Summary: The scandal of Christ is embodied in Revelation 5. He is God, Equal to Him in every way and worshiped by all.
I remember a friend of mine suggesting that a waiting till after your death to give people you love something you want them to have is not the best way. If you wait till they get it from your will, in many cases, they must pay an inheritance tax on it. Besides, you don't get to express your esteem in person. He said, it's better to give it to them while you're still alive. The gesture is much more personal and the gift is not tainted with grief.
Scholars of the Kings of Judah and Israel struggled for a long time to add up the years. The Bible was clear about how long kings reigned and when certain things happened, but the numbers did not add up. The numbers indicated a much longer time.
Until one man looked at the culture and figured out that the kings did not wait till their death to pass on the throne. As a king got older, his son would begin reigning along side ... they call this a co-regency. This is well illustrated by the work on the Temple between David and Solomon. As David aged, Solomon took more and more responsibility, though David did not step down. David gathered materials, but it was Solomon who ultimately built the Temple. It was a joint plan.
This paints a picture for what is happening in Revelation 5. God is not stepping down from the Throne, not even close, but His Son is stepping up to rule by His side.
Ancient books were written on scrolls. The longest were about the length of Genesis or Exodus, written on one side. Any longer and the stress of it's own weight would tear the papyrus, so very long books were divided into multiple scrolls. Only private documents were written on both sides and sealed.
In John's time, a seal, say on a will or a deed, was meant to be opened only by the witness who sealed it. A Roman will was sealed by 6 witnesses, so it could be opened only if the 6 seal holders were there.
This scroll is the testament of God ... the deed of ownership for His Kingdom. When this document is opened, the great plan of God will come to fulfillment and the purpose of creation will be fully revealed. It contains judgement, but also reward. As the seals are opened, momentous things will happen, but they cannot happen if the document remains closed.
When we read the events associated with the opening of the seals, we shudder, they are cosmic and catastrophic. And though it is true that terrible things will happen, when all is said and done, the establishment of the Kingdom of God will reach its ultimate fullness. We may find the path to that establishment frightful, but it is God's faithful and righteous path and it is our ultimate hope.
This is why John wept. In these days of persecution, John is exiled to this wilderness island for his faith. He longs to worship God in peace. All his companions in Christ have been murdered for their ministries. He longs for the torture to be over. He knew Jesus, but he has said and done much on faith and he longs for a day when faith will be vindicated.
Today, Christian men, women and children in Sudan are sold into slavery. Some buy the slaves and free them, but they are only kidnaped and sold again. In China, North Korea and Mongolia some Christians are tracked like criminals and imprisoned for practicing faith outside the limitations of government regulation. Even in Vietnam a person must be a part of the regulated church or be harassed. A few militant Muslim countries will not allow Christianity to be practiced at all, on pain of death.
Even in this country, we shake our heads at the law which does not allow the ten commandments to be posted in a courtroom, all the while also knowing the basis for that law is an Anabaptist idea that allows us to worship freely, keeping government interference out of the church, not forcing us to have a flag in our sanctuary. Some delight in the eviction of faith from the public arena, others try to live within the law and find ways to incorporate their faith. Ultimately, only God knows which is which. The trade-off gives us freedom, but it also limits us and we hope for a day, some day, when the Kingdom will reach fulfillment and no artificial boundary will separate Church from State, because the State will be God's kingdom.
When will God's people be so enamored with Him that the paltry happiness of this life will hold no power over our longing for the eternal and overwhelming joy