What does Revelation 5: 1-7 mean to us now?

 

The theme here is not esoteric or mysterious; rather, it shows us how to come before Christ in reverence and worship. He is Worthy and in charge because of what He has done for you and me. This means we give Him gratitude for His saving sacrifice, and respect Him for His Sovereignty. This means He is the One we love, trust, and feel secure in. He is the One we fear and marvel at. The application is also simple, yet the hardest of all human activity, and that is to put our trust in Him¾to give the scroll of our will to Him. 

Satan seeks to be the one to open the scroll; he wants it so he can use it for his gain to manipulate our souls to bow to him. In so doing, Satan offers to Christ the world¾as if it were his to begin with. All Jesus had to do was worship Satan just once (Matt. 4:8-10). This passage has more to do with our attitude and reverence of Christ who holds the deeds to our soul and to creation. No one can manipulate us from His grasp. Jesus has won the fight, and He is Worthy not only to open this scroll, but also to open our hearts and hold all the possessions of creation in His grasp. He did this on the cross. When you accepted His grace, did you place the deed of your scroll (soul) into His hands? 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. Why does Christ have the right and ability to rule and to judge us? How can these aspects of His character help enable you to further put your trust in Him, to give the scroll of your will over to Him?
  2. What does it mean for your faith and life that Christ’s purpose for history and the future has been and will be done, that He has accomplished God’s purpose?  
  3. What do God’s power, authority, eminence, and absolute holiness mean to you? How can these characters of God help focus your church to be more centered upon Christ and less centered upon trends and traditions?  
  4. How do you respect Christ in your daily life? How can a better expression of your gratitude for His saving sacrifice and respect for His Sovereignty help you grow more in faith and maturity? What is in the way of this?  

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

 

The Four Main Views of Revelation 5: 1-7

 

Preterist view sees this passage as a courtroom and the scroll as the sentence of judgment, as the scroll represents God’s judgments against apostate Jerusalem for shedding the blood of the righteous (such as James) and its conquest and destruction by the Romans (Matt. 23:35). The One who is Worthy is the one who should execute this sentence¾and that is Christ. John is grieved because it seemed, until the end of the trial, that no one was able to judge and carry out the sentence and that the martyrs would go un-avenged. This view misses the main point of His redemption and only focuses on the judgment aspect as being already completed, which it is not. Jerusalem’s judgments have been partially carried out, but not the ones for the rest of creation that this passage attests to and is further explained in chapter six. The Lion and the Lamb refer to Christ, who is the victim of Jerusalem’s injustice, but who is now the hero who prevails and rescues us even when we had already given up and avenges the righteous (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14). 

Futurist view sees the scroll as the title deed of earth and God’s will as His plan is to be opened and God’s long, overdue judgments are to be carried out. This passage is about God reclaiming and redeeming His world from Satan’s grasp and the coming tribulation (1 Pet. 1:18-19). The “elder” they see as Judah himself is speaking to John (Gen. 49:9). The seven sprits are seen as the fullness of God or seven angels. The horn is seen as a symbol from Jericho’s walls coming down. More of this is shown in chapter eight. 

Idealist view sees this passage as the redemptive plan of God, and God’s last will and testament. Since it is written on both sides, this indicates that nothing can be added to His plan. 

Historicist view sees this passage as God’s providence, and depicting the purpose, method, and design of God for creation and redemption and His governing of the universe and the Church. This view also concludes that no one other than Jesus is capable, able, or willing to fulfill the providence of God. John’s weeping is seen as his disappointment that it seems redemption cannot take place, as he had hoped, unless the One who is worthy can open the scroll. The Lion and the Lamb refer to Christ’s duel nature as Judge and Redeemer.

Exegetical look into Revelation 5:4-7

 

Jesus is the Lamb who is slain for us. He is the sacrifice for our redemption and He is the Lion, the One in charge of all things seen and unseen. He is Sovereign and Judge (Lion) and our Savior (Lamb) (John 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:18-20). 

  • I wept refers to a loud wailing as in intense mourning for a loved ones death, a common expression in Middle Eastern cultures. John longs for God’s purpose to be completed, but that seems to him to be impossible (Matt. 6:10). 
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  • Lion of the tribe of Judah means God is the Judge. He is in charge as the mighty conqueror of sin. He has the right and ability to rule and to judge. This is also a messianic title referring to the promise to the tribe of Judah to rule (Judah means a “lion’s cub”) and the Davidic Kingship. The image of a lion was considered the ultimate depiction of power; it was commonly used to refer to kings and leaders, and denotes authority, strength, and courage. This was used on Torah Shrines and old Jewish art (Gen. 49:8-10; Isaiah 11:1, 10; 35:9; 65:25; Ezek. 21:27; Rev. 17:14; 19:11-21). 
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  • Root of David means David’s kingly line and right to rule, and that the Messiah would come from His linage, even though Christ was preexistent to David (Isaiah 11:1-10; Dan. 7:16; Zech. 4:11; Matt. 9:27; 12:23; 22:41-45; John 1:1; 7:42; Rom. 15:12). 
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  • Triumphed. Christ fulfilled God’s plan and promise that it has been accomplished, His will has been done, His purpose for history and the future will be done (Matt. 6:10; John 19:30)! 
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  • He is able…worthy refers to His work on the cross for our reconciliation and redemption, His life for ours. 
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  • Lamb… been slain means that Christ is the sacrifice. A lamb is the common animal that was “slain” and sacrificed for the atonement of sin and used for commerce. Jesus replaces this lamb as the ultimate sacrifice. This refers to sacrifice, and our Lord who offers us salvation. In contrast to the image of a lion, the lamb was considered the weakest of all animals, needing constant attention and care just to survive. A lamb would die in the wild, where the lion thrives. The image of the lamb was common in apocalyptic literature, depicting victory and power through, and sometimes over death. (Ex. 12:12-13; Isaiah 53:7; John 1:29; 21:15; Rev. 17:14). 
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  • As though/as if it had been slain. As this act is now past tense, Christ accomplished this by how He lived and how He died for us. His sacrificial death and resurrection was necessary for God’s redemptive plan and coming judgment to take place. Christ is now alive forevermore (Rev. 1:18)! 
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  • Seven horns were a symbol of power, authority, and strength, and called people to attention. In contrast, in Daniel 7:7, 20; 8:3, 5, the fourth beast had ten horns; numbers are not for counting, but metaphors as seven symbolizes full strength and completeness, and denotes Christ’s eternal life and His spirit-filled and empowered life (Duet. 33:17; Psalm 89:17; 92:10; Dan 7:8; 8:3; John 3:34; Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:45). 
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  • Seven eyes give us an image of royal Persian emissaries, representing their king as his eyes, and thus referring to the eyes, knowledge, and awareness of God. Others say this refers to powerful beings subservient to Christ or perhaps refers to the angels in the previous passage and/or the seven archangels from Judaism. (Zech. 3:9; 4:10; 6:5-7; Rev. 8:2). 
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  • Seven spirits of God refers to His fullness and perfection, taking it from the previous word phrase. This is also a name for the Holy Spirit, referring to His Fullness, not a split personality. This is debated as some good commentators say it does not refer to the Holy Spirit, rather believing it refers to the seven celestial beings (Rev. 8:2). In Zechariah, this represents the abundant light shining from the lamps, referring to God’s fullness and Spirit. Either way, this passage does seem to testify to the depth and reality of the Trinity (Isa. 11:2; Zech. 4:2-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; Rev. 1:4; 4:5; 5:14). 
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  • He came and took the scroll infers that the addressee of the scroll took and received it; Christ took it, because it was for Him (Rev. 3:5; 20:12).

Exegetical look into Revelation 5:1-3

 

  • The right hand refers to God’s power, authority, and eminence.
  • Scroll represents a piece of papyrus or parchment that is usually bound or sewn together and rolled on a wood spindle. In order to read it, it was unrolled. (Codices in the second century—books—replaced this.) If it were an official legal document, as this was, it was tied and sealed with wax. This denotes the power and eminence of His Word. Here, it is depicted as a “Roman will” containing God’s covenant of the deed of creation and our redemption, and His promise and plan (Ex. 32:15; Psalm 2:8; Ezra 2:9-10. Dan. 12:4; Heb. 1:2; Rev. 10:2, 8-10). 
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  • Writing on both sides. This is called “opisthography.” Normally, only one side of the papyrus was written on, the side where the fibers of the papyrus paper line up horizontally. The “recto,” as it was called, was the smooth side designed for writing. The outside, the rough side was used for the title information and address and was called the “verso.” Here, the fibers were vertical and rough and were where the ties and seal were placed. 
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  • Sealed with seven seals meant it was a sealed, legal document so it could not be tampered with. It was impossible to open such a scroll without it showing that it was tampered or tainted with and thus altered. Each seal was a separate witness; the more seals, the greater its relevance and importance, although it was common in Roman wills to have seven seals. Seven, in Jewish writings, was a number meaning completeness and perfect. This image gives us the impression of absolute holiness (Isaiah 29:11; Dan. 12:4). 
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  • Mighty angel infers that a summons goes out of God’s plan, that all may hear (Rev. 18:21). 
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  • Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll meant who has done as Christ has done for us? Who can take His place, His eminence, or His significance? The application is the question of whether money, power, career, success, or failure can take Christ’s place. The answer is, nothing can! The ultimate power is that Christ saved us; His unsealing of the scroll means He accomplished God’s purpose. 
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  • No one, no being in all creation is worthy. The image of Christ opening the scroll means His plan and promise have been accomplished (Ex. 20:4; Phil. 2:10). 
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  • No one in heaven or on earth could open the scroll or even look inside is a colloquial phrase expressing the centrality of “no one,” “no where,” or “no place.” This passage does not teach a threefold division of the universe as some speculate.

Revelation 5: 1-7

Introduction 

“The Scroll”   

We see here a portrait of worship as John receives a vision about the Scroll. God is holding the scroll, His covenant of the deed of creation and our redemption, His promise and plan, and His destiny of the world, as an angelic voice shouts with all its might, “who is worthy to open the scroll?” Who is commendable and able to pay our debt of sin and give us redemption before God the Father? Who is daring enough to go through what it takes to accomplish this? Who is going to break its sacred seals? But, no one was found that could. No man or beast, no principality or angelic host could come close to being able to open this deed to the redemption of our souls. The scroll’s veracity and importance, its weight and significance were no match for any created being to accomplish. No one in all of creation was even able to read its face or contents. Simply put, no one could open it, just as no one was able to pay the price for sin, give us redemption and forgiveness, or enable us to receive such precious gifts. 

John weeps, as we all would weep if no one could help us out of our depravity or give us any hope for the future. It seemed for a time that there was no one who could unfold this scroll and give us new life for the future. Then the elders told John, It is OK. The mighty Lion of Judah and heir to the throne of David is here; He is uniquely worthy and will war against God’s enemies. The gentle Lamb is also here who was slain and purchased our souls by His blood from His atoning sacrifice. He is the Lion and the Lamb and He will open the scroll and redeem us. Yes, no one could read or open the scroll¾no one except The One who is Worthy, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! 

This passage reads like an ancient legal document written on “papyrus,” the ancient paper made from said plant. Documents, such as wills or contracts, were normally written on one side, rolled, tied with strings, and then sealed with wax and an impression from a signet ring. Such a document could not be opened until the proper time, such as after the death of the person the will was from. As an exception, this Scroll was written on both sides, which was very rare, giving the document more credence but also being ominous (Isa. 6:8; Ezek. 2:9-10).

What does Revelation 4: 6-11 mean to us now?

Any church, no matter how good it has been in the past, can easily fail when we think we no longer need to put our best efforts forward. It is when we stop growing, stop learning, and stop reaching out to Him and to others that we fail as His church. When we live in the past, we are not living now¾we actually are not living at all. Keep in mind that just about all churches were good and vibrant at one time or else they would never have been formed. It is when we fail to keep those things going that we fall short. 

The Church is to be under His rule and kingship, not our committees and trends. We are to surrender to His lead and to His Way so we can proclaim His supremacy and majesty. If not, we engage in spiritual warfare, but not the kind that most Christians think of, as in our battling Satan. Rather, it becomes us battling God for control so we can conform His church to our pleasures. Satan does not need to battle us when we are already battling God. He will fuel our battling and provide the weapons, but he does not even need to do that, we are so good at it ourselves. Satan’s objective is to manipulate those with bad intentions to battle the righteous and godly, to lead us astray, and/or to get us too busy to see Christ in our everyday lives. 

Looking forward to His eternity? Great! But, consider this. We do not need to be in His Throne Room; He is here with us now. We just need to see His hand upon us now, feel His presence, and allow His supremacy to lead us in His way. In the end, God wins out. Satan’s spiritual warfare against us is as futile as our war against God. He wins! There is no other way; His way is the best and most glorious for us and for Him. Satan wants our eyes distracted so we do not see Christ’s majesty, with the goal being that we worship him and not Him. God wants us in spiritual purity and faithfulness in and to Him. The choice is given, the call is made; the choosing is up to us! How will we lead and manage our spiritual journeys? How will you lead and manage your church? Will it be His supremacy or your inclinations? Which way do you think will win out? Then, why would a person of faith in Christ choose to run his or her life or church by any way other than His? 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What would a glimpse of heaven do to and for you? How would this glimpse of heaven motivate you and your Church to get right and get busy in Him?  
  2. How do some churches battle God for control of His church for their pleasures? How will you lead and manage your spiritual journey? How will you lead and manage your church so you are not battling Him, but rather, serving Him? 
  3. Any church, no matter how good it has been in the past, could easily fail. How does the breakdown of putting our best efforts forward contribute to this?  
  4. What about that when we stop growing, stop learning, and stop reaching out to Him and to others, our churches fail? What can your church do to prevent this?  

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 4: 6-11

Preterist view sees this passage as a courtroom with a Judge who is Sovereign, and who pronounces those who are guilty in the next chapter. They see the phrase of “after this” as meaning it will happen right away and thus has already taken place in the first century. The 24 elders represent the worship of Christ, but are not angels or people. Rather, they are just an image made up for John to grasp His Throne. Others see the creatures and elders as angels or separate created entities that guard God (who needs no guard) and proclaim His Glory and Lordship. They also see this passage as an assault on the zodiac and astrology. 

Futurist view sees this passage as the turning point from dealing with the Church to dealing with the “last days” that have not occurred as of yet. In addition, they see the phrase “after this” and “the triumphant” as referring to after the Church age and thus, since the Church is no longer mentioned much, they mostly believe the Church will not be a part of these events because it has been “raptured” (even though there is little to no scriptural support for this theory, 1 Cor 15:51-54, 1 Thess. 4:16-18, and Rev. 7:9-17; 22:16 are twisted out of their context as they ignore word meanings and other phrases used for the Church such as “redeemed” and “saints” in Rev. 5:8-9; 8:3-4; 11:18; 13:7-10; 14:3-4, 12; 15:3; 16:6; and17:6,  seeing these as meaning characteristics of the church but not the church玅a big stretch away from the actual meanings for this view). The 24 elders represent the first 24 ancestors of Christ listed in Genesis 5 and 7 (this is a big stretch, reading into the text what is not there); others see them as exalted angels who serve God, and some see this as the 24 elders adhering to the Levitical orders (1 Chron. 24:4; 25:9-13) and functioning as priests. Others say they represent the redeemed. They see the seven lamps and spirits as referring to the Holy Spirit. They see the sea of glass as solid, meaning we no longer need the cleansing of the water because of Christ. The four living creatures are living entities that can represent the attributes and qualities of God, the attributes of nature, or as four portraits of Christ from the four Gospels, as King, Servant, Son of man, Son of God. However, such views are wildly speculative and not rooted in Scripture. Their function is to praise God and execute His sovereign will. 

Idealist view sees this passage as a vision, depicting the entire church age. They ignore key words and context. They see the phrase “after this” as meaning “this is what I saw” (not what the words actually mean). They see these images as representative of the Ezekiel and Isaiah passages combined into one series of images of God’s purity and holiness. They see these beings as a separate class of angels or celestial representatives. The 24 elders represent the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles of the Church (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 21:12-14). They also see the seven lamps and spirits as referring to the Holy Spirit. The elders and such are to glorify God because He is Worthy and reassures the people who are being persecuted. 

Historicist view sees this passage as depicting the Sovereignty of God and the privilege we have to know Him and worship Him. These images parallel the ancient courts of kings such as King Solomon, who had the lions carved on either side of his throne, as well as the Babylon and Roman emperors who had similar images on their thrones. The 24 elders represent the entirety of the Church triumphant that replaces the Jewish priests and sacrificial system with Christ as Lord. However, these angelic hosts were real beings, depicted according to our ability to comprehend. These depictions are in humanistic terms so we can get how glorious God is, far beyond any human rule. The images refer to God’s stability, preeminence, and His ability and right to govern through His rule, wit, power, intelligence, vigilance, and energy.

Exegetical look into Revelation 4:9-11

What would a glimpse of heaven do to and for you?

This passage is about coming before our Lord, and our worship from our gratitude for who He is and what He has done for us as individuals. He is the depiction of the centrality of His Supremacy as Christ. Christ is the Priest, Head, Lord, and Prime Shepherd of the Church. He is the object and reason why we meet and function. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. 

  • Fall down before him. Anyone who comes before God falls “prostrate.” This is a form of reverence and homage. 
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  • Worship him. An essential element is that all who proclaim God as Lord must also worship Him. Here, it refers to songs of praise for who He is in glory and what He has done in deeds (Ex. 15:11; Isa. 6:3; John 20:28; Rev. 1:6). 
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  • Lay their crowns…you are worthy means the recognition that God alone is worthy of our praise and worship.
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  • You created acknowledges God as the creator of all things and Sovereign Lord over all. He made it and He gets to run it and all that is in the universe, including you and me! 

How is God exclusive and pure? How does this fact help you to come before God? 

What can your church do to better reverence God, not just in song, but also in motivations and behaviors? 

Why does the Church exist? What about your church? Why is this so often forgotten in our boardrooms and planning? 

How does this passage give hope and encouragement to the persecuted church?

Exegetical look into Revelation 4:6-8

John tells us in his Gospel that “He must increase and we must decrease.” (John 3:29-30) If we refuse this vital call, God just may allow those hardships to come our way, breaking us down so we will yield and grow as His child. Just as good and loving parents will discipline their child, God will discipline us. But, this is not a personal attack; rather, it is a way to help us grow and be better used by our Lord (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 1:27; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23-24; 1 Pet. 1:5).

  • Sea of glass. This is an image of worship, as the temple had the “Bronze Sea” referring to the “basin” in the heavenly temple (Rev. 15:5-6, 8; 16:1, 17). Elsewhere, this image of water and worship is found when the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds) was parted by God, as was the Jordan River’s parting (which was actually a greater miracle). These images indicate that all that exists is submissive to God’s supremacy, and He has victory over all that oppose Him. In conjunction, water also means that He supplies us with all we need (Ex. 24:10; Deut. 11:11; 1 Kings 7:23-25; 2 Kings 16:17; 2 Chron. 4:2-6,15, 39; Psalm 11:4; Isa. 51:9-11; Jer 27:19; Ezek. 1:22; Rev. 11:19; 14:15, 17; 15:2).
  • Crystal indicates the magnificence, precious purity, and beauty of His Throne and Being as with verse three (Rev. 21:18-21).
  • Four living creatures. A figurative image from Ezekiel and Babylon descriptions, this possibly refers to angelic ministers to God who act as protectors, guardians, and servants, giving their adoration. The point is that “God is Great;” God is universally glorious, and greater than any earthly power or king. This may also be an assault on the powers and authority of Babylon and Rome. To read into these images more than what is there misses the point of the passage and muddies the waters of Revelation (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 25:17-22; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Chron. 12:8; 28:18; Psalm 18:10; Isa. 6; Ezek. Chaps 1, 10).
  • Covered with eyes. Not necessarily a literal depiction, this perhaps means that nothing gets past them; they are all seeing.
  • Like a lion… like an ox… like a man… like a flying eagle. Basically, these images mean the entire scope and sinful nature of all creation. Lion is the greatest of beasts, the ox is the greatest domestic beast and servant to man, the eagle is the chief of birds, and man is the chief of all (Isa. 6:3-5).
  • Six wings. Ezekiel had similar visions where he saw four living creatures (Ezek. 1:6-11)
  • Holy, holy, holy, is from Isaiah 6:3, and is an expansion of God’s divine name, power, and holiness found in Exodus. This is referring to the holiness of God and our duty and call to worship Him and Him only (Ex. 3:14-15; Isa. 41:4; Rev. 1:4).

Revelation 4: 6-11

Introduction

Heaven Exposed to Us!

General idea: A picture of a heavenly Choir, of all of creation praising God and His wonder as Almighty, Holy and Worthy. And so begins a foretelling of what will come about. The previous passage from 4:1 through 22:5 describes a series of heavily visions in seven cycles (see background article) that John receives from Christ, climaxing with the final judgment. The purpose is not just eschatology (End Times), but rather to give the persecuted church hope and encouragement, and chastisement to those in leadership who are “bent” on false teaching and bad motives. The goal is that we get our churches lined up to His will and call.

John gives us a picture of worship, as God is exclusive and pure. This is about how we come before God, because He is the Supreme and Sovereign Lord over all. John explains His Throne Room in terms of earthly metaphors of earthly kings, except that an earthly king thinks he is in control and deserves the veneration of his subjects. God alone deserves such praise. An earthly king holds court by force and control, whereas God has earned the right to be in command, and He alone is worthy. He has the right to rule and dictate His decrees over us¾over all, because He is the One who created everything. There is no one greater; He deserves our wholehearted worship and reverence. This does not include only praise and song; it means putting Him first in all that we do in life. Real worship is how we reverence Him, not how we sing about Him. He wants our obedience and veneration over all else (1 Sam. 15:22-23; Rev. 5:8; 11:19; 15:5-8)

Get this essential point: Revelation is not just about what will happen in the future, but also what is happening now with the practice of our faith and how we lead our church. We are called to open our eyes to His wonder and worship Him solely-not our ways and trends, and not our pride and feelings. Revelation is about His church and that we run it His way, worshiping Him alone. Church and worship are not about what we feel we need or desire; rather, it is about Christ and what He intends.

How do some churches battle God for control of His church for their pleasures?

How will you lead and manage your spiritual journey?

How will you lead and manage your church so you are not battling Him, but rather, serving Him?