The Worship of the Lamb

Revelation 5:8-14
The End Times

In my last post, we began to explore Revelation 5.  In this post, we conclude our journey in Revelation 5 joining it with the worship of the Lamb of God.

 8 When He took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down in front of the Lamb. Each one held a harp and gold bowls filled with pieces of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people; 9 and they sang a new song, “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals; because you were slaughtered; at the cost of blood you ransomed for God persons from every tribe, language, people and nation.  10 You made them into a kingdom for God to rule, cohanim to serve him; and they will rule over the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard the sound of a vast number of angels — thousands and thousands, millions and millions! They were all around the throne, the living beings and the elders; 12 and they shouted out, “Worthy is the slaughtered Lamb to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength,  honor, glory and praise!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth and on the sea — yes, everything in them — saying,  “To the One sitting on the throne  and to the Lamb  belong praise, honor, glory and power  forever and ever!” 14 The four living beings said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshipped.” ~ Revelation 5:8-14 (CJB)

 In Revelation 4:8-11 the songs of praise were sung to the Creator.  Here, the first two are to the Redeemer, and the third one to both the Creator and the Redeemer.  A new song (v. 9): the song of redemption relative to the song of Creation.  It is a scene of transcendent grandeur: the living creatures, the elders, million angels, and the whole created universe, in ecstasy over the redemption of humanity.  The prayers of God’s people (v. 8) are part of this grand doxology!  It is at this point that Philippians 2:9-11 will be fulfilled: “Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; 10 that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow — in heaven, on earth and under the earth — 11 and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is Adonai —  to the glory of God the Father.”
When he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down in front of the Lamb. Each one held a harp and gold bowls filled with pieces of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.  Oliver Greene writes about prayer:

In verse 8, all the beasts and the elders fell down before the Lamb (that term “Lamb” is used 28 times in Revelation, the term ‘Lion’ is used only once).  The beasts and the elders all have harps and golden vials full of precious odors which are the prayers of the saints.  Did you know, dear Christian, that God bottles up prayers, and these prayers are sweet perfume in God’s nostrils?  Did you know that true prayers are sweet odors to the nostrils of God?  According to this verse in Revelation, the prayers of the saints will be used in worshiping the Lamb after He is declared worthy to open the seals on the scroll.

And they sang a new song, “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals; because you were slaughtered; at the cost of blood you ransomed for God persons from every tribe, language, people and nation.  10 You made them into a kingdom for God to rule, cohanim to serve him; and they will rule over the earth.  The redeemed sing a new song.  In this verse, they sing a song of redemption, directed toward the Lamb; Yeshua our Redeemer.  Yochanan very carefully points out the reason for this melodic response: Yeshua has redeemed us to God by His own blood (see Romans 5:11; Hebrews 9:22; and 1 Yochanan 1:7).  The scope of His salvation is universal: every tribe, language, people and nation.   Add to this, the fact that we will one day rule over the earth (during the millennium). Warren Wiersbe writes this concerning the new song:

To begin with, it was a worship hymn, for they said, “Thou art worthy!” But this song was also a gospel song! “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.” This song was also a missionary song. Sinners were redeemed “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” This heavenly hymn was also a devotional hymn, for it announced our unique position in Christ as “a kingdom of priests.” Finally, this song was a prophetic hymn: “We shall reign on the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard the sound of a vast number of angels — thousands and thousands, millions and millions!  I do not believe that in our wildest imagination we can begin to capture the praise, the singing, the jubilation that will characterize that moment in heaven.  The angels who apparently cannot sing still join in:  and they shouted out, “Worthy is the slaughtered Lamb to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and praise!”

And I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth and on the sea — yes, everything in them — saying, “To the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb belong praise, honor, glory and power forever and ever!”  There was a time in the past when many churches opened every Sunday morning worship service with the singing of the Doxology. It is interesting to compare the doxologies in this text and to note their progression. In Revelation 1:6 we find a twofold doxology: … to him be glory and rulership forever and ever.” In chapter 4:11 there is a three-fold doxology: You are worthy, Adonai Eloheinu, to have glory, honor and power…” Then in Chapter 5:13 we find a four-fold doxology: “To the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb belong praise, honor, glory and power forever and ever!”  Finally, in Chapter 7:12 (which we will study later), it appears an apex of worship is reached in a seven-fold doxology: Praise and glory, wisdom and thanks, honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever!  William Newell explains the difference between a confession for salvation and a confession of worship:

No creature will be left out. This great universal confession will not be for salvation, but it will be the fulfilling of Philippians 2:9-11: “therefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name, which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The four living beings said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.  Worship will be our eternal delight. One day we will join all the saints of all times and these four living creatures and the elders and we will pronounce our own doxologies of praise!

As you read through the Four Views below, I would highly encourage you to listen this song based on this passage.  Every time I listen to it, I am transported into the heavenlies.  By the way, the guitarist is none other than Lincoln Brewster.

Blessing and Honor Lyrics

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 5:8-14 [1]

 Historicist Approach:

Adam Clarke writes that “the whole Church of God…acknowledges that Jesus Christ is alone worthy and able to unfold and execute all the mysteries and counsels of God.”  The celebration of redemption is linked with the celebration of those redeemed.  The phrase rule over the earth is taken either in the post-millennial sense to mean an ascendancy of Christianity in this world prior to the Second Coming or in the amillennial sense of a spiritual reign of the saints over their own spirits now.  Clarke further observes that Christ receives the same praise as does God, which would be idolatry if He were not God Himself.

Preterist Approach:

By and large, Preterists agree with the observations made above in the commentary on this passage.

Futurist Approach:

Most Futurists view the appearance of the Lamb to open the scroll as the beginning of the end of the present age.  The breaking of the seals paves the way for the fulfillment of our prayers to see the Kingdom of God established.  The saints rule over the earth is a reference to the millennial reign of the saints with Yeshua after His return to earth to establish His Kingdom.  Per dispensational expectations, any unsaved people will live on earth during the Millennium and the saints will reign over these people from the headquarters in Jerusalem.  With respect to the head count in the choir, thousands and thousands, millions and millions simply means countless or innumerable.  The language recalls Daniel 7:10 and Psalm 68:17.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists view this passage as fulfillment of Daniel 7:9-14, where the One like the Son of Man approaches the Ancient of Days to receive dominion and a Kingdom.  The new song is the response of the redeemed to God’s new redemptive acts in Christ in establishing the New Covenant as the older song of Moses was in the establishment of the Tanakh.

In my next post, the Seals are broken beginning in Chapter 6.

 Click here for PDF version.

[1] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg

The Sealed Scroll, The Lion & The Lamb

Revelation 5:1-7
The End Times

In my last post, we finished exploring Revelation 4.  In this post, we begin our journey in Revelation 5.

The theme of chapter 4 is the creative power of God; of chapter 5, the redemptive power of Yeshua. Yochanan continues to describe the scene in heaven.

Sealed Scroll


(Image courtesy of Google)

The scroll contains the secrets of the future, the final stage of Yeshua’s redemptive work.  All creation wants to know the outcome, but the only way to open the scroll is to break the seven seals.  And only one Person in all of creation can do this, not because He is strong, but because He is worthythat person, of course, is Yeshua.

As the seven seals are broken by Yeshua, one by one, there comes into Yochanan’s vision a panorama of the future.  The opening of each of the seven seals results in terrible happenings on earth.  It is not until all the seals have been broken that the ultimate future becomes clear:  the New Heaven and the New EarthGod living with His redeemed and restored creation.

The last seal was the most terrible of the seven.  When it was opened, it turned out to contain seven trumpets, each of which heralded more disasters.  And some interpreters see the seventh trumpet as containing the seven-bowls filled with plagues that are poured on the earth before the end. Thus, we see seven seals (6:1-8:1), seven trumpets (8:2-11:19), and seven bowls (15-16).

Halley’s Bible Handbook has this to say about the outline of the Book of Revelation from this point forward:

Many interpreters, however, see the seven seals and the seven trumpets in chapters 6-11 as the complete sequence of judgments. In this interpretation, it is assumed that the seven bowl judgments occur concurrently with the seven trumpet judgments. (However, the bowl judgments are not shown to Yochanan until the visions in chapters 15 and 16.) The same event takes place at both the sounding of the seventh trumpet (11:15-19) and after an angel pours out the seventh bowl (16:17-18): all heaven reverberates with the glad hallelujahs of final victory (11:15) as God’s wrath is showered on the earth in the form of lightning, thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm. Chapters 12-20 are, then, a retelling of the events of the preceding chapters.

The seven seals and the seven trumpets together form the main framework of Revelation and carry the story swiftly forward to the end. Then the writer, following a common literary method of Scripture, returns to the beginning and, starting with chapter 12, begins over again with additional or explanatory details.

1 Next I saw in the right hand of the One sitting on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals; 2 and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 But no one in heaven, on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look inside it. 4 I cried and cried, because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or look inside it. 5 One of the elders said to me, “Don’t cry. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Y’hudah, the Root of David, has won the right to open the scroll and its seven seals.’  6 Then I saw standing there with the throne and the four living beings, in the circle of the elders, a Lamb that appeared to have been slaughtered. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven-fold Spirit of God sent out into all the earth.  7 He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the One sitting on the throne.” ~ Revelation 5:1-7 (CJB)

 
(Image courtesy of Google)

Next I saw in the right hand of the One sitting on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.  It is very important that we understand the nature of this scroll and what it contains.  We need to understand that this contains the legal requirement for the redemption of this planet. What was lost in Adam through the Fall is about to be redeemed and reclaimed through the Lamb of God. It would be helpful to read Leviticus 25; Jeremiah 32:6-15; and all four chapters of the Book of Ruth to gain a better understanding of the laws of redemption.  In the Tanakh, we actually have the law concerning the redemption of three things:

  1. Redemption concerning a slave.
  2. Redemption concerning a wife.
  3. Redemption concerning property.

 As we begin Chapter 5, the rapture has taken place and the Messianic Community, represented by Yochanan, is in the presence of God in heaven.  Therefore, the first two kinds of redemption have already taken place. When we come to Yeshua and experience salvation, we are redeemed from the slave market of sin. Then, when Yeshua appears and the rapture occurs, we, as His bride, experience a second kind of redemption. Thus, there remains only the redemption of land (this earth) at this time. M. R. DeHaan explains:

The earth and the creatures of the earth, both vegetable and animal, are still under the curse. The earth itself is still groaning under the curse of man’s sin. These also must be redeemed, for Yeshua is a perfect Redeemer, and every realm which came under the curse of Adam’s sin must also be delivered by the redemption of the Last Adam.

And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”   Since this is the title deed to this planet and requires one worthy, that is, one qualified to redeem it, a search is made for such a person. Keep in mind that there are three requirements that one must meet in order to qualify as a kinsman-redeemer:

  1. He must be a kinsman (a close relative).
  2. He must be willing to act as a redeemer.
  3. He must have the necessary resources to make it all happen.

Again, as we review the Book of Ruth we can find all the qualifications for the redemption of both property and a wife.

  1. Boaz is a kinsman. Ruth 2:20; 3:9; 4:3, 6, 14.
  2. Boaz is willing. Ruth 4:4-6.
  3. Boaz is able. Ruth 2:1

But no one in heaven, on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look inside it. This search touched all the bases, left no stone unturned.  It seems as if every attempt to find somebody worthy came up short.

The emotional response of Yochanan indicates his knowledge that this book was the key to all that was to happen hereafter, thus, everything seems to have come to an apprehensive standstill.

One of the elders said to me, “Don’t cry. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Y’hudah, the Root of David, has won the right to open the scroll and its seven seals.’  6 Then I saw standing there with the throne and the four living beings, in the circle of the elders, a Lamb that appeared to have been slaughtered. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven-fold Spirit of God sent out into all the earth.  7 He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the One sitting on the throne.”

Is Yeshua really qualified?  Does He meet the requirements of a redeemer?  There are three titles provided in the text to assist in identifying the one who takes the scroll. The first name supplied is the Lion of the tribe of Y’hudah.   In Genesis 49:8-10, Ya’akov gathers his sons about him and tells them that out of Y’hudah would come the promised Messiah.  The second name to appear in the text is the Root of David.  The text does not say the root was in David, but that He was the root of David. This implies Yeshua existed before David.

In Revelation 22:16 Yeshua declares, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David…”  As the offspring of David, His humanity is revealed. Yeshua was a descendant of David and therefore could qualify as a near relative (kinsman) of the human race.  He became a kinsman when He was born into humanity through the virgin birth.  As the root of David, we see the deity of Yeshua, and thus He is fully able to function as a kinsman-redeemer. The third name to appear in our text is the Lamb that appeared to have been slaughtered.  The word Lamb is a direct reference to Yeshua and is used twenty-eight times in this book alone.

There can be no doubt as to His willingness to act as our kinsman-redeemer; that is the sole reason He came to earth as a man. He paid the sum total of our sin debt on the cross with His own blood.  There He satisfied the righteous demands of a holy God. When Yeshua said, “It is finished”, He could have as easily said, “Paid in full.”

Before getting into the Four Views on this passage, please enjoy:

The Lion and the Lamb – Big Daddy Weave – Lyric Video

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 5:1-7 [1]

Historicist Approach:

Most Historicists see this vision as showing that no other than Yeshua can disclose the future dealings of God in history.  According to the flesh, He is of the tribe of Y’hudah, as to His divine nature, He is the Root of David.  Interpreters agree that the seven horns and seven eyes represent “all power” and “all knowledge and wisdom.”  Most view the seven-fold Spirit of God as the Ruach, while Clarke as angels of providence.

Preterist Approach:

 Jay Adams’ view of the scroll is the sentence handed down by the judge (God) against Jerusalem for the shedding of the blood of the martyrs.  Although He was the sacrificial Lamb, as the Lion, He is avenging the righteous blood that was shed by the Tribulation Saints.

Futurist Approach:

Most Futurists view the scroll as the title deed to the earth.  Roman law required a will to be sealed seven times.  The opening of the document is part of God reclaiming for Himself the control of earth which was forfeited to Satan by the Fall.  Ryrie believes that the seven eyes represent the fullness of the Spirit of God.  Morris sees the seven horns as a reminder of the invasion of Jericho.

Idealist Approach:

According to Morey, the scroll is the “redemptive plan of God” seen as “God’s Last Will and Testament.”  There is no question that Yeshua fully meets the qualifications for the Messiah.  The seven eyes are seen as an emblem of omniscience and the seven horns suggest omnipotence.  Therefore, Yeshua is the ideal judge, prosecutor and executioner.

In my next post, we will conclude our exploration of Revelation Chapter 5.

Click here for PDF version.

 

[1] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg