Summary: An easy-to-understand study on Revelation 5.
This chapter deals with things that are written in a scroll; a scroll that was in God’s hands and which had a message from God to us. John will reveal the contents of that message to us one step at a time.
“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 saw God sitting on His throne and holding a particular kind of scroll in His right hand. In John’s time, most scrolls had writing only on one side. A scroll was a long piece of paper or cloth that was much longer than it was high. It was so long that both the left and right sides were attached to wooden handles that were used to roll it up from either end.
Most scrolls only had writing on one side, but there was a particular kind of scroll that had writing on both sides; that was a title deed to property. If a property owner was unable to meet all of his financial obligations, he’d have to give up the deed. Then, his debts would be written on the backside and the deed would be sealed with 7 seals. If during the next 7 years he could pay off his debts, the seals would be broken and the title deed returned to the property owner as a way of saying the debts were paid in full.
What is this deed that John is seeing? It’s the actual title deed to planet earth. It was originally given to Adam in the Garden of Eden, as we read in GENESIS 1:28. Adam was given dominion over all the earth, but he forfeited the right to ownership when he disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Adam’s sin is what transferred the deed to Satan. (ROMANS 5:14 ) This is why Paul called Satan the "god of this world" in 2 CORINTHIANS 4:4 and why Jesus referred to him as the "prince of this world" in JOHN 12:31. God has allowed Satan to have temporary rule over this planet until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, as forecast in prophecy, found in the book of Revelation.
”And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.”
Who is worthy or able to meet the requirements to pay off this debt? Who is worthy to open the scroll and break the seals? No one is found qualified to open the scroll and read it, no angel, no man, no demon has the wisdom and knowledge to execute judgment. So John wept uncontrollably, thinking the earth would remain in Satan’s grasp, and that the wicked might go unpunished and the righteous would not be vindicated.
When no one came forward to reclaim earth, tears flowed in Heaven, something that probably had never happened in all of eternity. John was promised to see the revelation of what was to come, but now he may have wondered whether God’s plan would really be worked out.
“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. 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. “
One of the elders tells John to stop wailing and comforted him with the words that there is one who is worthy, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Jesus was born of the house and lineage of David, but since He actually preceded David by all eternity, He is also the Root of David. He is fully qualified and able to open the scroll and to break the seals, because of His infinite wisdom, by divine decree from God, the Father, (JOHN 5-22, 27) and by His finished work on the Cross.
John then looked and saw a Lamb, in the midst of the elders and encircled by the four living creatures, looking as if it had just been slain. Though the appearance is as one who was slain, Jesus is very much alive. John is thinking of Him in terms of sacrifice, but also sees Him standing in power and strength.