Revelation 5 continues the description of events that happen in heaven, in the throne room of God, immediately after the rapture. Not only will we witness these things with our own eyes, we will participate. John was in the throne room as an observer in the spirit, not as a glorified man. Pre-rapture, we identify ourselves with John, but after the rapture we will be elders.
In verse 1 John sees that God is holding a book in his right hand, and the book is written within and on the backside, and sealed with seven seals. The book of Daniel is prophetic of the endtimes, giving us detailed information about the person and works of the antichrist. In Dan. 12:4 the prophet was told to "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." Iím guessing that from the time the book was written until about 1948 the words were shut up, not able to be fully understood, because the prophesied increase in knowledge would begin to occur at that time, the year that Israel became a nation again. Beginning at that time we have seen an exponential increase in the ability to travel and the increase of knowledge, particularly the advance of science. Our modern technical know-how has opened understanding and made it possible for the endtimes prophecies to be fulfilled. I believe this is a huge signal that the endtimes are upon us.
Daniel was told to Ďseal the book,í not to prevent folks from reading it, but to prevent those endtime events from occurring until the time God says, "Go!" (which he does in Rev. 6). So this book with seven seals is the fulfillment of prophecy. We can read the prophecies in the Bible, but they cannot come to pass or be fulfilled until the seals are opened, and we know from II Thes. 2:6 that a restrainer is currently standing before the antichrist preventing him from doing a jump-start until God gives the signal.
Verse 2 says, "And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?" This angel is not asking a question, he is making a proclamation. He is speaking loud enough to be heard throughout all creation, and he is announcing that men's hearts have been searched and all have fallen short. He is announcing that it is time for the prophecy to be fulfilled, it is time for the book to be opened by the breaking of the seals, and this can only be done by someone who is worthy.
Verse 3 says, "And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon." Here is an example of Godís righteousness. Heaven, earth, and hell are searched for someone who is able to open the book, all of mankind, the glorified, the living and the dead, and none was able. why? because they aren't worthy. Man is not worthy even to look upon the things of God let alone touch them, and man is also not able to force the fulfillment of prophecy. This is totally God's prerogative.
Verse 4 tells us something significant: "And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon." John is in the spirit in the throne room of heaven. While Rev. 4:1-2 represents the rapture in Revelation, John is present as a human being in the spirit, not as a glorified man. We will see in the next verse that the elders, who are glorified men, are not weeping. But John wept much. This is not speaking of a quiet, dignified shedding of tears: John was profusely sobbing, wailing aloud. This was major, heartbroken crying. Why? I think it's because at this point he receives a full revelation of the depravity of man. He is standing in the throne room of heaven, a place of total, utter purity and holiness. He has seen the four beasts and the twenty-four elders give worship to God. He has looked upon God himself.
I think that when the angel makes his proclamation regarding worthiness, the contrast between God and man washes over John like an ocean. He understands that no mere man is worthy to open, or cause the fulfillment, of the holy word of God. No mere man is worthy to read (understand) the holy word of God. No mere man is worthy even to look at the Holy word of God.
John, standing in the holy presence of God, is weeping over the condition of man, and that condition is a horror. Speaking of living a holy life, Heb. 12:4 says, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." This is an extremely interesting statement because Jesus did do this. In Luke 22:39-45, verse 42 shows Jesus' perfect submission to the will of the Father: "Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
The statement makes it clear that there was something that Jesus was not willing to experience and it could not have been physical death, even the painful death that he suffered. It was not the physical pain - think of the agony a burn victim goes through. Jesus could withstand much more than that. Jesus knew that his body would be dead in a matter of several hours (not days) because Ps. 34:19 prophesied that not one of his bones would be broken. The Romans would break the leg bones of the person being crucified so he couldn't lift himself to draw breath and thus prolong the dying. Jesus knew that he would be dead before the leg-breaking became an issue. As God, Jesus knew that he could die when he wanted to. He knew he would be dead for only three days. He knew how he would be resurrected. In John 10:17-18 he said, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."
It was not the humiliation. "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb 12:2). Jesus knew why he was going to die and that he would be raised in glory.
The Bible teaches that Jesus knew all about his death and resurrection, yet something was going to happen that he was definitely not willing to experience. It is my opinion that that something was spiritual death.
Death does not mean to stop existing. When a person dies, his body lies down and is buried but his spirit and soul do not stop existing any more than the body does, they are simply separated from the body. Phi. 1:21 tells us "to live is Christ and to die is gain," and II Cor. 5:8 tells us that for a Christian, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
In the same way, a person who is spiritually dead does have a spirit, but it is a spirit that is living in separation from God. For the saved, at the moment of salvation God recreates the person's spirit (II Cor 5:17; Gal. 6:15) and it is sealed (Eph. 1:13; 4:30) right then with the Holy Spirit. This is how we are joined with God, how the separation ceases and the union begins. Unsaved man is separated from God because of sin, so there had to be a perfect, sinless offering made for man for forgiveness of sin and to reunite him with God.
According to Lev. 16:7-10, on the day of Atonement the high priest entered into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people of Israel. The law required two goats: one would be killed as a sin offering and the other was the scapegoat. The goat that was killed was for remission of sins, and the sins of Israel would be transferred to the scapegoat and he would be let go in the wilderness to carry away the sin. This illustrates forgiveness and removal of what was forgiven. Both of these goats were fulfilled in Jesus. He took our sin upon himself and carried it away, and when he did, he experienced spiritual death, separation from God.
We see another picture of this in Num. 21:5-9: "And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. 6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." The fiery serpents illustrate the reward of sin, and the serpent on the pole represents Jesus on the cross. When we look to him the penalty for our sin is cancelled because when he was on the cross he had taken the sins of the world upon himself. He had become the serpent.
II Cor. 5:21 says, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." I do not believe this was symbolic language: Jesus actually became sin. After his resurrection, Jesus told the disciples (Luke 24:44) that all things that were written about him in Moses, the prophets and the Psalms had to be fulfilled. Psalm 40 is one of those prophecies, also called Messianic Psalms. In Psa. 40:12 Jesus states, "For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me." Notice He said, "mine iniquities". At the crucifixion, Jesus was totally identified with the sins of man. He claimed them as his own. In his dual nature (truly God yet truly man) he hung on that cross as the spotless, sinless, Lamb of God, but also as the serpent. The unsaved are the children of the serpent and Jesus specifically took their place.
Gal. 3:13 tells us, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree." That curse is recorded in Deut. 21:22-23: "And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance." Jesus was cursed of God, as a substitute for us, when he went to the cross.
He hung on that cross, taking upon himself all the sin of all time, suspended between heaven and earth, rejected and cursed by both. He cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" God had forsaken him. He knew why. He knew what was happening. But the horror of that moment, the horror of being separated from God for even a few days out of all of eternity, was so much as to make him cry out in agony. This was the cup that Jesus was not willing to drink. Yes, Jesus was and is God and as such had more knowledge than we have, but the fact that something could happen that God himself didn't want to experience should give us pause. This is the cup that mankind in general has been drinking since the garden of Eden, and most humans are completely oblivious to that fact.
This horrible, cursed, separated thing is the condition of unsaved man, and I think John may have received a revelation of it in Rev. 5:4. Unsaved man is living in horror and doesn't even have a clue. A friend once told me that she had been saved as a teenager, and frankly, "Jesus didn't save me from all that much." At the very least, her statement expressed a severe lack of knowledge concerning the condition of mankind. I think of the glory that shall be revealed in us, and realize that there is an equal and opposite state. I think the full revelation of it would be too much for us to bear.
But if we meditate and pray about this, it will have a tremendous impact on our lives and especially on the urgency of witnessing to others, the urgency of seeing souls saved. Those who die without accepting the sacrifice of Jesus will remain in this condition, paying for their own sin for all of eternity, and never able to receive the stamp that says, "Paid in Full."
I can't leave Jesus in that condition. In John 3:16 Jesus is referred to as the "ONLY begotten son." He is the only one who would ever be conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, but in later scripture we see him referred to differently. In Acts 13 Paul preached a sermon, and verses 28-33 tell us, "And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. 30 But God raised him from the dead: 31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. 32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee."
Notice verse 33 uses the words "again" and "this day". This might be unsettling to some, but Jesus was begotten, or born, of the Father on the day of his resurrection. I think that because of his separation from God, for a short period of time he was not the son of God. But that time came to an end in just three days! and there's more! Rev. 1:5 calls him the first begotten of the dead. Rom. 8:29 says he's the first born of many brethren. We are definitely saved by accepting his works on our behalf, but Jesus will ALWAYS have preeminence over created things.
Take a moment and read the declaration of his majesty in Heb. Chapter 1: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; 4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. 7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. 8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: 11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. 13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" If that doesnít make you smile and shout I donít know what will.
Back to Revelation 5. Verse 5 tells us, "And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." The elder tells John "don't sob and wail." This elder, a glorified man, has a completely different perspective than John had. I Cor. 12:12 says, "For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part: but then shall I know even as also I am known." This elder is not weeping because, as a glorified man, he has full understanding of the things of God.
He refers to Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Gen. 49:8-12, Jacob's blessing on Judah, says this: "Judah, thou art he whom 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 sceptre 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." The elder also refers to Jesus as the Root of David as prophesied in Isaiah 11. There is a special significance to me in these identification scriptures in that they indicate that the elders group includes the saved of Old Testament Israel.
Jesus prevailed to open the book and loose the seven seals by submitting to the will of God the Father when he went to the cross. Eph. 6:12 tells us we wrestle against principalities and powers, and Col. 2:15 tells us that at the cross Jesus "spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." I Cor. 2:8 speaks of the wisdom of God, the gospel, "which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." Satan saw the cross as Jesus' downfall, but it was in fact the great triumph of God. Because of his perfect works, Jesus is qualified to loose the seven seals of the book of prophecy.
Finally in verse 6 we see Jesus . He is right in the middle of everything that John has seen so far, but now our attention is drawn directly to him, the one who is eternally the central character.
We see him as the Lamb as it had been slain which draws attention to his sinless perfection and his sacrifice for us. The verse says he has seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. Rev. 18 states that horns represent kings, and seven is the number of divine completion. In this reference to the seven horns, it should be understood that Jesus is THE one great king, divinely complete, the be-all and end-all, the Alpha and Omega. The verse tells us that the seven eyes are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. God does not have seven Holy Spirits, he has one. I believe this is a reference to the seven-fold Spirit of God as is mentioned in Isa 11:2: "And the spirit of the LORD(1) shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom(2) and understanding (3), the spirit of counsel (4) and might (5), the spirit of knowledge (6) and of the fear of the LORD (7)."
The Holy Spirit, as omnipresent God, is everywhere all the time, and as omniscient God, his eyes see everything. Here is proof that the Holy Spirit is not removed from the earth during the tribulation - the verse clearly says he is sent forth into all the earth.
Verse 7 says, "And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne." Because he lived on earth as a man, Jesus takes the book. Because he suffered the same temptations that we experience everyday (Heb. 4:15), and overcame them, Jesus takes the book. Because he perfectly fulfilled the Father's will, Jesus takes the book. Because he alone is totally worthy, Jesus takes the book. Because Jesus takes the book, He is going to deal directly with man's rebellion and man's rejection of Him.
Just watch what happens next. All because Jesus takes the book.
Verse 8: "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints." Jesus' action causes a great celebration. The elders have harps, so there will be music. Harps were used as part of praise and as instruments of celebration. II Chron. 5 tells of Solomon bringing the ark of the covenant to the completed temple. Verses 11-14 tell us: "And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course: 12 Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:) 13 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; 14 So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God." The praise service that we are going to attend in heaven will far surpass this one.
The elders also have golden vials full of odours which are the prayers of saints. Since all the saints are in heaven, these are previously prayed prayers. Apparently our prayers have been stored and we will use them to praise Jesus. These prayers would be our cries for help and deliverance, our petitions for the will of God to be done, our intimate communion with our God. These prayers are in heaven now, and we will present them as part of a great praise celebration because God has answered them.
Verse 9 tells us: "and they sung a new song, saying, thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." We saw the beasts and elders worship God in Rev. 4:10-11. Worship is defined as: to lick the hand, like a dog. Worship is a nice Irish Setter, sitting quietly by his master, gently licking his hand. Here in verse 9 we see something different: praise. In scripture, a new song means praise (Ps. 40:3), and praise is defined as: laudation, from a root word meaning to be clear, to make a show, clamorously foolish, to rave, celebrate. No English Setter here, no, this is the four month old puppy who is so glad to see you at the end of the day that heís all over you, licking your hands, your face, your neck, tail wagging at the speed of light, so happy he just wiggles. You get the picture. This is what we will be participating in shortly after our arrival in heaven. Iím telling you, I canít wait!!!
What we see in Rev. 5 is the greatest celebration of all time (up to that point). It is begun by the beasts and elders. They use the word 'us' and make mention of: kindred - a race or clan; tongue - language; people - mankind in general; and nation - ethnos, ethnic group. These redeemed men are celebrating what Jesus has done for man. We might understand worship is given to God because of who he is, and praise is given because of what he has done. We know who he is because of what he has done.
Their song continues in verse 10: "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." Jesus is the King of kings, so now we know who the kings are that he is King over. Notice the verse says he has (past tense) made us kings and priests. We entered into this when we were saved. I Pet. 2:9 tells us we are a royal priesthood made to show forth the praises of him. A king represents God to the people, and we do this by witnessing and proclaiming the word. A priest represents the people to God, and we do this through intercessory prayer. Currently (pre-rapture) this is our position spiritually.
The verse says we shall reign on the earth. During the millennium this will be an open reality, which gives us some information regarding what we will be doing during the millennium: we will administer a perfect government, one world under God.
Rev 5:11 says, "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;" We now learn that the angels are also present in the throne room and they form a circle around the throne, the beasts and the elders. John sees and hears them, and he reports that the number is innumerable: it is at least one hundred million plus untold thousands of thousands. Why are they all in the throne room? because the whole of redeemed man is in there.
In verse 12 the angels join in the praise celebration: "Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." Notice they join in with a loud voice. Imagine that: angels shout. They list the things Jesus is worthy to receive, and it is a list of everything fine and wonderful that the Father has already given him. They are in agreement with God, and they have an interest in what is about to happen. Satan was one of their number, and they are ministers of those who shall be heirs of salvation, those who have been so damaged by the devil and his helpers. Oh yes, the angels are looking forward to what is going to happen to Satan.
Verse 13 is amazing. "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, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Created things join the praise celebration: creatures in heaven, earth, and under the earth, birds, animals, worms, bugs and fish. The events that are about to begin will result in the deliverance of the earth itself from the bondage of corruption (Rom. 8:22). Creation itself has an interest in what is going to happen.
Verse 14 says, "And the four beasts said Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever." All of heaven is in agreement in its celebration of the works of Jesus, both what he has done and what he is about to do, and the elders fall down and worship.
And we, the children of God, will be present when all of this happens. Ready?