Sunday School lesson. August 16
The Lamb who is worthy
Revelation chapter 5
(1) This chapter is extremely important to the entire of Revelation. What happens here is a prelude to the events that will follow throughout the remainder of the book. In John’s vision, the Lamb of God opens the seals that initiates God plan of deliverance for His people and judgement on the wicked. Most importantly, our Savior is honored and worshiped throughout this chapter, reminding us that the worship of the Lamb is a fundamental feature in the Book of Revelation.
(2) Revelation 4-5 bring a change of scene as well as a change in time. While John remained physically on the Island of Patmos, he was - by the Spirit- caught away to the Throne in heaven to see things that must be hereafter. These two chapters form the introduction to all that will follow.
(3) Consider taking time to listen to a recording of a dramatized reading of Revelation 5, and you may find it easier to appreciate the imagery and enter into worship- which of course, is the fundamental focus of this chapter: Jesus, the Lamb of God, is worthy of all worship, as He alone is worthy to open Book.
(4) This scene unlocks the progression of events in the Book of Revelation. John sees a scroll in the right hand of the One sitting upon the throne, and it is sealed with seven seals. In the ancient world, official documents such as royal edicts, court verdicts, and land deeds were sealed in order to demonstrate their validity. Often, the witnesses present during the active writing would be represented by separate seals. Documents that were more important were sealed with more seals and only authorized recipients could open them in order to read and execute what was written inside.
(5) The first main point ends on a note of sorrow: no one is able to open the scroll, so creations final hopes remain unrevealed. There can be times when it seems that Gods plans are sealed shut. We read scripture promising God will act, but are unable to see how those promises can become reality. As we reflect on this passage, ask yourself, where do the heavens seem shut in my life? On these occasions, all we can do is what John himself did, weep and cry out to the Lord. There is no shame in this. The Lord will someday answer and turn our sorrows into joy.
(6) Johns weeping is interrupted as one of the elders approached him with good news: one had finally been found who is worthy to take the scroll and open the seals. The elder describes him as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David.
(7) The elder explains that the Lion of Judah is able to open the scroll because He has prevailed, or triumphed. Though we would naturally conclude that Jesus has the right to the scroll simply because of His divinity, the scripture indicates that He nevertheless went through battle in order to receive and execute the plans of the Father . Jesus faced His battle in Gethsemane and upon the cross, and went against the dark and deadly forces that destroy the world. He won that battle, overcoming the grave.
(8) As we consider Johns vision of a slain lamb at the center of the throne, we recall the story of Jesus ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection on earth. However, His death was not His defeat, but the means of His victory. Christ is the conquering Lamb. Risen from the dead, the once crucified Jesus now enters into the heavenly court to receive the sealed scroll.
(9) At this moment in the story, the living creatures and the elders fall before the Lamb in worship. They burn their bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Ancient cries from Gods people are answered as the Lamb receives the scroll. The long, usurping rule of evil is broken by the Lambs victory. Redemption has come. Thus, the petitions of Gods people rise before Him and are transformed into the sweet fragrance of worship.
(10) While Revelation 5 speaks of Christ’s great victory over sin, it also reminds us of a great reality: our future victory is assured in spite of the sufferings that may be endured in this world.. Moreover, suffering becomes triumph and rewards in the end. This principle is what theologians call the Now but not Yet Principle. Jesus is victorious now although our full experience of that victory has not yet taken place. Because of the “already”, however, we can offer our petitions knowing that He is victorious. Gods plans will be fulfilled in our lives and in our world as we follow Him.
(11) The next voices are those of the angelic host. They, too, raise their voices in worship to the Lamb. While the angels do not rejoice in having been redeemed from sin, they still celebrate His marvelous acts of victory and ascribe to Him all worship, which He is worthy to receive.
(12) Gods people sing in the midst of battle. They sing in the midst of their prayers. They sing in the valley and the deserts because they know that the Lamb has triumphed, and in a little while they shall receive their reward. How do they know this? The Spirit brings them a foretaste of that victory won in the past and manifested in the future. Whatever you might be facing today, cry out to God, and don’t forget to sing!
(13) As you consider Revelation 5, think about the spiritual challenges you face. Take them to the triumphant Lamb and allow your prayers to rise like incense before Him. Then join all Heaven and earth in worship, for your Redeemer is worthy!