I have to admit, until recently, I had never really thought about Revelation as being centered around the gospel. But we saw very early on in chapter one, that Revelation starts with the gospel, and here now we see that it is centered on the gospel. And in the final chapters, we see the gospel consummated.
In chapter 4, we saw God the Father sitting on his throne receiving all the worship and adoration he deserves. And now in chapter 5, John notices something new. There is a scroll in the Father’s right hand, with writing on both the front and back, and sealed with 7 seals. It seems very reminiscent of a Roman will in which the outside writing summarizes the details within. And the only only way for the will to be executed is for someone to break the seals and to see what is in it.
In this scroll contains all God’s purposes for history. But the seals prevent them from being carried out. And so a mighty angel cries out,
Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? (2)
The response? A deafening silence.
Think about this. The 24 elders sitting on their thrones were there. The 4 living creatures were there. Thousands upon thousands of angels were there. There were wonderful Christians living on the earth. People like John. There were wonderful Christians who had died and were now with God in heaven. People like Peter and Paul. Not one was worthy to break the seals and open the scroll. (3)
And so John wept. All God’s plans were for naught. They would remain sealed in the scroll, forever dormant. (4)
But then one of the elders said,
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. (5)
John looks up expecting to see Jesus. Or perhaps a great lion symbolizing Jesus. And he sees…a lamb. And not just a lamb, but a lamb looking as if it had been slain.
Indeed, John probably made the mistake that many Jews had made. When they thought of their triumphant Messiah, they thought of a conquering Lion. And Jesus is a Lion. But he conquered by dying like a Lamb. He is the Lion and the Lamb.
He had 7 horns, symbolizing great power, and 7 eyes which symbolize not only his omniscience, but the Holy Spirit of God within him. The same power and Spirit that raised him from the dead in victory. (Ephesians 1:19-20, Romans 8:11)
Jesus took the scroll from the Father’s hand, and when he did, the four living creatures and the 12 elders took a break from their usual refrain (4:8, 11), and sang a new song.
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals. (9a)
…because you were slain and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. (9b)
In these words we see the fullness of the gospel, and God’s plans for eternity. That through the blood of Jesus, we were redeemed from our sin and made his people, his kingdom, and his priests. And we will serve God forever, reigning in the new heavens and earth when he makes all things new.
And because of this, all creation in heaven and on earth cry out,
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise…To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever…Amen. (12-14)
This is what Revelation is all about. It’s about the gospel, and the Lion and the Lamb who made it all possible.
And through this gospel, we can know that we have hope, for all God’s plans will come to fruition.
So let us sing with all God’s angels and all creation, “Worthy is the Lamb!”