So I wept much because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, nor to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth,”
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
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, I heard saying:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and forever. (NKJV)
As I read over this chapter gathering thoughts about it, chills ran up and down my spine as I contemplated the grandeur and majesty of this “worship service.” I’m afraid ours pale in comparison with it.
But something else, first.
In the earlier part of the chapter, John had “wept much” because no one was worthy to take the scroll from the hand of the One on the throne and open it. No one deserved even to look at it, let alone read it!
But one of the elders said, “Wait. There is One.
“Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seals,” v. 5.
“The Lion of the tribe of Judah.” This takes us back to Jacob’s dying declaration to his sons in Genesis 49:9, 10, where he says,
“Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes:
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.”
“The Root of David.”
This takes us back to Isaiah 11:1, 10:
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots….
And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.
The rest of Isaiah 11 is wonderful and its thoughts are continued in ch. 12. You should read them, though, for now, we’re only interested in the two verses.
Surely the elder talking to John portrays a mighty warrior, a prince among his people. So John turns to see this person, and he sees –
That most inoffensive and defenseless of creatures – a lamb.
True, the symbols of “horns” and “eyes” speak of strength and knowledge, but, still, a lamb.
But that’s not all. John saw –
A Lamb as though it had been slain.
“As though” –
Not dead, alive, though bearing the marks of death.
And the elder has one more thing to say about this Lamb: He has prevailed to open the book and to loose its seven seals,” v. 5.
You see, there is where it all starts, if you and I aren’t just simply to be condemned to hell because of our sins.
It isn’t enough just to have the Jesus of much of modern thought, or of other religions, or even much of what calls itself Christianity. He wasn’t just a prophet or teacher, though He was that. He wasn’t just a good example, because that would do us no good. We could never follow His example. And, contrary to some skepticism and unbelief, He did exist. He’s not just a figment of some misguided imagination. And He’s not just our buddy.
Scripture says that He came to be a Savior. The angel told Joseph, “He shall save His people from their sins,” Matthew 1:21. Now it’s true that the angel said to His mother that He “will reign over the house of Jacob forever,” Luke 1:33, but that “house” itself needs to be saved from sin. The Cross had to come first. He had to be the slain Lamb before He could be the sovereign Lord.
Without His death, there would be no salvation, no blessing, no grace.
But He didn’t just die; He “prevailed.”
He rose from the dead, evidence, to us, that God accepted His death as the payment for sin. Without the Resurrection, we’d have no way of knowing if His death was any different than the others who died with Him that day. He ascended into Heaven, to sit at the right hand of the Majesty on high, waiting for the fulfillment of the promises the Father made to Him.
Without that, a lot of the rest of the chapter wouldn’t be possible.
This brings us to the “chills”.
I love good music. Handel’s Messiah. The 1812 Overture. Music like that, that doesn’t require an amplifier to be effective. And that actually is music, and not just an assortment of notes accompanied by theatrics. Those crescendos up to the climax…. I love them.
Read the chapter over again. That crescendo of praise and worship.
The living creatures and the twenty-four elders, v. 8.
The voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, v. 11.
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, v. 13.
The whole of creation raises its voice in a crescendo of praise to its Creator and Redeemer, for even creation itself will be redeemed from the curse brought on it by our first parents, Romans 8:21. How much more, then, ought you and I, who have been released from the bondage and curse of sin, raise our voices in praise to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and forever.