Summary: John weeps in heaven as no one is found who can take control of planet earth\’s destiny - until a slain Lamb who is standing comes to claim ownership. We also learn about what happens to our prayers when they don\’t seem to be answered.
I remember one Christmas when one of my presents was a small box, tied with a bow. I opened it up and inside was just a little piece of metal. Not very cool you say. Well, for a 16 year old it meant a great deal. That little piece of metal was in the shape of a car key. No, my parents hadn’t given me a car - but they had given me a key of my own to drive one of theirs. Suddenly I had authority I never had before. At any time I could step out of the house, unlock the car, and drive away.
That is a very very small picture of what we see today in our study through Revelation chapter 5. My car in the driveway couldn’t go anywhere on its own until someone with the key stepped in and started it up. On a much larger and more important scale - the destiny of our world has been headed in one direction since the fall. And unless someone steps up with the key - or the title deed - nothing will change.
But not anyone can just claim the right to own creation. In fact, only one Person can ever claim that - and this transaction, and the unfolding of the rest of the book - is seen in this vision while John is in heaven - continued from chapter 4.
1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
Back then most books were not like we think of - something called a codex, with binding and pages. A scroll could be up to 30 feet long and was written on velum or papyrus. They were rolled up and sealed with wax or clay. Even to this day the Jews carry around scrolls of the Torah.
What is this scroll? It contains the rest of the book of the Revelation - and thus the future of mankind and planet earth - and in a real way - it is the title deed for the planet - a deed we signed over to Lucifer in the Garden of Eden.
The seals kept the document secret and with their breaking terrible things happen as God judges the earth for sin. It is sort of like going through escrow as the deed is transferred back to the one who bought it - but we’ll get to that in a moment.
The scroll could be reference to Daniel 12. Daniel wants to know what will happen at the end - but the angel tells him:
Daniel 12:8-9 He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end." ESV
Now that time has come. But not just anyone can take possession of this scroll.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.
To open the scroll you would have to possess the signet ring that sealed it. They would melt little blobs of wax, drip it on the edge of the scroll then push the signet ring into the wax.
John weeps because without the opening of this scroll - evil will continue to dominate planet earth. Whoever can legitimately open this scroll will have authority over all creation - its importance cannot be understated. Yet notice that no one - not in heaven (angelic beings), nor on earth (anyone alive) or under the earth (anyone who has ever lived) has that authority. This rules out every other religious leader or "prophet."
I think part of the purpose of John experiencing such sorrow is that humans without a savior are merely pawns in Satan’s hands. We should all weep when there is no champion for us!
5 And one of the elders said to me, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."
Obviously what’s coming is the Lord Jesus Christ. You wonder by C.S. Lewis used Aslan, the character of a lion, to portray Christ in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe? Part of what we see here connects us with some important Old Testament Scriptures that tie into the Messiah.
Jesus as a lion comes from:
Genesis 49:9-10 9 Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up.