Maybe one of the most moving revelations of Jesus is found in the fifth chapter of The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Many biblical scholars view The Revelation of Jesus Christ as a revelation of the end times. There is a certain amount of end time revelation in the book, but the purpose of the book is to reveal Jesus. Those who view the book as mainly that of the end times seem to spend more time revealing the person of the anti-christ than the Conquering Christ.
And I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals? And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals. And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then he came and took the scroll out of the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
Understanding the meaning of the scroll is paramount to understanding the meaning of this passage. This revelation not only reveals the person of Christ it is a spring board to the interpretation of the rest of the book.
Once Israel had conquered the enemies of the Promised Land each tribe was given a portion of the land as an inheritance. This land was their most prized possession. It was passed down from generation to generation and was the object of many wars. Wars continue to be fought over the land today. Occasionally a family would fall on hard times and would be forced to sell their land and serve the new owners as slaves. When the property was sold two documents were used as proof of the transaction; a sealed scroll and an open scroll. The open or unsealed scroll stated the purchaser as the new owner of the land. It was the public transaction of the purchase. The sealed scroll contained the details of the sell and the terms of redemption. This scroll had the signatures of witnesses on the back.
There were two ways a Jewish family could obtain their land back once it was sold. The first was known as the Year of Jubilee. Every fifty years all the titles of purchased land were automatically returned to the original owners. The second way the land could be returned was the law of the kinsman-redeemer. If they were willing and had the means a person who was the nearest of kin to the original land owner or another person could redeem the land and return it to the original owner (Leviticus 25).
The law of the kinsman-redeemer is portrayed in the story of Ruth and Boaz. Boaz redeemed the land that Elimelech had sold during a time of famine. In doing so he returned it to Naomi, Elimelech’s wife, and then married Ruth so the family name would be passed down to future generations. Jesus was born of this lineage.
In the book of Jeremiah we find evidence of the sealed and open scrolls. God commanded Jeremiah to be the kinsman-redeemer for his uncle’s son Hanameel. Jeremiah bought Hanameel’s field in Anathoth, had witnesses to sign the scroll and sealed it. God instructed Jeremiah, Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel that they may last many days. (Jeremiah 32:14)
John began to weep because no one was found worthy to open the scroll. He realized that the inheritance had been sold and there was no way to get it back. However, the elders knew something that John did not. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David had prevailed to open the scroll.
It was not by coincidence that the slain Lamb opened the scroll that had been sealed. In doing so he established himself as the kinsman-redeemer. Not only was he willing to purchase the lost inheritance he was also able to pay the necessary price for redemption. The price he had paid for redemption was his blood. Mankind had lost his inheritance in the Garden of Eden. Man was a slave to sin and alienated from the presence of God. But now a kinsman-redeemer was found who was worthy to pay the price for God and man to be re-united. This led all of creation into a new song.
Now when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song saying, You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals for you were slain and have redeemed us to God by your blood. Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation and have made us kings and priests to our God. And we shall reign on the earth.
Jesus had become the object of heaven’s worship because he had become the kinsman-redeemer. John goes on to share that he looked and heard the voice of many angels who accompanied the elders and the four living creatures. The number was so vast that he could not count them. He also heard every creature in heaven, earth, the sea and under the earth giving glory to the Lamb.
To enter heaven’s worship the revelation of Jesus as the kinsman-redeemer must become a reality in our lives. Once his blood has cleansed you of sin your response should be no different than that of the inhabitants of heaven. As the psalmist said, He has put a new song in my heart, even praise to our God. (Psalm 40:3)