revelation-5

Revelation 5

Today’s reading is Revelation 5.

Yesterday, in Revelation 4, John described to us his vision of God, in heaven, on his throne, being worshipped. Here in Revelation 5, John saw that God is holding a scroll (v. 1). However, the scroll was sealed with no one worthy to open it (vv. 2-4). No one, that is, except Jesus who appeared in verse 5.

It is interesting to contrast the description of Christ in verse 5 and John’s description of his appearance in verse 6. In verse 5, one of the 24 elders we read about in Revelation 4:4 described Jesus as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David.” This description, plus the statement that he “has triumphed” leads us to expect someone whose appearance is fierce, majestic, and powerful. Instead when John looked at him in verse 6 he saw, “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain.” As if lambs aren’t weak and defenseless enough, this one looks like a dead lamb--one that died violently--hardly someone you would expect to be worthy to open the scroll of God’s revelation.

And yet, that’s what he began to do when he took the scroll from God the Father’s hand in verse 7. Why was he able to do this? The elders and living creatures told us in their “new song” in verses 9-10: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain.” The appearance of Jesus as a slaughtered lamb did not disqualify him from opening the scroll; it qualified him TO open the scroll. Why? Verse 9b: “...with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” The triumph (v. 5b) that qualified Jesus was not that he defeated all enemies in battle but that he gave himself to rescue us from God’s wrath for our sins.

The result of his sacrifice was stated in verse 10: “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” This is why Jesus came. To create a new kingdom, composed of people everywhere that Christ redeemed, to enjoy ruling with him in his kingdom on this earth.

Are you thankful for your salvation? Do you understand that forgiveness of sins is just the first of many blessings that Christ secured for you by his death on the cross? Are you waiting expectantly for his kingdom to come and preparing for it by storing up treasure there?

Deuteronomy 7, Psalm 90, Isaiah 35, Revelation 5

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Deuteronomy 7, Psalm 90, Isaiah 35, Revelation 5. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Revelation 5.

The book of Revelation opens with a set of contrasts. On earth things are not looking good for the Lord and his church. John, the human author, was suffering persecution. Tradition tells us he was boiled in oil for his faith; when that did not kill him, he was exiled to the island of Patmos. But while he was there, suffering alone in pain, he saw a contrasting vision of Christ victorious and triumphant who commanded him to write down the visions he would see (Rev 1:9-18). 

In chapters 2-3, the Lord spoke to the seven churches here on earth; six of them had problems the Lord commanded them to correct. Following that section, John was raptured to heaven (4:1) where he saw the Lord glorified and worshiped—quite a contrast to the problems within the churches. 

In today’s reading from Revelation 5, John saw a sealed scroll in the hand of God the Father (v. 1). Christ came forward to open the seals, receiving praise from the elders who were present before the Lord (vv. 8-10). Notice, however, verse 10: “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Much of the rest of Revelation is about the process of fulfilling this statement, “they will reign on the earth.” The judgments that begin with the seals describe how Christ brought justice to the earth, punishing his enemies and bringing his people into the city where “they will reign on the earth.” Although the symbolism of Revelation makes this a difficult book to interpret at times, the point of the book is to describe how God will complete his promises to his people. Though there will be persecution (such as John himself faced), problems in the church (as the seven churches experienced), and opposition from Satan and his followers, God will judge the world at his appointed time and he will fulfill the promises he has made to us. When all that was said in Revelation is done on earth, God will be worshiped on earth like John saw him worshiped in heaven back in Revelation 4. The contrast between the failures and struggles on earth and the exaltation of God in heaven will cease. When God’s promises are finally fulfilled, everyone left on earth will gladly worship God’s exalted Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the message of Revelation; may the Lord use it to give us hope while we struggle to serve him on earth, waiting for God to keep his promises to us in this letter.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.