In Revelation 4, John was taken up into the heavenly throne room where he saw God and the four living creatures (angels) who were giving praise to God. John saw the 24 elders who gave their homage and worship to God. At the climax of the worship the one on the throne pulls out a scroll that has writing on both sides and is sealed with seven seals. The question is asked, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” No one in all creation is found who has the authority to reveal the mysteries contained in the scroll. John weeps because the mysteries of God will not be revealed until one of the elders spoke up and said to John, “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.” John looks for the Lion of Judah and sees a Lamb that looked like it had been slain.
Some have believed the scroll to be like a will that would only go into effect through the death of Christ because there is evidence of ancient wills having some resemblance to the scroll John describes. The scroll imagery is fairly standard in apocalyptic writing to signify something that contains a record of the future events of the world. Ezekiel also received a scroll that had been written on the front and the back (Eze 2:10). Reddish explains the literary technique of the depiction of failure to accomplish a task as follows, “This literary technique of apparent failure because no one is able to accomplish the task at hand, common in folk tales, serves not only to heighten the dramatic tension of the scene, but also to increase the stature of the one who finally is able to accomplish the seemingly impossible task.” (Revelation, 151).
Christ is able to open the scroll because he is God’s agent who has triumphed over death and who now has authority to reveal the mysteries of God. In Mark 13:32-37 Jesus said that only the Father knows the day and the hour of the end times. Now Jesus has the authority to reveal part of the mystery of God but before doing so he receives praise.
- He receives praise from the angels
- He receives praise from the elders
- He even receives praise from God’s people through our prayers offered up as incense to God.
They sing a new song. Probably not #258 in Songs of Faith and Praise “The New Song.” Have you ever wondered if we will sing this new song over and over in heaven? I think that would be kind of funny but I digress.
Notice the content of their praise:
- Christ’s worthiness and authority
- Christ’s initiation of salvation to believers through his blood
- Christ’s work in creating for himself and kingdom in service to God.
Then comes a verse Bobby Valentine would really like and one we should spend more time on some times, “and they will reign on the earth.” (5:10).
Following the new song, many millions of angels surround the throne and they begin to join the others in song. They praise the Lamb with 7 things he is worthy to receive:
Then another group joins the angels and the elders – “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them…” (5:13). All of creation is depicted as praising God and the Lamb. It concludes with the four living creatures saying, “AMEN” and the elders fall before God and the Lamb and worship.
Christ has authority. Christ is worthy. He was obedient unto death that resulted in his exaltation. Phil 2:8-11 says,
“And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Message For Today:
Christ-followers are also called to obedience even under severe persecution. We worship the only one in all creation who has the authority to unlock the mysteries of God. But he does not unlock them through the ferocious power of the Lion of Judah. He unlocks them through his obedience unto death that results in exaltation and acclamation. We are called to follow in his steps.