A Glimpse of the Throne Room

Who Is Worthy?

Revelation 5:1-5



Revelation 1:4-8 gives us some vivid descriptions and images of our Triune God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  The Triune God of the universe greets us with grace and peace, John tells us.  It is a greeting to all who will listen and receive His message.  It is a greeting from God the Father – the Alpha and Omega, the One who is and who was and who is to come as self-existent eternally, and the One who is called Almighty.  It is also a greeting from the Holy Spirit of God in all seven aspects of His fullness.  Third, this greeting comes from God the Son, the One who is a faithful witness accurately portraying all that God is, who brings life from His resurrection, and is sovereign over all the earth.  It is a greeting for everyone who will hear what the Triune God of the universe has to say.

In verses 9-20 of Revelation 1, we also saw a poignant picture of Jesus Christ as He interacts with the church of God here on earth.  He is the One who stands in the midst of the golden lampstands (vv. 12-13, 20).  He tells us that the lampstands represent the church and we see the power of Jesus Christ put on display in His church.  His presence brings great power to the church as He shapes and purifies His church (vv. 14-15).   Then in verse 18, John describes Jesus as the “Living One.”  He died for the sins of the human race, but He rose from the grave and is now alive forever more.  Because of His resurrection, Jesus holds the keys to Death and Hades.  Chapter one of Revelation has given us a glimpse of the magnificence of the God we love and serve and His Son who has brought us salvation.

When we came to chapter 4 of Revelation, we were given a glimpse into the very throne room of Heaven itself.  There we see God seated upon His throne.  He is fixed eternally as the King and Ruler of His creation.  From Him emanates splendor, magnificence, power, and yes, even judgment for sin.  Believers will one day co-rule with Jesus Christ as they will be clothed in His righteousness and wearing the victor’s crown that is won through a life given to Him pictured by the 24 Elders seated on thrones around God’s throne.

We also saw a powerful picture of worship as four Cherubim, representatives of all created life, exalt the holiness and character of God.  They act as the guardians of the throne and are the obedient servants of God even as He executes His judgment during the years of the Great Tribulation.  The 24 elders, who represent all believers as they co-reign on thrones, willingly casting their crowns before God acknowledging the glory and honor due Him as the Creator of all things.  They understand that God is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise and that nothing they have done to receive their crowns came about without His enablement.

John the Apostle has seen some of the most vivid and exquisite images and heard some of most powerful words of worship in his glimpse into the throne room.  But as we begin Revelation chapter 5, we find John becoming very emotional as he expects to see something vital to our eternal hope in the throne room and at first, he doesn’t.  Let’s read Revelation 5: 1-5.

1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.

2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?"

3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it,

4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

5 And one of the elders said to me, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."

The Sealed Scroll (v. 1)

When I first read about the scroll in verse one, it almost seemed as though God moved.  Though the text says nothing about God moving, the right hand of God with this scroll seems to appear as though God is reaching out with His right hand holding the scroll.  The reason I bring this up is that John never mentions the hand of God or the scroll while he is describing the appearance of God in chapter 4.  Ezekiel said the God’s hand was stretched out to him in his similar vision.  I may be reading to much into our text here, but if God is extending out His right hand with the scroll, then that means the time has come for all that is contained in the scroll to be fulfilled.  In other words, there will come a time in the future when it is time for “the beginning of the end” to take place.  I believe that when John sees God’s hand with the scroll, it is a picture of God saying, it is time for the Great Tribulation to begin.

But what do we know about this “scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals?”  What about the seven seals and why is it written on the inside and on the back?  We have mentioned before that Ezekiel was given a similar vision to that of John’s and here is how Ezekiel 2:9-10 describes this scroll.

And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it.  And he spread it before me.  And it had writing on the front and on the back, and there were written on it words of lamentation and mourning and woe.

According to Ezekiel, what is written on this scroll will cause great weeping, lament, sorrow, and grief.  I will try to explain this in a minute, but I don’t believe that these emotional reactions are the result of what was written inside the scroll, but on the outside or back of the scroll.  Now historically, contracts, deeds, and wills were written upon scrolls and sealed by witnesses making them legal documents.  What is pictured here is a contract or deed.  Some scholars see it as a will, some see it as the title deed to the earth.  I have no problem with either view because in both cases, they require someone who is worthy to open it and, in both cases, the content describes the future that will take place here on earth.

If we see it as a will, then scroll represents God’s redemptive plan to defeat evil once and for all, to rescue His people, and to transform His creation.  As a will it reveals the inheritance of both the believer and the unbeliever.  As a will, there is only One person who has the right to execute the will.

In a similar way, if we see the scroll as a title deed of the earth, it shows God’s ownership of all that He has created.  However, He has suffered loss because sin and evil in this world.  But the deed is being transferred to the One who has paid the purchase price to redeem the world and restore all things to what it was meant to be.  Much like a kinsman redeemer restoring a family member who has suffered loss.  This idea of a kinsman redeemer is described to us in the Old Testament.

In both cases, whether it is viewed as a will or as a title deed, the information contained in the scroll is what will happen in the future.  I believe the things John describes to us in Revelation chapters 19-22 are contained in the scroll.  In those chapters, he tells us about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb for believers, the defeat of evil at the Battle of Armageddon, Satan being bound, a thousand years of Christ ruling and reigning, a description of the New Jerusalem, and the new creation upon which it will descend.  All of this is contained in that scroll.  Certainly, this is not something that will cause us sorrow and grief like Ezekiel describes.

But before the content of the scroll can be opened and executed, the seals of the scroll must be removed.  This is where Ezekiel saw the words of lament, mourning, and woe.  Much like contracts and legal documents, the back side of the scroll would have special instructions to those who are authorized to open the scroll.  When the scroll is rolled up these instructions would appear on the outside of the scroll underneath the seals.

If you read the book of Revelation, you will find that the seven seals are the seven judgments that must take place before the content of the scroll can be executed.  We often refer to them as the seven Seal Judgments.  As each of the seals are opened, we find the judgments to be more intense than the one before it.  In fact, we find the seventh Seal Judgment contains both the seven Trumpet Judgments and the seven Bowl Judgments.  At the time of the execution of the seven Bowl Judgments which happens near the end of the Great Tribulation, the intensity of God’s wrath on sin and the anti-Christ will be at its greatest.  This is where Ezekiel sees the great lamentation, mourning, and woe.

Go back to Revelation 5 again and let me read verse one again now that we have some information to help us understand what is going on in John’s glimpse in the throne room.

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.

Notice what happens next in verses 2 and 3:

The Search for the Worthy One (vv. 2-3)

And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?"  And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it,

The mighty angel is not named.  We know the name of some of God’s mighty angels, but here we just know that this is a mighty angel with a loud voice.  His voice was loud enough that the whole universe could hear his question, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?"  A simple question, but a necessary question.  Much like a will or a title deed, there is only one who has the authority to break the seals and open the scroll.

What we saw in chapter four describes a very noisy celebration of the holiness of God as the occupants of the throne room give glory and honor to God.  Then God stretches forth His right hand, the hand of sovereign power, holding a scroll.  As this angel with the loud voice asks the question about who is worthy, all of heaven fell silent.  Who is worthy?  The time has come to open the scroll, but who is worthy?

We are told that there was no one found in heaven.  In other words, no angel is worthy to open the seals because none of them became human and paid the perfect price of holiness for sin.  Certainly, there are billions of human souls in heaven, but everyone of them had to be redeemed to be in heaven.  There is no created being in heaven worthy to open the scroll, even these Cherubim and Elders surrounding the throne were not worthy.

Even on earth, there was no one found worthy.  Every single person on earth is condemned by sin and needs the salvation provided by the Redeemer.  And certainly, the souls and demons of hell are not worthy.  In all of the universe of God’s created beings, there is found no one who is worthy to open the scroll and look into it.

Recently, in our Men’s study on Saturdays, we looked at Romans 3 where Paul illustrates that no one has an advantage when it comes to salvation.  It doesn’t matter if you are Jew or Greek, obedient to the laws or even a criminal.  No one is worthy of God’s grace.

Romans 3:9-12

What then? Are we Jews any better off?  No, not at all.  For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."

The point is that we can search the whole universe among God’s created beings and find no one who is worthy to open the seals and read the scroll.  No matter how good a person you think you are, you are not worthy to stand in the presence of God without a redeemer.  But there is One who has paid the price for our sin and brings us restoration into His kingdom.  But notice, John was expecting to see someone who was worthy to open the scroll and yet it appears that there is no one.  Look at his response in verse 4.

Hopelessness Without the Worthy One (v. 4)

And I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

Why did John weep about no one being found worthy to open the scroll?  Think about it!  Everything John believed about redemption from sin and restoration for the people of God hinged on this one thing.  Without someone who is worthy to open the scroll, there will be no eternal inheritance for the believer, there will be no final defeat for sin and evil, there is no hope.  Without someone who is worthy, the scroll will remain sealed and judgment for sin and wickedness will take place.  Without someone who is worthy, the scroll’s content of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the eternal city, and the new heaven and earth will not take place.

John knew that if no one was worthy, the hopelessness of our world and its present condition will go on indefinitely.  To think that suffering, pain, and death never comes to an end, is devastating to say the least.  John’ faith in Jesus as Redeemer and Restorer is futile.

You see, John walked with Jesus, John learned from Jesus, and John understood the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  John has been proclaiming what he knew and saw about His Savior, but when the angel calls for someone who is worthy and no one immediately steps forth, John was crushed.  You could imagine that his mind went racing to all that Jesus taught him and wondering, where is He?  Where is Jesus?  Without Jesus there is no hope!  But John’s weeping was premature, wasn’t it?

The Lion of Judah is Worthy (v. 5)

5 And one of the elders said to me, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."

Notice that it is an Elder, not an Angel or even one of the Living Ones that says this to John.  Remember, the Elders are the representatives of all believers.  They are raptured and seated saints of God.  Human souls redeemed by their faith in Jesus.  One of these Elders spoke up during this time when all that could be heard in the throne room was John’s weeping.  He says, “Weep No More!”  Hallelujah!  John you don’t need to weep, there is someone here who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll.  The Elder calls John’s attention toward the throne and says “Behold,” or Look!  Evidently John was weeping and looking down and disheartened.  Because of the tears and disappointment John did not see this new figure appearing from between the throne and the four Living Ones.  Look, John, Look!

The Elder calls this One who is worthy by the prophetic names given to the coming Messiah in the Old Testament, the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” and the “Root of David.”  If you remember in our studies in Genesis, Jacob blesses His sons in Genesis 49.  Jacob says that his son Judah and all that come from his lineage will be like a lion.  Thus, the tribe of Judah became known as the Lion tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel.  It is from this tribe, that the Messiah would come who would bring salvation for all.

The Elder further describes the One who is worthy as the “Root of David.”  When you look at the lineage of the Messiah in Matthew 1 and Luke 3, you find that Jesus was born not just from the tribe of Judah, but the lineage of King David.  The root of David means, the stock, family, descendant, hence, "the Root of David" is that which descended from David.  Jesus Christ in His human nature and family connections was a descendant of David, a member of his family.  Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, and He is the One who can open the scroll and the seven seals.  It is Jesus Himself!

Next week we will look at what John describes in verse 5 as a Lamb coming out from between the throne and the Living Ones, “a Lamb standing as though it had been slain.”  It is clear from the text, that this is Jesus Christ.  He is the One who is worthy to open the seals and execute the contents of the scroll.  I don’t know about you, but I get goose bumps thinking about this.


 When I think about our eternal future, I am quickly humbled to realize that I can do nothing to change my eternal destiny.  As much as I would like to think that I can be a good person and that somehow God would see my pitiful efforts as enough, it is not.  I can never do enough good things to make me acceptable to God.  It is only through my faith in the Jesus Christ, the One who is worthy to open to seals and execute the content of the scroll.  Without Him, I am hopelessly lost and will receive an inheritance of eternal separation from God in a place of eternal death.

I would like to close by reading Titus 3:4-7.  But keep in mind as I read this that if we are to receive any of the inheritance talked about in the scroll (marriage Supper, New Jerusalem, New Creation), we need to be restored to God’s family by faith in Christ.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

It is only by faith, not by works, that we can be forgiven and restored to God’s family.  As such, we become sons and daughters of God, heirs and joint heirs with Christ for eternity.  Without Jesus, there is no hope.  With faith in Jesus, we are heirs of eternal life.

Do you know Him in that way?  Do you worship Him in that way?