The Seven Sealed Scroll and the Lamb
CHAPTER FIVE is the key that unlocks chapters six through nineteen of Revelation. It will fulfill the vision of Daniel 7:9-14, where the Son of Man approaches the Ancient of Days to receive the everlasting dominion and kingdom.
A SCROLL WITH WRITING ON BOTH SIDES AND SEALED WITH SEVEN SEALS (5:1).
Historicists hold that this scroll means the purposes and designs of God relative to His government of the world and of the Church. They view Christ’s reign as either a postmillennial ascendancy of Christianity in this world or an amillennial spiritual reign over the saints over their own spirits (no longer as slaves of sin) in the spiritual kingdom now.
Preterists view the scroll as the sentence handed down by the Judge against Jerusalem for it part in shedding “all the righteous blood” of the Martyrs (Matthew 23:35).
Idealists believe this scroll is the redemptive plan of God—His Last Will and Testament, symbol of God’s power and authority. Futurists interpret the scroll to be the Title Deed to the Earth.
Combine these four views for the best picture along with goals of redemption and vengeance. Redemption is linked to Christ’s Advent (1 Peter 1:18-19) as well as to His Second Advent (Luke 21:28; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:22-23). Vengeance is only linked to His second coming (Isaiah 61:2). Four things are associated with the Kinsman-Redeemer/Avenger:
1. SERVANT (Leviticus 25:47-55)
2. WIDOW-BRIDE (Deuteronomy 25:5)
3. LAND (Leviticus 25:25; Jeremiah 32)
4. AVENGER OF BLOOD (Numbers 35:13)
CHRIST JESUS THE KINSMAN-REDEEMER
1. FIRST ADVENT (Luke 4:16-19: Revelation 1:5-6)
2. RAPTURE (Eph. 5:25-27; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 4:1)
3. SECOND ADVENT (Revelation 6-19)
4. SECOND ADVENT (2 Thess. 1:5-10; Rev. 6-19)
Jeremiah 32:1-16 typifies this scroll as the kinsman-redeemer’s title deed. The field of a near kinsman of Jeremiah was occupied by the army of Babylon. At the request of the kinsman, the prophet purchases the field with the right to possess it for himself. Knowing the Word of the LORD, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase are put in a clay jar so that they will last a long time. Jeremiah knows after the enemy occupation that the houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.
Christ has purchased this earth with His blood (typified by the redemption price of silver shekels). At the time of purchase, the enemy’s (Satan’s) forces occupy it. But after a long time, the heirs of Jeremiah (Christ) will receive the inheritance He redeemed.
This scroll is typical of various contracts of the ancient world, including deeds, marriage contracts, rental and lease agreements and wills. Emperors Caesar Augustus and Vespasian each left a will with seven seals. Romans sealed their will seven times on the edge of each roll to prevent unauthorized entry. The executor could not open the will until the death of the testator. When the seals were broken, the inheritance was distributed to the heirs.
As the contents of this scroll are revealed it becomes apparent that it is also a scroll of destiny, revealing the consummation of all history, and how things will end for all people—judgment for the world and final rewards for the saints:
The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18).
The seven-sealed scroll is not only about judgment and the inheritance of the kingdom, but also it is about the consummation of history—how things will ultimately end for all people.
WHO IS WORTHY TO BREAK THE SEALS (5:2-4)? John weeps because no one of Adam’s race has the right or is competent to rule the earth. Adam forfeit the earth and man’s rule in the Fall and Satan filled the gap (cf. Matthew 4:8; John 4:8; 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). And no angelic being was worthy either!
THE ONE WHO HAS TRIUMPHED (5:5-6). The conqueror or overcomer (nikaw) is the Worthy One, of whom three Messianic titles are used:
1. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah (cf. Genesis 49:9-10)
2. The Root of David (Isaiah 11:1-4; Matthew 1:1; 22:41-46)
3. The Lamb (arnion denotes “a little lamb”)
Few passages declare the meekness and majesty of Christ as does this one.
THE LAMB WHO HAD BEEN SLAIN. The OT question was “where is the lamb?” (Genesis 22:7). Christ Jesus is the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:5; 1 Corinthians 5:7), the Suffering Servant led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7), and the Lamb of God (John 1:29). Outside of Revelation, this Greek term arnion for lamb appears only when Jesus tells Peter to “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15). The prophet uses this term, saying, “I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter” (Jeremiah 11:19).
THE LAMB STANDING IN THE CENTER OF THE THRONE. The Lamb still bears the marks of crucifixion as He stands in the center of the throne. What does that mean? Resurrection and Exaltation—Meekness and Majesty (Philippians 2:5-11). The wounds are still there; however, this Lamb has overcome death.
This term expresses the endearment that occurred when the Israelites took a lamb into their house on the tenth of Nisan and then slaughtered it on the fourteenth after they became attached to it. Lamb appears thirty-two times in Revelation (5:6; 5:8; 5:12, 13; 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 16; 7:9, 10, 14, 17; 12:11; 13:8, 11; 14:1, 4, 10; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7, 9; 21:9, 14, 22). The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is not the description applied to Jesus throughout Revelation since it is limited to the kingdom of Israel and the throne of David. Lamb fits the events of Christ’s redemption of the earth that occur in this book; so the Lion becomes a Lamb! “The Lamb” is the centerpiece of Scripture since it pictures the person and work of Christ the Kinsman-Redeemer.
The seven horns of the Lamb denote Christ’s complete power in His political rule (Daniel 7:7-8, 14-27; 8:3-5; Revelation 12:3; 13:1; 17:3, 7, 12, 16). The seven eyes indicate Christ’s complete wisdom, intelligence and discernment with His sevenfold Spirit sent out into all the earth to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-15). All throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus gave credit to the Holy Spirit. These symbolic characteristics speak of omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence.
HE CAME AND TOOK THE SCROLL (5:7). This action symbolizes the slain Lamb is now ready to execute God’s plan of redemption of the world. Christ’s victorious death on the Cross is the basis of His authority.
THE WORSHIP OF THE LAMB (5:8-14). The golden bowls full of incense represent the prayers of millions of saints (especially, “Thy kingdom come”) that are about to be answered. Many petitions are for vindication, calling for God to avenge with judgment (6:10; 8:3-5).
The new song fulfills the reminders of Psalm 33:3; 96:1; 98:1: 149:1; Isaiah 42:10. It is a new song of redemption, deliverance and reign.
There are seven great possessions, which belong to the risen Lord: (1) power; (2) wealth; (3) wisdom; (4) strength; (5) honor; (6) glory; and (7) praise.
The number of angels that take part in worship is a countless multitude. This scene preludes the end time’s judgments revealed to the prophet Daniel:
A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire (Daniel 7:10-11).
Verse 12 is a sevenfold doxology. These are intrinsic qualities of the Lamb and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Compare Psalm 148, where all creation is willed, made, ruled, and praised by God.
In the Gospels, four entitlements are espoused in four of the Messiah’s titles:
1. Son of David – Title to the Throne
2. Son of Abraham – Title to the Promised Land
3. Son of Man – Title to the Earth
4. Son of God – Heir of All Things
The Devil desires worship that belongs to God alone (Matthew 4:9-11) and he will seek to obtain it on earth in the time delineated in the coming chapters. But in heaven, Christ is worshiped as the Creator of the earth upon which He is about to pour out wrath. Earth will be filled with cries of great distress while heaven is filled with songs of glory.
The judgments of the seals are generally in the category of providential judgments. Christ has not yet intervened as directly as He will at the end. Daniel’s Seventy Seven and Christ’s Mount Olivet discourse sketch the contents of the seven-sealed scroll.
The time marker for the middle of the Tribulation is “the abomination that causes desolation” spoken by the prophet Daniel (Matthew 24:15; Daniel 9:27). The events that are parallel with the seals can be dated from Christ’s Mt. Olivet discourse.
For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:21).
It is the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Deuteronomy 4:30; Jeremiah 30; Ezekiel 20:37; Daniel 12:1; Zechariah 13:8-9; Matthew 24:15-25).
TIME OF JACOB’S TROUBLE (JEREMIAH 30:4-11)
A Time of Travail, 4-6
A Time of Terror, 7a
A Time of Triumph, 7b-11b
End of the Times of the Gentiles, 8
Beginning of Christ’s Kingdom, 9
Restoration of Israel to the Land, 10a
Rest for Israel, 10b
Salvation for Israel, 11b
End of All Nations, 11b
A Time of Training, 11c
This will be a time of divine wrath and mercy—an answer to the prophet’s prayer of Habakkuk 3:2.
See a comparison of the events of Revelation and Daniel with the events Jesus discusses in the Mount Olivet Discourse on the charts page.