The Lamb Claims the Scroll
Hopefully you remember last week’s devotion, and how we looked at John’s vision of the throne of God, and what was going on around the throne. We looked at how the throne was covered in jewels and surrounded by a rainbow. We looked at the twenty-four elders, and who they represented. Then, we looked at the four beasts and talked about what they represented. While we can’t be sure what the four beasts represent, we talked about how there are two main theories about what they are about. Who can remember either of the theories about what the four beasts represent? Thank you. Some people say they are representative heads of all of creation, signifying that all of creation will bow down and worship God. The second theory is that they represent the four gospels, signifying that all of the word of God revolves around the worship of God. Finally, we talked about how Heaven will be filled with many wonderful things for us, but how the most amazing thing about Heaven will be getting to worship God for all eternity.
Tonight we are going to look at what happens next in John’s vision of the throne room, and our Scripture text is Revelation five verses one through eight. Again, we are going to study Revelation 5:1-8.
“And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?’ And no man in Heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, ‘Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.’ And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.”
Let’s pray before we study God’s word.
Just to give you a rough breakdown of what we’re going to be looking at tonight, we are going to begin by looking at what this scroll in verse one represents. Then we are going to talk about how all of Heaven searches for Someone who is worthy to open the scroll. Then we are going to look at the symbolism of the Lion, the Root, and the Lamb. Finally, we are going to look at what happens when the Lamb claims the scroll.
So let’s begin by reading verse one again. “And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.” The first thing I want to point out is that this verse refers to a book, but perhaps “book” isn’t the best word to put here. The word is literally referring to a scroll, but since we use books instead of scrolls today, some versions use the word “book.” Realizing that this is a scroll helps us to understand the rest of the verse. The Bible says that this scroll was written on both sides, the front and the back. It was very uncommon to write on both sides of a scroll, and it was only done if you had a whole lot to write, and not a lot of room to write it. So the fact that this scroll is written on front and back tells us that this scroll is extremely important because of the wealth of information it contains. Realizing that the book is actually a scroll also helps us to understand how it is sealed with seven seals. Try to imagine in your mind’s eye a scroll wrapped up and sealed with seven different seals. These seals are extremely important, but we are actually not going to find out what they mean for us this week.
But the question remains, “What is written on the scroll?” While we cannot know for sure, the context of this chapter seems to imply that the scroll is similar to a property deed, with the property being all of heaven and earth, including our very souls. Whoever opens the scroll will be the sole heir of all of creation, and will be the King of the universe for all eternity. Sounds like it would be a great scroll to open, huh?
But, as you can imagine, not just anyone is worthy to claim this magnificent property deed, as we can see in verses two through four. Let’s read those verses again. “And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?’ And no man in Heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” These verses say that a mighty angel asked who was worthy to open the book and to break the seals of the book. If we accept the interpretation that the scroll represents the right to be king over everything, then another way to phrase this question would be, “Who is worthy to accept the kingship of the universe?” Obviously this is a very rhetorical question, because everyone who heard would have known full and well that they were not worthy.
When John saw that no one was found worthy, he wept. While it is hard to say for sure, my gut feeling is that John knew that Jesus was the only One who was worthy, and he was sad that he did not see Jesus around to claim the Kingship. But then, notice what happens in verse five. “And one of the elders saith unto me, ‘Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.’” In this verse, one of the twenty-four elders tells John that he does not need to weep, because there is One who is worthy to open the scroll. This One is described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and as the Root of David. First off, who do you think the Bible is referring to when it talks about this Lion and this Root? That’s right, it is talking about Jesus. So why is Jesus called the Lion of the tribe of Judah? Well, the “of Judah” part is because Jesus’ human lineage is traced back to the tribe of Judah. The lion part signifies His royal majesty, just as the lion is seen as the king of the animals. That brings us to the title, “the Root of David.” In the book of Jeremiah, in chapter thirty-three verse fifteen, there is a prophecy about the coming Messiah that says that the Messiah will be the Branch of David. What do you think it means to say that Jesus is the branch of David? That’s right, it means that He will be a descendent of David’s family. But in this verse, Jesus is portrayed as the root of David. What does it mean to be the root of someone? Yes, it means to be an ancestor. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus is said to be the ancestor and the descendent of David? He is the ancestor of David because the entire universe was created through Christ, including Adam and Eve, who were the ancestors of David. And Christ is the descendent of David, because His human lineage traces back to this man. But this passage says that Christ is the Root of David, emphasizing the fact that Christ is the source of all of the universe.
So the Lion signifies His royal majesty, and the Root signifies that He is the source of all of creation. The last part of verse five says that Jesus is worthy to open the seal, because He has prevailed. While I realize that you guys already know how Christ has prevailed, I think that verse six paints His victory in a very beautiful way. Look at what verse six says, “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” In this verse, John looked back to the throne of God, and this time noticed a new figure in the middle of the twenty-four elders and the four beasts. He noticed a Lamb. First off, who is this Lamb? Yes, thank you, the Lamb is Jesus. The Lamb looked as if it had just been killed as a sacrifice. And yet, was the lamb dead? No! The Bible says that the Lamb was still standing! So what does it mean that the Lamb looked as if it had died, and yet it stood triumphant? Yes, this picture represents that Christ died as a sacrifice for us, and He is alive again. Church, this is why verse five says that He has prevailed. He has prevailed because He completed His mission on earth to die for us worthless sinners. And on the third day, He rose up from the grave, entirely triumphant over sin and the grave. It is as if we have a representation of the Easter story right here before the throne of God!
And then, in one of the most beautiful events that will ever take place in all of history, Jesus, completely triumphant, approaches the throne of God and claims the scroll. Look what happens in verse eight after Jesus claims the scroll. “And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.” As soon as Christ claimed the scroll, the four beasts and the twenty-four elders began worshipping Him. The Bible says that they worshipped Him with harps and they worshipped Him by presenting Him with the prayers of the saints. As I’m sure you picked up on, this entire verse revolves around the worship of the Lamb that is Jesus Christ. The four beasts worshipped Him, which could either mean that all of creation worshipped Him, or the word of God worshipped Him. Then the twenty-four elders worshipped Him by playing harps in honor of Him. Finally, the prayers of the saints were offered to Him, which means that the worship of all of the saints throughout history is directed at our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Next week, we are going to look at a beautiful hymn that this crowd sings to Jesus. But for tonight, I want us to dwell for a moment on the fact that Jesus is worthy. He is worthy in Heaven to claim the Kingship of all of heaven and earth. He was worthy of the worship of the four beasts and the twenty-four elders, and He is worthy of every ounce of our lives. As we continue this prayer service, my prayer is that we will be captivated anew by the worthiness of our Lord and Savior. He is the Lamb that was slain for our sins, and He is the triumphant Lion of the tribe of Judah that rose from the grave and conquered sin. Our Jesus is so good, and He deserves everything we can possibly give Him. At this point, I would like to pray a special prayer acknowledging the worthiness of our risen Savior.
Let us pray.
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