Friday, October 21, 2016

Revelation 5:1-5

Revelation 5:1-5
And I looked upon the right hand of the one who sits upon the throne at a book that has been written on the inside and on the back and that has been sealed with seven seals.  And I saw a strong angel who announced in a great voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to loosen its seals?”  And nobody in heaven, nor upon the earth, nor underneath the earth was powerful enough to either open the book or look upon it.  And I was weeping greatly that nobody worthy was found to neither open the book nor look upon it.  And one out of the elders says to me, “Do not weep, look!  The lion – the one out of the tribe of Judah, the root of David – conquered to open the book and its seven seals.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

I deeply believe that this section opens with as much anti-Roman sentiment as John the Seer gave us at the end of the last chapter.  In ancient Rome, it was common practice among the wealthy elite to seal a scroll with seven wax seals.  Each seal would bear the mark of a legal authority in Rome or the Roman Empire.  The seals would guarantee the legal authenticity of the document to whomever the document was sent.  So what is John doing in this passage?  John is writing to the people in Asia Minor and showing them that the people think that Rome is the strongest entity in the land.  An angel even asks the poignant question: “Who is worthy to open the scroll?”  In other words, who is worthy to open something that is destined for the elite?  Nobody was found.  John is trying to get the people to see the mindset that Rome is the greatest authority.

Why would John look to set up this point?  What is John going after by reminding the people that the world believes that Rome is the ultimate power?

Just for fun, we can also point out that the wax wouldn’t usually be put directly on the document.  Most documents would be made out of papyrus and the wax would ruin the papyrus.  What they did would wrap the papyrus with a cord and the wax seals would secure the cord around the scroll.

Second Thought:

There is weeping when nobody is found.  Many people think that the weeping is because the scroll cannot be opened. I think that there is some legitimacy in that belief.  Clearly, this is an event and we want to see it resolved.  Because this feels like God’s point is going to go unresolved, the world weeps.  Much like the people of God wept when they were waiting for the Messiah.  We weep because we desire to see the plans of God happen, but we don’t always see them accomplished in our time.  We weep because God gives the world time to prove themselves: rebel or repent.  But there is another reason that John weeps.  What John realizes at this point is that nobody is worthy enough to hear and see the mind of God.  Nobody is worthy.

When have you wept because God’s plan seemed to go unresolved?  Why would the heavens weep in this instance?  When have you become aware of your own unworthiness?

Third Thought:

 Then we hear one of the elders make a great point.  The lion of Judah comes forth to open the seals!  The Lion of Judah is a phrase that is reserved for God’s Messiah.  I think that John is making two points here.  We’ll take them in reverse order to how I laid them out in the prior thoughts.  First, only God is worthy to reveal God’s will.  Only God is worthy to invite us, the unworthy ones, to participate in His plan.  The second point is just as valuable.  God is the supreme authority.  God’s Messiah is superior to the elite.  God’s Messiah is superior to the Roman elite.  God’s Messiah, God Himself, is the supreme authority in the land.

How does it feel to be invited into the will of God and to know His purpose?  Do you live as though Jesus is the supreme authority in the world?

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 5:6-14
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