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Revelation Episode 6: The Lion-Lamb Takes the Scroll

Revelation Episode 6: The Lion-Lamb Takes the Scroll

May 29, 2024 | Andy Davis
Revelation 5:1-14
Exaltation of Christ, Majesty of God

Witness the Lamb who was slain be pronounced the only one worthy to open God's scroll and hear the new song of heaven praising the infinite majesty of Christ.

- Podcast Transcript -

Wes

Welcome to the Two Journeys Bible Study Podcast. This podcast is just one of the many resources available to you for free from Two Journeys Ministry. If you're interested in learning more, just head over to TwoJourneys.org. Now on to today's episode. This is Episode 6 in our Revelation Bible study podcast entitled, "The Lion Lamb Takes the Scroll," where we'll discuss Revelation 5:1-14. I'm Wes Treadway and I'm here with Pastor Andy Davis. Andy, what are we going to see in these verses that we're looking at today?

Andy

Well, as we said last time, Revelation 4 and 5 are somewhat partner chapters. As John has a vision of the heavenly realms, he's escorted through a doorway in Revelation 4 into the heavenly throne room and sees God enthroned. God the Creator is celebrated in Revelation 4, but then we have Christ the Redeemer celebrated in this chapter. So, the excellencies of Christ as Redeemer, as a lamb looking as if it had been slain, but also portrayed as the lion of the tribe of Judah. Looking at how those diverse excellencies of lion and lamb come together, but especially how Christ's achievement of atoning for people from every tribe and language and people and nation is celebrated forever in heaven.

Wes

Well, let me go ahead and read these 14 verses in Revelation 5:

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, "Weep, no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song saying,

"Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!"

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!"

And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Andy, how does John describe the scroll as this chapter opens and what does it represent?

Andy

Yeah, the scroll is in the right hand of the one seated on the throne similar to the Daniel 7 vision of the Ancient of Days, Almighty God enthroned. So, the scroll is in his right hand. There's a sense of the preciousness of it. It's his to give, he owns it, whatever it is. It's in the right hand and it has writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. It's hard to know exactly how that works. Some picture it as it's rolled up, and it could be the sense of it being rolled and sealed and rolled a little more and sealed and rolled a little more and sealed and rolled and rolled, like that until it's sealed seven seals. Or it could be its rolled up and sealed along its edge with seven seals or something like that.

You could picture that it's not rolled up at all, but it is called a scroll, so we do picture it rolled up. But if it weren't rolled, then you could see that it had writing on both sides. It could be one of those things that John just knows like you know in a dream, that there's writing on both sides.

What does it signify? Well, given Revelation 6, as the Lamb breaks open the seals progressively and things happen on earth as a result, it is connected in some way to the history of the earth and to the earth itself. One scholar says it's the title deed for the earth. So, it's like the deed of ownership for the earth. Similar to Jesus and the great commission saying, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18). There's that sense of ownership or a title deed for the earth, and it's in the right hand of God.

Wes

Now, why does the mighty angel raise the issue of worthiness here in verse 2 concerning the opening of this scroll?

Andy

Well, the whole thing is set up to greatly exalt Jesus. This chapter is about the exaltation, the majesty of Jesus. Remember, the Book of Revelation - 22 chapters - is of two great topics. One is the revelation of Jesus Christ, his infinite majesty, and the second is the revelation of the things that are to come of the future.

I think that this chapter is set up majestically to platform Christ or present him as infinitely worthy of worship, greater than any created being, infinitely greater. It works this way with the mighty angel asking the question of worthiness connected with the scroll. Who is worthy or who to take the scroll and open its seals. Then of course it unfolds from there, the events that happen. But I think the reason the angel asks, is to set up an infinite gap between Jesus and every human being that's ever lived and every creature that exists because of how things unfold with the question of worthiness, who is worthy to take the scroll and open its seals?

Wes

And the question prompts the observation that no one in heaven or on earth is found who can open it. What does the fact that no one was found worthy teach us about humanity in general and what should it teach us about ourselves personally?

Andy

Well, everyone is rejected. You think about this statement, when David was anointed to be king over the Jewish nation. He was the youngest of the sons of Jesse. When Samuel went to do the anointing, he saw Jesse's firstborn, the oldest, and he looks the part, he's tall and broad shouldered and he's ready to go. "And the Lord said, 'Do not consider him for I have rejected him'" (1 Samuel 16:7 paraphrase). It's really a strong statement. It's like, "I've evaluated him for the role, and he's not it."

It's not just like, "Oh, I didn't know... Or this one person," etc. No, everyone else is rejected. Everyone on earth, everyone in the heavenly realms, everyone under the earth, every single human being that's ever lived and every creature that exists, they're all rejected. No one is worthy, no one is found in heaven or earth or under the earth who could take the scroll or break open its seals or look inside. Then when Jesus does come, his worthiness is greatly exalted. You think about all the great figures that have ever been, all the godly people in the Bible. You think about those three in the Book of Ezekiel that are cited, even if Noah and Job and Daniel were to stand before me, they could only save themselves by their righteousness. Well, they're not worthy.

They still exist, they're not worthy. Abraham's not worthy. Isaac's not worthy, Jacob. None of the prophets. Moses is not worthy. Ezekiel, John the Baptist, no one is worthy. The 12 apostles, no one is worthy. No one in church history is worthy. We're not, you're not worthy, I'm not worthy. We have all been evaluated and rejected for that role. It just creates a yearning. I think that's part of the dynamic here. There is this call out, "Who is worthy." It creates a longing for someone to be worthy. The search and then the rejection of everyone else greatly heightens the yearning for someone who could do this. So, everything's very dramatically set up to exalt Christ.

Wes

What was John's reaction to the fact that no one worthy could be found, and why does he react like he does?

Andy

That's an interesting question. He wasn't thinking about a scroll a moment before and now suddenly he deeply wants it to happen. But I think there's a sense that somebody needs to do this. It needs to happen. It must happen. We can't make progress ahead if it doesn't happen. What will happen if it doesn't happen? So, there's this sense of yearning and a longing to fulfill, similar to frankly the prophecies about Jesus and a yearning for someone to come, fulfill them. To meet them. It creates a yearning.

It's almost like prophecy itself. It creates a yearning for someone who will meet these criteria, and no one is found. So, John weeps and weeps, there's a tremendous sorrow here, but it's frankly at this point not much different than Mary Magdalene's sorrow at the empty tomb. There is no reason for weeping. We're not setting things up for failure here. We're not setting things up for frustration. There is someone. But there's that weeping because there is a yearning for someone to fulfill this role, and up to this point, no one has been found.

Wes

And the weeping doesn't last long in the passage or at least it's cut short or interrupted by this elder in verse 5. What does this elder say to John?

Andy

Well, similar to what was said to Mary Magdalene. Well, they don't say, "Do not weep," but they ask, "Why are you weeping?" (John20:15) implying you shouldn't be weeping. And she shouldn't have been. She should have known that Christ has risen as John did when he saw the physical evidence of the empty tomb. In this case, John is directly told, "Do not weep," by one of the elders. Because the elder knows what's going on and he's not in any suspense.

This is just a great moment of drama here and a great moment of the exaltation of Christ. He says, "Do not weep." And then he says, "Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah." Behold, I like that word behold. The translation I read says, "See." I tell you what, I am just not a fan of see as a substitute for behold, behold is like you're unveiling something, behold. All right, but it's a looking issue. Look at this, behold.

Then he's given this name, "The Lion of the tribe of Judah." That's that descendant of Judah. And it's just like the prophecy made concerning Judah when Jacob laid hands on his sons or gave prophecies concerning the 12 tribes that the scepter would never depart from Judah until the one would come who deserved it. So fundamentally, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Then he's called, "The Root of David has triumphed." Again, we get this from Romans 1, when it talks about the physical lineage of the physical ancestry of Jesus from David or in Matthew 1:1, record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David.

That's the identification. We're talking about Jesus Christ as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. And it says of him, "He has triumphed," he is victorious, he's won. We know from the chapter he has done that by his death and by his resurrection. He had triumphed, and he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals. He's worthy. So, "Do not weep. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah... has triumphed."

Wes

Andy, is it fair to say that he is worthy because of that triumph? I know that's essentially what you just said, but I think it's helpful for us to recognize that's the very reason that he is worthy, over against all those who were sought out and found wanting.

Andy

Yeah, absolutely. Similar to Jesus' statement in John's gospel, "The reason the Father loves me is that I lay down my life only to take it up again" (John 10:17). He's not there by saying, "This is the only reason he loves me." But he is saying, "He loves me for this." It's similar to this, is Jesus only worthy because he died on the cross and rose again? No. He's worthy in and of himself because he loves righteousness and hates wickedness, because he is the radiance of the invisible God, the exact representation of his being of the glory of God. That's why, he's never changed that, he's always been worthy. But specifically, it's focused on his triumph at the cross and the empty tomb. That's why here he is worthy to take the scroll and open its seals.

Wes

Now immediately contrasting the statement about the lion is John's astonishing comment, "Then I saw a Lamb looking as if it had been slain." What is the significance of this description in verse 6?

Andy

Right, I think it's contrast. We've got lion and lamb. Many have noted this before, but my favorite of all those that have noted is Jonathan Edwards who preached a great sermon in the 18th century entitled, "The Excellence of Christ." It talks about this very passage. His doctrine is, there is an array of diverse excellencies in Christ. He is very much like a lion and he's very much like a lamb, and they're very different kind of creatures.


"There is an array of diverse excellencies in Christ. He is very much like a lion and he's very much like a lamb, and they're very different kind of creatures."

The lion is called the king of the jungle. Its roar can be heard five miles away. It's a 600-pound beast that can tear and shred and destroy and kill and it's fearsome. That's a lion, in other attributes as well, complete fearlessness. Isaiah talks about, you could get a whole bunch of shepherds together and the whole village can come out and they'll beat sticks and clamor and the lion's not troubled at all. He's not intimidated, not worried at all. That's a lion.

Then you've got a lamb. The lamb is excellent for the slaughter. It's delicious and provides wool. And it's by its giving nature and by its meek nature and it's fitness to be a sacrificial animal. That's what the lamb is known for. It's gentle, it's meek, it's quiet, it's humble. So, you have that picture. So it is with Christ, don't we see how different he is when he is cleansing the temple versus dealing with broken-hearted sinners. Or with Jairus when he finds out his daughter is dead. Or the widow at Nain when his heart goes out to her and he goes up and says to her, "Don't cry." And you've got this tenderness and yet Jesus is powerful too. The greatest display of the awesome terrifying lion-like power of Jesus is in Revelation 19 at his second coming. When he comes to slaughter the wicked and to establish the kingdom of God forever on earth.

It's an amazing diverse excellencies and it's well worthy of us meditating. I will say one more thing, he is never again in the book of Revelation called Lion, but he's many times called Lamb. I wondered about this. That it's true is easy to prove, why it's true, we can only speculate. But I think it's that the Book of Revelation is written for us. It's written for the people of God. And for us he's always Lamb. He's not terrifying for us. He's terrifying for us and on behalf of us, but not toward us. That's not what he's like toward us. He's very gentle. It talks later almost mysteriously about the wrath of the Lamb. It's hard to figure that, but we know it's really the wrath of the Lion. But to us it's Lamb because he's gentle toward us and it's on our behalf that the wrath comes down. This is the Lamb that looks as if it had been slain.

Wes

Now Andy, before we move on to the unique description that's given in the rest of verse 6 of this Lamb, the initial description is a lamb looking as if it had been slain. Talk more about the significance of that specific phrase.

Andy

Yeah, it's unique. All right. We do believe that many terrible things can happen to our bodies. They can be completely consumed like in a fireball, like in a plane crash or something like that, or they can be destroyed in all respects by microbes and by wild beasts or by the ocean water, and completely disintegrate and all of that. We believe that when we're raised from the dead, we'll be raised in radiant glory with perfect bodies. Jesus was raised from the dead but retained the emblems of his sacrificial death so that he said to Thomas, "Put your finger in the nail marks and your hands in the side." So again, we understand that this was a willful choice on his part, on the part of Almighty God, to raise him from the dead in a perfect resurrection body, a glorified body, but retaining the marks of his sacrificial death. So, he is a lamb looking as if it been slain.


"We believe that when we're raised from the dead, we'll be raised in radiant glory with perfect bodies. Jesus was raised from the dead but retained the emblems of his sacrificial death."

Wes

He goes on in the rest of verse 6 to say that this Lamb has, "Seven horns with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth." What's the symbolism here and how does that help us better understand the Lamb?

Andy

Right. I also want to say one thing about my translation, which is a little different than your translation, about his physical positioning. My translation says he's standing in the center of the throne. Yours says something a little bit different. What does it say?

Wes

"Between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders."

Andy

I saw one. All right, well let's go with mine because I'm good with it, and that's because Jesus does a promise in one of the letters to the seven churches. "He who overcomes will sit with me on my throne just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne" (Revelation 3:21). The idea of Jesus in the Father's throne and having the right to be in the Father's throne is established. To me, this translation does give a picture of that Jesus is standing in the center of the throne. Which no one else has the right to do, no one else can take that throne. That is his right to rule as God.

And then the descriptions are symbols of his deity, I think especially. He is first of all encircled by the four living creatures and the elders, they're around him. He's the center of everything. That's a God-like position. Then he has seven horns and seven eyes, which I think represents omnipotence. Horn being symbol of strength, the number seven being perfect or totality, and then eyes being knowledge, representing all knowledge, omniscience. This is a picture of perfect power and perfect knowledge that it represents that. Then it says that the seven eyes are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Well, it goes back to the Holy Spirit, the way he's depicted. It is by the Spirit that Jesus knows what he knows and by the Spirit we would say, he also exerts his power.

Jesus doesn't do anything ever apart from the will of the Father. But he also doesn't exert any power on earth apart from the activity of the Holy Spirit. It is by the Spirit that he completes or fulfills the promise he made to the church and the great commission, "And surely I will be with all of you even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). Well, all of you are going to be all over the earth, scattered to the ends of the earth, but he will be with all of them. How? By the Spirit of Christ. This is a beautiful picture of the deity of Christ and the activity of the Spirit in projecting Jesus's authority and power.

Wes

What happens in verse 7 and why is this important?

Andy

Well, he comes and takes the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. This is as dramatic a moment as the Son of Man vision in Daniel 7, where you've got the Ancient of Days seated on a throne, a river of fire coming from that throne, and then one like a Son of Man comes in the clouds of heaven into the presence of God. Right into God's throne and receives from him sovereign authority, power and dominion and the right to be worshiped by people all over the earth. I do believe that John has in mind, and the Spirit has in mind, that image from Daniel 7 in Revelation 5. You've got the sense of Jesus coming right into the presence of God and taking from his right hand this scroll, which is the right to rule over all the earth.

Wes

Help us understand the significance of the worship of the Lamb that follows in verse 8 as well as the harps and golden bowls of incense.

Andy

Well, praise is the continual employment of the inhabitants of heaven. Everything God does is praiseworthy, and they praise all the time. They're just praising and praising and praising. When this happens, they praise. When that happens, they worship. It's just, there's celebrating. Again, there's that sense of tension, who is worthy? Then the search, no one is worthy. Then the fulfillment, Christ is worthy. The angels themselves track with all that.

Now the elder knew what was going to happen, but sometimes the angels don't know what's going to happen. There are surprises. It says even angels long to look into these things. So sometimes you get the feeling in the book of Revelation, they really didn't know what was going to happen when this seal was broken or when this trumpet was sounded or when this bowl was poured out. Stuff happened, and they didn't know that that was going to happen. So, they worship greatly when Jesus takes the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fall down before the Lamb, and they worship, and they have a golden harp and golden bowls full of incense and they are praising God.

By the way, the bowls that they have represent the prayers of the saints. We get a similar image later in the Book of Revelation. It's like a bowl of incense that's poured onto the fire and an aromatic smoke wafts up. It represents the prayers of the saints going up into the throne room of God.

Wes

Now verses 9 and 10 relate the new song that they sang. It says, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth." Talk about the message of this song and why it's important as they declare his praise in it.

Andy

I think it's very exciting, the phrase, new song. We're going to come back to heavenly singing and heavenly worship. It's throughout this chapter. It's singing and then the next one's sing and the next one's sing. There's lots of singing going on. But the idea of a new song implies a new kind of music perhaps and a new message of the song. I think it's just very exciting. I know for you Wes, as somebody who is gifted in music, and for me, somebody who genuinely loves music, to think that there's some key shaped or a lock that will unlock our hearts and our souls and be like, "Wow, that's a whole new kind of music that we've never heard before." In this case at least we know that the content of what they're singing is new. But it could be the music itself and the style is new.

What are they singing about? Well, they're singing about the moment that Jesus took the scroll from the right hand of God. They're celebrating the worthiness of Christ to do it. He deserves to do it. He is worthy. You are worthy to take the scroll, and you're worthy to open the seals. And all the stuff that's going to happen in chapter 6 when he opens the seals, he deserves to be the one that initiates those earthly events. He is the sovereign king of the earth. He has the right to do it.

Why is that? Well, specifically as we've said, because he was slain, because he died. He has triumphed by dying and by rising again. With his blood, he purchased people for God from every tribe and language and people in nation. This is redemption language. We are bought with a price. So, Jesus deserves to take this scroll because of what he did at the cross. That's what's being celebrated. As a result, those people belong to him. They are his. He owns them, because he has bought them with the price of his blood.

Not only that, they have been made to be a kingdom and priests or perhaps a kingdom of priests, or a beautiful combination of royalty and priestly ministry. We are kings under the King of kings. We are priests under the great high priest. We have this kingly, priestly ministry to serve God and we will reign on the earth. This is the exact thing that Daniel 7 says, "That the saints will come and will reign forever and ever" (Daniel 7:18 paraphrase). We will reign. We'll have authority on the earth under his absolute sovereign authority.


"We are kings under the King of kings. We are priests under the great high priest. We have this kingly, priestly ministry to serve God and we will reign on the earth."

Wes

What does the next vision in verses 11 and 12 teach us about heaven, angels, and worship? And what do you think that many angels singing would sound like?

Andy

Wow. The angels are powerful beings. They're mighty and they're huge numbers here. Your translation, we just don't know how many they are. My translation says 10,000 times 10,000. It all comes down to the word of, "myriads of myriads." 10,000 times 10,000, me being the MIT geek I am, the math, it's a hundred million.

Wes

Wow.

Andy

Jesus said he could call on his Father, and he would send at least 12 legions of angels. That'd be 72,000. That's like a detachment. You want to see the whole a hundred million angels coming down. It's over quickly at that point. But this is a tremendous, tremendous number. Just hundred million angels and they're all praising God. They're encircling the throne. With a loud voice, they're saying the same thing, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain." They're zeroed in on the death of Jesus and he's worthy, it says, "To receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise," in this translation.

The idea of him receiving that which he already has, the idea is all power there is in the universe comes from him and goes back to him. Like in the doxology, from him and through him and to him are all things. He doesn't need a power boost. We shouldn't imagine that, like the turbo, like where you're trying to accelerate, you hit the gas and then you go into the turbo range, and he goes up like that. No, he's already got all power. Then what does it mean? We're ascribing omnipotence to him. You are worthy for us to realize that all power is yours. I think that's what's happening. And all wealth similarly is yours, and all wisdom is yours, and all strength and honor and glory and blessing, everything there already belongs to you. We acknowledge it.

Wes

It's not enough that just myriads and myriads of angels join in the song or thousands upon thousands, who joins the praise in verse 13 and who do they praise? What was the message of their praise?

Andy

"Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them." So that's all creatures. Obviously, we're not universalists. These would be all the good creatures, redeemed creatures, everything. It's symbolic I think at this point. But I think it also points ahead to when the work of redemption is done. In 1 Corinthians 15:28 says, "He must reign until all his enemies have been put under his feet." And when that's done, he's going to basically wrap up the universe in oneness and give it back to the Father. At that point then, every creature will be harmoniously united under Jesus and given back to God the Father who gave all things. That's the picture I get here, is that with redemption completed, everything in the universe will praise and worship Christ.

Wes

How about the message of their praise? What exactly do they praise for?

Andy

Well, they praise the Father and the Son. They praise the one who sits on the throne, and they praise the Lamb. As it says in Philippians 2:10, "Every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess," what? "Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." There's no competition here. It's not like the Father's jealous of all the glory that's being given to the Son. Not at all. All glory given to the Son is glory given to the Father. That's how it is. So, everything goes to the Lamb and to the One who sits on the throne. In this case, the order is to the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb. What is given to them? Praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever.

Wes

How does the chapter end in verse 14? And what final thoughts do you have for us on chapter 5?

Andy

So, "The four living creatures say Amen, and the elders fell down in worship." Just a lot of worship going on, and the elders do a lot of falling down and casting crowns and all that. It's a repeated pattern. The idea is the infinite majesty of Christ to the glory of God the Father. That's what the living creatures are saying Amen to, that's what's making the 24 elders worship.

Wes

This has been Episode 6 in our Revelation Bible Study Podcast. We want to invite you to join us next time for Episode & entitled The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse where we'll discuss Revelation 6:1-8. Thank you for listening to the Two Journeys Podcast and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

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