As the Apostle John stood in the very throne room of heaven, straining to process all the mind-blowing sights and sounds, he realized that he had been transported forward in time. He was seeing future events that were yet to take place. As John listened to the songs of the white-robed elders and the multi-winged creatures, he saw something in the Lord’s right hand. It was a scroll, “written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals” (v.1).
In ancient times there were no books as we know them today. Instead, paper would be written upon and then rolled up and sealed with wax or clay (I have seen pictures of an ancient scroll of the book of Isaiah that when unrolled measures 44 feet long!). My understanding is that the scroll in God’s hand is a visual representation of His plan for the end of the world. From God’s perspective, the end of human history as we know it has already been written. He is not making it up as He goes; He is not allowing things to happen by chance; He has already written the future. It is revealed in seven consecutive phases or events that will take place as God unleashes His judgment on sin and sinners. As each of the seven seals are broken, they reveal another phase of judgment (see Revelation 6:1-8:5).
In dramatic fashion, John looked on as a search was made for someone who was “worthy” to break the seals of the scroll and set the events of final judgment in motion — someone who was qualified, someone who was good enough, someone who was righteous enough to handle it. Anticipation built as the search was made (v.3). John was completely taken in; he was overcome with emotion (v.4), perhaps because of his desire for sin to be abolished, for God to be glorified, and for redemption to be completed.
With the entrance of the Lord Jesus, the Lion of Judah and the Root of David (v.5), the search was over! Because He alone has “conquered” (v.5), He alone is worthy. Christ alone has conquered sin, death, and Satan; Christ alone has fulfilled all prophecy; Christ alone has been “slain” (v.6) for the sins of mankind — so Christ alone can be trusted with the future of the world He made (see John 1:3). He is pictured as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb, His perfection indicated by the three “sevens” in verse 6: horns, eyes, and spirits.
When Jesus approached His Father’s throne and took the scroll, ALL HEAVEN BROKE LOOSE! All at once, the elders and the creatures began to sing, falling down on their faces and accompanying themselves with 28 golden heaven-harps (v.8). Then innumerable angels joined their chorus in a triumphant refrain of worthiness and power and glory (v.11-12). The song crescendoed as the voices of angels were joined with the voice of all creation (v.13), as every bird and fish and animal and force of nature lifted their own sounds, together saying, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” With a loud and final “Amen!” from the four living creatures the song was over as all the singers prostrated themselves before the Great Redeemer (v.14). What a song! What a Savior! He is worthy of the highest praise — and He is worthy of your very best discipleship today.