The Scroll and the Lamb – Rev 5:1-8

And I saw on the right hand of the one sitting upon the throne a scroll having been written inside and out, having been sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?” And no one was able in heaven nor upon the earth nor under the earth to open the scroll nor to look at it. And I was weeping loudly, because no one worthy was found to open the scroll nor look at it. And one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah has overcome, the root of David, to open the scroll and the seven seals.” And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the elders a Lamb standing as having been slain, having seven horns and seven eye, which are the seven Spirits of God having been sent out into all the earth. And he came and took it out of the right hand of the one sitting n the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

We see here a continuation of the scene from Revelation 4. Where to place these two chapters in the chronology seems like a misnomer. The vision begins after Jesus had been slain and ascended into heaven, so it would seem like John is entering the past, but when we are talking about heaven, does time even matter? This is an eternal moment, one of which we can’t assume is 2000 years ago, nor a future time. Let us remember that Jesus is elsewhere called the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). Time and chronology is not the focus of the book of Revelation. Rather, what is the focus is a certain cataclysmic event, which the moments leading up to are reiterated time and time again, and eventually the moments afterward as well. That event is the Second Advent. It is the return of Jesus.

When we are examining this passage, it is also key to note the symbolism taken from Ezekiel 1-3. Actually, when we continue onward through the seven seals, there are multiple moments that are taken from Ezekiel 1-10. That whole segment of Ezekiel is running through the mind of John as he is writing down his vision. We saw in chapter 4 how much of the symbolism mirrors Ezekiel 1-3, and so it is here that much mirrors this. We will find again in Revelation 10 that John takes up this detail about the scroll again. Something is happening in Ezekiel that is of great significance, without which we cannot understand John’s vision.

This scroll that John is writing about is in Ezekiel 2:9-10, and Ezekiel is told to eat it just as we find later in Revelations. This scroll is mentioned in Ezekiel as containing “mourning, lamentation, and woe.” Then we read through Ezekiel about the coming destruction of Jerusalem. Yes, that is what this scroll is also speaking of. This is the content of the seals, and this is why we find the scroll mentioned again in chapter 10 (Revelation 11 is about the Antichrist ruling in Jerusalem and the devastation of the city at the return of Christ). Classically, which I find to be most correct, the contents of this scroll is prophecy for the end of the world, and therefore the sixth or seventh seal should be the return of Jesus, or just prior to it. That there are seven seals would indicate secrecy – the reader does not simply understand because they have read it; Divine revelation is needed for interpretation. On this note, see also Revelation 10:4, 22:10, Isaiah 29:11-12, and Daniel 8:26, 12:4, 9. This revelation can only be given through the mediation of the Lamb.

The writing is on front and back, not like Roman Will and Testament, but like the Ten Commandments written upon the stone tablets (Exodus 32:15). Also see Zechariah 5:1-4, where it mentions a flying scroll that is a curse. According to what is written on the one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what is written on the other side, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. This judgment is not executed upon the nations, but upon the very people of God. So it is with the context of these seals. We shall see in chapter 6 how they line up almost perfectly with the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Beyond that, there are parallels between the Olivet discourse and the book of Daniel that must also be noted. This prophecy is first upon the people of God – namely upon Jerusalem itself.

For this ‘strong angel’, see also Revelation 10:1 and 18:21. The phrase “loud voice” also appears in 14:7 and 9:15.

Compare the third verse with Exodus 20:4, 11, and Psalm 146:6 for similar wording. The waters underneath might symbolize Hades, as in Philippians 2:10.

Something that I am struck with is the conviction that John weeps bitterly, while we are utterly unmoved. What is it that this man sees that we have been so undiscerning to comprehend? It is the destruction of Jerusalem and the importance that this event plays. God will devastate the Jewish people, and that final devastation will mean the issuing in of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishing of the Kingdom of God upon this earth forever. That we have not been jealous for that, nor even desired it, is apparent in our lack of tears. It is absolute anguish that the people of God will undergo, but the result is supreme glory. Much like we died and were buried with Christ so that the glory of God the Father might also raise us up (Romans 6:1), we shall see that the entirety of the people of God – whether Jew or Gentile – will undergo total desolation until their pride be broken. It is when that monumental moment takes place that the King shall return, for His people shall finally say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”.

The overcoming of Jesus is absolute. Therefore, He is worthy. The references are found in Genesis 49:9, Isaiah 11:1, and 10. Paul also quotes Isaiah 11:10 Messianically in Romans 15:12. These titles are used again in Revelation 22:16.

In verse 6, the Lamb takes center stage. This is further pronounced in Revelation 7:17. It has been considered, and seems plausible, that the εν μεσω … εν μεσω is a Hebraicism (see Genesis 1:4, 7, etc). In that case, the Lamb is between all the angels and the throne, thus explaining how the Lamb “came and took” the scroll in verse 7. Αρνιον as applied to Jesus is particular to Revelations; elsewhere He is called the lamb αμνος (John 1:29, 36, 1 Peter 1:19, Acts 8:32). Acts 8:32 is a quote from Isaiah 53:7.

These horns denote power (Numbers 23:22, Deuteronomy 33:17, 1 Samuel 2:1, 1 Kings 22:11) or kingship (Zechariah 1:18, Daniel 7:7, 20, 8:3). Of course, both power and kingship are related, and many times the line is burred as to which the symbolic horn might mean. These kings, or powers, one would assume are the seven stars or lamp stands – the churches being both a nation of priests (1:6, 4:4) and kings (2:10, 26-27, 3:21). Contrast this with Satan/Antichrist (12:3, 13:1, 17:3). The Lamb has seven horns, but the beast and dragon have seven heads and ten horns. The horns on the dragon go back to Daniel 7:7, where this fourth beast in Daniel’s vision has ten horns. This is the final satanic kingdom – the Antichrist kingdom.

The seven eyes are found in Zechariah 3:9 and 4:10. We find them in relation to a stone that will have an inscription upon it, which will take away the sin of Israel in a single day (Christ Jesus). Yet, in 4:10 we see these seven eyes to be the eyes of the Lord, specifically in relation to the seven branches on the menorah. We see in Revelation 1:20 that these seven branches are the church. The eyes are called the seven spirits, which are being synonymous with the Church itself. This, then, would cause us to believe the seven horns are the seven stars (see Revelation 3:1). We somehow are seeing the unity between Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Church – all are one, and you cannot separate any of them.

It is in beholding this sight that causes the four living creatures and the elders to pull out their harps to begin singing in worship unto the Lamb. Not only is He the one worthy to break the seals, but He is also the one to rescue and redeem men from every tribe, nation, and tongue. He has purchased us in His own blood, and we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is of the day of His coming that Paul was speaking of in Ephesians 1:13-14. In fact, all of the New Testament is extremely eschatological in nature. Everything hinges upon the return of Christ, for without that return (which means the devastation of Israel and the redemption of Israel), Jesus’ first coming is absolutely obsolete.

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