About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapter 5
Scroll And The Lamb (ch. 5:1-14)
Verse 1 shows the picture of one sitting on a throne and in His right hand is a scroll, or book as some versions read. The word scroll or book is translated from the Greek word "biblion" where we get our word "Bible". We must remember that they didn't have nice bound books as we have today. This was more of a scroll than a book as we know it.
The One sitting on the
throne in this case is God. It is not Jesus
scroll has writing on both sides and is sealed with seven seals.
Normally scrolls in those days only had writing on the inside, not on
both sides as this one has. Why this
scroll has writing on both sides is unknown. What exactly is written in the
scroll is unknown, although there has been many guesses throughout the
centuries. It seems clear to
me that what was written in the scroll had something to do with the events that
would soon come on the earth that are to be revealed in the vision.
Roman culture wills were normally written on scrolls and sealed with seven
seals. Maybe this scroll was God’s
will for Israel. I say
passage is amazing. It shows the
time at the end of this age where Jesus rises from where He is seated.
Remember, Jesus is pictured as sitting at God's right hand, but here He
rises to take the scroll out of God's hands.
The culmination of this age is about to take place.
Any time Jesus rises from His throne something important is about to
happen. I believe if you study Acts
7 and see what unfolds when Stephen is executed, I believe you will see Jesus
rise from His throne to greet Stephen as he enters heaven.
Many have suggested that this is the same scroll that
Daniel saw in Daniel 12. That may be
the case, but as yet, I'm not quite sure. It
would not surprise me that it was the same scroll. Daniel
was told to seal the scroll up and here we see that Jesus is unsealing the
verses 2 and 3 we see an angel ask “who is worthy to
seems to me that the breaking of the seven seals would release what was written
in the scrolls. This would mean that
the contents of the scroll tells us what is about to take place, both in heaven
and on the earth.
4 tells us that John was quite upset and actually wept because no one could open
the scroll. I don’t know if John
knew what was in the scroll or not, but he must have sensed that it was a very
important document to react in such a way. He
must have also understood that the scroll should now be opened.
The text doesn't specifically tell us that this was John's understanding,
but why would John weep if he didn't understand that it was now time to unseal
In verse 5 we see one of the elders tell John that there is actually One who can open the scroll and He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Root of David. Both of these terms speak of Jesus and show us as that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. Jesus came through the lineage of Jud
ah, one of Jacob's sons.
See Genesis 49:8 to 10. This speaks of Jesus' humanity and is a reminder of the covenant God
spoke to Abraham.
The Greek word "rhiza" is translated as Root in verse 5. It means source or origin. Jesus finds His human origin through the tribe of Judah and also through King David.
I point out the Old Testament Jewish nature seen here in verse 5.
It's all about
is much controversy over who the elders in this chapter are.
Some say they are angels, but I don't think so because angels are
distinguished from the elders later on in this chapter.
Also, both in this chapter and the last chapter, these elders are seen as
being redeemed and angels have never been redeemed.
Men and women are the only ones who have been redeemed by the blood of
we know there are twenty four elders, there has been much debate who these
elders are. Some Prophetic
Futurists see these elders being representative of the church.
Others see them as being representative of
most likely was startled by the announcement that someone was found to open the
seals. He turns around, expecting to
see a lion, yet he sees a Lamb, as if it was slain.
God’s Lion in this instance was a Lamb, the Lamb of God who took away
the sin of the world. John said the
Lamb looked as if He had been slain. We
know that Jesus will have the marks of the cross on His glorified body for all
of eternity. That will certainly be
a sight to see in the next life. To
see Jesus standing before us with scars on His body will be extremely humbling.
we see yet another portrait of Jesus. This
time He’s the Lamb, not the mighty warier.
Jesus is the Lamb of God to those who believe but for those who do not
believe He is the Lion of God. I'd
prefer meeting Jesus as a lamb rather than a lion. Humanity
has the choice; stand before the Lamb or stand before the Lion as the end of
thus note that the cross has something to do with what follows.
What follows is the judgment of the world.
It is the Lion Jesus who brings about this judgment.
To me this tells me that the cross is the foundation for the judgment to
come. What people have done with the
cross of Christ determines how they will be judged.
5 also says that “He has triumphed”. The
triumph took place on the cross. Triumph
refers to a battle and the cross was a battle in many respects.
So once again, because of the cross, Jesus is worthy to loose the
judgments upon the earth. That being
said, even though the battle was won on the cross, the realization of this
victory takes place over time and culminates at the end of the thousand year
rule of Christ as we will see later.
6 tells us that the Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes.
John says that the seven eyes were the seven spirits of God, or as
we’ve already discussed, the seven fold Holy Spirit, as many believe.
being said, I'm not convinced anymore that these seven sprits aren't seven
special distinct spirits apart from the Holy Spirit. J John doesn’t tell us what the seven horns represent, but most Prophetic
Futurists suggest this to be a picture of strength, authority, and power.
verses 7 and 8 we see Jesus go to the throne of God and take the scroll out of
the right hand of God. When He does
this, the four creatures and the twenty four elders fall down before the Lamb.
They must have realized what was now happening was very important.
This must have been one very overwhelming event for them.
Notice that Jesus takes the scroll from God's right
hand. First of all, the term
"right hand" was understood in John's day to be an idiom sharing
authority with another. This means
that Jesus and the Father share authority. Also,
note that God the Father has a right hand. You
might wonder how God can have a right hand when we know that He is a spirit as
we see in John 4:24. Either what
John is seeing is a vision consisting of pictures and portrayals of that which
humans can't see, or else, John is really seeing real things that are beyond
human comprehension. I might suggest
the latter to be true.
tells us that the creatures and elders had two things in their possession.
They each had a harp and a bowl of incense.
Obviously the harps were to help them sing.
The bowls represent the prayers of the saints according to John.
Some suggest that the prayers in the bowl are unanswered prayers, or why
would they still be seen in a bowl. I
can understand that, but again, the text doesn't say it.
We should note from these verses that God the Father
is the one sitting on the throne with the scroll in His hand while Jesus is the
one standing in the midst of the throne who takes the scroll from God the
song that these men and creatures sing concerns Jesus being slain which gave Him
the authority to “purchase men for God.”
Men and women from every tribe and language were brought into the Kingdom
as priests to serve the Living God. Jesus
bought these people’s salvation, not from the devil, but from God.
So, as hard as it is to understand, Jesus purchased
these people from God and for God.
important to note that this verse tells us that from every tribe, every ethnic
people, in every corner of the earth will be represented in heaven.
Jesus will have a remnant from every type of people imaginable.
You can count on that.
last line of the song says that we, the redeemed, will reign on earth.
Many Christians throughout the centuries lived in poverty and submission
to sinful man, but in the days to come, they will reign as kings.
For many Prophetic Futurists this is speaking of ruling with Jesus during
the thousand year rule of Christ. I
also believe that it continues on into the new earth as well.
new song that is sung is found in verses 9 and 10.
We need to understand who is singing this song.
Verses 8 and 9 say that the four living creatures and the elders are
singing this new song. This is important due to a translation difficulty in
these two verses. The KJV says that
the Lord has redeemed "us" to God.
That would suggest that the elders, and those of "us" they
represent sing this song. That would
mean that the church is in heaven at this point in time, meaning, they've been
raptured before the Tribulation, or so most Furists believe. The
NIV totally ignores the word "us".
It simply states that Jesus purchased men for God.
If you read the NIV, you might not understand that the men purchased were
the elders who were singing the song.
in verse 10, the KJV continues on with the same theme.
It uses the word "us", as if "us" is referring to the
elders,those they represent, and the four beasts, are singing the song.
reason why this is controversial is because those who like the KJV's rendering
believe the church is in heaven singing this song.
Those who believe the church is still on earth like the NIV version
because it seems to suggest to them that the church is still on earth.
I understand both sides of the issue.
I'm leaning towards the KJV way of thinking at this moment.
Part of the problem in translating verses 9 and 10 is
because the Greek manuscripts are not in agreement in this matter.
Depending on what manuscripts one uses in his translation will determine
what is translated. Also, one's
theology might take precedent in the translation as well.
should not forget who the four living creatures are singing this song to.
You can take or leave what I'm about to say because I can't say it as a
dogmatic fact. We know that
eventually all creation will be restored If you read Romans 8:18 to 22 you note
that all creation is now groaning in a measure of agony, waiting for the day of
their restoration. If the twenty
four elders represent the redeemed men and women of the earth, I'm wondering if
the four living creatures don't represent the animals on the earth who are
waiting for their restoration as Paul seems to imply in Romans 8.
All that being said, as I said in Revelation 4, most commentators believe
the four living creatures are some kind of angelic being.
Verse 10 states that Jesus has made the saved saints "a kingdom and priests". Some suggest that this should be "a kingdom of priests". I suggest the word "kingdom" be used here because it seems to best fit the translation from the Greek. Those who prefer the word "kings" preach, and many times to an unhealthy extreme, that Christians are both kings and priests. Since we are kings, they promote what I call the unbiblical doctrine of wealth and prosperity. I personally don't see Christians as being kings in this present age. I do see us as being priest. That is to say, we are the agent between sinners and God. We will be kings after Jesus comes back to earth and we rule with Him.
opening of these seals must be a great and mighty event because the angels join
in by singing as well. The number of
these angels according to John is “thousand upon thousands, and ten thousand
times ten thousand”. This is
clearly a large number of angels. This
is also the number of two thirds of the angels, since one third followed satan
in his rebellion. This clearly tells
us that the angelic world is one very huge world.
I suggest that there is much more to the angelic world than what we know
of from the Bible. The Bible only
tells us what we need to know for God's present purpose for us and this planet.
I believe the numbering of these angels should not be taken literally and exactly here. Like the Old Testament terms "sand of the sea", and "stars in the sky" as applied to Israel's population as being a very huge number, so it is here. The first mention of "thousand" in this verse is translated from the Greek word "murius", where we get our English word "myriad". This can either mean ten thousand as the KJV puts it, or, an indefinite number, as the NIV suggests. If you take the latter then the number of angels are too many for John to count. If you understand it as ten thousand, then, it might be possible to count the angels here. All this being said, if you understand these numbers here to be indefinite, that does not mean you need to understand other numbers, like 144,000 Israeli evangelists or 1260 days to be taken symbolic. I believe they should be taken literally.
angels sing about the Lamb being worthy because He was slain.
These lyrics are similar to that of the four living creatures and the
elders, but with no mention of redemption and being bought with His blood.
Angels aren’t redeemed as mankind is.
singing doesn’t stop with the addition of the angels.
John, in verse 13, says that every creature in Heaven, on earth, under
the earth, and on and in the sea were singing as well.
This tells me that everyone was singing and proclaiming the Lordship of
Jesus. Their songs gave praise to
“the One who sits on the throne”. He
is worthy of praise, glory and honour for ever and ever.
text clearly says here that every creature, whether in heaven, on earth, or in
the sea, give praise to Jesus. This
might well support what I've just said a couple paragraphs back.
If you understand these creatures to include animals that give praise to
Jesus, then animals are in heaven. It doesn't mean they have been redeemed,
simply restored to their original state.
On the other hand, many understand the word
"creatures" to refer to human creatures.
On the other hand, many understand the word
"creatures" to refer to human creatures.
At this pint I insert part of an article I wrote
about animals in heaven. Revelation 5:13 says that
every creature in heaven, on the earth, under the earth, and in the sea worship
the Lord. The Greek word translated
as "creature" into English is "ktisma'.
This simply means "created thing".
Therefore, every thing that God created is worshipping in heaven
according to this verse. This would
include animals. If we are to take
this verse literally, it would also include other parts of God's creation apart
from human and animal life.
We should note that the
word creature is often used in Revelation in connection with the four living
creatures in heaven. Every created
thing would obviously include these four living creatures, but it's clear that
they are not the only created thing being spoken of here in Revelation 5:13.
I think this verse pretty
plainly speaks of animals worshipping the Lord along with all other created
things. Does this mean there are
animals, or, the souls of animals in heaven?
For further information about the souls of animals you can read my
article entitled "Do
Animals Have Souls"?
The setting for
Revelation 5 is clearly in heaven. I
could be wrong, but it thus appears to me that there are at least the souls of
animals in heaven who are worshipping the Lord here.
At the end of the book of
Revelation we see the new earth. I
strongly believe there will be animals on the new earth, and, if they worship in
heaven, I'm sure in their own way they will worship the Lord on the new earth.
I can't say how animals
worship. Jesus alluded to the fact
that stones could possibly cry out in worship to God in Luke 19:40.
If stones could to this, I'm sure animals can as well.
event reminds me of what Paul says in Philippians 2:10 and 11.
All mankind will bow their knees and confess that Jesus is Lord.
This was one fantastic worship service here in Revelation 5.
It's simply beyond our imagination.