Revelation 5:1-15 Part 1


1)    And I did see a scroll on the right of the One sitting on the throne

2)    having been written front and back having been sealed with seven seals.

3)    And I did see a mighty messenger announcing in a great sound, “who worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?”

4)    And no one in the heaven or upon the earth or under the earth was enabled to open the scroll or to see it.

5)    And I was weeping greatly because no one worthy had been found to open the scroll or to see it.

6)    And one of the elders says to me, “don’t be weeping!  Lo!  The Lion from the Judah tribe, the David Root, did overcome to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

7)    And in midst of the throne and of the four creatures and in midst of the elders I did see a lamb standing as slain, having seven horns and seven eyes which are the Spirits of God sending forth into all the earth.

8)    And He did come and He takes from the right of the One sitting upon the throne.

9)    And when He did take the scroll, the four creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each having a lyre and golden bowls filling with incense which are the prayers of the holy ones,

10) and singing new songs, saying “worthy are You to take the scroll and open its seals, for You were slain, and You did buy for God in Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

11) And You did make them a kingdom, and priests for our God, and they will reign upon the earth.

12) And I did see and hear a sound of many angels and the creatures and the elders around the throne, and was the number of them myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands

13) saying in a great sound, “worthy is the Lamb, the One slain, to receive the power and abundance and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise.

14) And every creature which is in the heaven, upon the earth and under the earth, and upon the sea, and all things in them I heard saying, “the praise and the honor and the glory and the might into the ages of the ages to the One sitting upon the throne and to the Lamb”.

15) And the four creatures kept on saying “Amen”!  And the elders fell down and paid homage.


In Jeremiah 32, verse 17, we read this:


“Ah, Lord Yahveh, behold You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm.  There is nothing too hard for You”.


The Word of Jeremiah here is that because God – Father, Son and Spirit – is Creator, HE can do whatsoever He wishes.  Nothing is too hard, and all His Will will be realized. 

In Revelation chapter four, you remember that we saw John was caught up into the heaven.  And when he looked he saw a throne that was set there – a throne that was established in the heaven – a bow around it, emerald in appearance.

And the one that was upon the throne, His appearance in the likeness of a man, Who was once dead – but is “living into the ages of the ages”, and sitting in appearance as jasper and sardonyx stone.  And there was lightning and sounds and thunders proceeding from that throne.

And seven torches of fire which are the seven spirits of God burned before the throne.  And there was a sea of glass like unto crystal under the throne as well.

And now four living creatures “in and round about” the throne – four creatures which are cherubim.  They are entirely of eyes, they have six wings, each one of them, and they had faces like unto a lion, a calf, a man and an eagle as John tells us.  Okay, so we have the throne, we have the seven spirits (the seven torches before the throne), the crystal sea underneath, we have four cherubim in and round about the throne.

And John sees twenty-four elders around the throne as well – twenty-four elders arranged on twenty-four thrones wearing white garments and bearing golden crowns.  And messenger/angels numbered in the myriads of myriads of the Glory Cloud… all of this being the Archetype from which the entire creation is patterned, or made in its likeness. 

Okay, so that’s the setting.  You have to have that in mind, you have to be keeping all of that in your minds, and thinking through all of what’s been learned in the last twelve weeks, in order to come to chapter five and to understand what’s to be revealed here.

There is something going on in the heaven as John looks, and as he records it all for us.  First of all you have these four living beings, these four cherubim, continually saying “Holy holy holy Kurios The God The Almighty, the Was, and the IS, and the Coming.”  Now when the four living creatures do this, they are met in response by the twenty-four elder-creatures who then prostrate themselves before the throne, cast their crowns before the throne saying, “worthy are You, the Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power; for You, You did create all, and by Your will they are, and they were created”.

So if you will, the very center of chapter four can be said to be the sovereignty of God in all that He has created.  We begin with the throne of His sovereign rule and dominion over all.  It is the throne of judgment and redemption; it is the throne of rule and dominion. And the language of the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders centers around the glory of God in His sovereign creation of all things and His rule over every detail of His creation.  Worthy art thou, our Lord our God to receive the glory and the honor and the power. You did create all; You do rule all; it is all in Your likeness; It all IS because You will it so.

And because of all that You have created, no one is exempted from perceiving and acknowledging the power and glory and divinity of Almighty God – Father, Son, Spirit – from all that You have created; for it all is in the “likeness” of the throne-room/judgment seat of God in the heaven.  Therefore His power and divinity are clearly seen in all that he has made.

Your perception of what John sees in the heaven here has to be without the “five” at the top of your translation.  You just can’t have that “five” there in your mind, because if you limit yourself with the chapters and verses, you won’t get this right.  The way to view this is that we’re just going to the next sentence in John’s description of what he saw and heard at the throne in the heaven.

And with that “cast in bronze” in your heads, Autotheos – Father Himself God, Word Himself God, and Spirit Himself God – from the throne of dominion and rule in the heaven, HE created all, and they are, and they were created.  And He providentially causes all things to BE.

And Word – Himself God – became flesh, the eternally begotten Son, the Lamb Slain before the foundation of the cosmos.  Having Himself paid, with His Own blood, for the sin of the world, He then bodily entered into the heaven and was glorified and enthroned as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, before Whom all the creatures prostrate themselves and cast their crowns.

And now Autotheos – Himself God – rules all things from the throne of judgment and redemption, all enemies under His feet (since the earth is His footstool), judging His enemies and redeeming His elect.

Wise men, tribal leaders and judges of Israel who did not rule by His Law-word, priests of Israel who led the people into idolatry, and princes of Israel who did not cast their crowns before His feet, will all be cut off from His covenant, His elect being preserved and removed from harm before the last day.  And then in all the nations of the earth the leaders, priests and kings of the earth will bow before Him as Prophet, Priest and King, ruling from the “seat” of dominion until the whole earth is full of His glory!  For the earth will then know and acknowledge that all is in the likeness of that which is in the heaven to the glory of God, all being paid for and redeemed by the Word made flesh!

John looks, and he sees the One – Himself God – upon His throne; and there is a scroll to His right, having been written front and back having been sealed with seven seals.

And let me tell you that this scroll – this book (as the Greek word “biblios” here implies) has been commented on in ways that can only be defined as imaginative, fictional and bizarre.  At best they are inventive; and at worst absurd.  And, once again, as we’ve seen in the past, folks just “make up something” that seems like it might be likely.  Or it “feels like” their made-up scenario could excite people since it’s obscure and mystical!  People like mystery!  It gets them all charged up.  And they give money and buy stuff.

But this “book” (as the Greek has it) – a “scroll” (if you will), since books were rolled up rather than having covers and pages, (this book) is NOT a mystery.  Not any more, anyway, because it’s opened up here in the Revelation.  It’s not fictional; it’s not bizarre, and it’s not absurd!  It is prophecy.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself God, having assumed His authority over the heavens and the earth, appears to John in all His Glory; and He revealed all that was “necessary to be done in quickness”.  Blessed the one reading and the ones hearing the words of the prophecy and keeping things having been written in it, “for the time is near”.

John is called up into the heaven and sees the throne and all of the creatures worshipping the One Who created all, and Who providentially rules it all.  And the next thing He sees is a prophetic book!  A scroll.  And the issue to be ascertained immediately is, “why right now”?  And the totally obvious answer is, “because John is to be shown the things that are necessary to be done in quickness, and the time is near!!!

And the next issue to be determined is, why wasn’t it revealed before?  And, again, the answer is, because it wasn’t the time!  Then, the next question would be, when was this book written and sealed for the time that was right for it to be opened!

And to answer that question I have to read for you the time and place it was written, what it contained, and the reason it was sealed.  Listen carefully, since this is a little more lengthy than what we normally read; and don’t miss anything.  It’s all important.

First, our Lord’s Revelations to the prophet Daniel had reached a point, in Daniel chapter seven, when Daniel sees the four great beasts of the sea who had been raised up through the agency of the cherubim.  It is the vision of the overview of the four great world-wide, civilization changing, tyrannical kingdoms of history.  Daniel was in captivity in Babylon – the first great beast!  And at the end of the overview we read this:


9)    As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat.  His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool.  His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.

10) A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him.  Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.  The court was seated, and the books were opened.”


Now, as Daniel continues to receive Revelation from God in the chapters following, his visions become more detailed regarding the things that were to happen.  Chapter eight contains more of the details about the last days, and it ends like this:


26) The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.


The next chapters of Daniel reveal in much greater detail the things to take place, including the total destruction of Israel, Jerusalem and the temple by the fourth great beast, all culminating in the vision of the throne with the book being opened.

Then in the last chapter, chapter twelve, we read this:


1)    And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

2)    And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

3)    And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

4)    But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.


Later there in chapter twelve, Daniel, struggling greatly with all that he had seen and heard – especially the annihilation of God’s covenant nation, and praying for its repentance and God’s mercy, and hearing that the Prince will save His elect out of Israel before it is destroyed, pushes for more information regarding these last days.  But here is the Revelation given to him:


9)    And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.


So, this “book” – a scroll – was “sealed” until the “end”.  And while the apostle John watches, here in our text in the Revelation, it is unsealed to reveal “that which is necessary to be done in quickness”.

Now, this scroll, or book, appears one more time in the older Scripture… in Ezekiel.  Remember, recently I said that we would be going back to the older Scripture many times on our way through the Revelation.  But especially would we be going to the prophecy of Ezekiel; for these two Revelations are very similar in nature.

What I’m about to read for you comes from the second chapter, which comes right after Ezekiel’s vision of the throne in the heaven (chapter one).  And the description of the throne, and the One above it in the likeness of a Man, is almost identical to John’s description of the throne; and the One Who speaks to Ezekiel is almost identical to the One Who speaks to John in chapter one!

Right after this passage in chapter two that I’m about to read, Ezekiel, by Holy Spirit, is caused to see the wickedness, rebellion and idolatry of Israel’s tribal leaders, Israel’s priesthood, and Israel’s princes.  He is also enabled to see the appalling and hideous condition of the temple and its macabre and graphic display of everything that is profane and reprehensible.

And he is, at the specific direction of God the Spirit, to prophecy the lamentations and mourning, and pronounce the woes which will befall the rebellious nation with which God has covenanted.

Here it is, from Ezekiel chapter two:


3)    And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day.

4)    For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD.

5)    And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.

6)    And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.

7)    And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious.

8)    But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.

9)    And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book (a scroll) was therein;

10) And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without (that’s back and front): and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.


Now.  Both of these prophecies have to do with judgment and redemption.  Both of these prophets are visited from the heaven; and both have a view of the heaven almost identical to John’s.  Both of these prophecies have to do with the horrific end, the termination, of the nation of God’s covenant.  Both of these prophecies have to do with the rescue of many from Israel before its final destruction.  Both of these prophecies have to do with a Kingdom of Priests from every nation, as redemption flows like a river into the Gentile nations.  And both of these prophecies have to do with a Savior/Prophet/Priest/King, and a new city, and a new temple in which God is worshipped in spirit and in truth.

And all three of these Revelations, Daniel, Ezekiel and John, have a scroll – a book.  Ezekiel’s scroll is eaten – internalized – for, in the prophecy of Daniel it has been sealed until the time of the end.

But here in John’s Revelation, it IS the time of the end, for, as John says, that time is near.  It’s time for the book to be opened, and for “that which is necessary to be done in quickness” to take place.

And the scroll has written upon it all the things that Daniel saw that troubled him.  It has written upon it all that Ezekiel prophesied regarding the judgment of Israel and the promise of a New Kingdom, and the redemption of the world.  And it had the names of God’s elect – rescued from Israel and sent into the nations in advance of the horrors to come.  All of this right in the text of Scripture… and banishing, purging, eliminating any need for commentators and evangelists and preachers to make up something that sounds good – or seems mysterious.

Now.  Before we come to the Table this morning, and before we continue with this text next Lord’s Day, I want to spend just a few minutes on the subject of “Covenant”.  On previous occasions in which we’ve dealt with the covenant, we’ve taken note that the entirety of God’s Revelation is covenantal.

Systematic theology may begin its quest for understanding in a number of other places; but covenant theology is that study which emphasizes the Creator – Father, Son, Spirit – and His covenant with His creation!

And, therefore, we shouldn’t expect that John’s Revelation – the “capstone” of the written Word – to be any different.  So, once we come to this text (as we have said in several of the former sermons) (once we come to this text) in Revelation, with a view to its place in the covenant of our Creator God with His creation, the more apt we will be in appropriating what God has revealed with regard to His covenant!

And one of the keys (one of them) to opening it all up for us is the scroll at the right of the One on the throne.  As you see in our first verse, it is written front and back.  And the scroll that Ezekiel was given to eat was also written front and back.

Covenantal documents, treaties and promises were written front and back through Biblical history.  And the treaties made between kings and nations followed suit as the “pattern” of the Archetype.

Now, in that light, let me read for you from Exodus chapter thirty-two, which has to do with God’s anger at Israel, just after the Exodus, as Israel made a golden calf by which they might worship God better!  Listen carefully:


7)    And Yahveh spake unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, that thou broughtest up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:

8)    they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed unto it, and said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

9)    And Yahveh said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

10) now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

11) And Moses besought Yahveh his God, and said, Yahveh, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, that thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?

12) Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, saying, For evil did he bring them forth, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn (now) from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

13) Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

14) And Yahveh turned from the evil which he said he would do unto his people.

15) And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand; tables that were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.

16) And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.


These are the tables to be placed in the Ark, which was called “the ark of the covenant”.  And they were written on both sides, front and back!  As Meredith Kline explains, the documents, written on stone, were a witness to Israel, and a witness against Israel, reminding of obligations sworn to and rebuking for obligations violated, declaring the hope of covenant blessings and pronouncing the doom of the covenant curses.  And they were placed in the ark, which was the likeness of the throne of God in the heaven!

The covenantal Law-word of God, written front and back, was the document establishing God’s covenant with His people.  So it’s no wonder that the scroll, written front and back, is obviously a covenantal document, prophesied by Daniel and by Ezekiel, sealed and only to be opened in the last days.  It is a document of doom for an idolatrous and wicked people, and it is the document of the New Covenant in the resurrected, ascended and enthroned Jesus Christ – Himself God!

It is the new covenant – not a totally different one, but a new one of the same kind. And as John sees it opened, through the chapters of the Revelation, he will see the curses of the Old Covenant fulfilled on the idolatrous and adulterous people.  The prophets were the prosecuting attorneys, and God the Son- God-man – is the Judge and Executor of the lawsuit Who carries out the punishment.  This is the throne of judgment.

And we will then see the King of Kings extend the covenant to a new people in all the nations of the earth.  This scroll, you see, is nothing less than the covenantal testament of the resurrected, ascended, glorified and enthroned Jesus Christ Who has received all the nations as His inheritance.  It is the inception of the New Covenant.  And this is the throne of redemption.