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Revelation 5:1-5 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:48 mins 29 secs

The Lion and the Lamb. Rev. 5:1-5


We saw last time in verse 1 a reference to the scroll. The existence of this scroll is directly related to God as our creator. It is really the scroll of Christ's title deed to the planet. It is sealed with seven seals which represent some nineteen judgments in the book of Revelation. It is the opening of these seals, each judgment, that brings about the final event of our Lord Jesus Christ returning to the earth in chapter nineteen with this title deed to assume His position as the King of the planet.


To understand that we have to go back to the original creation in Genesis chapter one.  At the very beginning man was created in His likeness and was to rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air and the beasts of the filed. He was the ruler of the planet, the king of the planet, as God's representative, but when Adam sinned he gave up his rightful ownership of the planet. It was taken over and usurped by Satan who becomes the new ruler of the planet and is the present ruler of the kingdom of man. That immediately brings to mind the great statue that appeared to Nebuchadnezzar that traces the history of the kingdoms of man. This image is repeated again in Daniel chapter seven in another manifestation as various beasts because ultimately the character of the kingdom of man is beastly because man in sin and rebellion to God perverts his original purpose as ruler of the planet and it operates under the tyranny and dominion of Satan. So God is seen as the original owner of the planet and man is, as it were, given a delegated responsibility to rule the planet. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes back He is going to complete that victory over Satan which He began on the cross. He completes the victory in one sense because at that point Satan is defeated but the full application of that defeat does not occur until the Tribulation period.


The title deed is given to the Lord, it is part of God's original delegation of rulership to the planet. The word "scroll" there reflects the Greek word BIBLION [biblion], and this scroll which is sealed with seven seals indicates some sort of legal document. The purpose and significance of the scroll is tied directly to the fulfilment of the original covenants, the creation covenant in Genesis 1:27, 28; modifications with the Adamic covenant and then the Noahic covenant which is still in effect. Jesus Christ is going to come as Man to fulfil the original creation covenant and cultural mandate to rule over the planet. What God does in human history is always tied to these covenants, these legal documents, and God has so ordered that the way He relates to man is according to these legal contracts or covenants that He has revealed to man.


Now we come to the second scene. There are four verses where we have the phrase, "And I saw"—vv. 1, 2, 6, 11. These indicate the four scenes in this act. The second scene is where we see the unique credentials of the ones who enact the title contract to the earth. The focus here is on who is worthy.


Revelation 5:2 NASB "And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?'" The word there for proclaiming is the present active participle of KERUSSO [khrussw]. This is an important word in the New Testament, it refers to the act of a herald in proclaiming something. The is the word that is used of what a pastor has to do in terms of the proclamation of the truth of God's Word. In tuis particular case it indicates that this strong angel—not an identified angel—proclaims this message across the creation. The word for worthy is the Greek word AXIOS [a)cioj] meaning originally the idea of something with proper weight. It is that which has value or worth but it came to be used of qualities other than weight. Is a synonym for another Greek word which means sufficient, competent or fit. Who is competent, qualified, has the proper credentials to take the scroll? Remember this has to be a human being because it is to man that God originally gave the title deed. This is one of the other reasons that Jesus Christ as the Messiah had to be a God-Man. He is going to fulfil the work of the first Adam and he will rule as the King of the planet.


Revelation 5:3 NASB "And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it." Verses 3 & 4 emphasize the fact that there is no one other than the Lord Jesus Christ who is worthy. Some ask, what is "under the earth"? This is a figure of speech called a merism. This is when you take two opposites and express them in terms of being able to include the totality of something. For example, in the Psalms we often read that you should meditate on the Word "day and night." By using the opposites, daytime and night time, you include the totality of your time, that you should be continually be thinking about God's Word. In Genesis 1:1 we read that God created the heavens and the earth. There is no word in Hebrew for a universe so we have the two extremes, the heavens and the earth, and that phrase expresses the totality of God's creation. So no matter how we might explore creation there is no creature that is qualified to open the scroll or to look at it. As a result of this search that is taking place—and we get a sense almost that at least for John as a creature who is observing this scene that some time goes by—it seems that as John is observing there is certain level of frustration that no one is found who is qualified to take the scroll, and he bursts out weeping.   


Revelation 5:4 NASB "Then I {began} to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it." Why does he respond that way? It is because he recognizes that there is an ongoing problem in human history, and that is the problem of suffering, the problem of undeserved suffering, the problem of evil, the problem of injustice, and that there needs to be a resolution to this ongoing problem of evil. He knows that with the opening of the scroll, the taking of the title deed, this will bring an end to human history and a final judgment on sin and evil and all injustice will be made right and all evil will be corrected and there will be a resolution to the problem of evil. He realizes this and yet when there is no one found who can take the scroll he realizes in frustration that it is not going to happen yet, and he so desperately sees the need for the end to sin and suffering and sorrow and pain that he begins to weep. In the KJV or NKJV the words "and to read" are added to this verse. They are not found in either the Majority text of the Critical Text, they are found only in those few MSS that made up the Textus Receptus that was the basis for the KJV and NKJV; so it has very little attestation in the MSS.

Revelation 5:5 NASB "and one of the elders said to me, 'Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.'" We saw in chapter twenty-four that the elders are representatives from the mass of church age believers that are resurrected, raptured, rewarded and in heaven. It is important to note that this is the only place in the entire book of Revelation that the Lord Jesus Christ is referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. So we ought to ask why that image is brought to bear at this particular incident. It is because that imagery of the Lion of Judah is an image of kingly rule, power and majesty. This is the focal point of the chapter because the one who is taking the scroll is the one who will enact His title to the earth, His right to rule the earth as its King. So this imagery of a lion reinforces His role as the one who is qualified to rule. The imagery of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has its background in Genesis 49:9, 10: "Judah is a lion's whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him {shall be} the obedience of the peoples."

So we have this imagery from the Old Testament that the Messiah would be the Lion from the tribe of Judah. It emphasizes one who is strong, one who is fierce, and one who would be a ruler who would take control through power. It was unfortunate that in the time of Jesus' first coming the Jews were anticipating a King like this who would come with power and would overthrow the Roman empire. They were expecting the crown before the cross, for the image of the lion is the image of the ruler, the potentate, in contrast to the imagery that we see in the next verse, i.e. of the Lamb. The Lamb is a picture and symbol of Christ's work as redeemer, the one who would come to pay the price for our sins as the sacrificial Lamb. The Jews misidentified Jesus and they rejected Him. We must recognize that the Lion represents the majestic, kingly rule of the Messiah; the Lamb represents His redemptive work at the first coming. The Lion represents His violent destruction of the kingdom of man in order to establish His kingdom, which is the imagery that we see in Daniel chapter seven. The Lamb represents His meek submission to the kingdom of man as He is crucified for the sins of the world. The Lion represents the King conquering; the Lamb represents Satan being conquered.


The second image that we have in this verse is that He is of the root of David. It refers to that which is the source of something. The root is that from which the plant springs, it represents the origination of the plant. It is a metaphorical term for origin and it relates to promises in the Old Testament. Isaiah 11:1, 10 where Isaiah prophesies regarding the Messiah that "a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit… Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious." Jeremiah also referred to the Branch imagery in Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15: "Behold, {the} days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land… In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth."


In Revelation 5:5 the phrase "has overcome" is a prophetic past tense, it is talking about what will happen in the future as if it has already happened because it is so certain. It is from the Greek word NIKAO [nikaw]. There verb there is actually NIKE [nikh], "he has overcome/prevailed, conquered," He has had victory and because of that victory He is qualified to open the scroll. This takes us back to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NASB "But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, 'DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."


Revelation 5:6 NASB "And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) 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." This begins the third scene, the picture of the Lamb who was slain but is still standing. The imagery here is of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb, John's favourite title for the Lord Jesus Christ in the book of Revelation—29 times there is the mention of the Lamb. What is interesting is that the term for lamb here is ARNION [a)rnion], a diminutive term. That means it is talking about a small lamb, almost like a pet lamb. It is a picture of the Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7, Christ our Passover); He is the Lamb of God, John says in John 1:29, that takes away the sin of the world. There a different word is used for lamb, the word AMNOS [a)mnoj], the normal word that is used for Jesus as the Lamb in the New Testament, but in the book of Revelation it is a small lamb, emphasizing this contrast between the Lion on the one hand and this small domesticated pet Lamb on the other hand. It emphasizes the humility of the Lord Jesus Christ in the first advent, that he humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. It also contrasts Him to the dragon, Satan who is the arch enemy of the Lamb in the drama of the Tribulation.


Here in this description is the Lamb standing, a perfect active participle which simply means to stand. But what is interesting in the Greek construction here is that we have the word "standing" as a perfect participle and though it had been slain the verb "slain" is also a perfect participle. These indicate completed action. The word for "slain" is SPHAZO [sfazw] which indicates a violent death, being slaughtered or butchered. So we have this picture of the Lamb that had been slain, but even though it had been slain it was standing "as though it had been slain" – it is not "if" in the sense that it is not real. This is an allusion to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has "seven horns and seven eyes." Horns are a metaphor in Scripture for power, and so this indicates His omnipotence, His power over all things and thus His power to take over the control and rulership of planet earth. "Seven eyes" is a metaphor for the omniscience of God but here it also relates to the Holy Spirit. Cf. Zechariah 4:6, 10.


The emphasis in these first six verses is on the Lamb, the one who died on the cross for our sins. This is what qualifies Him to then go take the scroll, to open it and to take over rulership of planet earth.