Lent Devotions 2008: Thursday 28th February

The Lamb came and took the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne. (Revelation 5:7)

This verse is in the middle of a vision, given to St. John, that starts at the beginning of chapter 4. The vision is of heaven itself with the God Almighty, the Eternal Father on the throne. Four mysterious creatures are worshipping Him continually, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (4.7) Then 24 elders fall down before Him and praise Him in these words, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for You created all things and by Your will they existed and were created.” (4.11)

These words are paralleled by another song of praise, sung by the four mysterious creatures and the 24 elders, “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a kingdom of priests to our God and they shall reign on the earth.” (5.9-10)

Who was worthy? And why was it such a big deal?

In v.2 of ch. 5, an angel asked this first question, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” Then in verse 3, no one was found in heaven or earth who was able to open the scroll. Then St. John starts to cry loudly because no one was found, until one of the elders said to him, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Only Jesus was worthy, because it needs someone who has conquered death, so you can search through the ages and find only Jesus is worthy, because a holy man or a prophet is inadequate in some way; it needs the sinless Son of God. No prophet is perfect, not Gandhi nor Buddha nor Mohammed nor John the Baptist. ONLY JESUS.

The scroll is first mentioned in verse 1 of chapter 5; it is clearly a scroll of prophecy. It has seven seals and the last is only opened in chapter 8. In verse 5 Jesus is called a Lion – the Lion of Judah – and in the next verse He is a Lamb. The whole chapter is full of symbols, showing how He fulfils Old Testament prophecy, but if you read this literally, it is almost a grotesque picture – a Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes – how peculiar. But to a Jew, seven is the number of perfection.

The important point is that this was a Lamb that had been slain, led like a lamb to the slaughter, echoing the words of Isaiah 53. Jesus died at Calvary for us, to redeem us, to wash away our sins and to make us one with God. Therefore we can rejoice with the words of verses 12 and 13, which are the last words of Handel’s Messiah before the final Amen,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing. Blessing and honour, glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb, forever and ever.” Amen.