The Door Opens in Heaven and John is Invited In
Revelation 4 and 5
The central scene of the book of Revelation occurs when a trumpet sounds and John is invited up into heaven. “Come on up and I will show you what must take place after this.” Jesus tells John. (Revelation 4:1) We can know nothing of future events unless God is pleased to show us. Otherwise the future is “within the veil” unless God opens the door. But the door was opened for John and he was shown heaven and these future events and told to pass what he saw and heard on to us. What a blessing!
John sees a throne and the “Indescribable One” sits on it. His appearance was like jasper and carnelian and transcendent brightness. John sees an emerald rainbow about the throne. Twenty-four elders are surrounding God and many Bible scholars believe the twenty-four elders represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve disciples. They are dressed in white robes. This represents the fact that they are dressed in righteousness. And all twenty-four elders are wearing golden crowns, believed to signify the honor given to them by God.
On each side of the throne are four living creatures with wings and covered with eyes. One creature is like a lion, and another is like an ox. The third one had a face like a man, and the forth creature is like a flying eagle. It remains a mystery to us what these four living creatures represent. But the book of Revelation is full of mysteries.
The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures are all praising God without ceasing. (Revelation 4:4-11) Falling down before the One on the throne. It is their glory to be glorifying God. The God who is their creator and preserver and Redeemer. They are singing: “Holy, holy, holy to the Lord God Almighty. Who was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelation 4:8b)
But then John notices a scroll in the right hand of God who sits on the throne. The scroll is sealed with seven seals and we believe that what is written inside the scroll is related to God’s authority over the course of history. Suddenly an angel appears and loudly asks a question: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” (Revelation 5:2)
There is silence in heaven as no one seems to be able to answer that question. Scripture reads: “No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth is able to open the scroll or even look inside it. “(Revelation 5:3) No one is worthy to perform this task! No one! God’s will in history cannot continue unless someone is worthy to open the scroll. The angel’s question echoes through the air, while each living being in heaven waits for some unknown hero to step forward.
John realizes the seriousness of the dilemma and he begins to weep, because he thinks there is no one in heaven worthy. (Revelation 5:4) But then one of the elders tells John not to weep and reminds him that there is One who is worthy! The elder tells John, “See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5)
We recognize today that the lion is an aggressive animal and “king of the beasts”. Jewish prophets in the Old Testament foretold that their promised Savior and Messiah would be from the line of David and called “the Root of David” from the prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 11:1) Jesus would come from the line of Judah, where Judah is called a “lion with a scepter” (A scepter is a symbol of royalty.) (Genesis 49:9-10 -Jacob’s prophecy over his son Judah)
So, Jesus Christ is this promised “Lion of Judah” and “Root of David” from ancient Biblical prophecy! Will this Lion come and lead a political revolution? Will this Lion come and open the seven seals from the scroll in heaven? All heaven waits expectantly. But no Lion appears!
Instead John sees “a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered.” This broken, bleeding and resurrected Lamb is encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He has seven horns (Horns are a symbol of strength) and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Revelation 5:6-7) He appears as a Lamb having seven horns and seven eyes, having perfect power (horns) to execute all the Will of God and perfect wisdom to understand it all. – having the seven spirits of God (Seven is a number representing completion.)
This crucified Lamb comes and takes the scroll from the hand of the One on the throne. He is the only One in all of earth and heaven worthy to open the seals of the scroll!
Perhaps some humans would be disappointed if they did not see a victorious Lion come forward to fight and save the world. But all the crowd in heaven understands and falls down “before the Lamb” singing a “new song” “You are worthy to take the scroll, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God, saints from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:8-13) John’s vision of heaven includes ethnic diversity! The ground at the foot of the cross is level. No racial group is better than the other. We are all one in Christ.
The Lamb (Jesus Christ) achieved victory over evil by submitting to execution and trusting in God to raise Him from the dead. We are called to follow this “Lamb” wherever He goes. Following the nonviolent Lamb is risky - and always has been. We may have to lose our life to gain it. We will be out of step with the world. What are the political and economic costs of following this Lamb – this One who has been crucified? Are we able to be crucified with Him?
The fifth chapter of Revelation ends with a glorious vision of millions and millions of bright angels and the four living creatures with eyes and the elders all bowing down and holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they are all loudly singing a new song. This band of rejoicing heavenly hosts are encircling round and round the throne. And in the center of it all is the Lamb.