Summary: The scene in heaven has shifted from God the Creator to a new element in time & human history as God the Redeemer enters the scene. WHo can open the scroll that will become central in the Book.
REVELATION 5: 1-7
THE WORTHY SEARCH
[Isaiah 11: 1-10]
Four chemistry majors at a university decided to take a road trip just prior to their senior finals. Due to their extended partying they were late in getting back to campus, and missed their main chemistry final exam for the semester. However, they decided to tell their professor that they had had a flat tire on the way back to campus and wanted to take a makeup. The professor graciously agreed. When the students came to take the exam they were placed in four corners of the room. Turning the test over, they were confronted with a single question: "Which tire?" Needless to say, they had just moved into crisis mode!
It’s possible that you have experienced some crisis, big or small, in the past few days. Perhaps your crisis has been a lost set of keys, a near-deficit at the bank, a child who has been disappointed at school, a relational conflict at work, a car accident, or one of a thousand other tension-building circumstances. Yet, most of these crises pale in light of acts of violence, economic downturns, or social decay in our broader communities; and these community crises fade before global crises, such as war in the Middle East.
However, the crisis that constitutes the focus of Revelation 5 is bigger still. In fact,
it is the greatest crisis of all time, and all other crises flow from it. It is the Cosmic Crisis, and we are introduced to it in the first verses of chapter five.
The scene in heaven has shifted a bit from chapter four where we see the God the Creator. In chapter five a new element in time and human history occurs as God the Redeemer enters the scene. John is now introduced to a scroll that will become central in the following chapters. [It most likely contains the impeding prophecies of the book of Revelations.]
I. THE SEVEN SEALED SCROLL, 1.
II. THE COSMIC CRISIS, 2-4.
III. THE LION-LAMB, 5-7.
(Verse 1 begins with and, kai, thus connecting it with the preceding.) I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals.
John’s attention is now drawn back to the central throne where God Himself is seated. On (epi) His right hand is a book, or "scroll." [Most books at the time John wrote Revelation were scrolls made of papyrus, a paper -like material made from the reed of a plant. Sheets of papyrus were glued edge on edge until they reached as much as needed with thirty feet in length being the maximum, and then rolled up. A writer would unroll one end and roll up the other as he or she was writing a document. Most of the time writing was just on the inside of the scroll (the horizontal placed papyrus cut strips of the two ply sheet made a better writing surface than on the vertical striped back), but in certain important documents there could be a summary of the contents written on the outside, like a table of contents.] What John sees on the palm of the hand of God is a legal document that has been sealed legally with seven seals. With official documents, usually wax was dripped along the seam of a scroll as a way of guarding its contents. Official witnesses "stamped" the hot wax with a seal (somewhat like a notary public does today with ink), sealing the document until it could be opened legally. The number seven indicates it was completely closed and it’s contents inaccessible.
What is the content of this legal document? This scroll gives authority and power to its recipient to enact God’s final purpose. It contains the climax of God’s purposes to reward His people, to give them their inheritance, and on the flip side it condemns the wicked. It is the scroll of destiny, the world’s destiny.
II. THE COSMIC CRISES, 2-4.
And this is where the crisis comes in. In verses 2 & 3 a search is made to find someone worthy to open God’s seven sealed orders. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” (3) And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it.
The mighty angel (10:1; 18:21) initiates an extensive search to find “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals." The search is for someone of supreme goodness, both of character and morality. The crisis ensued. What is this great crisis? No one was found who could bring about God’s purposes for His people. The search was every so extensive and exhaustive. “No one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book and to break its seals." In other words, no one was worthy to conclude existence as we know it and begin external existence.