“And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” Revelation 5:1-2
Who is there in all of God’s creation worthy to open the book of God’s judgments upon the earth and of the establishment of His everlasting kingdom? Who is worthy to break it seals and carry out the divine decrees written therein?
This is the picture we see in Revelation 4 and 5. John sees in a vision (with similarities to that of Isaiah 6) the very throne of God, and the almighty and eternal God holds in His hand a book sealed with seven seals, containing God’s judgments upon the earth and His ultimate victory and triumph over all His enemies and the establishment of His everlasting kingdom of glory. But who is worthy to open the seals and bring to pass this great work of God?
John writes, “And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” (Revelation 5:3-4).
No one was found worthy. All of mankind had sinned and come short of the glory of God (cf. Romans 3:23). God’s plan to save His elect and establish a glorious kingdom in which all creation will worship and serve the LORD God in holiness and righteousness forever could not be carried out. All appeared to be lost. John wept.
But all was not lost. God’s eternal plan would be carried out. “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” (Revelation 5:5-7).
There is one who is worthy: the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Root of David (cf. Genesis 49:9-10; Isaiah 11:1,10). He lived a righteous and holy life in the stead of all mankind, and He took upon Himself the sins of all the world and made atonement when He suffered and died upon the cross. He is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He was slain for the sins of all, but He rose again from the dead and He lives to establish God’s everlasting kingdom.
Because He suffered and died for our sins and rose again in victory, the battle is not lost. We need not weep. Instead, we can rejoice because our Savior and Redeemer lives and reigns upon God’s throne. He is exalted to the right hand of God the Father in heaven and rules over all things that He might establish and preserve His church, carry out His judgments and finally destroy all His enemies – all who continue in impenitence and opposition to Him – and establish His everlasting kingdom of glory.
Our Lord Jesus sent His Holy Spirit into the world and through the preaching of God’s Word is at work to bring people to repent of their sin and rebellion against their God and Maker and to trust in Christ Jesus for forgiveness and life. He carries out His righteous judgments upon the earth to move men to repent of their wicked ways and to turn unto Him for mercy. Ultimately He will destroy all His enemies, casting them into the fires of hell, and establish an everlasting kingdom in which all who have placed their hope and confidence in Him and His redemptive work will reign with Him forever in glory.
The picture is indeed comforting, beautiful and glorious! And so we too join in saying with all believers and all the hosts of heaven: “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth…Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:9-10,13).
O Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world, You suffered and died for the sins of all and rose again in victory. You are worthy to take the book and open the seals and carry out the eternal plan of God for our salvation. You are the judge of all the earth and You will establish Your everlasting kingdom. Graciously grant us Your Spirit that we might repent of our own rebelliousness and sin and place our faith in You alone for salvation. Keep us and preserve us in the true faith that we might not be condemned along with the world but reign with You in eternal glory. Amen.