The Worthy One who Opens the Book

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“The Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

 

“And I began to weep greatly, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came, and He took it out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

From now​ on, I will either use the ESV or the updated NASB. THOU, THY, DIDST… Honestly, it bogs down. The Greek is Koine, pronounced coin ay. It’s common, not some formal, aristocratic, out-dated Elizabethan English writing. The Bible was written to and for the common person. While I understand that the translators wanted to rightly honor God, John didn’t write in this way–it’s entirely unwarranted– appreciated, but unnecessary. Ok, got that out of my system… Almost. I use the ’77 NASB because it is readable, for the most part, and accurate and it’s what I am used to, but the ’95 NASB is as good, if not better and the ESV is probably more accurate on average; I just don’t find it as readable. Yes, I am totally translation spoiled! Moving on:

In our last missive, The Closed Book–literally, scroll–we left off where we picked up today, with John weeping greatly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll. And now, one of my personal favorite scenes in the whole Biblical account arrives at its apex. “One of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the transfigured Scrooge is unable to communicate with those who are in the flesh. Are we ever even told whether or not it was a dream? I realize this is a work of fiction but it helps me appreciate the scene in Revelation. John is clearly seen by the elder who resides in the heavenly place. I remember what Paul wrote; “I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.”

If Paul, who is most likely referring to himself, didn’t know if he was in the body or out of the body, how can we know whether John was in the body? I don’t think we can and don’t think it matters; the point is that however it happened, John was there and able to be seen and heard, just as he could see and hear them. I am not using Scrooge as anything more than an image. We don’t really know if he had a vivid dream or was literally transformed. But reading what Paul wrote and the way in which John wrote, don’t you get the feeling that it was more than just a vision? I find it fascinating that John’s emotions are seen and understood by the elder; but I digress.

The elder tells John to stop, to cease, don’t cry anymore, Look! The Lion! And what did John see? A lamb, standing as if slain. Oh the contrasting imagery of Christ we are given. Let the imagery unfold as we waltz:

Stop weeping; Look!

the Lion

that is from the tribe of Judah,

the Root of David,

has overcome

so as to open the book

and its seven seals

And I saw between the throne

with the four living creatures and the elders

a Lamb

standing, as if slain,

having seven horns

and seven eyes,

which are the seven Spirits of God,

sent out into all the earth.

What an  incredible ​juxtaposition of imagery. The lion, the lamb, slain yet standing. Seven horns and seven eyes. What do the seven horns and seven eyes represent? The seven Spirits of God. I love the way it reads, seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God. Is the Holy Spirit literally seven horns and seven eyes? Of course not, he’s literally: God. Again, the imagery represents the Spirit of Christ. Seven being the number of completion. Why horns and eyes, then? The eyes are easier to understand than the horns. Remembering the seven churches and how they had no walls, and Jesus began by saying, “I know…” We certainly understand the imagery of the eyes sent to the Earth.

But what about the horns, can we deduce their definition using our Old Testament tutor? In Exodus, the altar was to be made with 4 horns. In Psalms we read, “And all the horns of the wicked He will cut off, But the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.” Numbers 23:22 states, “God brings them out of Egypt, He is for them like the horns of the wild ox.” Horns are found scattered throughout the Old Testament, but what is their meaning in Revelation? Consider Jericho: “Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.” Notice also Daniel; “After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. “While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth uttering great boasts.” And, one other small sample; “As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings.”

It appears that horns represent authority, and more than that–power. That imagery does seem to fit with the all seeing eyes of the Spirit, doesn’t it? Remember, it is the Spirit who gives us power.

Great imagery of the Spirit, a beautiful description of his omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence–especially if we waltz.

having seven horns

and seven eyes,

which are the seven Spirits of God,

sent out into all the earth.

“And He came, and He took it out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.” At long last, the one who is worthy has taken possession of the seven sealed scroll. He has taken it from the right hand of the one on the throne. Let’s gaze upon what happens after the Worthy One takes possession of the scroll.

“And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

I would love to leave it here, giving the four creatures and the elders the last word, which is all about The Worthy One. However, I know there​ are still seemingly infinite imagery inquiries. For instance, if the 24 elders represent the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles, why doesn’t John say, “and I saw myself and 23 other elders?” Again, it is imagery. And, who or what are the four living creatures? Prayers in a bowl? Don’t let the mystery of the imagery steal your joy. We may not understand everything perfectly just yet, or ever, but we must be joyful when the text is joyful. Remember, Context is King. Many mysteries will unfold as we continue. We will give the elders the last word and be joyful.

“Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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