(Revelation 5:1-10 )
1Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.
There is a reason the book of Revelation means very little to us. With it’s vivid imagery and striking symbolism we typically leave it up to the prophecy experts and theological doctorates to debate the book’s mysterious meaning. But before we believe this controversial book has anything to do with Kirk Cameron, a European antiChrist, or a pretrib/posttrib debate we better go back to the first verse:
“The revelation of Jesus Christ….” (Revelation 1:1)
Paul displays why we miss the blatant significance of the gospel in his letter to the Corinthian church:
4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.(2 Cor 4:4, 6)
We know very little of the far-reaching negative implications of our sin nature. Scripture says we are morally twisted creatures, depraved and sinful to our heart’s core (Romans 3:21-26). But this means that we’re not just bad, we’re blind.
We’re blind to the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
You can be involved in church activities and ministry leadership and still have no revelation of the glory God in the face of Jesus Christ. Fortunately, many Scriptures lift up the veil in spectacular ways for a moment for us: Isaiah 6, Hebrews 1, John 1, Ezekiel 1. After Ezekiel has his vision of God’s disturbing holiness, the prophet is in a trance for a week! On the surface, it seems these are the babblings of mad men; they search for words as best they can pressing the language with all their mental might.
John, the exiled revelator was one of those blessed mad men.
In Revelation 5:1 of John’s vision we are introduced to The King holding the Scrolls-The scrolls were probably similar to a Roman will or contract deed. The scrolls intimate the God’s purposes for human history: The King’s divine decrees from start to finish.
God is a sovereign King and He is in absolute control. From Creation to the fall, from the death of Christ to the return of Christ, it all fits into his mighty right hand. Earthquakes, terrorist attacks, personal tragedies and even a sparrow falling to the ground. God knows, and sees, and has some purpose for letting it all come to pass.
Notice John only sees the throne and the right hand of the one holding the scroll. God’s face can never be seen in its unadulterated light. One of the most shocking testimonies to God’s unapproachable holiness is the fact that the godly men who knew it best could never even begin to describe it. No man may see His face and live.
In v.2-3 an angel asks a provocative question:
“Who is worthy to open the scroll?
The scroll is sealed with seven seals, the symbol of perfection which suggests they could not be opened by just any candidate. This question is posited by a particularly Strong angel (Michael maybe?) This question begs the question: Why doesn’t Michael or one of the blazing seraphim open it? They can’t.
Furthermore, why doesn’t the holy King on the throne open it? He needs a mediator (1Tim2:5-6). The only thing God could do to us apart from a worthy mediator is destroy us. One holy man must open it, otherwise every name would be blotted out of history in the King’s just judgment.
In Verse 4 John comes undone. There really was no one present that could make right the tragedy that is human history. No mighty angel in heaven, no charismatic leader on earth.
But we need not weep with John just yet.
The most prominent figure of the passage hasn’t been injected into the stirring scene. We know the end of the story. But let John’s grief make it clear, a Christless heaven is only a prospect to be mourned. The future is hopeless apart from a perfect substitute taking our wrath; that’s why John is a torn man. Only Christ is worthy to unwrap the climactic events of the last days, and every day for that matter.
What John observes next is a shocking illustration of God’s character and glory. It leaves the apostle shaken and stirred; God willing, it may brand us in the same way.