Weekly Bible Study – Rev. 5:5-10 – 2024 May 09

Remember the three major rules for the interpretation of Scripture, which are context, context, and of course, context.  We stopped in the middle of events last time, and we should remind ourselves that John had begun to weep over no one being found to be worthy in the universe to take or open the scroll with the seven seals.  Yes, it is true, we ended in grief.  That sorrow in this study will be turned to Joy, and we will come to that directly.

However, before we do, we must remember why John was weeping.  We looked at a quote from Dr. Criswell last time, and I will bring this to our minds again.  He, referring to John’s tears, said, “…they represent the tears of all God’s people through all the centuries.  Those tears of the Apostle John are the tears of Adam and Eve driven out of the Garden of Eden, as they bowed over the first grave, as they watered the dust of the ground with their tears over the silent, still form of their son, Abel.  Those are the tears of the children of Israel in bondage as they cried unto God in their affliction and slavery.  They are the tears of God’s elect through the centuries as they cried unto heaven.  They are the sobs and tears that have been wrung from the heart and soul of God’s people as they looked on their silent dead, as they stand beside their open graves, as they experience in the trials and sufferings of life, heartaches and disappointments indescribable.  Such is the curse that sin has laid upon God’s beautiful creation; and this is the damnation of the hand of him who holds it, that usurper, that interloper, that intruder, that alien, that stranger, that dragon, that serpent, that Satan-devil.  ‘And I wept audibly,’ for the failure to find a Redeemer meant that this earth in its curse is consigned forever to death.  It meant that death, sin, damnation, and hell should reign forever and ever and the sovereignty of God’s earth should remain forever in the hands of Satan.”  Just in case you think I’m just reading stuff and letting my brain run away on the story here, Dr. Criswell is NOT the only individual who thinks this way.  I got that quote from Dr. MacArthur’s commentary.  And there are others, and if time permits, we’ll look at that.

This evening, it is time for the final judgment to begin on a planet that either already has or has every intention of rejecting its creator God in favour of the worship of themselves.  Things have progressed to the point where I can hear Bruce Buffer’s voice shouting in the UFC Octagon, “It’s TIME!!! In the blue corner, a world that wants to throw off all forms of deity against all reason!  In the red corner, The King of kings and Lord of lords Himself, Jesus ‘Son of God’ Bar-Joseph!”  I know, it will be an absolutely one-sided fight, though it will have a great deal of action and we will look at it all, one verse, one phrase, and when needed, one word at a time.  And it all begins here.

I broke the text down as follows:

KV7:  The Time of Justice Begins!

7:  And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

5:  Weeping will cease, there is reason for JOY!

6-7:  The Lion who is the Lamb is the Worthy One

8-10:  Sing a New Song Unto the Lord!

I called it “The Time of Justice” with a sort of working definition of the word “justice” carrying the meaning of “getting what you deserve,” regardless of what you deserve what you get means definitionally.  God will get everything He deserves in that He will finally deal with sin and death once and for all.  Sinners will get exactly what THEY deserve as the cosmic traitors to God that we are, although there are a couple of general versions of this to discuss, and we will do so as we go, that just being the most efficient way of dealing with the subject matter that involves.  Let’s dig in and see.

KV7:  The Time of Justice Begins!

7:  And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

Here is the Lord Jesus getting exactly what He deserves for all of His work, from the creation of the universe to His work on the cross to His returning to His heavenly duties with the Father on His throne.  As He is revealed, we (through John) see Him approach God the Father and take the scroll out of His hand.  This in itself shows that He is worthy, or the Father would not give Him the scroll.  Why does this occur here?  Because it is time.  Who determines the time?  God the Father, as He does for everything else.

Wait, wait, wait!  Gerry, are you saying that Jesus, who you call God the Son, does NOT determine the time?  I will answer that, and it is an answer that requires some thought.  Yes, that is what I am saying.  God the Father knows all times and seasons which He has ordained.  They are there by the determination of God.  This does not mean that God the Son cannot ordain them, it is that He willingly yields to His Father in the working of the universe that God the Son created at the request of God the Father.

We have talked before about the willing subordination of the Son to the Father.  This is a willing submission in love, and it is how we should strive to be in all things where our Lord is concerned.  This is reflected in this being a reward of sorts for His efforts and He is about to collect in verse 7 and is confirmed by the worship it creates at the end of our text this evening, even inspiring this “new song” as it is identified.  Let us now examine the text and see how the action unfolds.

5:  Weeping will cease, there is reason for JOY!

If you will recall, John was weeping when last we saw.  He was weeping about how the time of Justice that nearly every human I have ever met longs for, though most have not thought it through, thinking that they won’t face what they deserve or forgetting that they also are guilty sinners.  This is where we will get into the text.

5:  and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

  • One of the things I don’t know how to put into this is the tone of the elder who was speaking.  There are different ways that this could be said.  One could say it as if you say, “Quit yer cryin’, dummy!”  One could say it as “Oh no, please don’t cry, it will all work out.”  In reality, it is likely in between the two, but closer to the latter because of what he says next:  Look!  The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
  • Now who could the elder be speaking about?  I wonder, I don’t know, who could it possibly be…oh yes!  Come on saints, who is he talking about?  Jesus the Messiah!  Iesous Christos, the anointed one of God!  Who else could it be?  I know no one else that is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, never mind the Root of David!  There is no one else it could be, and that means that the reason John was weeping was not valid any longer.  There is one!  He IS worthy!  And He is about to act!
  • Remember that quote from Criswell?  The Life Application Commentary says this:  “John wept bitterly that no one could be found who was worthy to open or look into the scroll. John wept because he knew that the unopened scroll would mean that the closing scene of history could not begin; thus, evil would continue unabated on the earth, and there would be no future for God’s people. But one of the elders told John not to weep any longer, because someone was worthy to open the scroll—the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David.”  Sounds like Criswell, doesn’t it?  I think so, anyway.
  • Lion of the Tribe of Judah is a title that comes from the Prophesy of Jacob as he was dying about his sons.  We find that in Genesis 49:9-10 which says, “Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up.  He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him up?  The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”  For the record, Shiloh was the first place in the promised land where the Tabernacle of Meeting could be set up more permanently.  I am unclear of whether this speaks of Christ or the New Heavens and Earth, or perhaps both, but as of all things, it is the establishing of the permanent.
  • The Root of David comes from Isaiah 11:1-5.  “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.  And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.  Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist.”  There He is, our Lord Jesus Christ.  I mean, who else could it be?

It is so abundantly clear that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one that is worthy to take the scroll and open its seals that no real other discussion or proof is necessary if you have done your reading.  No other person in history has met these qualifications like He has.  And to have such powerful titles attributed to your name!  What a sight of incredible power that is.  And wait until John sees Him in our next thought unit!

6-7:  The Lion who is the Lamb is the Worthy One

There is something interesting here.  John has heard the majestic titles that the elder who spoke to him has given in reference to our “worthy One.”  And John looks to see Him in all the glory those titles inspire.  And He sees a Lamb, as if it were slain.  Let’s see for ourselves.

6:  And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.

  • Think about the big build-up.  Lion of Judah!  Root of David!  Then you see a sacrificial Lamb as if it had already been slain.  What a juxtaposition in views!  I am reminded of Rod Serling from The Twilight Zone when he said, “Not everything that meets the eye is as it appears.”  That would include those of us whom He has redeemed, but that is not this evening’s topic.  Yet Christ is ALL of these things.
  • That Lamb, who MUST be the Lord Jesus (John the Baptist called Him the “Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world”), is standing in the space between the throne of God including the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders.  Where did He come from?  Has He been there all along?  It doesn’t say.  Now THAT’S from the Twilight Zone!  He has seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the “seven Spirits of God,” which we learned was another way of referring to the Holy Spirit.  The eyes are all-seeing (He is also God) and He has all authority from the Father (represented by the horns).  He is the very picture of perfect power and wisdom. 
  • He stands as a Lamb that was slain.  This tells us that sacrifice cannot be equated with weakness.  It is instead an act of perfect love and strength.  Interestingly, it could mean that the wounds He received as a result of His perfect sacrifice on our behalf are still visible!  Ultimately it is a statement that although a lamb could be sacrificed in the Old Testament as a representation or type of forgiveness for the sins of a person, the Lamb of God, Jesus Himself, sacrificed Himself as a perfect atonement for all of His people to make them clean, redeeming them from sin, death, and hell, and a people for Himself.  He did this in cooperation with both God the Father and the Holy Spirit since all of the above are present for this occasion.  The Lamb is the central focus of all here who worship, and He begins to approach the throne.

7:  And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

  • Now think about this.  Who is sitting on that throne?  We determined that it was God the Father when we first saw Him in Chapter 4.  If the one who approached to take the scroll was NOT worthy, do you think that individual would have been allowed to usurp that authority?  I think not, and stronger beings than any of us have tried.  You don’t believe me?  Let’s look for a moment at Job 1.  We will pick this up in verse 6:  “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.’ The LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.’ Then Satan answered the LORD, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.’ Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.’ So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.”  Satan can do nothing if God does not allow him to do it.  Yes, he is the devil and the enemy of all mankind.  Yes, he is bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, meaner, and more dedicated to his job than we could ever be!  He is a great and terrible foe!  He is the DEVIL HIMSELF!  But he is still GOD’S devil.  He cannot do anything that God does not allow him to do.  Do you think that Satan would succeed in taking this scroll for himself?  I think not.  How do I know?  He has already tried.
  • I can understand that you may doubt this.  Look for a moment in your bibles at Isaiah 14, beginning in verse 12.  Keep your finger in Rev. 5, we are coming back to it.  “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn!  You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!  But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’  Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.  Those who see you will gaze at you, They will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
  • Who shook kingdoms, Who made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities, Who did not allow his prisoners to go home?'”  You see?  He has tried!  Tried and failed.  It should be no surprise, that a created being gone wrong against his own creator, and we should see the lesson in that.  He tried to take the place of God, and he could not attain it.  He was cast down then, and he will be cast down ultimately when God deems it time.
  • But this one was not only allowed access, He was allowed to approach the throne, He was allowed to extend His arm, and was allowed to grasp this prize, the living will of God concerning ownership of the universe. 

He made everything for the Father, and now the Father is giving it back to Him as a gift along with the people He foreknew, foreordained, called, justified, and glorified (see Rom. 8:29-30) for Him, and everything in creation that the Father wanted His Son to have with that to rule for the rest of time and beyond.  He has earned all of this by perfectly yielding to the Father’s will and overcoming sin by turning its own weapon of death against it.  He has earned His prize, and it is now being given to Him because He is worthy.  Hallelujah, what a saviour.  With that, our heavenly cantata resumes in our final thought unit of this portion of the text.

8-10:  Sing a New Song Unto the Lord!

I am reminded here of an old classic hymn.  It goes like this (and you can sing along if you know it):

Sing A New Song Unto The Lord;
Let Your Song Be Sung From Mountains High.
Sing A New Song Unto The Lord, Singing Alleluia.

Yahweh’s People Dance For Joy.
O Come Before The Lord,
And Play For Him On Glad Tambourines,
And Let Your Trumpet Sound.

Rise, O Children, From Your Sleep;
Your Saviour Now Has Come.
He Has Turned Your Sorrow To Joy
And Filled Your Soul With Song.

I start with this hymn of praise because that is what everyone will do in this thought unit:  worship the Lord with songs that magnify His name.  Let’s get into the text and you’ll see.

8:  When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

  • When He had taken the book (scroll).  Who is He?  We’ve just been talking about Him, I know, but it is critical that we do not lose focus on who we are speaking about.  “He” here is speaking of the Lamb that was slain, the one that took the scroll from the Hand of God the Father Himself.  And at the action of taking the scroll, worship resulted in heaven.  And look at how they worshipped!
  • First, the four living creatures fall down on their faces before the Lamb.  Full stop.  Waitaminit!  Whoa Ponies!  WHO did they fall on their faces for?  NOT God the Father!  They fell on their faces before the LAMB!!!  Beloved, this is a critical point to make, because it is really the whole of the story!  These highest of created beings fell down on their faces to worship the LAMB!  God the Son!  The God-Man, Jesus, the Christ of God!  HE!  IS!  GOD!   Again, Isaiah says (twice!), “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.” (42:8).  Also see Isaiah 48:11, “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned?  And My glory I will not give to another.”  If the Father will not share His glory with another, then the Lamb must be God!  Sorry, Charlie (Taze Russell, founder of the false cult of the Jehovah’s Witnesses), the Man Jesus is also the God Yahweh!  He is Yahweh Yeshuah!  Jehovah Jesus!  So did the elders, who represent as we have said before, the glorified church in heaven.
  • Now each living creature and each elder is holding a harp and golden bowls of incense, which John tells us in his own metaphorical language, are the prayers of the saints.  What does this tell us about worship?  First, it is to be done in humility, or I suspect the prone position would not have been used.  Second, it is to be centered on Christ, and NOTHING ELSE!  Sometimes we can get flat tires about this doctrine of that practice.  I don’t know if that is worship.  Worship is doing things, saying things, or praying things because Jesus is who He is and because of what He has done for us.  A harp is a stringed instrument!  Music is a means to do this!  Golden bowls of incense represent prayers.  These things are placed in a fine container, meaning we should be as eloquent in our address to the King as we can possibly be (realizing that some have a natural gift for eloquence and it is absolutely fine if you don’t!)!  Those bowls should be full of fragrant things to be burned (consumed) by the fire of God on the Altar of Heaven, if you’ll forgive my own metaphor here.  And look at who is involved!  All of heaven’s residents are glorifying God the Lamb, God the Son, Jesus, the Christ of God, His Anointed One that redeems His people for eternity!  And worship should be everything we say, do, and even think!

9:  And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

  • And they sang!  This is how we can know that music is from God Himself.  Everyone knows how to do it!  And the subject matter for followers of Christ should glorify Christ as this song does!  Here, they are proclaiming the worthiness of our Lord to take the scroll!  We’ve already considered the one who has tried and failed.  He will take it at God’s prompting and begin breaking its seals, which we will start considering in Chapter 6. What else does it say?  It sounds like a resume for the Redeemer!  He was slain!  Indeed!  He died in our place on that cross!  In that sacrifice, He purchased us all for God!  Men and women from every tribe and tongue and people and nation!  Hallelujah, what a Saviour!  But there is a small and temporary problem for us with that song.
  • This is an impossible song to sing right now.  How do I know?  It says that it will be a NEW song!  But I looked up a few that are written with this verse in mind.  There were over a hundred!  This is the one I chose (sing if you know it):

Thou art worthy,

Thou art worthy,

Thou art worthy, O Lord,

To receive glory,

Glory and honor,

Glory and honor and pow’r

For Thou hast created,

hast all things created,

Thou hast created all things;

And for Thy pleasure

they are created –

Thou art worthy, O Lord.

10:  “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

  • There is an interesting thing with this verse.  I usually read consistently from the New American Standard 1995 translation and teach from the same, as everyone here knows.  I am not a believer in reading a bunch of translations and then choosing the one that best fits the meaning I am trying to express because that easily leads to something we call eisegesis, or reading into the text, when the job of the preacher is exegesis, the reading out of the text, the exact opposite of eisegesis.  This brings a question to my mind, however.  Who are “them” and  “they” here?  Here, I would turn to the Puritan Reformer Matthew Henry for his commentary on this passage.  He said, “He has not only purchased liberty for them, but the highest honor and preferment; he made them kings and priests; kings, to rule over their own spirits, and to overcome the world, and the evil one; and he makes them priests; giving them access to himself, and liberty to offer up spiritual sacrifices.”  Who are they and them?  From the context of the Greek, it seems to be the men that have been purchased by Christ for God of the men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation!   Beloved, that is US!  In fact, the KJV translated that properly!  “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”  I typically do not use the KJV, although it is a good translation and I like it, because I vehemently disagree with the KJVO crowd.  It’s one of the reasons that I’m learning Koine Greek (and longer term, Hebrew).  That way I can just see what it says.  I looked through the 33 translations or so I have, and it seems like it’s about 50/50 for us or them.  But in context, if “they” are the men purchased in the previous verse, it is referring to us, and that means it doesn’t matter!
  • We will be a kingdom.  We will be the object of the rule, the subjects of the King of all kings.  We will be priests to our God, speaking for God and speaking to God at His request.  We will reign on the earth.  What will we rule over you ask?  Easy.  Whatever God puts us in charge of.  Until we get there, we don’t need to know, and that’s fine with me.  The important thing is to be THERE.

This is the very beginning moment that the Lord God takes His great power and begins to reign upon the earth.  It will be done by the will of God the Father, by the actions of God the Son, through the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.  If I understand this correctly, we will be there to see it happen, and nothing would be better than that, because it means we will watch what is about to happen to the earth from what Chuck Missler calls “the mezzanine level.”  We won’t be here, we will be there.  If I don’t understand this properly, that’s okay, the Lord will guide our understanding of what we need to know.

You see, the important thing isn’t WHEN these things will occur, it is that we are ready when they begin to occur.  That is only possible as we walk daily in the same way in which we began our journey with Christ: in repentance and faith.  We are all horrible sinners.  Some of us already know that.  Sin is a violation of God’s holy standard for life and being.  You may have heard us talk about some of those basic commandments, you shall not kill, steal, lie, curse, lust, like that (and that’s only half of them).  Our biggest problem is that we ALL do that stuff.  That makes us sinners, and because God is holy, He MUST judge us, that is, His justice must be expressed, and this study’s text is where this will start on earth in finality.  He will bring everyone on earth to Himself to make a choice for themselves.  You will either choose Him or you will not.  Those who do will see their sin, and be sorry for their behaviour (not just because they got caught).  They will seek to turn from it.  If that’s you, you should realize that the wages of sin is death.  It is wages.  It is what you earn for yourself.  It is your payment from God for your sinful life.  If you will believe that Jesus paid the fine for you, that He died in your place on the cross for you, and believe the proof of that dead (that He rose from the dead having paid in full for your sins), you will enter into life with him forever.  Isn’t that worth any price?

And that’s what I saw in the chapter.

Next time we will be in Rev. 5:11-14 for the last two movements of our heavenly cantata.  Don’t miss it!

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