Revelation 5

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs.

Revelation 5

The scroll and the Lamb
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?’ 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’

6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

‘You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.’

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honour and glory and praise!’

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honour and glory and power,
for ever and ever!’

14 The four living creatures said, ‘Amen’, and the elders fell down and worshipped.


John’s vision of the heavenly throne room continues into chapter 5. If chapter 4 was a vision of worship of God the creator, chapter 5 is a vision of worship of Jesus Christ his Son.

The story of the Bible is one of God rescuing his creation - the pinnacle of that being - you and me - humanity. There is a divine plan to end all suffering, stamp out all evil, and restore everything. John now sees at the right hand of the one on the throne a scroll with seven seals (1). This scroll contains the entire authentic and unaltered plan of God’s judgement and redemption.

But who can open the scroll? Who is worthy? Well, no one, so it seems. This reality brings John to tears. He weeps like Old Testament prophets bringing their raw lament at the injustice before them. Does this mean that we will never see an end to the violence and suffering and death all around us? Will things never change? Will we know anything more, will we know freedom from corruption? The thought is enough to make any of us despair.

But he doesn’t grieve for long because one of the elders says “do not weep” because the Lion of Judah (Genesis 49:9-10), the Root of David who was prophesied to execute perfect justice (Isaiah 11:1-11) (5) has come and can open the scroll.

Instead of seeing the Lion, John sees a slain Lamb. (6)

This is the big twist of Revelation. Jesus who has all the violent power of a roaring lion overcomes evil as a slaughtered lamb. Jesus the victor, the lion in all his ultimate power and royalty has defeated every power of evil with gentle vulnerability and ultimate weakness.

Evil has no answer to perfect love. As tempting as it is to respond to violence with more violence, this always ends up producing more. But Jesus announces that he will stop it, he will overcome it and absorb every hurt and evil in himself. The messianic King has conquered through sacrifice and not by force. Jesus overcame his enemies at the cross by dying for them. Because of the resurrection his death was not a defeat but a victory over evil.

Quite naturally following this scene more worship follows, a new song to the Lord celebrating his saving work, declaring that Jesus the lamb is worthy (answering John’s anguished cries in verse 2).

One day every creature will acclaim and worship the Lord Jesus. Let us be in step with this future reality and worship the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And may we also overcome evil with lives of love.

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