At this point in John’s second vision, God is on the throne, four divine beings are leading in worship, twenty-four elders are on their knees, loud hymns are being sung, and there is a pile of golden crowns about the feet of the Sovereign One. It is a worship service like none other.
John’s focus then zooms in on the King. He is still seated on the throne, and within his hand is a closed scroll with seven seals affixed. An angel’s voice is then heard. According to the divine commentator, only a worthy one break the seals and open the scroll. According to the angel, no one on earth or in heaven was so worthy. John, in his vision, began to wail. It broke his heart that no one was worthy. He was intensely saddened that the scroll could not be opened and read.
However, he was soon encouraged by one of the twenty-four prostrate elders. While no created man or angel was worthy of opening the sealed scroll, Jesus who was the promised lion of Judah, the promised descendent of David, and the one who conquered sin and the grave could do so. This was indeed good news.
John then saw more movement. Between the King on the throne and the four worship leaders, John saw the Lamb of God appear. He had seven horns; these represented incredible maturity, power and dignity. He also had seven eyes that represented omniscient and omnipresent wisdom; he is full of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, one could tell he had been slaughtered. This Lamb was incredibly comfortable in the presence of the One on the throne. As if he belonged there, he walked up to the throne and took the scroll from the Sovereign One.
This action resulted in another holy and excited explosion of worship. The four worship leaders and the twenty-four elders fell down again; this time before the One on the throne and the Lamb. Both were worthy of their reverential adoration. Now, in addition to singing, they are playing instruments and offering prayers. John then gives his readers the words to their heavenly praise chorus. Perhaps a fair paraphrase might be the following:
Jesus, Lion of Judah, Son of David, Victor over the Grave, Lamb of God,
While no one else is worthy to take and open the scroll, you are.
You earned this privilege by taking on human flesh, shedding human blood, and redeeming your people.
These people are not only Jews, but they consist of redeemed individuals from every ethnicity.
These people are priests in the one church, they have access to the Holy of Holies and to God Almighty.
These people are kings, in the one, unified, Kingdom of God, and some day they shall rule on the New Earth.
John’s vision then transitioned to the panorama view. No longer did he only see the Almighty, the Lamb, the four worship leaders, and the twenty-four elders, but he sees and hears millions of angels joining in a hymn to the Lamb. Jesus Christ is all powerful; he is the owner over all; he is all-wise; he is the most honorable, glorious and blessed. John’s focus then zooms out further; he now sees and hears worship coming from heaven, earth, middle-earth and the sea. Identical worship is being given to the Sovereign One on the throne and the Lamb of God standing next to the throne.
Friends, doesn’t this make you want to do what the worship leaders and elders do in the final verse of chapter five? John writes, “And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” (5:14)
Nothing had changed in John’s temporal circumstances. He was still exiled. He was still lonely. His career path looked dismal. The same was true for the recipients of John’s Revelation. They were still being severely persecuted by Jewish and Roman opponents. Health, wealth and prosperity were not being preached in packed stadiums in that era. No, Christians were being eaten by lions, flayed by gladiators, and set ablaze as street lights in the capital city. However, God wished to encourage John, the seven Asian churches, and all who have read his Apocalypse.
Friends, this is not only a vision of the future, but this describes paradise today. God is still on the throne. Jesus is at his right hand. Those who see most clearly sing most loudly, and the future is bright for all Christians who have been saved, coronated, and ordained. We are redeemed. We are kings. We are priests. Whatever you do, don’t turn back! Keep going, and make progress living life as redeemed, priestly monarchs. Persevere, even if Satan kills you in this era of tribulation. For you who are in Christ, paradise is coming.
Additionally, let us put our Bible’s down and get down. Let me say this more appropriately. Let us find a quiet place and fall on our knees. It would be a good thing for us to spend some time singing and praying these hymns from Revelation 5 today. For Jesus is worthy of all honor, glory and blessing. Give him what he deserves, and enjoy doing so.