Day 4. The Lamb Who Opens the Seals (Revelation 5:1-8; 6:1)


Audio (7:27)

José Campeche, Agnus Dei (1806-1809), Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, oil on wood, 30.5 x 22 in.
José Campeche, Agnus Dei (1806-1809), Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, oil on wood, 30.5 x 22 in.

The passage we've been looking at that centers around the Lamb in the throne room begins with a precious scroll in the hand of God on the throne, sealed with the seals of this awesome God.

"1  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. 2  And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?' 3  And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4  and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it...." (Revelation 5:1-4)

Important Documents

Important documents were written on parchment or papyrus, then rolled and sealed with sealing wax, to prevent undetected tampering. Impressed into the wax seal was the unique imprint, initials, or sign of the writer of the document.

Documents from low-level bureaucrats could be opened by other low-level bureaucrats. Documents from high-level officials could only be opened by a person of similar high rank, or someone authorized to do so. In a national security or military context, we might think in terms of security clearance levels -- "top secret" and above. Only someone with the very highest security clearance of all is authorized to open this document.

The document in the hand of God is sealed with God's own seal, not once but seven times, indicating its full sanctity and protection from unqualified readers. It contains the future of how the End of the Ages is to unfold, the divine plan for the culmination of all things.

"And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice,
'Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?'" (Revelation 5:2)

The Lamb Opens the Seals

No one knows or can know this future. No one is qualified to break the seals, open the document, and initiate those future events. No one is found who is of sufficient rank and worth to open the scroll. So when John hears this, he begins to weep loudly. Then  one of the elders declares:

 "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 ... I saw a Lamb standing,
as though it had been slain." (Revelation 5:5-6)

As we have seen in previous devotions this week, the conquering Lion appears as a Lamb, standing though slain -- all powerful, all knowing, full of God's Spirit. John continues the narrative:

"And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne." (Revelation 5:7)

There is great praise in heaven (which we will look at on Day 5), and then the Lamb opens the first seal.

"Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals,
and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder,
'Come!'" (Revelation 6:1)

As the first four seals are opened, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are released to ride forth upon the earth to bring judgment (Revelation 6:2-8). Opening the fifth and sixth seals release further judgment upon the earth. Then the seventh.

"When the Lamb opened the seventh seal,
there was silence in heaven for about half an hour." (Revelation 8:1)

Who Is Worthy (Revelation 5:2)

The key question remains:

"Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" (Revelation 5:2)

Who, indeed, is worthy of opening up the future -- especially your future and mine? The Greek word for "worthy" contains the idea of weightiness. Whose stature is weighty enough? Who has a high enough rank or privilege to give him the right to open the scroll and break its seals? Who is "worthy, fit, deserving" of this right and exclusive privilege?7

John the Baptist -- the greatest prophet according to Jesus -- recognizes the Master's exalted worthiness, "the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie" (John 1:27). Only Jesus is worthy!


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John weeps because no one worthy is found. But then the Lamb steps forward and takes the scroll from the hand of God. He is worthy. Why? He "has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals" (Revelation 5:5).

Sometimes we bemoan our own unworthiness -- our weakness to temptations, our fumbling attempts to serve God. But this isn't about us. It is about Jesus and his worthiness. Consider that the Worthy Lamb felt you were important enough to be slain to atone for your sins! His holiness, his worthiness makes you holy and worthy -- all by grace!

Prayer

Jesus, so often I take you for granted, rather than honor you with the honor to which you are due. Forgive me. Lead me as I get to know you, that my relationship with you might not pull you down to my level, but raise me to yours. In Jesus' worthy name, I pray. Amen.

Day 4 Meditation (Revelation 5:1-8; 6:1). What does it say about you that Jesus, the Most Worthy One, died for you. How does he value your worth? How casual should you be before the Lamb who is Most Worthy? What is the appropriate relationship with him? In what ways has he humbled himself to reveal himself to you?
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Endnotes

(References and Abbreviations)

[7] Axios, BDAG 93, 2a.

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