“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.” (Revelation 5:5)
As you listen to music while studying for an exam, or go to pick up kids from school, or prepare to move across the country for business, something is always happening in heaven. Although your problems, joys, deadlines, relationships, and whatever else feel like the center of your world, they are not the center of the universe. All exists in the orbit of God’s throne. The Lord, regally exalted, simply is — and everything else exists as derivative. And all of heaven stands around this throne of God singing and declaring praise to the one upon the throne.
This is the scene that John the apostle takes us into in the final book of the Bible. The door to heaven opens (Revelation 4:1); John leaves earth’s shadows and steps into a whirlwind of worship. Lightning flashes, thunder roars, a voice beckons as a trumpet. Elders cast off their crowns and prostrate themselves, as four mighty creatures energetically worship the jeweled King who sits adorned in glory. The soundtrack plays: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty! Worthy is he to receive glory and honor and power for he created all things! (Revelation 4:8, 11). This is the epicenter of the heaven that is and the new age that is to come.
In the midst of heaven, that place where all of earth becomes a distant memory, John does something that none in heaven had done before: he wept. But why did he, a child of God, a servant of the King, begin to weep loudly? He tells us:
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. (Revelation 5:1–4)
A scroll, containing the contents of human redemption, remained sealed. Long before Excalibur, the sword in the stone, there was heaven and the scroll. Here, in the palm of God’s hand, lies the fate of God’s redemptive purposes in history. Who could open the scroll and enact its contents? Who was worthy?
John tells us, “No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and break its seals.” Imagine them all lining up, as the men of Camelot did, trying to remove the sword from the stone. Men of old — like Abraham, Moses, David, Noah, and Joseph — try to open the scroll and fail. Gabriel, Michael, and the host of heavenly commanders take their turn, to no success. Even the seraphim and the four living creatures venture an attempt, and still nothing. John, seeing no one left, began to sob for all seems lost.
Jesus, You Alone Are Worthy
But then something else happened:
And one of the elders said to me, “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.” (Revelation 5:5)
Then John saw him — one standing in the crowd of elders, one standing as a lamb who had been slain — and he came forth. After his military tour, having conquered sin, death, and Satan, the rightful Potentate returns to his former glory — and to new glory. He takes the scroll none other could, as all of heaven worships him, saying in various ways, “Jesus, you alone!”
Have you too seen this King who, by his blood purchased a people for God? Do you see a Lion and a Lamb seated in glory, not only worthy to open the scroll of our salvation, but holding the rights to our love, your joy, our devotion, allegiance, and obedience? He, the Great Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep is worthy of all of our worship: bending all of our mind, our hearts, our talents towards him.
Take Your Cares to the Throne
This vision from heaven, lofty as it may seem, it yet immensely practical. The VIP access granted to John (and all who read his report), serves to strengthen suffering believers.
As the emperor decreed death and exile from his Roman throne, Christ brought his scribe up to see him ruling in heaven. Though believers suffer, he grips his scepter with security.
Heaven’s throne depicts the sovereign rule of the God who currently has authority. The throne shows the Exemplar of his people’s path: Jesus, the carrier of the cross, and now, the wearer of the crown. And the throne depicts the end for which the narrow and hard way leads: everlasting glory.