Revelation 5:1–10

Wednesday Night Bible Study

March 12, 1997


We saw chapter four as the start of the future events, where John is raptured into heaven to find himself before God's throne.

John saw:

God's throne, and God was like a clear, reddish light upon the throne.

There was a greenish halo ("rainbow") around the throne, and also around the throne were 24 smaller thrones, with 24 elders sitting on them (possibly representative of the leaders of God's people in heaven), clothed with white, wearing golden crowns.

We saw the four "beasts", or "living creatures" that surround the throne, also known as the "cherubim".

These angelic being each had six wings, four different faces, and were covered with eyes.

Being covered with eyes, and being constantly before God's throne, we understand that there are no creatures in the universe that see God and the things He does quite as much as these do.

And because they know God so well, they are constantly worshipping Him

Background to the chapter:

There are some subtle things happening in chapter five that we are only going to understand if we take time to do a little background work.

When God brought the nation Israel into their promised land, He gave each family an inheritance, a portion of land.

It was very important to God that each family retain their inheritance, their land. The land was never to leave the possession of its family.

But God knew that there would be instances where a family might become poor and need to sell their only possession left, their land. Yet even in these circumstances, the sale of the land was not permanent.

It could be bought back by a "redeemer", if the redeemer was from the same family as the original owners.

(Lev 25:23-25 KJV) The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. {24} And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. {25} If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.

Most typically, this transaction would take place at the gates of the city, the place where the judges sat, where the rulers sat, where things got done.


There was another way to make money if you were poor.

Not only could you sell your land, but you could sell yourself into slavery.

Ex 21:2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.

It's interesting to think that by some calculations, it's been around 6,000 years since Adam sold us into sin.

Ruth 4:1-12

In the book of Ruth, a widow named Naomi has come back to her family property along with her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth, and is looking for some financial help.

She has a piece of property to sell, to be redeemed, as well as a young daughter in law who needs a husband.

We see the redeeming of the property taking place along with the "levirite" law, where a close relative was to take the widow, and raise up descendants for the dead husband.

Boaz was known as a "kinsman redeemer", a close relative that had the right to purchase the land from Naomi, keeping it in the family.


1. God gave each family an inheritance, and wanted the land to stay with each family

2. If a man sold his land, it was not a permanent sale, but the original owner, or a near relative could later buy back the land.

3. The transaction of redemption took place at the city gates, the place of government, before the elders of the city.


1. God gave man the earth for a possession. (Gen.1:27-28)

Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

2. Man sold his inheritance to sin and Satan at the fall. (Matt.4:8-10; John 12:31)

Sold into sin:

Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Satan is in charge of the earth:

Matthew 4:8-10 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

  1. We're at the gates of the city, the government in heaven, ready for someone to buy back the earth, sold into sin.

5:1-14 Redeeming the Earth

:1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne

This is God the Father, sitting on His throne, in the place of the judge.

:1 a book

better translation, a "scroll"

I think it's simplest to see this scroll as the "title deed" to the earth.

This is the document that is the center of attention throughout the rest of Revelation.

It's all about the Kinsman Redeemer buying back His family's property.

This is the legal document containing the provisions for the transfer of the property.

It's kind of like all those loan docs that you have to sign when you buy a house.

The unfolding of this scroll is the process that brings us to the reclaiming of the earth from Satan.

:1 written within and on the backside

The scroll had writing on both sides, John notices this as the scroll is unrolled later on.

:1 sealed with seven seals

The idea is that the scroll had some writing on it, then was rolled up a little, then a wax seal was applied, more writing was done, more rolled up, another seal, and on and on.

The breaking of these seals is the process of unrolling this document.

We're going to see these seven seals later on in the book.

The first six seals are in chapter six, and when each seal is broken, an event occurs on the earth, taking us further into the Tribulation period.

The seventh seal will be opened in chapter eight, leading to seven trumpets.

At the seventh trumpet comes the seven bowls (chapter sixteen)

At the end of the seven bowls, comes Jesus (chapter nineteen).

It's kind of like those Russian egg dolls, where you open up an egg, and there's an egg inside, which has another egg inside it …

It seems that the events of Revelation are all contained within this scroll.

:2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice

Who is this angel?

Who knows? I'm not going to guess.

:2 Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

The angel is calling for someone who is worthy to open up the title deed to earth, someone who is worthy to buy back the earth for mankind.

This person will have to have two qualifications:

    1. They will have to be a near-kinsman.
    2. Someone related to Adam.

    3. They will have to have the ability to purchase the property.

They have to have some purchasing power, someone who can buy us out of our sin.

:3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

No one meets the qualifications.

:4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

John gets kind of emotional on us.

I wonder how much he understands.

I wonder if he's bummed that nobody is able to buy us out of our sin?


Do you weep for the world?

I think that sometimes we can get a little too callous about the world around us.

I wonder if we should be weeping instead.

John sees the world up to be redeemed, and nobody able to do it, and it makes him weep.

Do you weep for your unsaved friends?

:5 And one of the elders saith unto me,

One of the twenty four elders stops to speak to this weeping man.

:5 Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda

This goes back to one of the oldest prophecies concerning the tribe of Judah, from Israel himself:

(Gen 49:9-10 KJV) Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? {10} The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

I can't help but think of Aslan, the great Lion in C.S.Lewis' books, the Chronicle of Narnia.

:5 the Root of David

This comes from a prophecy of Isaiah:

Isa 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

The Messiah would come from David, but not only as a branch coming out from David's line, He was actually at the very root, the very heart of David.

:5 hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Jesus is worthy to open the book.

:6 stood a Lamb as it had been slain

He's a Lion that's a Lamb.

He's called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and indeed, He is fierce and powerful.

But when John sees Him, what he sees is a Lamb, not a Lion.

And it's a Lamb that had been slain.

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

He is called the Lamb here because He paid the price of redemption by dying as a Lamb.


Jesus' tender love.

A Lamb isn't very threatening.

It's His love.

:6 having seven horns

Speaking of His complete power, complete authority.

(I Samuel 2:1; 2:10; II Samuel 22:3; Job 16:15; Psalms 18:2; 89:17; 89:24; 132:17; 148:14; Jeremiah 48:25; Lamentations 2:3; Daniel 7:8; 8:21)

:6 and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth

Speaking of His complete understanding.

We've also talked of the seven Spirits being the Holy Spirit.

He sees through the Holy Spirit.

:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb

It seems to me that we ought not to have a problem with the deity of Christ.

The very cherubim around God's throne fall down in worship of Him.

And lest you think that they can fall down and worship just anybody …

(Rev 22:8-9 KJV) And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. {9} Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

:8 having every one of them harps

This is where we get the idea that we're going to have harps in heaven.

Will there be bass harps? Electric harps? Why not keyboards?

It's kind of funny to think that there are churches that frown on musical instruments.

They don't frown on them in heaven!

:8 and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints

These are more specifically bowls of incense.

When Moses constructed the tabernacle, each tribe brought a gift including,

Num.7:14 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense

Heaven too has bowls full of incense, and they are our prayers.

This tells us a couple of things:

    1. Our prayers are sweet to the Lord.
    2. Don't get sidetracked with the King James' "odours", the original language describes "incense".

      Incense is meant to be a sweet smell, something that’s a delight.

      God appreciates your prayers.

    3. Your prayers are before God's throne.

They're not stored in some back room somewhere.

They're right out with the cherubim and the elders.

Sometimes we get to thinking that our prayers don't get too far.

Don't think that just because God isn't answering your prayers now, that they're not reaching Him.

Perhaps the bowl isn't full yet.

We're going to see these bowls a lot later on as well:

(Rev 15:7 - 16:2 KJV) And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. {8} And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled. 16:1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. {2} And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

I believe the bowl judgments are coming from these same bowls.

Perhaps some of the prayers are the ones where we cry out, "Why God is this happening to me?"

God's justice will one day come.

:9 And they sung a new song,

It doesn't hurt to have a new song every once in a while.

:9 Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

He is worthy because He is our kinsman redeemer

He's our closest relative, He became flesh and blood to be like us.

Hebrews 2:14-18 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on [him the nature of] angels; but he took on [him] the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

As one with enough buying power, He was sinless and didn't need redemption Himself, He had an eternal life to exchange

(1 Pet 1:18-19 KJV) Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; {19} But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

This kind of gives new light to the parable:

Mt 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

For God so loved the world …


Don't ever think that God doesn't love you.

Even in heaven, we'll still see the proof of His love.

:10 And hast made us

Some take the "us" to indicate that the 24 elders are indeed humans, the leaders of the church, or of the redeemed of all time.

Some manuscripts have "them" instead of us. No matter, you can still have the same conclusion.

:10 unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth

God has made us kings and priests.

What does a priest do?

    1. He represents man before God - as we do in prayer.
    2. He represents God to man - as we do when we tell people about Jesus.