The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 36

Whose World Is This?

     This is the background of the marvelous drama that now unfolds in Revelation.  The Lamb has paid the price to reclaim the lost world and has delivered over the title deed, as it were, for safekeeping to its Creator God until He could return to cast out the invader and consummate the full redemption of His dearly purchased possession.

     The heavenly title scroll is one rather than two, but the import is the same.  Its contents are evidently brief, recording only the fact that the price for the whole world has been paid and the Lamb has right to the inheritance, but it is sealed tight with seven seals.  However, the same brief information appears openly to all, written on the backside, or outside, so there is no need for two scrolls.  The word has been published to the whole creation if men would only believe it, that the Lamb is the Redeemer and some day will return to claim his possession and to be acknowledged universally as King of kings. 

Revelation 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? 

     First, however, it must be established in sight of all the heavenly host, as well as all the redeemed, that there was no one else qualified to claim the inheritance.  An angel – no ordinary angel, but one of the highest in the heavenly host, perhaps Gabriel himself, a “strong” angel – proclaims with a thunderous voice, audible throughout the mighty company, that the time is at hand.  The world has been plundered long enough by the great Adversary and he must be defeated and banished with all his followers, both human and demon, forever.  But who and where is one who is both Kinsman and Redeemer, one who has both the right and the ability to take over “the uttermost parts of the earth [for His] possession” (Psalm 2:8)?

Revelation 5:3.    And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

     The identity of the rightful heir must be determined, and the description is very specific, perhaps spelled out clearly on the open side of the seven-sealed scroll.  For one thing it must be a man, rather than an angel, for it was man’s lost estate that must be reclaimed.  None of the angelic hosts in heaven, and certainly not the demonic hordes of Satan, can qualify.

     But there are billions of men, including many of the saved, now in heaven around the throne.  None of these, however, could qualify as the Redeemer because their very souls are included in the estate to be redeemed.  Since man’s sin was the cause for which the world was lost, no man who is or was a sinner can buy it back.  The price is a life of perfect holiness, with that life being offered through the shedding of its blood in substitutionary suffering and death for the world of sinners, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

     In all the world’s history, there has been “none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).  And if there are none in heaven who are qualified, still less qualified are the unredeemed still on the earth or under the earth in Hades.  They are still in their sins.  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

     None of the saints around the throne could even bring himself to dare look at the book, just to see whether he would qualify.  They had all experienced the purifying fire of Christ’s presence and had been made like Him (Romans 8:29).  But this was by His grace only – not any merit of their own.  The one who could open the scroll must do so by right of His own demonstrated – not imputed – merit.

Revelation 5:4.    And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

     John, as one of the raptured saints, views the scene in awe – but also in increasing concern.  All had seemed in readiness to proceed with the expurgation of the great invader and his hosts of demonic and human followers on earth, but the rightful claimant to earth’s title had not been found.  The scroll remained sealed, and the judgments could not proceed until it was opened.  John, in great emotion, and somehow still not of sufficient confident faith, despite all he had heard and seen, began to wonder whether the work of redemption might even yet fail of completion, and finally to weep and sob in near despair.

Revelation 5:5.    And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

     It is significant that it was not the angel, but an elder, who came to meet John’s need at this point.  The elder was a redeemed and raptured saint, like John, and understood the intensity of his concern better than any angel could but he, unlike John, had long been in heaven with the Savior, having been among those rescued by Him from Hades at the time of Christ’s resurrection.  As an “elder,” he had presumably lived his pilgrimage on earth before John was born, with the unique perspective such long experience had acquired for him.

     It may be he is one of the ancient patriarchs – possibly even Judah himself!  Who would know better the implication of Jacob’s dying prophecy concerning the coming Savior?  “Judah is a lion’s whelp. . .  The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:9, 10).

     By John’s time, the Romans had destroyed Jerusalem and the Jews were in dispersion: the scepter had indeed departed from Judah.  Therefore, Shiloh had already come, the promised King, the Lion of Judah’s tribe.  But perhaps it had not been fully understood in those ancient times what “the gathering of the peoples” might mean.

     Now all understood.  All the redeemed peoples of all the nations of all the ages had been gathered together unto Him and were intensely awaiting His appearance as the great conquering Lion.

     In the tribe of Judah, the chosen family was Jesse and the anointed king was David.  He who had created David – “the root of David” was also the “offspring of David” (Revelation 22:16).  He had “come whose right it is” (Ezekiel 21:27). 

     That it was His right had been proved because He had prevailed to open the book. This is the same word used for “overcome” in the letters to the churches, and also for “triumphed” in Colossians 2:14, 15: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”  Not only was He the Son of man, He was the Lion of Judah and the Root of David; He had put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself on the cross and had prevailed over the powers of the wicked one who had usurped His Father’s creation.  John’s tears ceased, as he turned to see the great prevailing Lion prepare to burst the seals.

Revelation 5:6.     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.

     Instead of the great Lion which he anticipated, however, John saw a Lamb standing in the midst – the meekest of all God’s animal creation instead of the fiercest.  The Lamb, like the Lion, is obviously symbolic, but the symbolism is clear.

     When John had first seen the glorified Son of man (Revelation 1:13-16) the symbol of the Lion would have been fitting.  But now in the rainbow light encircling the throne appeared the same divine person in different garb.  The conquering King had first become the suffering Servant.  It is in His capacity as the Lamb of God that the price of redemption had been satisfied.  Therefore it is as the Lamb that He must receive the title scroll from the hand of Him who had held it is safekeeping throughout the age of grace.

     Note also the Lamb stood “as it had been slain,” and yet He stood, and was living.  His death wounds were still visible, but He was “alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:18).

     The Lamb’s appearance was remarkable in another respect – “seven horns and seven eyes.”  The seven eyes represent the sevenfold Holy Spirit, as noted before (Revelation 1:4 and 4:5).  There is also a reference, however, to Zechariah 4:10: “For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”

     Zerubbabel was in charge of building the temple after the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity, thus serving also as a type of the Redeemer returning to His possession.  The “small things” of the restored temple were a type of the whole earth, which would one day be restored, and the “seven eyes,” seeing the whole earth as the Lord sees it reminded Zerubbabel, as they did John, of that great future day.

     Zerubbabel’s contemporary and colleague was Joshua, the high priest.  God gave a similar message to him: “Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, . . . for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.  For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day” (Zechariah 3:8, 9).

     The “BRANCH” is the “root of David” again, a name for the coming Savior.  In token of this promise, God gave Joshua an engraved stone with the “seven eyes.”  To Zerubbabel the seven eyes betokened restoration of the earth; to Joshua they symbolized its future purification.  Both restoration and purification would be accomplished some day by the coming Redeemer.

     The “seven horns” may be an antiypical reference to another Joshua (The name Joshua, of course, is the same as Jesus).  When the children of Israel first entered the land of Canaan to claim it for their own as God had promised, they encountered a wicked city barring their way.  When in accord with God’s command, the priests took “seven trumpets of ram’s horns,” the walls of Jericho tumbled down and the city and its alien inhabitants were destroyed.  Thus, these “seven horns” on the Lamb may well have recalled to John the seven ram’s horns of Joshua, and their effectiveness in enabling the people of God to enter on their inheritance in God’s land of promise.  Further, their use as trumpets surely reminded John also of the trumpet that had called him up to God’s throne.

     Thus the seven horns and seven eyes on the heavenly Lamb would call to John’s remembrance all the great promises of salvation, both to Israel and to the whole world.  In fact Jesus Himself is called “an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:69).

Revelation 5:7.    And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

     The dramatic moment for which John and the great assembly had waited was finally here.  The Lamb came to take the title book, and the One on the throne gave it to Him, thus acknowledging before the universe that the slain, yet living, Lamb was the world’s Redeemer.

     Daniel saw the same great event in a vision.  “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13, 14).

     Daniel saw only a vision, and therefore not the complete sequence of events involved.  John saw the actual events, because He was there, caught up with the saints into God’s presence.  John’s “Lamb” is the same as the Son of man in Daniel, and the dominion given Him must actually be enforced by Him as the seals on the title scroll are opened.

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