Worthy is the Lamb! Revelation 5



On a barren island 10 miles long & 5 miles wide, 40 miles off the coast of Asia Minor, a man was caught up in the Spirit & shown the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The island was Patmos; the man was named John.

Never before had the Apostle John witnessed such things.

He had seen the dead raised, lepers cleansed, and his Lord walk on the water, but never had he experienced anything like this.

The vision begins in Revelation 4.

A great door in the sky is opened & John is brought through it & ushered into the throne room of God.

There is lightening. Rumbling peals of thunder. And then he saw God & he heard this song:

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty,

Who was, and is, and is to come! (Revelation 4:9).

B. Day & night that song continues.

Surrounding the throne were creatures known as seraphim. They were awesome in appearance (Revelation 4:6-8): Covered with eyes, front & back, one looked like a lion, another like an ox, another like a man and the fourth like an eagle.

They have six wings & their song never ceases: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come!

I wonder why they never stop saying this? Could it be that there is nothing else to say when in the presence of the Holy One? Could it be that nothing else matters?

*Question: How has the fact that God is holy (set apart, different) affected you? How has the fact that God has been & always will be God, impacted your life? How has the fact that God is Almighty enable you to deal with life?

Understanding today that the God to whom you sing & pray; the God to whom you've committed your life . . . is holy changes your life like nothing else. Understanding that as a Christian, His Spirit lives within you changes . . . the way you treat others, use your time, etc.

And in His right hand there was a book, a scroll. It is locked shut with seven mighty seals.

An air of anticipation hangs over the scene. Tension begins to build.

2. Lightening & thunder set the stage with a most fearful backdrop.

A mighty angel suddenly appears and in a tone of utmost urgency shouts out a question in decibels that pierce every nook & cranny of the universe.

Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals? (Revelation 5:2)

The question echoes through heaven. It reaches every planet & surrounds the earth.

One version expands the question to read:

Who is worthy to open the scroll? And who is entitled and deserves and is morally fit to break its seals?

Opening a seal involved more than merely breaking the wax;

the one who opened a seal took responsibility for the contents of the document.

The only response to the question is universal silence.

John had every reason to believe that someone would be found to open the scroll.

After all, he had been commanded in Revelation 1:19 to write down "the things which shall take place after these things"

In Revelation 4:1, John had been told, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things"

What book, scroll is this that draws the attention of heaven & earth?

This book represents the mind of God, and it lies the answers to every question, every injury, every heartache, every problem. What will happen to Christians? Will everything turn out all right? How can God make everything turn out all right?

But as Revelation 5:3 points out, no answers are revealed:

And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it.

*Those "in heaven" would have included the angels, seraphim, cherubim, and archangels such as Michael.* Those "on the earth" would have encompassed great Christian leaders, godly saints, and John himself. *"Under the earth" referred to the realm of departed spirits & included notable servants of God such as Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, & Paul.

As good as these were, none was worthy to open the book. No one stepped forward.

As a result, life would forever remain a mystery, an impossible puzzle. Crisis reigns . . . and John begins to cry.

And I began to weep greatly, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look into it (Revelation 5:4).

John wept bitterly.

It is the same word which was used by Luke when he wrote of Jesus' weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41).

It is weeping caused by anguish that is deeper than physical pain.

See the aged John crying & know that there is a time to weep:

*Remember the tears of reconciliation Joseph shed when he embraced Benjamin & later his father (Genesis 45). *Tears of repentance: Yet even now, says the Lord, return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning" (Joel 2:12). *Tears when you come to face to face with your own sinfulness; when you've done the very thing you said you never would: And immediately the cock crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, "Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times." And he broke down and wept (Mark 14:72). *Tears shed for those outside of Christ: For many, of whom I have often told you, and tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ (Philippians 3:18).

3. There is "a time to weep" (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

*Because John's brothers & sisters were suffering for their faith, John wept.

*Because he could not know the redemptive plans of God, John wept.

*Because all of life's questions forever echoing in time, pleading for an answer, reverberating through the universe, were never to be answered, John wept . . . bitterly.

I believe Revelation 5 teaches us how to cope when the answers don't come.

The message is as relevant to us in this century as it was to those ancient Christians who were being slaughtered & persecuted for their faith.

An answer is here when you lose your job, when you lose your loved one, etc. The message here helps us to know what to do with the questions we have: Stop weeping; behold [look, see], the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals (Revelation 5:5).

One of the elders dries John's tears pointing him back to Jesus. {Do you know someone who has taken their eyes off of Jesus?}

Perhaps John remembers that stormy night in the small fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee, when Peter walked on the water to Jesus.

As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to maintain his stability in the midst of the storm.

When Peter took his eyes off the Lord, he began to be overcome by the storm and to sink in the waves. Taking his eyes off Jesus was almost a fatal mistake.

In every case when we become crisis-centered rather than Christ-centered, we are in danger of being lost in the storm. {Whether you mean to or not, you can lose your focus; take your eyes off Jesus. When you look right in front of your car when driving, you are more likely to weave back & forth; but, when you look farther down the road, you stay on the road.}

The elder told John to get his eyes back on Jesus.

Notice what John sees when he finally turns to Jesus: First a lion; then a lamb.

The dualism here is wonderfully descriptive:

*Jesus is royalty, yet He is submissive.

*Jesus is powerful, yet He is gentle.

*Jesus is courageous, yet He is compassionate.

*Jesus is a king, yet He is a sacrifice.

4. In times of crisis, you need help from someone who is both strong & gentle. That lesson was perhaps taught best in the Old Testament by Job. *In that book Job is portrayed as one in the storm of suffering & sickness. But he keeps his eyes on his Redeemer. *He sees his Redeemer as one whose "wisdom is profound, His power is vast" (Job 9:4), and "mighty, and firm in His purpose" (36:5).

This Lion & Lamb had overcome {He was victorious} . . . He overcame temptation (and He can help us overcome temptation); He overcame the constant onslaughts of Satan (through Christ we can as well);

He overcame life's disappointments; He overcame death (through Christ we can too).

And I saw between the throne and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth (Revelation 5:6).

The word translated "lamb" literally means "little lamb."

To get this scene in mind, first visualize an infant lamb, perhaps a newborn with wobbly legs. Imagine that lamb with its throat cut. Its fleece stained red with its own blood.

The slain lamb was a symbol of Christ on the cross.

When Isaiah spoke of Jesus' sacrificial death, he compared Him to "a lamb that is led to slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7).

John the Baptizer pointed to Jesus & said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29).

Peter wrote that we were "redeemed . . . With the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1st Pet. 1:18,19). *I read of a group that removed the word "blood" from its song book because its members found the word "distasteful." That song book could never be used in heaven, because in heaven they sing of what? The blood that brings salvation!

Do not fail to notice that the Lamb was standing.

He had been slain, but He had also been raised. Earlier, Jesus had told John, "I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore" (Rev. 1:18). Thus, He stood, ready to open the scroll.

As we look at the massacred lamb, we are once more reminded that God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8).

3. In the battle against evil, God gave us "a sacrificial lamb that takes unto Himself the hurts of others."

4. We might think that a clinched fist is required, but God wants us to know that a pierced hand will win the victory.

The Lamb was not as helpless as it first appeared. He is described as having "seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth" (5:6b).

In the Bible the "horn" is a symbol of power & might (Deut. 33:7).

The number seven in Revelation means perfection.

Seven horns means perfect power . . . that Jesus is all powerful.

Christ is powerful enough to sustain us in the most chaotic storms of life. He has power to sustain us in the times of our deepest need.

John is reminding his readers of the complete power of Jesus.

"Stop weeping!" the elder says. Have you forgotten how powerful the Lord is?

This little lamb also had seven eyes: representing perfect knowledge.

"Into all the earth" suggests that He is omnipresent. Instead of being a defenseless Lamb, He was actually the dominating Lord! (Revelation 17:14). How does the truth that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere at once, change your life/the way you face life? Then as John watched, the Lamb "came and He took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne" (Revelation 5:7).

A SONG OF PARDON (vs. 8-10)

Before the seal was opened, all creation erupted in adoration -

starting with those who had been on the stage since chapter 4:

And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints (vs. 8).

They lifted their voices, answering the question asked by the strong angel: "Who is worthy?"

And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art Thou to take the scroll, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.

(Revelation 5:9,10)

They had praised God because He was the Creator (4:11); now they praised the Lamb because He was the Redeemer.

Their song was "a new song"; before the Lamb was slain, it could not be sung.

Now it could.

*The heavenly singers first sang of the reason for redemption: Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe. We have been "bought with a price" (1st Cor. 6:19,20; 7:23), and that price was the precious blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28).

*They also sang of the reach of redemption: Thou didst purchase for God men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. "Tribe" refers to every family group, "tongue" to every linguistic group, "people" to every social group, and "nation" to every ethnic group.

Jesus died for all (2nd Corinthians 5:15).

Then they sang of the results of redemption:

And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.

In John's day, as Christians were thrown into prison and fed to the lions, it certainly did not appear that they were reigning. Appearances can be deceiving, however.

2. In the turmoil of the first century, it surely appeared that God was no longer on His throne - but chapter 4 assured Christians that He was.

As Christians, we reign in several ways:

We are the kingdom of Christ (Revelation 1:6), which is the church. (Matthew 16:18,19)

Since God is our Father, we are part of the Royal Family. (1st Peter 2:9)

3. Since Christ is presently reigning, and we are "in Christ" we share in His reign.

Since we have been saved, death no longer reigns over us; rather, we have been given the strength to "reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17). He helps us to live triumphant lives, "reigning over" every obstacle that life puts in our pathways.


And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands (vs. 11).

Every angel in heaven was present:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and

wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (vs. 12).

Four divine attributes, plus three devotional attitudes - a total of seven, emphasizing Jesus' perfection!

Every quality attributed to God in Revelation 4:11 was here ascribed to the Lamb - another proof of Jesus' deity.

It is no wonder that when John was crying, the elder told him to look at Jesus. Jesus is the One who has the answers.

1. He is the One who has the power to sustain us; the ability to understand us.

2. Isaiah tells us that He is strong in power & understanding (Isaiah 40). Daniel said, "Wisdom and power are His" (Daniel 2:20).

3. In Genesis 16:13, Hagar said to the Lord, "You are the God who sees me . . ."

To realize that God always sees us provides us not only with the

motivation & incentive to do our best, but also the encouragement we need to face hard times.

Realizing that God always sees us gives us security to face the storm & assurance when answers don't come.

2. The Lamb of God . . . in His hands are all the answers. He is the One with perfect power & perfect knowledge. With Him nothing is invisible, nothing is impossible. Worthy is the Lamb!

SONG OF PRAISE (vs. 13,14)

C. At that point, all of creation joined in the song of praise: And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard . . . (vs. 13a).

Everything everywhere lifted up its voice.

When we sing praises to the Lord, our hearts & voices blend with all those in heaven and earth who love & appreciate Him.

3. We are part of the most magnificent chorus in the universe!

Two songs were addressed to God in chapter 4 and two to Jesus in chapter 5.

This is the fifth song, and it is directed to both God & Jesus: To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever (vs. 13).

Worthy is the Lamb!

Praise God for the Lamb who traveled the greatest journey of all, the journey from heaven to earth.

The 20th century was filled with incredible journeys.

For the first time in history, a woman in a rowboat crossed the Atlantic Ocean alone.

In the 1980's a student walked courageously across Tiananmen square in Beijing & stood alone against a group of tanks from the People's Republic of China & they stopped for him.

Yet the greatest journey of all was the journey from heaven to earth.

Heaven was Jesus' home.

A perfect place. More magnificent than all the stars on a cloudless night; more magnificent than the most brilliant sunset.

C. He moved to our world.

He was born in one of our stables, located in one of our villages.

In one of our countries, right here on earth.

It's difficult to imagine the contrast between heaven & earth.

In the capital city of the Philippines, Manila, tens of thousands of people make their homes on the garbage dump. Shacks are constructed out of things other people have thrown away, children are sent out early every morning to search for food from other people's garbage, so they can have family meals.

People have been born & grown up there on the garbage dump. They have had their families, their children, their garbage to eat, finished out their lives, & died there without ever going any place else, even in the city of Manila. Astonishing!

Yet, even more amazing is that there are Americans who also live on the garbage dump.

American missionaries who have chosen to leave this country & have journeyed to establish residence there to communicate the love of Jesus Christ to people who otherwise would never hear it or receive it.

Amazing! But not as amazing as the journey from heaven to earth.

4. The journey from eternity to time . . . from spirit to body.

*In order to reach us.

*In order to save us.


There is a scene in one particular movie that takes place on a country road outside of Paris, France; World War II. People are leaving the city because the Germans have taken over the metropolitan area. The camera focuses on a young couple and their young daughter, who is barely able to walk. They are all walking down the dusty road. Suddenly, out of the sky comes a German aircraft, machine guns blaring; people dive for ditches; the young couple push their child down & fall down on top of her. The plane has no sooner come than it's gone. And the film centers in on the people getting back up. You suddenly see the young child crawling out from underneath the bodies of her parents. Their blood begins to mix with the dirt on the road; and, you realize that by their deaths, they have given her life.

The blood of Jesus gives you life.

The blood of Jesus gives you hope . . . strength.

Even when the answers don't come.

The song we sing each day; the song we sing for all eternity is:

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and

wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!

Giving yourself to Him & He will bless you in this life.

*He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and He gave His life for you.

*His blood was shed on the Cross for you.

Blood from His hands & feet; His side; His head.

*Immersion into the waters of baptism brings you into contact with the precious blood of Jesus, that can make you clean & whole.

Then someday you can stand with the mighty chorus & sing:

To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever!

Revelation 5:13

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