Revelation 5:1-15 Part 3

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.


Let’s just spend a little bit of time recapping where we’ve been; and then an even smaller bit looking at where we’re going.  I think the perspective will help….  I’m still hearing a lot of questions; and I’m seeing some blank stares – especially about the scroll being the events of the covenant being opened in the fullness of the time.

First we read that John was about to be shown the things that were necessary to be done in quickness, for the time was near.  That’s at the beginning of chapter one.  And then John says, “Lo, He is coming with the cloud (the glory cloud).”  Not only did the risen Savior ascend (come) into the clouds of the heaven to receive His glory, and a Kingdom, and all authority, but all the tribes of Israel would “see” Him coming with the Glory Cloud in His Parousia.

Then John sees the God-man as the glorious High Priest of His Church, with the trumpet voice and a sword coming forth from His mouth, an appearance to John which connects and unites many events and prophecies of the older Scripture – the Glory Cloud, the Day of the Lord (the appearance being almost exactly the same as the appearance to the prophet Daniel), the Angel of the Lord, the Creator and Sovereign Ruler of all, the Son of Man/Second Adam, the Conqueror of the nations, and the Sole Possessor of His Church – all of which are concerned with the coming of the New Covenant.

That encounter with the risen and enthroned Jesus Christ (chapter one) is followed then by the messages to the seven Churches, which are styled as a recounting of the covenant blessings for obedience and the covenant curses for disobedience.

Then, in chapter four, John is called into the heaven where he sees the throne and its cherubim, surrounded by the elder-creatures, and One in the likeness of a Man above the throne.  All the creatures were praising and glorifying the One on the throne to the accompaniment of intense and profound thunderings and sounds and lightnings emanating from the throne, reminiscent of Sinai when God Himself gave Moses the Law of the Covenant for His newly constituted covenant nation – His new “heaven and earth”.

And we should not be at all surprised, in the midst of all of this incredible and resplendent covenant spectacle, to read that John saw, at the right of the One on His throne, the scroll that Daniel was told would be sealed up until the last day.  That scroll was nothing less than the covenantal events that were necessary to be done in quickness, for – now – the time was near!  That legal, covenant document was sealed in Daniel’s time, for it was for the distant future.  But now it was to be opened, for the events in it were to be done quickly.  It was time!  It was nothing more and nothing less than the inauguration of the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ, Who arose out of death/hades, and took His seat in the heaven with all authority in heaven and on earth.  And He is the Executor of that covenant document.  He is that Word made flesh!

The coming of the New Covenant in Christ Jesus explicitly requires the termination of the old one and the judgment of the idolatrous and adulterous nation.  Throughout Israel’s history, from David to David’s Son and Lord, God’s covenant people had been unbelieving, stiffhearted and rebellious; and God had sent prophet after prophet to them to prosecute the covenant made with them through Moses at Sinai.  Israel never repented of its wickedness, as we saw when we read from Ezekiel chapter two.  Here it is again:


2)    And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.

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….


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, a hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein;

10) And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.


So as John sees this scroll opened, in it will be the New Covenant preceded by the curses of the old covenant fulfilled on the nation that has propagated its adultery for a thousand years against her God, Who was patient and forbearing with her in her continuous infidelity.

As clear as all of this is, it will become even more so as we read what is to come in John’s record.  The seals of the scroll are broken in order to loose that which is necessary to happen quickly, and which are all of the events to occur in the fullness of the time.

As the seventh seal is broken, it initiates the sounding of the seven trumpets.  And at the end of the sounding of those seven trumpets, John will see a horrifying scene of a great and ancient vineyard – a “vintage” (if you will) – in which human “grapes of wrath” are trampled and the whole land is flooded with a torrent of blood.  And this leads to the final section of John’s record in which he sees the blood from the winepress being poured out from the seven chalices of wrath, which is the last “woe” (from Ezekiel chapter two).

All of these things are the content of the scroll with seven seals, preceding the inception of the new covenant.  And once again, this is the focal point of God’s creation history, after which comes the reign of the King of Kings until He subdues all the nations before His throne, and comes in complete triumph over sin and death, and returns the creation to God as an edenic paradise as it was originally created.

Now.  That, plus the short foray into the upcoming text through the Revelation, should help us in our “putting all of the pieces together” so it’s not all “scrambled up”… the most weighty portion in the first two verses of our text being the nature of the scroll.

And, one more time, the scroll was sealed because its content was the events that were to take place in the distant future.  But in John’s presence the seals were loosed because its content was the events that were to take place in quickness!  The time was near!

The content of the scroll was both necessary and eminent.  And it was of momentous and consequential significance.  All of God’s history of His creation pointed directly toward the events unsealed in this scroll.  And all of God’s history of His creation afterward – in a sense – point back to the events unsealed in this scroll.

The events to be loosed – unleashed – at the breaking of the seals of the scroll are of such immense and incalculable importance that the entire history, and continual existence, of God’s creation depended on these events – all of it invested in the Lamb of God here prominent in John’s view!

A powerful messenger/angel – possibly the archangel – thundering from the mouth of God, relays a fundamentally rhetorical question directly from the One on the throne: “Who worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals?”  It was a loud sound, piercing to the full extent of the heaven.

You’ll notice that the question has no verb.  So the emphasis is placed on the pronoun “Who”.  Who worthy?”  Who able”?  Notice also that the question is explicit about “opening” in order to “loose”.  “Who worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals.”

 We’re all familiar with the “seals” that were once placed on legal documents or pronouncements by authorities … that they were something like paraffin with a stamp in it from a ring or a signet.  And the one receiving the document was to remove, or cut through, the paraffin substance in order to open the document.

But, although there are some allusions to be made to those seals, please remember that we don’t begin our understanding of the text of Scripture from illustrations about how things are done among God’s creatures!  If one begins with those, then one will likely miss the import of the text.  And that’s called “misappropriating” God’s Word.

What is necessary, instead, is to begin with the text.  And should there be an allusion, or a reference, to a “likeness” in the creature’s demeanor or practice, then we can make mention of it.  Otherwise, it’s not a starting point in understanding what God’s Word says.

In the case of this text in which the scroll is to be opened, the seals are then to be “loosed”!  It’s not as if the seals are to be opened in order for the scroll to be read.  It’s the scroll that’s to be opened!  Then the seals are to be loosed.  And the reason for that is that the seals are “holding back” the events.  They are not there in order to keep the scroll from opening.

So, as you can see, it would not be a good thing to begin our understanding of John’s report here with the illustration of a king’s seal on a document.  If that were the case, then we would miss everything of importance here in this text.

Once again, the seven seals associated with this scroll aren’t to be opened in order to reveal what’s inside the scroll.  Just the opposite!  The scroll is to be opened in order to loose its seals!  The seven seals (the perfect quantity) are holding back the events which, in Daniel’s time, were only for the distant future; but now they are about to be loosed, for they are things that are necessary to take place quickly!  The time is near!

And those seals, which are holding back the events written in the scroll, will be loosed in John’s presence in the heaven.  So he gets to see everything that is about to happen.  He gets to see the New Covenant inauguration in Christ Jesus; and, in advance of that, he gets to see everything that’s about to happen with regard to the old covenant and with regard to that special nation with which God had covenanted.

Okay… the rhetorical question:  “Who worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?”  The question was thunderously blasted throughout the heaven directly from the mouth of God by way of a mighty messenger, the voice of God heard by every creature in the heaven, and also by the man – the apostle John.

The apostle couldn’t open the scroll and loose its seals; the rest of the apostles and elders of the Church on the earth weren’t able; and even the fathers of the Church – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Elijah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah and Jeremiah – they were all dead and buried under the earth, and they weren’t worthy (or able) to open it.  Neither was John the baptizer able to open it.

The tribal leaders and wise men of the tribes of Israel couldn’t open it.  The priests of Israel couldn’t open it.  The scribal and pharisaical doctors of law couldn’t open it.  The princes and kings of Israel couldn’t open it.  None of them were worthy.

The apostle John was a sinful man who was chosen by God to be in the heaven at this time in order that he could see all these things and to record them, and he knew he couldn’t possibly open it.  And certainly the non-human creatures in the heaven weren’t able.  What creature in the heaven could loose the events of the new covenant?  Which one of them appointed the time when these events would take place?  Which one of them sealed the scroll in the time of Daniel until the last day?  Which of them could release, or loose, the final indignation of Almighty God upon an impudent nation with which He had covenanted fifteen hundred years previously at Sinai??  Certainly none of these creatures were able.  Besides, the word “Who” at the beginning of that sentence implies a human!  Who worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?  It’s a masculine personal pronoun.

And, further, to make it even clearer that it is a rhetorical question, an elder creature knows…!  And it’s strongly implied that if one of the creatures in the heaven knows, then all of them know.  So, obviously, there’s only one in all of the heaven that doesn’t know (or who hasn’t been able to discern the meaning of all of this).  And that was John.

So, God – Father, Son and Spirit – (God) knows Who worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals; all the messenger angels in the heaven know Who worthy, or able, to open it; all the twenty-four elders know Who able; and the cherubim know Who able to open the scroll and to loose its seals.  So, why this question – thundered throughout the heaven from the mouth of God?

The apostle John, the doctor of theology of the New Testament Church, stunned past any credulity by having been taken up into the heaven, and now cognizant of where he is and what he’s seeing and hearing, doesn’t know!!  He somehow thinks that this mighty messenger of God is hunting for, and asking for, someone who can open the scroll!  John somehow thinks that Triune God on His throne is posing a real, substantive question (!!!) rather than being providentially sovereign over all things!

And, like I said, John is the great theologian of the Church!  He knows about this scroll from the prophecies of Daniel and Ezekiel; and he supposes that this might be the time for the loosing of its seals.  But the question seems (to John) to be one of searching for the one who can open it, rather than what it really is – an authoritative announcement in the form of a rhetorical question… one with an absolutely clear and obvious answer!  And, due to his misapprehension of the events before him, John starts crying, because, in his failure to understand all of this, there isn’t anybody who’s worthy – able – to open Daniel’s book!  And that “lack” of a worthy candidate has such dire consequences that John breaks down in sobbing despondency!

But, “Who worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals” isn’t an “inquiry” from God Who’s asking for information!  It is a call to every creature in the heaven to acknowledge The One!  Rhetorically, it is an announcement that there is ONE Who is able!

And an elder, one of many who know the answer, sidles over to John and, directly from God on His throne, and in his prophetic function, tells John to “stop crying”!  God knows Who worthy; and all the creatures in the heaven know Who He is!

And then the elder-creature says “LO”, indicating the fullness of God’s prophetic Word (as it did all through Matthew’s Gospel).  “LO”.  And this creature gives John the answer, quoting from the prophetic Word.  The ONE Who (masculine pronoun) worthy is the Lion from the Judah tribe, the David Root!

Not a non-human creature (as those in the heaven), but human; not a wise one or priest or prince of Israel; not Moses or David or John the baptizer – or any one else dead and still under the earth; and not an apostle or elder of the Church.  But the LION of the Judah tribe, the David Root!

As the elder-creature prophetically speaks the Word of God to John, the first reference is to the words of Jacob (Genesis chapter forty-nine), as he, old and ready to pass away, gathers his twelve sons together “that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days”.

He addresses his sons one by one; and when he comes to Judah, this is what he prophesied:


8)    Judah, thou art he who thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.

9)    Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

10) The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

11) Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:

12) His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.


Because of moral failure, Jacob passes over his first three sons to give the greatest blessing to his fourth son Judah, who will be an invincible Lion, whose scepter won’t depart from him until Shiloh come!  Shiloh in Hebrew means “Bearer of Rest”.  And to Shiloh will the nations belong!  And the nations will render willing obedience to Shiloh, because, as the Bearer of Rest, He brings them rest and peace.

David was of the tribe of Judah.  In David, Judah grew strong and became a conquering lion (1 Chronicles twenty-eight).  And King David received a promise from God through the prophecy of Nathan that God would raise up a seed after him, and establish the throne of his kingdom for ever (2 Samuel seven).

And so the Kingdom of Judah did arise in imperishable glory in Jesus Christ (Hebrews chapter seven), who, as the Lion of Judah, conquers all foes, and then reigns as the true Prince of Rest and Peace forever and ever.  And that’s the nature of the elder-creature’s first prophetic Word to the apostle here in our text.

As to the second, the David Root, let’s begin with Isaiah’s prophetic Word from Yahveh to King Hezekiah in 2 Kings chapter nineteen:


28) Because of thy raging against me, and because thine arrogancy is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.

29) And this shall be the sign unto thee:  Ye shall eat this year that which groweth of itself, and in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof.

30) And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.

31) For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of mount Zion they that shall escape:  the zeal of Yahveh shall perform this.


“The house of Judah shall take root…”!

Then listen to Isaiah once again in the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter eleven:


1)    And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit.

2)    And the Spirit of Yahveh shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahveh.

3)    And his delight shall be in the fear of Yahveh; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears;

4)    but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

5)    And righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.

6)    And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

7)    And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

8)    And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.

9)    They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Yahveh, as the waters cover the sea.

10) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek; and his resting-place shall be glorious.


And further in Isaiah eleven:


11) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, that shall remain, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

12) And he will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.


Jesse, of course, is of the tribe of Judah from whom is to come the Lion of Judah.  And he is the father of King David, from whom comes David’s Son and David’s Lord.

Isaiah continues the “David root” prophecy in what is widely known as one of the great prophetic chapters in all of Scripture, which I read for you now.  Please listen carefully:


1)    Who hath believed our message? and to whom hath the arm of Yahveh been revealed?

2)    For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3)    He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and we esteemed him not.

4)    Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5)    But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6)    All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Yahveh hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7)    He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.

8)    By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due?

9)    And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10) Yet it pleased Yahveh to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Yahveh shall prosper in his hand.

11) He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities.

12) Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.


Because of the time, we won’t mention them here, but our Lord Jesus, as recorded in the four Gospels, refers often to the prophetic Word regarding the David root – as do the apostles in the New Testament.

So there is great comfort to the weeping apostle as the elder-creature quotes the prophecies from Jacob and from Isaiah concerning the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Root of David being David’s Son – the Messiah Who, as the personal “Shiloh”, the “Bearer of Rest and Peace”, brings all His people, from all the nations, into a place of rest in Him.

And this is the One Who is “able” to open the scroll and to loose its seals.