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Revelation Five

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Revelation 5:1 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.

book. The “book” (Greek biblion) was not a book in the modern sense, but rather a “scroll” or “writing.” The same word is used in Matthew 19:7, “a writing of divorcement.” The word was derived originally from the name for the leaf of the papyrus plant, from which the paper used in antiquity was made. In this case, the writing was the scroll containing the title deed, not just to a parcel of land, but to the entire earth and all its inhabitants. In accordance with ancient legal custom, the deed was inscribed in full on the inside of the scroll, with enough information on its backside to indicate the land involved and the rightful owner who had purchased it. It was then sealed and deposited somewhere for preservation and record, and could only be opened by the owner when he arrived to take possession (see Jeremiah 25:11; 32:10-15 for an illustration of this principle).

Since the ultimate owner of the earth is its Creator (Psalm 24:1), only He has the right to deed it to anyone, and He did give Adam dominion over it (Genesis 1:26-28). Satan, however, usurped that dominion when Adam sinned and died, and now, “the whole world lieth in [the wicked one]” (xTerm 5:19). Nevertheless, the Creator is still the owner, and has retained the record of ownership in His own possession.

The Creator did deed a portion of the earth to each family of the children of Israel, commanding that: “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine” (Leviticus 25:23). If any portion of the land was sold, however, it could always be purchased back—that is, “redeemed”—by any kinsman of the owner (Leviticus 25:25). The same principle of redemption by a kinsman applied also to individuals who had become bondservants (Leviticus 25:47-55). All such arrangements and transactions were actually types of the great transaction by which the Creator of the world would also become its Redeemer, paying the necessary price to purge it not only of sin but also of the evil usurper who has been “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) ever since Adam sinned.

Revelation 5:2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

worthy. The Redeemer of the lost world must be a kinsman, that is, a man, not an angel or demon; but He must also be God, who is its true owner. He cannot be an ordinary man, for the world is lost precisely because of man's sinful condition, and “there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12). He must be both God and sinless man, to “take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) and to reclaim it for Himself.

Revelation 5:3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

Revelation 5:4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

Revelation 5:5 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.

elders. One can suppose that this particular “elder” might be Judah himself, who was John's forebear, as well as that of the line of the Messiah, and who heard Jacob's ancient prophecy: “Judah is a lion's whelp …. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, … until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:9-10). Shiloh (a name for the Messiah, the Prince of peace) had come, and the sceptre finally had departed from Judah. Now all God's people had been gathered together at His throne. Christ was not only the son of David, but also, as his Creator, the Root of David, and of David's forebear Judah. He had “prevailed” (or, literally, “overcome”), and could unseal the title scroll and take possession of the world once again. He finally had “come whose right it is” (Ezekiel 21:27). He had come “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing [i.e., prevailing] over them in it.” (Colossians 2:14-15). The “handwriting against us,” with which Satan's evil “principalities and powers” were alleging that we had no claim on the world and that it now belonged to them, has been nailed to the cross of the Lamb of God, who paid the redemption price with His own innocent blood and who has now “despoiled” Satan of all his fraudulent claims.

Revelation 5:6 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.

Lamb. Instead of a conquering Lion, John sees a Lamb before the throne about to receive the scroll with the title deed. The Lamb obviously had been slain, shedding His precious blood as the price of redemption, and yet it “stood,” alive again after death. He was the “Lamb without blemish and without spot … foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:19-20). The “seven eyes” speak of omniscience (Zechariah 3:9; 4:10). The “seven horns” represent omnipotence (Joshua 6:4-5, “the seven trumpets of ram's horns”). The seven-fold Holy Spirit expresses omnipresence (Revelation 1:4).

Revelation 5:7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

right hand of him. This is the same scene, from a different perspective, that Daniel saw in his vision (Daniel 7:13-14), in which the Son of Man comes before the Ancient of Days to receive dominion over the earth.

Revelation 5:8 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.

prayers of saints. Finally, all the Christ-honoring prayers of believers for ultimate victory and God's kingdom to come will be answered.

Revelation 5:9 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;

redeemed. The redemption price (Ephesians 1:7) was paid long ago on the cross, but the work of redemption will only be complete when Satan is cast out and Christ takes full possession of His inheritance. See Luke 21:28; Romans 8:22-23; Ephesians 1:13-14; Psalm 2:5-9.

nation. Christ said that “the gospel must first be published among all nations” (Mark 13:10), for He does have His elect in every ethnic and linguistic group. They will all be gathered before His throne following the rapture, singing the great song of redemption, as well as that of creation (Revelation 4:11).

Revelation 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

kings and priests. Three times in Revelation (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), it is said that believers of this age will reign and minister with Christ as “kings and priests” in the coming age.

on the earth. “On the earth” is probably better rendered “over the earth.” The New Jerusalem will not descend to the earth until after the millennial age (Revelation 20:6; 21:2).

Revelation 5:11 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;

number of them. “Thousands” is myriads in Greek. This number is not given for quantitative calculation, but simply to stress that the angelic host, while finite (a third of them followed Satan—Revelation 12:4) is still so great as to be “innumerable” (Hebrews 12:22).

Revelation 5:12 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.

Revelation 5:13 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.

all that are in them. This incredible chorus of praise may well be heard throughout the universe, even by those still on earth. The last five Psalms (Psalms 146-150) all begin and end with “Praise ye the Lord” [i.e., “Hallelujah”], and they reflect the spirit of the four praise choruses here at the throne (Revelation 4:11; 5:9, 12-13). Perhaps these psalms will actually be sung there.

Revelation 5:14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.