WORSHIP SONG THREE
Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside 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 bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. 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.”
Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
and they will reign on earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
“To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might
forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
See the bottom of this post for how to use this daily devotional
READ ALOUD Revelation 5:1-14
Recently my wife Rita and I worshipped with Assyrian Christians. We wanted to stand with brothers and sisters who themselves have faced persecution for faith in Christ. As we worshipped I thought of the great army of Christian martyrs through the centuries who had endured similar torture, exile, and massacre. As we prayed together the Lord’s Prayer, I prayed more fervently that God’s kingdom come, and His will be done on earth!
Worshipping with the Assyrian Christians that day helped us better understand John’s tears. He weeps bitterly because no one is found worthy to open the scroll and execute God’s plan for the ages. It can seem at times that all is lost. But then again, things are not always as they seem.
One of the twenty-four elders, or glorified saints, stops John: “Do not weep. 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.” We have seen this Lion before in Scripture. He is the Lion foretold long ago by the patriarch Jacob (Genesis 49:9), who comes from David’s royal line of Judah (Isaiah 11:1, 10; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15). The Lion conquers!
Yet, as John wipes tears from his eyes he looks to see the Lion, but instead sees a Lamb. However, John sees not just a Lamb, but a “little Lamb”. John doesn’t use the usual New Testament Greek word for lamb (amnos), but its diminutive, arnion. John sees not a lion, nor ram or sheep, but the tiniest, smallest lamb: a lambkin!
But it is the little Lamb that becomes the dominant figure in The Revelation of Jesus Christ. John will use the word arnion, or “little lamb” 29 times, whereas “Jesus Christ” occurs only seven times and “Christ” four times. Grotesque, beastly powers will war against the little Lamb and His followers, but the little Lamb overwhelms them: “the Lamb will conquer them, for he is the Lord of lords and King of kings” (17:14). Invitations are already going out to the victory feast of the Lamb (19:9; 22:17).
Yet more striking is that John sees this little Lamb “standing as if it has been slaughtered”. Blood drenched wounds of slaughter are clearly visible on the Lamb. In this, the grand theme of Scripture is pictured visually. The opening of the scroll and the fulfillment of God’s plans for humankind are accomplished by God’s slaughtered little Lamb. John looks to see Christ the Lion, but sees God’s sacrificed little Lamb.
Wherever the Old Testament says ‘Lion’ read ‘Lamb’. Wherever the Old Testament speaks of the victory of Messiah or the overthrow of the enemies of God, we are to remember that the Gospel recognizes no other way of achieving these ends than the Cross. (G. B. Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine)
John now sees and understands, and wants readers to understand, that the victory of the Lamb is won through sacrifice. The Lamb bids His followers in Iraq, Syria, the United States and all over the world to take up their crosses and follow after Him. For some the sacrifice will be rejection, misunderstanding, hardship, perhaps persecution and even death. But “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
READ ALOUD Revelation 5:1-14
HOW TO USE THIS DAILY DEVOTIONAL
This daily Lenten devotional takes up eight songs of worship from The Revelation. It is significant that this is the only book in the Bible promising a blessing on those who read it, specifically: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy” (Revelation 1:3 NRSV). Each section of this devotional presents a song for your audible reading, reflection and worship. Each day you will:
- PRAY asking God to bless this time you devote to Him
- READ ALOUD the worship song and text for the day
- REFLECT on the daily reading
- READ ALOUD again the worship song and text for the day
- WORSHIP God each day in a way that is meaningful for you. The way in which you worship might vary day to day. Depending on the day, you might choose to talk with God about what you are thinking and feeling about the song, or meditate on the worship song, or intercede for others, or sing, or be silent before God. Ask God to guide you.
We pray that God use these worship songs of The Revelation to reveal His glory to you and bless you as you center your life in Him.