Greetings! Welcome back to our series on the book of Revelation chapters 4 and 5. In our last post, we finished up with our study of Revelation chapter 4. In Revelation chapter 5, the apostle John is still describing his visit to the throne room of God. In this post, we will begin our examination of why Jesus is worthy to open the seven seals. Keep reading!
Fourth in a Seven-Part Series
by Karen Thompson
The Book Sealed With Seven Seals
Rev. 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
John noticed that the One who sat upon the throne had a book in His right hand. There are some who call this book the deed to earth. But most often, when you see the word “book” in connection with heaven, it is almost always in connection with judgment. The book was sealed with seven seals, and it was written “within and on the backside,” meaning it was written on both the front and back. This is symbolism to mean the fullness of time had come—the time for all things to be fulfilled.
Who Is Worthy to Open the Book?
Rev. 5:2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. 6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Next, a strong angel proclaimed with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to loose the seals?” After he made the proclamation, no one came forth to open the seals and to look at the book. John said, “no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon…” (v. 3). When no one came forward, John said he began to weep “because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” (v. 3).
Then one of the elders clued John in and said, “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (v. 5). In other words, there is only one person in all the world who is worthy enough to loose the seals and to reveal the book’s contents—Jesus Christ the Messiah.
The Slain Lamb
In verse six, John went on to describe what he saw: “in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” John saw a Lamb as though it had been slain, yet the Lamb was standing. The Lamb had been killed, yet was alive. We know the Lamb is symbolic of Jesus, as the slain Passover Lamb whose shed blood redeemed mankind from sin. The symbolism of the slain Lamb is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7 which says about the Messiah, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”
That is the first and most obvious qualification as to His worthiness to open the seals on the book. The other qualifications of His worthiness to open the seals on the book come from the elder’s comment: the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” had prevailed to open the book. Let’s look at these two qualifications more closely.
Lion of the Tribe of Judah/Root of David
The title “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” originated from the patriarch Jacob (God changed Jacob’s name to Israel). When the elderly Jacob knew he was dying, he called for his 12 sons to gather around him because he had a prophetic word to give to each of them about their futures: “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days” (Gen. 49:1). The dying father proceeded to tell his sons what would become of each of their tribes in the distant future, in the last days. Jesus is a descendant from the tribe of Judah, so let’s look at verses 8–12 because they contain the prophetic word for the tribe of Judah.
Judah, you are the one whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Judah, a lion’s cub! With the prey, my son, you have gone high up [the mountain]. He stooped down, he crouched like a lion, and like a lioness–who dares provoke and rouse him? The scepter or leadership shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful One] comes to Whom it belongs, and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding His foal to the vine and His donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washes His garments in wine and His clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker and more sparkling than wine, and His teeth whiter than milk (Gen. 49:8–12 Amp.).
The prophetic word for the tribe of Judah is remarkable. It’s an ancient prophecy, yet it clearly points to David, son of Jesse, who would become king over Israel, and it also points to his descendant, Jesus, who is Messiah and future King of Israel. Let’s break it down and study each verse individually.
Judah’s Brothers Would Bow Before Him
8 Judah, you are the one whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
Speaking of the future, Jacob said Judah’s brothers would praise him. In fact, they would all bow down to him! This was actually fulfilled when David became king over all the twelve tribes. The phrase “your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies” indicates that David would be successful against his enemies. David was renowned for being a mighty warrior.
The Origin of the Title “Lion From the Tribe of Judah”
9 Judah, a lion’s cub! With the prey, my son, you have gone high up [the mountain]. He stooped down, he crouched like a lion, and like a lioness–who dares provoke and rouse him?
We see in verse nine where the title “Lion from the tribe of Judah” came from: “Judah, a lion’s cub.” Because of this prophecy, the lion became the symbol for the tribe of Judah and is displayed on Judah’s tribal flag. Verse nine talks about the lion’s prowess as a hunter: “who dares provoke and rouse him?” David’s status as a warrior is legendary. In fact, it is what he is known for most. His most famous conquest is the giant Goliath. The Bible is filled with David’s many conquests in battles.
Israel’s Kings Come From Judah
10 The scepter or leadership shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful One] comes to Whom it belongs, and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
God removed Saul (who was from the tribe of Benjamin) as king over Israel because of his disobedience. He appointed David to be king in his place. Because David was a man after God’s own heart, the Lord made a covenant with him. He promised David that after he died, He would set up his seed (his son, Solomon) after him and establish his kingdom. Then God promised David, “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:12–16 Amp.). That’s what it means in verse 10 when it says, “The scepter or leadership shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet….” All of Israel’s kings would come from the tribe of Judah.
Verse 10 continues, “… until Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful One] comes to Whom it belongs, and to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (Amp.). The rule of government will not depart from the tribe of Judah “until Shiloh comes.” Scholars agree, the word “Shiloh” is a title for the coming Messiah.
The Hebrew word for Shiloh is Shiyloh and it means “whose it is, that which belongs to him,” and it comes from a root word that means “rest and/or quiet.”3 Rest will be the overriding characteristic of Messiah’s kingdom. Isaiah chapter 11 is a prophetic chapter about the Messiah and describes what it will be like during His millennial reign. In the very first verse of chapter 11 it says, “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots;” and in verse 10 “in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people … and his rest shall be glorious.”
Jesus’ First and Second Comings!
11 Binding His foal to the vine and His donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washes His garments in wine and His clothes in the blood of grapes.
The first half of verse 11 refers to Jesus’ First Coming! With regard to the first part of verse 11, Bible scholars refer to Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The apostle Matthew records in his Gospel account the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophetic word of the Messiah’s entrance into Jerusalem riding on a donkey in Matthew chapter 21: “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest” (Matt. 21:1–9). Just as Jacob and Zechariah prophesied, both the mother donkey and her foal were both brought to Jesus. Jesus, however, only rode upon the foal.
The last half of Genesis 49:11 refers to Jesus’ Second Coming: “He washes His garments in wine and His clothes in the blood of grapes.” With regard to His clothes washed in the blood of grapes in verse 11, Bible scholars refer to Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 63: “Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength?— ‘I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.’ Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? ‘I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come’” (Isa. 63:1–4).
This is a picture of Jesus’ Second Coming when He descends from heaven and appears over “Edom.” Remember, Edom was located where the modern state of Jordan is today. This is where the Jews will flee to and will be supernaturally protected from Antichrist. The Jewish people will see Him first. He will continue His descent to the Mount of Olives where He will do battle against Antichrist. (Zec. 14:4)
The rest of this portion of scripture describes His battle with Antichrist and his armies. This is also confirmed in Revelation chapter 19 where it describes Jesus coming back on a white horse with His army behind Him. He is wearing a robe dipped in blood.
Jesus is qualified to open the seals on the book because He is the Lamb slain and He is the lion from the tribe of Judah, a root of David! Indeed, He is worthy!
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