Enter the Lamb
And now something quite dramatic happens in heaven’s worship. The One sitting on the Throne and “who lives forever and ever” is seen holding a scroll “sealed with seven seals.” The fact that the scroll rests in His hand and not an angel’s or an elder’s or even with a cherub speaks to the importance of the contents of the scroll. The scroll contains the unfolding of John’s Revelation, but no one knows this at the moment. Another way to put it is to say that the scroll contains God’s plan for history—an all-embracing plan including past, present, and future, judgment and grace, heaven and hell. And in that the scroll contains the revelation of God’s plan, we know it cannot and will not be thwarted. And this is the reassurance and comfort of the saints: God is the One who controls all of destiny and He will see them through.
“A strong angel” proclaims in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in all creation was found worthy to do so. We should not think that the angel was calling for one strong enough; he calls for one worthy enough. And the fact that no one was found worthy to take the scroll, open, and break its seals says something about creation vis-a-vis God, namely, that God alone is worthy, for He alone is God, and hence the First Commandment that we love and adore Him above all else and renounce any gods before Him. So we must wait for God to open the scroll.
But John doesn’t know this yet; he only knows that whatever it is that is so wonderful that it must come from the hand of the One seated on the Throne is to remain hidden; and, for that reason, he cries aloud. But he is quickly pacified as one of the elders directs his attention to one closest to the One seated on the throne—closer than the cherubim. The elder calls him “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” and “the root of David,” messianic titles coming directly from the Old Testament (Genesis 49:9-10; Isaiah 11:1).
And so John turns to see…a lion? No, “a Lamb standing as though it had been slain.” And it is this who conquered—a Lamb, every bit as strong as the Lion, but who conquers through suffering, sacrificial love. Seven horns represent his strength. Seven eyes, we are told, represent “the seven spirits of God,” which we understand to be the Holy Spirit who reveals the mind of Christ to us (John 16:13-15), who reveals the mind of the Father to us (John 14:9-10), whose mind is revealed in the scroll. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain and who lives again (1:18)! Only God can break that which God seals.