Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Revelation 5:1-6
Pastor Steve Schell
Revelation 5:1
Verse 1 (cont.): One of the observations Daniel made when he saw the heavenly court prepare for judgment was the opening of “books” (plural) (Dn 7:10). However, he made no further mention of them so we’re left to wonder what they are. John also sees books opened through the course of his revelation but gives us more information about their identity. In all, he sees four different books or groups of books (Rv 5:1; 10:1; 20:12). Here in verse one the first of these four is being held in the right hand of God the Father. Much debate has occurred over the identity of this book but John gives us enough clues to discover it’s contents. The book is in the form of a “scroll.” It is a long roll, likely of parchment (dried animal skin), which has been tightly rolled and is held closed with seven seals (drops of clay or wax which must be broken to open). It is “written inside and on the back” which is a way of saying it is so full of information there’s no empty space left upon which to write.

Revelation 5:1
Verse 1 (cont.): The phrase “written inside and on the back” also gives us our first clue as to its contents. The same statement is made about a scroll shown Ezekiel in a vision (Eze 2:9, 10), “...and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe.” It was full of the judgments of God. A second clue as to the contents of this scroll comes from the fact it has been “sealed.” At the end of the Book of Daniel the archangel Gabriel (Dn 8:16; 9:21) gave the following command to Daniel, “But as for you Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the time of the end...” (Dn 12:4) meaning the events prophesied could not be fully understood (Dn 12:8, 9) nor take place until the final season of earth’s history (Dn 12:9, 13). The fact that the scroll in God’s right hand is also sealed appears to be more than coincidence, especially when we note that as it is unsealed the events described in Daniel begin to take place. Judging from this, the scroll must contain the prophecies of Daniel and probably other related Old Testament prophecies as well.

Revelation 5:1, 2
Verse 1 (cont.): When the seals are broken the events described by Daniel begin to take place. When the first seal is broken the antichrist-figure who Daniel calls the “little horn” is released to begin constructing his final evil empire (Rev 6:1). Daniel calls that final empire the “fourth beast” (Dn 7:7). John sees the release of a rider on a white horse (Rev 6:1). Verse 2: John now encounters a “strong angel” who he does not name but who may be Gabriel, the same archangel who originally revealed similar prophetic insights to Daniel (Dn 8:16; 9:21; and probably 10:5, 6). The question asked by the angel makes it clear that God will only give the book to someone who meets very specific requirements. That person must be “worthy.” There are requirements of God’s justice which must be met. The word refers to something being of, at least, equal value or weight with something else. If we picture a balance scale which is heavily loaded on one side but empty on the other, we can visually understand the angel’s question. The weight of all human sin clearly rests on one side of the scale but there must be some form of payment of equal or greater weight placed on the other side. The balance arm can rise only when something of greater “worth” is placed on the scale.

Revelation 5:3, 4
Verse 3: Only when a person is found who can pay for the sins of the world can this book be opened, but no one steps forward. Apparently some sort of search or inventory was taken which evaluated: the angels (no one in heaven), human beings who were alive at that time (no one on the earth) and human beings who had died and been buried (no one under the earth). The search found no one who could bring the payment needed for human sin. Verse 4: John responded with great despair. Of course he knew Jesus is his Savior but he was responding to the vision before him. At that moment he realized more deeply than ever that apart from Christ the human race is doomed. The promises of God’s kingdom coming to earth could never be set into motion until the right person could be found.

Revelation 5:5
Verse 5: John might despair, but no such despair existed in heaven. One of the twenty-four elders (4:4) Р human representatives of Old and New Covenant believers Р told him to stop weeping and look closer at the scene before him. Then John saw Jesus. Daniel had seen a human being step forward to receive “...dominion, glory and a kingdom...” (Dn 7:14) and now John knows the identity of that mysterious “Son of Man” Р it’s Jesus. As John gazes at Him the elder introduced Jesus using references to very important Old Testament prophecies. The first is found in the blessing which Jacob spoke over his son Judah (Ge 49:8-10). Having called Judah a “lion” he said, “...the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet until Shiloh (the Hebrew word basically means, “the one to whom it belongs”) comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples....” He then went on to say “Shiloh” would bring violent judgment upon his enemies. Part of Jesus worthiness is that He has and will fulfill the prophecies spoken of Him. On this case one of the requirements was that He be a member of the tribe of Judah, which He fulfilled. His mother was a member of the tribe of Judah.

Revelation 5:5
Verse 5 (cont.): The second description of Jesus given by the elder is that He is the “Root of David.” This title is a direct reference to one of Isaiah’s prophecies (Isa 11:1, 10). God promised David that the Messiah would come from his family (2Sa 7:12-16) but centuries later Isaiah (740-680 B.C.) saw a surprising twist of events that lay ahead. He prophetically looked into the future and the conquest of Judah by Babylonia (586 B.C.) and he knew that for all practical purposes David’s dynasty (successive generations of his family being kings) would end before the promise was fulfilled. David’s dynasty would be like a tree which was cut down, leaving only a stump in the ground. Some varieties die when their trunk is severed like this but others have the capacity to send up new shoots directly from their roots. The latter is the image Isaiah draws on when he writes, “Then a shoot will spring up from the stem of Jesse (David’s father) and a branch from his roots will bear fruit” (Isa 11:1). In other words, the future Messiah will still come from David’s family but instead of arising as one of the succession of Davidic kings He will be a descendant who God raised up from humble, unexpected circumstances (Isa 53:1-3). Isaiah then went on to say that this “root of Jesse” would gather God’s people from distant nations and cause them to dwell safely in the land of Israel (Isa 11:10-16).

Revelation 5:5, 6
Verse 5 (cont.): By introducing Jesus as the “lion” promised to Judah, and the humble “shoot” promised to David’s family, the elder reveals to John what Jesus will do when He opens the book. He will fulfill the promise in Genesis 49:8-11 and Isaiah 11:1-16. Verse 6: When the elder’s introduction ends John looks and sees Jesus standing immediately in front of the Father’s throne. Using symbolic language he describes Him as a sacrificial lamb still bearing the scars received at His execution. “As if slain” tells us Jesus’ scars from His crucifixion remain in His resurrected body. The disciples were allowed to view these in the days just before His ascension into heaven (Jn 20:25-29), but we learn here that we too will see them when we behold Him face to face.

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