heirs of the kingdom, children of the king, with all the rights and privileges of this status. Not only are we in his kingdom, but we are made to be priests. We have direct access to the Father to speak to him and to receive forgiveness. Not only are we made to be priests, but we reign with Christ. It does not matter what happens to us in this life, our blessings are secure. Our inheritance is sure. Look at what Christ has done!
- When we see and appreciate what Christ has done, then we will worship as all the created beings of heaven and earth worship. We will repeatedly praise him. We will be in awe of him. We will bow down before him. We will give ourselves to him. Our lives will reflect our praise and worship of the one who sits on the throne and the Lamb.