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The Scroll

Revelation 5:1-5
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. 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. 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.' (NIVUK)

John's vision continued in the throne room of heaven, as his attention is drawn to a scroll lying in God's open hand, the hand of power and authority, ready to release to whoever was holy. Nothing further could be added to the scroll because it was already covered by writing on both sides (Ezekiel 2:9-10). It was complete and secured by seven seals. A number of suggestions have been made as to what the scroll contained and all, in some way, suggest that it is God's plan for the future of His people: a sort of title deed for the inheritance of the saints (Ephesians 1:18).

The angel authoritatively announced a dilemma. There was nobody on earth who was morally fit to open such a holy document; not the best of humanity or even the seraphs and cherubim of heaven (Isaiah 6:1-3). John was utterly distraught as he wept that although God would reveal His future plans, nobody was holy enough to read or announce them. John's tears were not a failure of faith but an earnest heart desire that this unique document might be revealed to the church.

The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders were still in the throne room (Revelation 5:8): the finest of God's creation and the representatives of His redeemed people. None of them was morally qualified to open the seals and read God's plans for the future. But one of the elders spoke to the weeping John, and pointed him to the Lord Jesus – here described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:9-10), the Root of David (Isaiah 11:1; Romans 15:12). His qualification for opening the seals and reading the scroll is that 'He has triumphed'. Not only had He refrained from sin – the angels did that – but He accepted the penalty for sin in His own body, and yet was raised to new life, thus defeating the power of Satan. It is that triumph which was crucial to opening the seals. Unless Satan had been defeated, then if he knew God’s ultimate plans, he would have tried to thwart them (1 Corinthians 2:8). But with the victory of Christ, the downfall of the devil is certain. There is nothing more he can do to seize God's kingdom.

Religious people might take refuge in God's wonderful creation, but that is spoiled; or in the church, but that falls short of God's glory; or in angels, but they have never conquered sin and Satan. We need a renewed confidence to trust in Jesus. He is the only one who can escort us safely through the hazards of life to the reward of faith. Saints and angels cannot do that for us: only Jesus can (Acts 4:12). Are you trusting Him alone? He is the only Way (John 14:6).

Holy God. Thank You that Jesus has decisively won the victory over Satan. Forgive me for ever putting my trust in saints or angels, Your creation or the church – when I need to trust in Jesus alone. Please help me to grow in my relationship with Jesus as I read and obey Your Word, allowing Your Holy Spirit to guide me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams