Jesus is Sovereign over the Future (Revelation 4-22), cont’d.
Revelation 4-5 The Rapture of the Church and the Scene in Heaven (the beginning of the 7 years of Tribulation, 4-19), cont’d.
Revelation 5:1-The Scroll of Judgment Presented
John sees a scroll in God's hand...it has writing on both sides, and is sealed with seven seals. As we will see, this scroll contains seven consecutive pronouncements of God’s judgment on earth. Some believe that all seven seals are on the outside of the scroll. Each time that a seal was broken…the content of the scroll corresponding to that seal was initiated on earth.
- The best solution is to see the scroll as "God's will, his final settlement of the affairs of the universe." (Barclay) This is based on the idea that customarily, under Roman law, wills were sealed with seven seals, each from a witness to the validity of the will.
- "Roman law required a will to be sealed seven times as illustrated in the wills left by Augustus and Vespasian for their successors." (Walvoord)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Revelation 5
Others believe that the seals are within the rolls of the scroll. As the scroll is unrolled, the seals are broken. Each time a seal is broken…the next judgment begins.
The Judgments of God
In the book of Revelation there are three series of God’s judgment upon mankind. They are the 7 Seals (ch. 6, 8:1), the 7 Trumpets (ch. 8-9, 11:15), and the 7 Bowls (ch. 16).
#4 death…by sword, famine, wild beasts
#5 martyrdom of believers (they are in Heaven)
#6 cosmic and physical disturbances…earthquake, sun became black, moon became like blood, stars of the sky fell to the earth, sky split apart like a scroll, every mountain and island moved
#7 silence in Heaven
#1 hail and fire mixed with blood…1/3 of the earth (trees, grass) burned up
#2 a great mountain burning with fire is thrown into the sea…1/3 of sea life killed and 1/3 of ships are destroyed
#3 a great star fell from heaven…1/3 of the rivers and springs became bitter and many men died from it
#4 1/3 of the sun, 1/3 of the moon and 1/3 of the stars are darkened…there is no light for 1/3 of the day and 1/3 of the night
#5 a star fell from heaven (angel) and is given the key to the bottomless pit…he opens it and releases demons (locusts)…they are allowed to intensely torment men (with a sting like a scorpion) who do not have the seal of God for 5 months
#6 4 angels and their army of 200 million attack…killing 1/3 of mankind through fire, smoke and brimstone
#7 scene in Heaven of rejoicing
#1 sores appear on men who had the mark of the beast
#2 the sea becomes like blood and everything in it dies
#3 the rivers and springs become like blood
#4 the sun scorches men with fire
#5 the kingdom of the beast is darkened
#6 the Euphrates River dries up…gathering of men to Armageddon
#7 lightning and thunder, the largest earthquake in history happens…Jerusalem is split into three parts, nations fall, islands sink, mountains disappear, huge hailstones fall on men
Revelation offers no explanation of exactly how these judgments are enacted other than an angel broke the seal of a scroll, blew a trumpet, or poured out the contents of a bowl on the earth…and it happened. But we do know that they are not just well-timed coincidences. These judgments are initiated by the decree of almighty, sovereign God.
It is often asked why God would judge the people of the Tribulation period so harshly through these judgments. In part, God’s judgment is meant to bring men to repentance. The accuracy of the prophecy in this book and the rest of the Bible concerning exactly what will happen during the days of the Tribulation will be astounding to them when they take place. While we cannot fully understand all that John writes about…but when those things happen there will be no confusion. People will know that God exists, that He is the sovereign Lord over all of the universe, and that He is deserving of our faith and worship. They should repent of their sins and turn to Him in worship. But instead, for many of them, their hearts will have become so hardened, so cold towards God…that it will take judgment of this extreme degree to gain their attention. And even still, despite these warnings...Revelation tells us that the many people will not repent of their sins (9:20-21; 16:9,11,21).
Revelation 5:2-7-The Lamb of God Identified
An angel calls out for someone who is “worthy” to open the scroll...but no one is found. John begins to cry because he knows that the scroll is instrumental in God’s plan of salvation. But an angel consoles him and tells him that the "Lion that is from the tribe of Judah (cf. Genesis 49:9), the Root of David (cf. Isaiah 11:1,10), has overcome"...and can open the book. No one in Heaven (meaning angels…because they are not a factor in God’s plan of salvation), or on earth (because all men are disqualified because they are sinners), could open this scroll of judgment. No one was “worthy” (qualified) to do so. Only Jesus, Who had lived an absolutely perfect, sinless life (“has overcome”)…was worthy to open the scroll, and in doing so, to stand as the righteous judge over all of mankind.
Then John sees Jesus…"a Lamb, standing, as if slain". John’s vision here of Jesus is of Him as the perfect lamb of God that was offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Even in Heaven, He bears the marks of His death (see Luke 24:40; John 20:20,27), even in His glorified state. The "horns" are a symbol of strength (cf. 1 Kings 22:11; Zechariah 1:18) and the “eyes” are a symbol of knowledge…the reference to the number “seven” speaks of completeness. He took the scroll from the hand of God, the Father.
Revelation 5:8-14-The Lamb of God Worshipped
The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fall down before Him in worship...each one of the elders had a harp, and golden bowls full of incense that represents the prayers of the saints. They sing a song of praise to Him expressing the fact that He was worthy to open the book because He gave His life to provide for the salvation of man.
A huge number of angels join in the worship.
All the creatures in Heaven and earth join in the worship
The 4 living creatures kept saying "Amen", which means “Yes, I agree”. And the elders fall down and worship Him.
Prayer: Lord, I pray that our worship this Sunday will be a reflection of this worship! Help us to fall at Your feet and express Your glory, and worthiness, and honor.