Reading for Friday, Nov 16: Revelation 5
The worship scene of ch4 is interrupted at the beginning of our chapter today, as an angel emerges with a scroll and a question: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” (v2). This scroll is representative of the will of God. We know from what we’ve just seen in ch4 that God is to be praised for His worthiness (4:11), so it’s no surprise to see the Lion of Judah, a messianic image in Israel’s tradition, step to the forefront to answer the call.
What IS surprising is the transformation of the Lion of Judah into a slain Lamb. The Lion who conquers (v5) has become the Lamb who has been slain (v6). John’s vision is another glimpse at a deeper reality. In Revelation, all is not as it seems. The image of the slaughtered Lamb is cause for mourning on earth; the disciples lock themselves up, fearful that the same fate might await them. But fitted with the lenses John receives here, we are able to see this sacrificial death as the key moment of victory. Evil and death are truly conquered in this moment. This Lamb is worthy to open the scroll “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,” (v9-10). Human blood will no longer have any status in evaluating and organizing people; only the blood of the Lamb is relevant here.
The response to this is tremendous, staggering in scope: “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…” (v11). And once again, a song of worthiness and praise spills forth from creation:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (v12)
And every creature — in heaven and on earth and under the earth — declares “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
May we live as a kingdom of priests, mediating this Truth through our praise!