Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Big Idea: Because Christ leads the plan, we must . . .
I. Save those Tears (vv. 1-5)
The scroll pictured here contains God’s plan of redemption. There was a similar scroll in Ezekiel, but it only had writing on one side, because Jesus had not yet come. This scroll has writing on both sides, because Jesus has come to complete God’s plan. John weeps because no one has yet been found who can open the scroll. The elder says to John, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” As Christians whose hope is in Christ, we are given permission to weep, but we are never those who weep hopelessly, because God’s plan is still being completed in Jesus Christ. We are those who weep with hope because the conquering lamb will answer your prayers.
II. See the Throne (vv. 6-8)
Now it becomes very evident to John why he must save those tears, because God’s redemptive plan will be fulfilled in Jesus in a manner he could never have dreamed of. God will do so much more for us through Jesus than we even need! His grace is always greater than our sin. John describes as “seven horns” (power), “seven eyes” (known plan) accomplished by the “seven spirits” (Holy Spirit). John assures his present readers that this Holy Spirit “[has been] sent out into all the earth.” That is he was sent in the past but is still bringing salvation to God’s elect from every, tribe, tongue and people (Acts 1:8). When we see the throne, we are empowered by the Spirit to live with a courageous faith.
III. Sing the Theme (vv. 9-14)
Finally, because Jesus is carrying out the redemptive plan of God, we must sing that theme to one another and to back to him. Herein is presented a theology for saying a hearty “Amen” at every appropriate occasion, especially in corporate worship. Every time we say “Amen” at the end of a prayer or a song or during a sermon we are anticipating that day when the final “Amen” will be shouted. We are saying, “this prayer is advancing us toward that goal,” “this kind of song will be sung on that day,” “this truth will be finally validated by every creature.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- What is something that is so grieving or challenging to you recently that it causes you to weep and wonder what God is doing? How does seeing Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s plan help you to grieve with hope?
- What is something that intimidates you? How does the understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit enable you to live courageously instead of fearfully? What motivation does this passage give you to pray?
- How does the finality of the “amen” shouted provide hope when our circumstances tempt us to doubt if God’s plan is really being done?