1 Then I saw in the right hand of the One seated on the throne a scroll with writing on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 I also saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or even to look in it. 4 And I cried and cried because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or even to look in it.
5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 Then I saw One like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth. 7 He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the One seated on the throne.
8 When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song:
You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because You were slaughtered,
and You redeemed people
for God by Your blood
from every tribe and language
and people and nation.
10 You made them a kingdom
and priests to our God,
and they will reign on the earth.
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. 12 They said with a loud voice:
The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy
to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and blessing!
13 I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say:
Blessing and honor and glory and dominion
to the One seated on the throne,
and to the Lamb, forever and ever!
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; but 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.”
After reading this chapter the first time through, my main question was, “Why is John weeping?”
I understood, from reading the verses, that he was weeping because the book couldn’t be opened and no one could be found to open it (verses 3-4). But at first glance, it isn’t evident why this fact overwhelmed him so much.
I wasn’t reading between the lines, yet. I began to try and imagine myself in John’s place as I read through the chapter again, as well as the ones before and after it (to provide some context).
Chapter 5 starts by showing us John, in the presence of a throne and the One who reigned upon it.
I’ve never been in a throne room, but I’ve seen them in movies plenty of times. Those images are what my brain first conjured (although I’m confident that heaven’s throne room will look nothing like what I imagined). I tried to imagine myself standing there, in that situation, surrounded by purity and power, in the presence of a King.
How I would feel being there? How did John feel being there?
The One who was on the throne had a tightly sealed book filled with history and judgment (Revelation 6). It’s one that abdicates the righteous and brings judgment on the unrighteous—a book that settles the score, once and for all.
Of all those present—elders, angels, and good men on the earth—not one could be found to open the book, break its seals, or even look inside it (verse 3).
I began to understand why John started to weep. I believe he understood this: if no one could be found to open up the book, then all the hopes of the righteous and the promises of God were for nothing. All the righteous men and women who have faced persecution and struggled through trials for trying to live holy lives—none of it will have mattered.
Evil will have won. Wicked men will have prospered. And not a single one of us has anything left on which to place our hope.If no one could be found to open the book, then not a single one of us could be redeemed.
John understood the gravity of this and the damnation of this moment. He wept in despair. All was lost.
But then, thank the Lord, there’s a verse 5. An elder saw John weeping, and told him to stop: “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.”
John then began to witness perhaps one of the most awesome moments of worship that anyone on earth has ever been able to experience before their death: the breaking of the seals and the opening of the book.
He was allowed to see what the book contained, later writing about it. Through these verses, we’re able to see and understand a bit more about the God we worship and the Jesus we’ve been redeemed by. We’re able to see and imagine a bit clearer the splendor and power that we’ll be in the presence of for all eternity.
Jesus Christ has the authority to open the book and break its seals, and He’s the only one. He’s the final Judge, the abdicator of the righteous, the Lion of Judah, and the Redeemer of what was lost. I now understand why John wept at the thought of all these things being lost forever.
I pray God will continue to help me understand what His Son saved me from. I pray He’d keep this truth alive and working in me—and that all my praise and all blessing, honor, glory, and dominion would be His forever and ever.
- These verses make clear there’s only One who has the ultimate power and authority to open the book and break its seals. Does this bring you comfort? Do you agree that Jesus is the only One who has the ultimate authority to judge? Why?
- John wept when he perceived that all was lost. Have there been times in your life – before or after you came to know Christ – when you felt this way? Think about that time, and the truths God spoke into your life to remind you of His grace and redemption.
- When you read about how the angels worshipped Christ in this chapter, does it seem hard to imagine? Have you ever experienced a moment when you acknowledged through worship the holiness, the power, and the glory of God?