There are some very valuable documents housed in museums and vaults around the world, but none of them compare in importance to the heavenly reality of the one pictured in Revelation.
In my last post I covered the disclosure of the throne of God, which John saw in heaven, as the central point of all of creation. Chapter Five of the book of Revelation starts by describing a significant detail: ‘Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.’
The obvious question is, “What is this scroll?” I give a detailed explanation in Chapter Eight of my book ‘Revelation in The Stars’, but here is the short version:
The scroll in the hand of God the Father represents the title deeds to Earth. God created humankind, Adam and Eve, and gave them the right and responsibility to rule over the natural world (Genesis 1:28). Then they rebelled, and by doing so forfeited the title deeds to the earth. In my book I write that ‘Man turned away from God in rebellion and put his trust in Satan instead. In doing this, he became indebted to Satan, who enslaved him and took his inheritance as collateral for the debt’. To understand what is really happening here we need to realise that the creation has always been God’s possession. He did not give it to humankind, but merely placed it in their care and delegated authority over it to them. Satan never did get to own the earth, but because humankind submitted to him instead of to God he did obtain temporary rights to it.
In Roman times, when the book of Revelation was written, title deeds consisted of a scroll detailing the description of the property. If the property was pledged or given as collateral, then the conditions of redemption were inscribed on the outside of the scroll which was then attested to by seven witnesses each of whom placed their personal wax seal onto the outside of the scroll. So, the title deeds contained the property description on the inside and the redemption conditions of the outside.
John continues the drama of the scene of God on the throne holding the title deeds to earth in His right hand: ‘And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside’. The idea conveyed here is that John wept aloud, copiously and in great anguish, because he realised that humanity was doomed unless someone could be found who met the redemption conditions on the scroll. Condition One: The redeemer must be a man, not an angel, because mankind had forfeited the title deeds. Condition Two: The penalty of death, incurred in the great rebellion, must be paid for on behalf of humankind. Condition Three: The redeemer must be without the sin. No wonder John wept! What man was without sin?! And who but God could pay the penalty of death? It was just impossible! …and so John wept in bitter anguish.
But the drama continues to unfold with: ‘Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Who was born to the tribe of Judah? Who is the descendant of King David? Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the lion of Judah, the Root of David is the ONLY one qualified to redeem humankind. Jesus, and Jesus alone, is God made man! He alone is the incarnation of the divine! In him alone God the Son became a man! Only the life of God the Son could compensate for the forfeited life of all humanity. And only the life of the Son of God could substitute for the lives of his fellow men and women.
The throne room drama reaches a climax with the words: ‘Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne’. Jesus, the Lamb of God, standing in the heavenly Holy of Holies, presenting his credentials as a redeemer, the evidence of his sacrificial crucifixion!
The scene concludes with successive of praise that start in the throne room, extend to the entire angelic realm, and then to creation itself!
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
But wait, there is more!… but it will have to wait till my next post.