The Scroll and the Lamb
1 In the right hand of the one sitting on the throne I saw a scroll that had writing on the inside and on the outside. And it was sealed in seven places. 2I saw a mighty angel ask with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look inside it.
4I cried hard because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or look inside it. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying and look! The one who is called both the ‘Lion from the Tribe of Judah’ and ‘King David's Great Descendant’ has won the victory. He will open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 Then I looked and saw a Lamb standing in the center of the throne surrounded by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb looked as if it had once been killed. It had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent out to all the earth.
7The Lamb went over and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who sat on the throne. 8 After he had taken it, the four living creatures and the 24 elders knelt down before him. Each of them had a harp and a gold bowl full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people. 9 Then they sang a new song,
“You are worthy
to receive the scroll
and open its seals,
because you were killed.
And with your own blood
you bought for God
people from every tribe,
language, nation, and race.
10 You let them become kings
and serve God as priests,
and they will rule on earth.”
11 As I looked, I heard the voices of a large number of angels around the throne and the voices of the living creatures and of the elders. There were millions and millions of them, 12and they were saying in a loud voice,
“The Lamb who was killed
is worthy to receive power,
riches, wisdom, strength,
honor, glory, and praise.”
13Then I heard all beings in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and in the sea offer praise. Together, all of them were saying,
“Praise, honor, glory,
forever and ever
to the one who sits
on the throne
and to the Lamb!”
14The four living creatures said “Amen,” while the elders knelt down and worshiped.
Today we are still in heaven. The One sitting on the throne is holding a scroll. It has writing on both sides and is firmly sealed. The seals alarm John because the scroll represents God’s plan to redeem his world and if it cannot be opened then those purposes remain unfulfilled. An angel asks for help, and there is an embarrassed silence. The elders study their shoes and the creatures lower their many eyes. An elder tells John to look up and, through his tears, he sees a majestic lion.
So the seals can be broken, but as he continues to look the lion morphs into a slaughtered lamb. Can a helpless Lamb break the seals? The Lamb takes the scroll and John is flooded with relief as he realizes that all is well. Jesus, the Lamb of God, is alone qualified to open the scroll because it is through his victory on the cross that God’s plan to redeem a lost world will be made possible.
All heaven erupts in praise and worship. The elders and the creatures are joined by millions of angels worshipping God the Father and Jesus the Son. This is celebration on a grand scale. But then notice v 8. All the elders have bowls, and the bowls contain the prayers of God’s people.
So we are included in the celebration. We too can lift our voices in praise and adoration, because we have come to understand that Jesus the Lamb of God has taken away the sin of the world, including ours. Humbly, and with overwhelming gratitude we know that our broken world, and our tangled lives will end at the throne of God, where ‘all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well’ (Julian of Norwich 1342–c.1416).
Thank you Father that the death of your Son has flooded the world, and my life too, with meaning and purpose. May I travel, as your beloved child, filled with quiet confidence, knowing that the best is yet to be. Amen.