Apocalypse
Greek for the revealing of something hidden. Today the term is most often used to refer to time period in which the end of the world will occur.
Paean
A joyous song of praise, tribute, or thanksgiving.
Revelation 5 Commentary
Summary: Read Revelation 5 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
 
 

Revelation 5 is a continuation of the scene started in Revelation 4.

Revelation 5 KJV
Commentary

1And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

5:1 The Occupant of the throne holds a sealed book. Whatever this book is, it concerns our salvation because as soon as the book is taken and someone found who can open it, a paean of praise breaks forth from the creatures in the throne room.

The book is sealed with seven seals. The Bible will explain each of the seals in the following chapter, but for now, let us consider the seals in general. Here again we see the number seven - a simple of completeness. As in Revelation 2, 3 where the seven churches referred to time periods of the Church up to the Second Coming, could these seven seals also refer to time periods of some kind?

A wax seal was used to secure and authenticate important documents.

Under the ancient laws and customs of the Hebrews it was impossible to alienate estates beyond a certain time. If one found it necessary through misfortune or dispose of his land, the new ownership continued only until the year of jubilee, when each property automatically came back to its original owner or his heirs. In fact, an owner or heir did not even have to wait until the jubilee, providing he could establish legal claim to the property and could pay the redemption price.

At the time of forfeiture of the property a legal document was executed in duplicate, specifying the terms, so that the proper authorities would have a basis for adjudicating a redemption before the year of jubilee.

"For the manner of writing the contract, he who was to buy the ground wrote two instruments [documents]; the one to be sealed with his own signet, the other he showed unclosed to the witnesses, that they might subscribe and bear witness of that which was written. This, the witnesses did subscribe UPON THE BACK of the enclosed instrument."—Weemse on the Judicial Law of Moses, chapter 30. Quoted by J. A. Seiss in The Apocalypse, vol. 1, p. 273.

The one who had possession of an alienated or forfeited property thus was always liable for the return of it, according to the terms of agreement. But the repossession or redemption could be negotiated only by a "goel," the nearest of kin. In Jeremiah 32 there is an account of a redemption of property involving the sealed and unsealed books of purchase, and the witnesses.

Now let us catch the significance of this heavenly scene. When Adam sinned he forfeited all the rights to this world. And the inheritance passed not only out of his hands but out of the hands of all his posterity. Satan claimed this world, and for all these thousands of years strangers and intruders have overrun and debased it. Yet all the while those title deeds have been awaiting the time when the Redeemer or the Goel would take that sealed book and repossess the lost inheritance.

Jesus is the Redeemer, the one "nearest of kin" that has negotiated our redemption from the one to whom we have been enslaved, sold into sin by Adam in the garden of Eden. The beautiful picture here drawn in Revelation 5 inspires love and gratitude to our Saviour who has redeemed us legally - we are rightfully His when we accept His death for our sins, and His righteousness for our imperfection.

i. Unveiling Daniel and Revelation, by Roy Allan Anderson.

2And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

3And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

4And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

5:2-4 For a brief moment in John's vision there seems to be question in heaven over who would be able to open the scroll. John realized the importance of the scroll, for John understood the customs of the Hebrews in regards to property. He realized that this was a scroll that dealt with the ownership of this world, and He clearly wanted the rightful Owner to claim it.

While redemption has its roots in the past, its full realization lies in the future. The price of our redemption was paid when our Lord shed His precious blood on Calvary's cross. But not until He comes the second time in power and glory is redemption complete.

This world, so long under the sway of the powers of evil, is to be repossessed and given back to the people of God. "Blessed are the meek," said Jesus, "for they shall inherit the earth." That inheritance is still future. Looking forward to that hour of victory, He told us to be ready and outlined many signs which locate the time of His appearing. "When these things begin to come to pass," He said, "then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21:28.

The apostle Paul spoke about the inheritance as a future hope. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the earnest, or pledge, of that inheritance, which is "the redemption of the purchased possession." (Ephesians 1:13,140) The inheritance is pledged, yet it has to be repossessed from its usurper and made ready for its eternal citizens. That cannot be accomplished until after the judgment.

i. Unveiling Daniel and Revelation, by Roy Allan Anderson.
 

5And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

6And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

5:5-6 The question is asked, “Who is worthy to open the book?.” And the answer comes back, “The Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed.” The phrase “Hath prevailed” is the same word as the “overcometh” addressed to each of the seven churches. Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21. Because Christ has overcome sin, when He dwells in us, we too will overcome. Hebrews 2:18.

Christ is called the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” representing His victory and kingly strength; but He appears as a sacrificial lamb. This mighty Lion conquered sin in our behalf by humbling Himself to become the Lamb that was slain for our sins. Romans 8:3; Philippians 2:5-8. That is why He alone is worthy to open the seals. To those who seek His mercy with repentance and confession, He is still the Lamb who takes away our sin. To those who persistently refuse Him, He will one day appear as a lion.

John saw the mercy, the tenderness, and the love of God blending with His holiness, justice, and power. He saw sinners finding a Father in Him of whom their sins had made them afraid. And looking beyond the culmination of the great conflict, he beheld upon Zion “them that had gotten the victory ... stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God,” and singing “the song of Moses” and the Lamb. Revelation 15:2, 3.

The Saviour is presented before John under the symbols of “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” and of “a Lamb as it had been slain.” Revelation 5:5, 6. These symbols represent the union of omnipotent power and self-sacrificing love. The Lion of Judah, so terrible to the rejectors of His grace, will be the Lamb of God to the obedient and faithful. The pillar of fire that speaks terror and wrath to the transgressor of God's law is a token of light and mercy and deliverance to those who have kept His commandments. The arm strong to smite the rebellious will be strong to deliver the loyal. Everyone who is faithful will be saved. “He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:31.

In comparison with the millions of the world, God's people will be, as they have ever been, a little flock; but if they stand for the truth as revealed in His word, God will be their refuge. They stand under the broad shield of Omnipotence. God is always a majority. When the sound of the last trump shall penetrate the prison house of the dead, and the righteous shall come forth with triumph, exclaiming, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)—standing then with God, with Christ, with the angels, and with the loyal and true of all ages, the children of God will be far in the majority. i.

“Seven” is the number of perfection, and “horns” represents power. Genesis 2:1, 2; 2 Kings 5:14, 2 Samuel 22:3; Luke 1:69. Thus, the “seven horns” are a symbol of Christ’s perfect power to save and deliver. There are none who are too sinful or apparently hopeless for Jesus’ power to save. The “seven eyes” represent the Holy Spirit and the all-knowing vision of God. Proverbs 15:3. In all that we endure Jesus sees and understands. He promises that He will make all circumstances result in good for those who love Him. Romans 8:28.

i. Acts of the Apostles, Ellen G. White, page 589

7And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

5:7 Jesus as the Son of God has access to the Father’s throne. We can boldly approach the throne of grace. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1.

8And 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.

9And 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;

10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

5:8-10 Jesus has the right to open the seals because by His blood he has redeemed His people and has called them out of every “kindred,” “tongue,” “people” and “nation” to “reign” as “kings” with Him in the earth made new, and as “priests” to minister to others and to offer to the Lord sacrifices of praise. Hebrews 13:15.

"We shall reign on the earth," sing the elders in triumph. Verse 10. They are not on the earth now, nor will they always be in heaven. The earth is their home, and if faithful, we with them shall reign on the earth made new. This is prefigured in the marvelous setting of this great assembly. What majesty! What glory is there! Daniel, describing this, says, "His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousands and thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened." Daniel 7:9, 10. 

i. Unveiling Daniel and the Revelation, Roy Allan Anderson

11And 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;

5:11 In response, the hosts of heaven join in acclaiming the worthiness of the Lamb. The song of praise swells out in space and time to the grand climax when every knee on earth and under the earth (even the powers of evil) shall bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11.

12Saying 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.

5:12 The doxology of the heavenly host (“power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing”) is sevenfold, signifying that the praise of heaven is complete and perfect. This is the attitude of heaven toward the Son of God and His work since the cross of Calvary, an attitude that rises to a crescendo as the great controversy comes to a victorious close.

13And 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.

14And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

5:13-14 This scene can only refer to a future time when the universe is clean, where every creature in heaven and on earth without exception sends up anthems of blessing to God. Our earth as we know it now, curses God, for the majority, rather than blesses. So this can only refer to a time when sin has been vanquished, the redeemed saved, and a universal song of adoration goes up to God and to the Lamb.

And the years of eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more glorious revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence, and happiness increase. The more men learn of God, the greater will be their admiration of His character. As Jesus opens before them the riches of redemption and the amazing achievements in the great controversy with Satan, the hearts of the ransomed will thrill with more fervent devotion, and with more rapturous joy they will sweep the harps of gold; and ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of voices will unite to swell the mighty chorus praise.

The great controversy will soon be ended. Sin and sinners will be no more. The entire universe will be clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness will beat through the vast creation. From Him who created all, will flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, will declare that God is love.

i. The Great Controversy, Ellen G. White, page 678.
 

 

Ahead to Revelation 6

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