Prelude to the seven seals: the scroll opened and the Lamb adored, Revelation Chapter 5 Verses 1-14 (NASB)


     And I saw in the right hand of HIM who sat on the THRONE
The right hand is the place of honor. This position of honor was usually reserved for ceremonial occasions: Ephesians 1:18-20 and 1 Peter 3:21-22.
     a book (scroll) written inside and on the back, SEALED UP WITH SEVEN SEALS.
This parallels the Old Testament teaching on land redemption.
  1. The earth is the Lord's, He created it. Psalm 24:1-2
  2. The land should not be sold. Leviticus 25:23-24
  3. If need arose, an Israelite could "sell" his land or "lose" it for a time. In like manner, Adam lost control over the earth to Satan "God of this world" 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.
  4. Old Testament Jews view earth as temporarily "sold" to Satan. Psalm 115:16-18
  5. A "lost" estate could be redeemed by any kinsman (rightful owner). The earth is ONLY redeemable by the Creator.
  6. Redemption price was not mere money 1 Peter 1:17-21
  7. Even after redemption was made, sometimes it was necessary to kick the current occupant off the land. John 1:29 indicates Christ paid the redemption price.
  8. Evidence of an original Title of Deed was written on two scrolls if written on one side only or one scroll if written on both sides. On the outside, the rightful owner was identified. Jeremiah purchased a tract, which he had a right to redeem as kinsman even though he knew Babylon would invade and hold it for 70 years. The transaction is recorded in Jeremiah 32:9-15.
  9. The redeemed saints someday will come back with the Rightful owner (Creator) to kick the "squatter" off the land (earth). In Romans 8:18-22, our redemption is seem as part of the earth (Genesis 3:17-19).

    And I saw a STRONG ANGEL proclaiming with a loud voice,
This angel was one with great authority like a Gabriel perhaps. "Proclaim" means to broadcast forth; from the next verse, it is implied that this proclamation was to the physical universe as well as the spiritual universe.
   "WHO is WORTHY to open the book and break its seals?"
Under Jewish law, to redeem "sold" property, it had to be a kinsmen and a Redeemer. That is, one who was related and had the means (money) to pay the price. Spiritually, it was One who was our brother (human) and paid the price.

Note: none of the Biblical saints or even present day church leaders or television preachers could open the book because they were/are NOT the owner. Recall the owner was written on the outside of the scroll.

If the book with these seals contains the judgment "of things to come" then according to John 5:21-27, the Son is both kinsmen (becoming human) and owner. Removing the "squatters" from this earth comes with the rights of ownership, Psalm 2:7-9.
     And no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the BOOK,
     or to look into it.
The rightful owner is the only one who could redeem the earth; since the Creator is the owner, only He could do it.

None of the redeemed in heaven could; they are part of the inheritance, Ephesians 1:7-8.

None of the unredeemed on earth could; they have sin and are not holy, Romans 3:10-12.

None under the earth could; they died in their SINS and are waiting for judgment (taking over the squatters), Romans 6:23.

Consider that if the book contains the judgments to come, it would be awful to look into. Releasing or removing the seven bands are symbolic of the processes by which the earth is purged of SIN and evil.

The heaven must have been silent under the weight of the question...this looks like a hopeless situation, so
     And I began to WEEP GREATLY,
Imagine the alarm in heaven at the sounds of weeping! The normal sound in heaven, one would imagine, is the sound of worshipping, of praising, and of agreeing (AMENs) -- Revelation 4:8 and Revelation 4:10-11. But here John says he wept GREATLY. This isn't soft crying, this is gut wrenching loud sobs!
     because no one was found WORTHY to open the BOOK, or to look into it.
Note the subtle difference between this verse and the previous verse. Previously, no one was ABLE to open the seals; here, John realizes that even if anyone was ABLE, that one also had to be WORTHY to open the seals. If the redemption of the sin-riddled, devil-controlled world was to take place, ONLY someone Pure (Matthew 5:8), Truthful (John 14:1-7), Holy (Luke 4:31-37), and Righteous (Jeremiah 23:5-6) could open the book.

John was thinking only in human terms. Even after being with Jesus personally, John still had not fully grasped the position of Jesus Resurrected. Now he sees the WORTHINESS of the One he loves.

The book must contain terrible things if one must be WORTHY to look into it. The process that Paul is referring to as "In Him.....the redemption of God's own possession" -- Ephesians 1:7-14 -- is soon to begin.

Consider what would be if the book is not opened:

     and one of the elders said to me,
This is is not an angel talking to John but rather one of the elders, a redeemed one. Having been redeemed, the elder is able to admonish John to
     "STOP WEEPING; BEHOLD the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah,
This is very ironic. The heaven was quieted by the question, "Who is worthy to open the seals?" And here we see John, who having been closest to the Christ in human form, crying as though there is no answer. This would indicate that while Christ was on earth, John just didn't really understand who Jesus was/is.

Or another viewpoint, John may just have realized WHY Christ came to earth, died, and was resurrected again. These may be tears of joy (and recognition). At any rate, the elder having been in heaven "longer" is the one to say to John, "It's OK, we have the One in our midst to do the loosening."

The Lion is representative of STRENGTH. The Jews had always felt or wanted to believe that their Messiah would be strong and a leader (King). Jacob, when he gave his blessing to his sons, foretold that the Lion would come out of son Judah (Genesis 49:1,8-12). During the wanderings in the wilderness, it was the tribe of Judah that led the way (Numbers 10:13-14). Ultimately, in taking the promised land, the Lord promised to Judah that "He had given the land into Judah's hand" (Judges 1:1-2). That the Christ is the Lion (LEADER), he says himself that `all authority was given to HIM in heaven and on earth' (Matthew 28:18).

     the Root of David
The Jews have long considered that David was the ultimate leader. Thus it is appropriate that the Root (creator) of David is identified here. Not only the Root but also the Offspring (Revelation 22:16) too.
   HAS OVERCOME so as to open the BOOK and its seven seals."
This is the same "overcome" used with the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3. Since Christ is all-knowing, He knew that his assignment when he came to earth was to `overcome' by dying and by coming back to life again. He said as much in John 10:14-18.
     And I saw between the THRONE (with the four living creatures) and the ELDERS, a LAMB standing
What a shock! In the previous verse, the elder tells John of a LION, a RULER after David, and an "overcomer". But here He appears as a LAMB. Overwhelmed by the throne, the 4 living creatures, the 24 elders, lightning and thunder, and a greenish halo rainbow, John almost didn't see the LAMB! How unobtrusive He is!

The fact that the LAMB is standing denotes action. Isaiah indicates that the earth will tremble in that day when He arises (Isaiah 2:17-19). At the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:54-56), when he looked into heaven he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

The Redeemer is a LAMB who gave all to purchase the precious. Jesus himself describes it is the Kingdom parable, Matthew 13:36-43. How clearly this refers to what we see in Revelation chapter 5.

     as if slain,
Jesus will always carry the marks of the redemption price, Luke 24:36-40.
     having seven HORNS
Seven is the number of completion. Horns denote power; in contrast, "the beast" had 10 horns (Revelation 13:1). Either this is "I am greater than you" or a show of force on the part of "the beast". Another beast had two horns "like a lamb" (Revelation 13:11). This one tries to be the great imitator. But it falls short of completion (7 horns) .
     and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.
We have seen this before in Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 4:5. There also is a relationship between the redeemed and the seven Spirits. In Zechariah 3, Joshua is accused by satan (not unlike the Revelation indicates the devil does) and a prophesy is given about a stone with seven eyes (complete understanding of the removal of iniquity). Later in Zechariah 4:9-10, the seven lamps and fires are equivalent to the eyes (seven Spirits). And they are going back and forth throughout the earth watching. In fact, even as you are reading this, you are being watched by these seven eyes. You can't hide from the Spirit of God!

In general the "LAMB" = the Lord Jesus Christ. The LAMB is referred to:

These also link to the Old Testament Passover Lamb; Exodus 12:5ff, with the Davidic Messiah; and with the Suffering Messiah; Isaiah 42-53. In Revelation we see Jesus the TRUE Messiah.
     And He CAME,
John is totally fascinated that the Lamb, his transfigured close friend, was WORTHY to take the book. Note that "He CAME" denotes a form of presentation. Perhaps this is what Daniel is describing in Daniel 7:13-14.
      and He TOOK IT out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
If the Lamb was asked under what claim He could take the book, He could reply
  • The world is Mine by the right of creation; "I made it!" (John 1:1-5)
  • It is mine spiritually by the right of Calvary; "I redeemed it and bought it with my own blood!" (Romans 5:8-9)
  • It is mine by the right of conquest; Satan and a sinful world only understand power. Since the book came from the right hand, the hand of authority, "I will claim it in WAR!" (Revelation 1:17-18, Revelation 19:11-16)
     And when HE had taken the BOOK, the four living creatures and the twenty-four ELDERS
The first hymn is sung by these 28 .... later hymns are sung by all creation.
     FELL DOWN before the LAMB, having each one
This shows equivalence between the LAMB and diety. The 24 elders representing redeemed saints along with the 4 mightest heavenly creatures/angels give due homage.

The inheritance is about to be fulfilled. This implies the 28 must have some idea of the awesome contents of the book and seals.

     * a HARP and
God loves beautiful music. It was part of temple worship, Ezra 3:10-11. The harps are part of the music before the Lamb on Mount Zion, Revelation 14:2 The victorious ones in Revelation 15:2 are holding harps of God.
     * golden bowls (vials) full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
We see these prayers of the saints again at the breaking of the seventh seal and at the preparation for the blowing of the seven trumpets, Revelation 8:3-4. These prayers may also be the "avengence prayers" of the martyrs, Revelation 6:10.

   And they (the 28) sang a NEW SONG saying,
     "WORTHY ART THOU to take the book and
      to break ITS SEALS; for
Remember that the inheritance scroll could only be opened by the owner when payment/redemption was made.
  • Thou was SLAIN, and

  • The cross is central to Revelation! (5:12; 7:14; 12:11; 13:8; 14:4; 15:3; 19:7; 21:9; 21:23; 22:3)
  • didst PURCHASE (1) for God (2) with Thy blood (3) men from EVERY tribe and tongue and people and nation.
    • WHAT was bought? men
    • HOW was it paid for? blood
    • WHO received it? God
This new song clearly results in OUR redemption!
     And THOU hast made them to be a KINGDOM and PRIESTS to our GOD;
Three times in Revelation (1:6; 5:10; 20:6) we, the believers, are to be made kings and priests. The sense of this phrase indicates this is in the future -- perhaps, the millennial reign. Scripture is clear, though, we believers are being built up into a spiritual house - 1 Peter 2:5. Part of our priestly function is described in Hebrews 13:12-16.
     and they will reign upon (over) the earth."
This can only happen in a limited sense before the devil is bound. After the "ruler of this earth" (John 12:27-32) is cast out, then this really can take place.

How this "reigning" happens is a mystery. Whether the redeemed "commute" from the heavenly "new Jerusalem" to the earth is not clear. What is clear, though, the martyrs from the tribulation will come to life and WILL REIGN with Christ -- Revelation 20:4-6

     And I looked, and I heard the VOICE of many angels around the THRONE
It almost looks as if there is one voice in which angels sing. Perhaps we would call it "singing in unison".
God's special angels participate too.
     and the ELDERS,
We, the redeemed, are represented there too (as a royal priesthood).
     and the number of them was myriads of myriads,
     and thousands of thousands,
The number is beyond our ability to count. This myriads is the same as the one in Hebrews 12:22-23 describing the same gathering at Mount Zion. The way Daniel saw it is described in Daniel 7:9-10. Here not singing but attending as "priests". The court sat ....

Furthermore, from the next verse, this VOICE is not sung at all, BUT is a verbal confession. See also Romans 14:10-12 and Philippians 2:9-11.

     saying with a loud voice, 
        "WORTHY IS THE LAMB that was SLAIN to receive
  1. power and (Gr. dunamis); Revelation 1:16
  2. riches and (Gr. ploutos); Philippians 4:19
  3. wisdom and (Gr. sophia); 1 Corinthians 3:19
  4. strength and (Gr. iskus); Mark 12:30
  5. honor and (Gr timee); Hebrews 2:9
  6. glory and (Gr doxa); 1 Peter 4:11
  7. blessing." (Gr. eulogia); Romans 15:29
Just take time NOW, to tell Him you know HE IS WORTHY!
     And every created thing which is in heaven and
All creation -- Psalm 103:19-22.
     on the earth and under the earth and on the sea,
     and all things in them I heard saying,
Originally, all living creatures were placed under Adam's dominion (Genesis 1:28); were confirmed with Noah (Genesis 9:8-11); BUT because of sin, Romans 8:18-22, we all wait for this moment of redemption (taking the book in chapter 5).

It is interesting to note that this confession is coming from "created things". Today, we have little understanding how ALL of God's creation is waiting to make this confession. For example, how will a rock give Him glory? how will a chunk of ice bestow honor? how will we do this?

     "To HIM who sits on the THRONE and to the LAMB, be
  1. blessing and
  2. honor and
  3. glory and
  4. dominion forever and ever.
The sound comes from everywhere, even as the whole creation was implored to praise Him -- Psalm 148:7-13.

In this verse, we see how beautifully John blends together the worship of the Father (Chapter 4) and the worship of the Son, Lamb (verses 8-12 this chapter).

     And the four living creatures kept saying "AMEN."
This is acknowledgment by the hightest ranking angels, 'created beings', that the LAMB is absolutely WORTHY!

Why the acknowledgment of creation that the LAMB is worthy of all power, all wisdom, all strength, all honor, all glory, and all blessing? It :

  • justifies the Lord in pouring out His terrible wrath/judgment in following chapters. Romans 3:1-6
  • shows the right of the Lamb to deal with the earth as its Creator. Genesis 18:23-25
  • shows that ONLY the Lamb overcame death. 1 John 5:6-11-12
You may not accept Jesus Christ as Savior, that is your choice. ALL will acknowledge Him as Lord God, that is GOD'S CHOICE!
     And the elders (redeemed representatives) fell down and WORSHIPED!!!!
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 Used by permission."

References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only.