Revelation commentary: chapter 5 - the Lamb is found to be worthy

by Don Koenig

 

Under the Mosaic law, land cannot be taken from God's people permanently. In ancient Israel, under the law when land was sold, the losses were written down in a scroll and then it was sealed. The conditions for getting the property back were written on the outside for anyone to read. If the person died a relative who could meet the conditions on the outside of the scroll, could purchase the property back. This chapter is talking about a kinsman redeemer from Adam rightfully taking back possession of Adam's right to rule on earth. God gave that right to Adam but he apparently lost this stewardship to angels by allowing sin and death to come into the world. The conditions written on the outside require a sinless person to open the scroll, This chapter tells us that Jesus paid the Kinsman price of redemption and will open the scroll about this redeption after fulfilling the requirements written on the outside of the scroll and starting the transfer of the administration of the earth from the prince of angels (Satan) back to man.

Ge 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

 

1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

In the right hand of God is a scroll with writing on the outside and inside. This scroll was sealed with seven seals. In those days books were written on papyrus or vellum that was rolled up. If the content of the scroll was official it was sealed by the seal of the one with that authority. Only someone who met the requirements written on the outside of the scroll would be found worthy to unseal and read the scroll. When an important legal scroll was written, a portion would be written and then rolled up and sealed. Later more could be added and then it would be rolled and sealed again. This process was done to keep prying eyes out until the final seal was placed on the scroll. This scroll that Jesus will open had seven such seals.

 

The inside of the scroll contains the events that must occur in heaven and on earth before man can be restored to administrate the creation of God. As the scroll is unrolled it sets in motion the events that must take place for this restoration to occur. All sin from the time of Adam must be paid for and indeed has been paid for by the sacrifice that God fulfilled through the death of His Son Jesus on the cross. Those who accepted the free gift of God's sacrifice for all sin during the acceptable year of the Lord (Luk 4:19), will not experience the wrath from God that must come on the enemies of God who reject the only provision God gave to save and restore mankind. This plan of restoration comes through the second Adam (Jesus) and He must come and rule on earth in order to defeat all of the enemies of God. If Jesus did not come to save the world, the world would come to total destruction through the deception of Satan (Mat 24:22).

 

As this scroll is unrolled, we should keep in mind that after the outer seals are broken nothing written in an inner sealed portion can be seen. Consequently, if someone says we are now going through one of the trumpet judgments or vial judgments before the things written about at the breaking of the prior seven seals is fulfilled, do not believe them. No trumpet judgments have yet happened on the earth and none of them are now underway as of this writing. The seals, trumpets, and vials cannot run concurrently as some authors with their own agenda have speculated. They make this error because they simply do not understand the book of Revelation. They also do not understand that the first six seals must be broken before the wrath of the Lamb is even announced. The trumpet judgments are not actually carried out until after all the seals of the scroll are broken. Consequently, the trumpet judgments start after the opening of the seventh seal. (Chapter 8)

 

2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

The angel was looking for someone who was worthy to open the book and read it but no natural seed of man could be found in the universe to open the book. This is because all have sinned and no man is worthy (Rom 3:23).  Even the strong angel would not open the book because it had to be a kinsman redeemer descended from Adam.

After Adam sinned, he was no longer worthy to manage the earth. The earth was placed under the administration of the prince of the angels (Satan). He will be in authority over the earth until a kinsman redeemer is found who fulfills the requirement to redeem it. Much of the Bible describes the effort that Satan made to stop a kinsman redeemer from descending from Adam and from leading a sinless life.

When Satan, the ruler of this world, allowed a sinless man to die and go to Hades, he violated God's law and was an accessory to the crime. He was exposed as the murderer he is. God raised this innocent man from the dead into a new creation and condemned the ruling authorities of this world. The risen Jesus has paid the purchase price to be the kinsman redeemer and all power and authority over the earth has been restored to this second Adam. Had the rulers of this world known about this plan of God to redeem the earth they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory (1 Co 2:8).

The delay from His conquering death until the unrolling of the scroll was so that many would be saved by being born into this new spiritual creation called the Body of Christ. This is the body He created and gave for all those who trust Him to cover their sins with His blood sacrifice.

The book of Ruth is a profound live play that is valuable in telling us about these truths. Ruth's role is a foreshadow of the New Covenant Church, Naomi is in the role of Israel and Boaz is the kinsman redeemer Christ figure. In the play, Boaz (Jesus) marries the Gentile Ruth (the Church) and restores Naomi to the land (Israel). Naomi's destiny is to nurse the child of Boaz and Ruth (Israel's destiny is to properly raise those born in the millennium Kingdom of God on earth) born after the great harvest (after the end time reaping).

It might be worthwhile to notice that Ruth is at the feet of Boaz during the time of the harvest threshing (a pretribulation rapture insight).

 

4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

By what John wrote in his other books of the New Testament he knew salvation would come through Jesus so we might wonder why John wept. While salvation through Jesus was clear to John, he understood that the restoration of earth could not come about until a worthy man was found to open the book. Until the time a worthy man was found, Satan would continue to reign and sin and death would continue on the earth. He knew that Jesus was God; that is evident in his gospel and epistles - but John must not have understood that Jesus as a man (born of the seed of a women) was qualified to fulfill the role of kinsman redeemer.

5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

One of the elders tells John not to weep. This verifies the assumption that neither John nor the apostles are part of the twenty-four elders. If the one talking to John knew about these things as an elder, then John as one of the twenty-four elders would also have known these things. In fact, it is likely that he would have known all the elders by name.

The celestial elder tells John that the Lion (King) from the tribe of Judah (Jesus was from Judah) "has the power" to open the book (the words "had prevailed" in the King James seems to give a different meaning in today's English than the author intended).

Rev 5:5  And one of the rulers said to me, Do not be sad: see, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome, and has power to undo the book and its seven stamps. BBE

 

Verse four says no man was worthy but this verse says there is one worthy. This sounds like a contradiction but it is not, because Jesus was not born from the seed of a man. He was born of God but He also qualifies to be a kinsman redeemer because His human blood lines came from His mother. He was born a man from the seed of the woman.

Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

 

He is the root of David because His royal blood line is from David. The fleshly genealogy from Eve to David to Mary is given in the gospel of Luke while the genealogy that gives Jesus the authority to be king of Israel is given in the genealogy of Matthew. Jesus in the end will also fulfill the role of the avenger of blood (the person in the Old Testament that legally sought out and killed the murderer of his brethren). Jesus will put down all authority of the angel who through his deception brought sin and death into the world and He will cast him and his followers into the place of final death (the Lake of Fire).

 

6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

The Lamb that was slain was Jesus. Jesus is standing in the midst of the throne. There is also a person that is sitting on the throne that Jesus took the book from. Jesus, before now, was sitting with the Father but now John sees him standing to take the book out of the Father's hand. When He takes the book and unrolls the scroll, the events written within will happen.

The Lamb contains seven eyes and seven horns. The seven horns speak of complete power and the seven eyes or Spirits sent forth means He will rule over all of the earth in the complete fullness of God.

The Lamb takes the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. If Jesus is the Father like some teach, Jesus is taking the book out of the right hand of Himself. This of course is not the case because God is triune. Once again we see the trinity on or at the throne as the seven-fold Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son.

 

8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Jesus takes the book out of the right hand of the Father and is worshiped by the heavenly host. Only God is worshiped. Jesus is therefore God.

The text in this passage in the King James is misleading - it would imply that the twenty-four are of the redeemed. The American Standard Version is a better translation of this passage. .

9 And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, 10 and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon earth.

 

Notice the difference between this version and the King James. The King James indicates that the twenty-four elders were including themselves in the redeemed men and being made kings and priests. However, the American Standard says they are singing about the redeemed, not about themselves. In this case, I believe the American Standard is a more exact translation of this Greek passage, although others may still disagree (because early manuscripts differ). In any case, this passage is questionable enough that it should not be used to build the case that the twenty-four elders are redeemed men as some who use only the King James translation assert.

The text in this passage indicates that the elders have vials that contain fragrances and that the fragrances in them are the prayers of the saints. The prayers of the saints are being stored. All unanswered prayer will be answered. The passage goes on and tells us that by the blood of the Lamb men have been redeemed. They are redeemed from every tribe, tongue, people and nation to become kings and priests that will reign on the earth. This passage speaks of those that Jesus purchased with His own blood. Notice that these kings and priests will reign on earth. Jesus is not coming back just to take everyone up into heaven for eternity as some teach.

 

11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;

John saw and heard the voice of many angels. Some say the book of Revelation is all symbolic allegory but John tells us what He heard in this book many times. What is heard cannot be made into symbols reflecting some spiritual meaning.

The number of these beings around the throne was over 100 million. We see the same reference to this number of beings around the throne and to the timing of these events in Daniel Chapter 7.

9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. 27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

In Daniel, the Ancient of Days comes to set up his court and there are over 100 million beings as well around the throne. In Daniel and in Revelation we see the kingdom will be taken from Satan and awarded to the saints. Prophetic scripture is consistent and totally reliable.

12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

This passage prophetically tells us that all creation will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord when He completes the work given to Him by the Father and restores creation to what it was before the fall of angels and man. The story of this restoration begins in the next chapter with the opening of the seven-sealed book and continues until God creates the new heaven and earth at the end of the book.

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