The Worthy Lamb
God holds a book, more specifically a scroll. It is written on both sides, much like the scroll in Ezekiel 2:8-3:4. Notice that John knows this, even though the scroll is currently sealed. To be written on both sides means it is complete. Nothing more can be added to it because there is no room. Since it is scrolls of the past, it would contain vital information, but it can’t be read because it is completely sealed.
God asks who is worthy to open the seven seals of the scroll. God wants the information known, but only a worthy person can reveal it; yet, no one in creation, not even the angelic host, was worthy to open the scroll. John weeps because he was invited to see, but appears it must remain sealed.
One of the elders tells John to stop weeping because there is someone worthy of revealing the contents of the scroll. That person is the lion of the tribe of Judah and an offspring of David. Jesus is of the tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:14). In Jacob’s blessing of his children, Jacob calls Judah a lion (Genesis 49:9-10). A lion is a strong beast – a king of beasts – and in that blessing was a prophecy that the kingship would not depart from Judah. David was told that it would be one of his descendants who would establish an eternal kingdom (II Samuel 7:11-14; Romans 15:12). This great person had overcome and so was worthy to open the seals (Hebrews 5:7-9; 12:2-3).
But when John turns to see who the elder was talking about, he doesn’t see a lion, he sees a lamb that had been slain standing in the middle with God and the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 53:7; John 1:36) – emphasizing by his location that he is a part of the Godhead. The lamb has seven horns. Horns represent power, such as the power to control people (Deuteronomy 33:17) or the power to bring salvation (Luke 1:69). Seven is the number for perfection. Thus, seven horns represents Jesus’ statement in Matthew 28:18. The lamb that was slain is Jesus, the Christ.
But Jesus is also described as having seven eyes. We don’t have to guess concerning the meaning of this one, the seven eyes are another symbol of the Holy Spirit. Seven eyes refer to being able to see everything perfectly (II Chronicles 16:9; Zechariah 4:10). Jesus had the Holy Spirit with him (John 1:32-33). Yet, John also mentions that the Spirit was sent into the all the earth (John 15:26; 16:13).
Jesus then takes the book. As we noted earlier, it is similar to the scroll in Ezekiel 2:8-3:4, so it is safe to assume that this is a prophecy of God, but one that has not been made known to the world. Only Jesus is worthy to reveal its content. The gospel itself was God’s purpose, or plan, kept as a secret, or mystery until the fullness of time. It was summed up in Christ. It was through Christ that God accomplished His purpose of saving mankind (Ephesians 3:10-11). And when the Spirit was sent by Christ, the Spirit revealed all truth (John 16:13). Now the lamb of God was prepared to reveal more information about the future.
When Jesus takes the book he is worshiped. Harps are used, which represent praise (Psalms 33:2; 43:4). In Ephesians 5:19, we sing and our hearts vibrate (make melody) to the Lord. Later we will also see the 144,000 singing with voices like harpers playing (Revelation 14:2-3). Incense is burnt, which we are told represents the prayers of the saints (Psalms 141:2).
In this worship, a new song is sung. In days past, songs were created to commemorate the deeds of someone; thus, a new song is a song of victory and praise for the victor (Psalms 40:3; 98:1; Isaiah 42:9-10). This is a song about the accomplishments of Christ. He was slain, but in doing so, he purchased people from every nation with his blood (I Corinthians 6:20; I Timothy 2:6; I Peter 1:18-19). These people were formed into a kingdom of priests (I Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6). And they reign upon the earth (Revelation 1:26; Romans 5:17).
Notice the use of the past tense. This kingdom has already been purchased and formed. It is a fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14.
The angels in heaven then join in the new song, more angels than can be numbered. In the song Christ is declared to be worthy of receiving seven things – a perfect praise of Jesus.
- Power or authority: Jesus has been given all authority (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 2:9-10).
- Riches - Jesus has unsearchable riches (Ephesians 3:8; Colossians 1:16-17).
- Wisdom - Christ is the wisdom of God (I Corinthians 1:24; Colossians 2:2-3).
- Strength - Jesus is mighty (Luke 24:19; II Corinthians 13:3-4; Ephesians 6:10).
- Honor - Jesus has a name above all names (Hebrews 2:9; Philippians 2:7-9).
- Glory - To Jesus belongs glory and dominion (I Peter 4:11).
- Blessing - Every spiritual blessing is found in Christ (Romans 9:5; Ephesians 1:3).
The scene is much like Psalms 148:7-10. It further emphasizes that Jesus is God.