By Sam E. Stone
Revelation was written by the apostle John. While he was in exile on the isle of Patmos around AD 95, God gave John a wonderful vision. It was designed to help the first-century believers as they faced increasing opposition and hostility. An angel came to him with a scroll, but no one could open it. John began to weep because of this.
The Lamb Appears
Around God’s throne were a group of elders (4:9, 10). One of them told John that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. Therefore, He could open the scroll! The metaphor of Lion had been used to refer to Jesus in messianic prophecy (Genesis 49:8-10). The Root of David also refers to Christ (Isaiah 11:1, 10; Romans 15:12).
Another term is introduced here—Lamb. Jesus is often compared to lambs that were used for sacrifices in Old Testament times (Isaiah 53:7). John the Baptist called him “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The seven horns and seven eyes suggest complete power and discernment. The seven spirits of God indicate the fullness and perfection of God (Revelation 4:5).
The Lamb was the only one worthy to take the scroll from the right hand of God. Because of his moral attributes and his sacrificial death, Jesus is indeed the perfect Lamb of God, offered for all the sins of all the people in all the world.
The Lamb Is Worshipped
The four living creatures are evidently exalted angelic beings. They were introduced earlier in Revelation (4:6). They lead in praise and adoration, and are “covered with eyes” (4:6-8). Nothing escapes their attention. Joining with the 24 elders, they fall down before the Lamb. Prostrating one’s self in this way was the normal method for those in Eastern lands to show worship (1 Corinthians 14:25). The golden bowls of incense are the prayers of the saints (see also Psalm 141:2).
The saints of the ages join to sing a new song, praising God for their great deliverance from sin. “You are worthy” is their praise to Jesus because of who he is and what he has done. After many generations of lamb sacrifices by the Jews, now Jesus is the one sacrifice offered for the sins of the entire world (Hebrews 7:27). Heaven will include those from every people group in the world. Those who have been saved are described as priests and kings (1 Peter 2:5-9).
G. R. Beasley-Murray wrote, “Christ has opened a new era by his redemptive work and is shortly to consummate his victory in the triumphant kingdom of God. Isaiah 42:9, 10 speaks of the new song in a similar context. The redemption is viewed as a purchase, at the price of Christ’s life, a ransoming from the enslaving and hostile power of sin.”
Then John looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands . . . There were so many angels that you couldn’t count them all! In addition to their heavenly worship, these messengers of God also minister to us (Hebrews 1:14). Their message is one of praise to the Lamb. He is worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! In ever-widening circles of praise, the angelic choir extols the Lamb of God. In view of who he is and what he has done, all creation should praise him.
Next John witnessed universal praise to the Lord—every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, joined in singing. No created thing is excluded (Philippians 2:10).
A. T. Robertson wrote, “This universal chorus of praise to Christ from all created life reminds one of the profound mystical passage in Romans 8:20-22 concerning the sympathetic agony of creation in hope of freedom from the bondage of corruption. . . . Praise and worship are rendered to the Lamb precisely as to God on the throne.”
All give their praise to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb. Such worship is appropriate. “The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped” (Revelation 5:14). All in Heaven are now awaiting the comforting message for the saints, which is about to be revealed.
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.