Revelation 5 - Jesus is worthy
During this fast season we are exploring - through what we read in a chapter a day of the Bible - who God is and what He is like.
1. Pray and read - preferably together
2. Pray and share
When the angel asks “Who is worthy to open the scroll?” we sense the urgency and anxiety John feels. The scroll is usually taken by scholars as signifying the purposes of God, sealed because no one has yet been found able to break the seven seals and fulfil the plans. Seven in scripture is often associated with perfection or completion: this reinforces the message that the purposes of God cannot yet be completed.
Then we sense the relief that Jesus - and He alone - is worthy.
He is not qualified merely by being the Eternal Son - symbolised by a lion, the Lion of Judah. Instead He is qualified by willingly offering Himself to be sacrificed as a Lamb. The song of worship as the elders fall down makes this clear.
They are holding harps, symbolising worship, and bowls of incense, symbolising prayer. The two responses belong together. We do not understand fully why, but it is clear that our prayers make a difference and cause God to act to bring about His purposes. Jesus is worthy because He has ransomed us. But we have a part to play.
We are a kingdom of priests - we are part of the Kingdom of God that is advancing as we pray, do what is right and see miracles. And we also have a priestly role of worship and bringing people into God’s presence.
We cannot add anything to Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross and His resurrection. But through our prayers and obedience the purposes of God are released. This is not us carrying on without Him but us, as His body, continuing His earthly ministry. In Acts 1:1 Luke explains his gospel was an account of what Jesus began to do and to teach. Now Jesus is continuing through His body the church.
The remaining chapters of Revelation give various parallel accounts of this happening and the certain victory. Some people try to interpret the details and, throughout Revelation, seek to work out a chronology for the future events.
Without being contentious, we should note that every time John says “After this, I saw ….” he is describing the order in which he saw things which may not be the order in which they will happen. Also we should note that Jesus said that no one knows (Matthew 24:36) - not even Jesus Himself! So it is not a good idea to try to work out a scheme that Jesus Himself could not.
What matters is that Jesus is worthy and we have a part to play, together with Him as we follow the Spirit, in fulfilling God's purposes.
3. Pray and act
Lord Jesus we worship You because You alone are worthy to bring about Father's eternal purposes. Work in us and through us so we play our part, connected to You as the Head of the Body, by what we pray and say and do.