Worthy Is The Lamb
Key Verse 5:12
“In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
Chapter 4 of the Book of Revelation is a picture of the throne of God as John saw it when he was taken up to heaven to witness events that are yet to be. Through the eyes of John we saw the magnificent scene of perpetual worship going on roundabout the throne of God. Yet the scene of worship does not stop there. In chapter 5 the scene of worship focuses a Lamb who appears to be slain. Then after the events of this chapter come to a close, we witness through the eyes of John the hordes of creation in its entirety worshiping at the feet of the Lamb. Who is this Lamb whom all creation bows to in acts of worship? The Bible tells us that the “Lamb of God” is none other than the Lord Jesus himself. (John 1:29) In this world, most people have their own ideas about who Jesus really is. Some say he was a prophet and others say that he was a good man, and still others say that he was an idealist. Consequently, most people have their own ideas about who or what they ought to worship in life. They think its their own business whom or what they worship. But Paul puts it best when he says of those that: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator— who is forever praised. Amen.” (Romans 1:259) But the truth is that Jesus is God and He alone is worthy of worship. These two chapters 4-5 tell us a great deal about whom we ought to worship, and how worship is done in heaven.
First, the Scroll. Read verse 1. “Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.” John was still watching as the 4 living creatures of chapter 4 worshiped God saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (4:8). Then whenever the four living creatures worshiped God, the 24 elders surrounding the throne also worship God saying: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (4:11) They adulate the Creator God who is worthy of their worship. But the worship scene does not end here. John looks and this time he sees a scroll in the right hand of the Creator God. This scroll had writing all over it, on the front and on the back. But he could not see what was written in it, because it was sealed with seven seals. In John’s day books were written on scrolls, pieces of papyrus or velum long enough to compose what we today consider to be a book. We are not sure what to call this book. Some consider it to be the “Book of judgment”, but we might consider it to be the book of “future events” or of “The End Times.” Once the seals are broken and what’s written in the book is unsealed, it becomes clear that the book tells of what is yet to happen as God wraps up history and brings about the eternal Kingdom of God. It also becomes clear that not just anyone is able to break the 7 seals placed there by the hand of God, to prevent all things in heaven and on earth from looking into future events. It reminds us of what Jesus had once said regarding that Day: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32) This really puts a seal on the mouths of charlatans— whether Christian or not— who pretend to predict or to know the future!
The Creator God then holds in his right hand a scroll, or a book tightly sealed with seven seals. As we read on in the book of Revelation, it becomes apparent that the seals are meant to be opened one at a time, and each time a seal is opened, some event occurs that sheds light on what is yet to happen. It is amazing that John could see all these amazing events unfold in front of his own eyes. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I am not sure that this saying applies to the word of God, since the word of God is worth more than a thousand pictures. But clearly to be able to see the throne of God and record what he saw, what was, what is, and what is yet to come is truly amazing. Look at verse 2. John stood there and watched, awestruck as he may have been, an angel proclaim in a loud voice, “Who is worthy of break the seals and open the scroll?” perhaps John was not expecting this at all. Perhaps he was anticipating that any of those who surround the throne of God, whether living Creatures or Elders might be able to break the seals placed on the scroll. But he was in for a surprise. Read verse 3. “But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.” What does it mean that no one in heaven or on earth could open the scroll nor even look inside of it? It means just that! When we read ahead we see that it not only means that no one is able to break the seals but that no one is worthy to break the seals either. No one means no one!
How did John react when no one was found in heaven and on earth to break the seals so as to unfold the events that would govern the end of times? Read verse 4. “I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.” This is a very heartbreaking scene. John who anticipated that at least a few might be able to break the seals, is distraught because as he waited and waited, no one was found who was worthy to break the seals. The word “worthy” here is priceless. Indeed there is no one worthy neither in heaven nor on earth to break the seals. No one is worthy to take the scroll from the and of God. No one is worthy to look into the events that would usher in the end of times. No one is worthy! How is it then that men trust in governments and systems to save them? How is it that men trust in ideologies and philosophies and politicians to save them? How is it that they trust in saints and angels and heavenly beings to help and to save them? How is it they trust in pastors and clergy and such to save them? How is it then that men have trusted in other men in history to save them when no creature in heaven or on earth is worthy to break the seals of the scrolls? Men trusting other men or systems to save them have been the bane of humanity from the beginning of time till this very day? We should know that creatures are only creatures, created by God, whether in heaven or on earth they are only creatures, some holy and some unholy, yet none worthy at all.
The Bible tells us our true condition. We human beings are sinful from birth, born to sin and live in sin and die in sin. Unless we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb we are wretched, pitiful, weak and unable to lift ourselves form the mires of this world and its filth. Surely there is none of us worthy of anything. Other than the grace of God given to us through the precious sacrifice of our Lord, we have nothing to boast in or boast for. Paul was a great man, greater yet that any living person in the New Testament. But even Paul said, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” What made Paul great was nothing of himself, it was all the grace of God given to him by the mercy of Jesus. But great as he was, not even the great Paul, nor the great Moses, nor the angels of heaven are able to break the seal on the scroll, for none is worthy. It takes one who is worthy to break the seal.
When John saw that no one was worthy to take the scroll form the hand of God, he wept. As I mentioned this is a very heartbreaking scene. John wept because none was worthy to break the seals. But he also wept because of his own sinfulness and unworthiness before the living God. John the shepherd after Jesus’ own heart, wept and wept for his sins and for the sins of the whole world, for no one was worthy to come into the presence of God on their own. How great a true shepherd he was! John knew his place before the living God. He was beloved of Jesus, but he was also no more than a forgiven sinner redeemed by the blood of Jesus who loved him and gave himself for him on the cross. Perhaps John wept because of Jesus who had to sacrifice himself so selflessly on the cross for the sins of the human race. Perhaps he remembered the great suffering of The One who came to this world to live among us and die for us. How great John’s pain was when he thought of innocent Jesus walking towards Golgotha bearing his cross on his shoulders. Perhaps John even remembered Jesus’ words to those weeping for him that day when he said: “Do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and your children.” It must have been painful for John to think about how much the sin of our lives and the lives of all human beings hurt God. He wept bitterly for his sins and the sins of the world. He wept for Jesus who suffered and died on the cross for our sins. John’s tears were perhaps also tears of joy, for he knew that in spite of his sinfulness and unworthiness, the Lord Jesus had already purchased him along with all the saints with his blood, and has called us to be his children. How much must we weep for our sins! How much must we also weep for the sins of others. How much we must weep for the salvation of those who do not yet know the grace of Jesus. How much we must plead with God to pour his grace on us all so that all may know what great sacrifice the Lord Jesus on our behalf.
Second, only Jesus is Worthy. John’s weeping was intense but it came to an end when one person was found to be worthy to take the scroll from God’s hand and to break the seals on it. Read verse 5. “Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” One of the Elders stepped up to John and told him not to weep any more. He also told him to look and see who it is who is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals. Who then is it who is worthy of this impossible task? He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. This is clearly in reference to our Lord Jesus. He is the root of David, he is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. And he alone is worthy to break the seals. Why? Read verse 6-7. “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.” Jesus is worthy because he obeyed the will of God perfectly and had given himself to be the Lamb of God to be lead to the slaughter. Jesus came to us as a gentle shepherd. He taught us to repent for the kingdom of God is near. He taught us the love of God for unworthy people like us. He loved us with intense love, healing our diseases, carrying our weaknesses, making the lame walk and the blind see. Jesus even touched the leprous sores of our hearts and lives and made us well. He taught us the living word of God, and he taught us to come to God in prayer saying “Father.” And then in an act of ultimate sacrifice Jesus walked willingly to the cross of his suffering and death. He did so in love for us, but also in perfect obedience to the will of his father who willed him to die as the Perfect Lamb of God for the sins of the world. How great is this Lamb who was slain for us and for our sins. Who in heaven or on earth has ever been able to live a sinless life, give himself willingly to death on a cross so that unworthy humanity could find redemption in his blood. No one but Jesus. He alone is worthy before God. He is worthy of all things, especially worthy of taking the scroll, breaking its seals and putting in action the events that will yet unfold history towards its great end. Jesus is not just anyone. He is God. He is the one with seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God. He is the gentle Lamb who was led to the slaughter but he is also the Mighty God whose Spirit governs the heavens and the earth. Why men trust anyone other than Jesus is a folly they must either overcome or suffer the consequences. The day will come when this gentle Lamb will return as the conquering King of kings who will bring all history to and end, and bring about the very Kingdom he proclaims to us today.
Third, the songs of worship. (8-14) Read verses 8-10. “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” This was the first song of worship. It was sung by all the host of heaven, all who surrounded the throne of God. But that was not all. Look at verses 11-12. “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” This was the song of all the angels that God had created. But they were not the only ones praising God and worshiping at the feet of Jesus. Read verses 13-14. “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.” The third host of worshipers were all the creatures on the earth, including (some say) the animals who inhabit the earth and the seas. Perhaps God will give them tongues to praise Jesus because Jesus alone is worthy of worship.
We know that human history is fraught with all kinds of worship. From the beginning of time, men have worshiped something or another. Some worshiped stone others wood, still others worshiped each other. As history progressed and man’s worship developed into sophisticated worship, not of stone or wood, but of idols and gods that did not exist. The history of Israel tells us that they embraced the worship of the godless neighboring nations, and had Baal and Ashteroth for their gods, that is, the god of prosperity and the goddess of immorality. Today it is no different. Although people do not call it worship, they give their hearts to the worship of all kinds of worldly pleasures. This does not exclude people of all faiths who seem to worship God but in truth they worship their own comforts and pleasures and they pursue the very things that God warns us against. The truth is that everyone worships something or another. But none is truly worthy of our worship but Jesus alone. We must know that only Jesus is worthy to have our hearts given to him, and our lives poured out before him for he is the Only one who can break the seals of the Scroll and lead us into the history God has already prepared for us who love him and for the whole world as well. May the Lamb who was slain rule your hearts in true worship today. Amen.