1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
In the right hand of God was a book; He alone is the legal custodian of Creation (Psalm 24:1). It was sealed with seven seals. This is the book (scroll) that we are concerned with in this chapter of Revelation. Scrolls usually had writing on both sides, and the most important details were on the inside of them, while there was a summary of the contents on the outside. It should be noted that there are not seven scrolls, instead it is a single scroll sealed seven times. Such a scroll as this could only be opened by the one who owned it, therefore it is of great significance that Jesus alone could unseal it, and must Himself be God.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
A mighty angel (maybe Gabriel whose name means “mighty one of God”) cried out, “Who is worthy to unseal the scroll?” This scroll of prophecy regarding the seven judgements would remain unknown until someone could be found who is worthy. This exercise was for John’s understanding to show that no human or angel was capable of breaking the seals. Heaven already knew who was worthy to unseal the scroll. Indeed no redeemed man or angel is worthy enough to open the scroll. Since “there is none good but one, that is, God”, Jesus must be God (Mark 10:18).
3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
No person (human) in Heaven, on earth, or in Hell was worthy to open the book – not even to look upon it. This shows that there are people in Heaven already, just as there are in Hell. It also proves that believers do not become “little gods”, for they are still not worthy to do as Jesus alone can do; they are not worthy even to look upon the book in God’s hands.
4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
John sobbed when he realised that no one would come forward to open the scroll. He must have reflected upon this as he considered his own person. Did he breakdown because he saw his own unworthiness too?
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
One of the twenty-four elders comforted him by encouraging him to look upon Jesus. Jesus, as the Lion of Judah (Genesis 49:9) and Root of David (Matthew 1:1; Isaiah 11:1, 10) – the Messiah, the Perfect Man, had the power to open the scroll. He is victorious over Satan, sin and death through His blood which was spilt for sinners (Colossians 2:14-15).
6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
John turned to see the Lion of Judah, but instead he saw the Lamb of God. This Lamb is Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. Jesus is called “Lamb” 27 times in Revelation. “As it had been slain” or “as though it had been slain” reveals that Christ will bear the scars of His crucifixion throughout eternity (Luke 24:40; John 20:20, 27).
The Lamb appeared to have seven horns and seven eyes. Animals use their horns as weapons against others or as a show of strength. Horns became symbols of power and authority in the ancient world. Since the number seven speaks of perfection and completeness, it is likely that the seven horns symbolise Christ’s total dominion and omnipotence.
Being omnipotent, the Lord sees everything, as the “seven eyes” may indicate. This is connected with the “seven Spirits of God”, being the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit in the world, especially in delivering the message of salvation in Christ (Psalm 139:1-10).
7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
The Lamb, probably now in human form, came and took the scroll from God’s hand. This means also, that He alone could read, interpret, and broadcast the message contained within the scroll. This part of John’s vision can be compared with that of Daniel’s when He saw the ‘Son of Man” standing before the “Ancient of Days” to receive dominion, glory and the kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14).
8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
Immediately the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures took golden harps and vials full of aroma. Incense was burned each morning and evening in the Tabernacle (Exodus 37:25-26). The aroma depicts the prayers of the saints. Our prayers are never forgotten before God (Psalm 141:2).
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
They sang a new song to the Lamb of God who redeemed them at a great price (Ephesians 1:7). They praised Him because He was worthy to open the scroll and reveal its contents, and also in anticipation of the final victory over evil. They worshipped Him as the Saviour of the whole world because His blood purchased salvation. This salvation was not for a mythical elect but for all men on earth who respond to the Gospel call, since all have sinned and Christ died for all sinners (Romans 5:8; Galatians 3:13; 1 Timothy 2:6). Notice that they come from all tribes, languages, people and nations, for God indeed loves the entire world (John 3:16) and wants them to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). No wonder the Gospel of the Cross needs to be taken to all of humanity (Matthew 28:18-20).
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
They praised Him for making them spiritual kings and priests ready to inhabit the New Jerusalem. All true believers already are a “royal priesthood” and “a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:5-10). They will reign with Him on earth throughout the Millennium and on the New Earth (Revelation 20:6; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; 2 Timothy 2:12).
11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.
This worship caused the countless numbers of saved souls already in Heaven to rejoice also. The figure presented to us in the text simply means “myriads of myriads” or “one hundred million” (see Daniel 7:10). Job asks, “Is there any number of his armies?” (Job 25:3). The number might express a numberless host of people from our perspective rather than an exact figure. One third of the angels fell with Satan, but God’s angels are still an innumerable host (Hebrews 12:22).
12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
They sang of Christ’s, power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing. How could they honour Him this way if He were not God? Seven qualities are mentioned here and Christ possesses them in their fullness.
13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
John heard the universal worship of the whole of creation (Psalm 148; 150). Every part of creation that took breath or was a living creature of any kind sang praise to the Godhead. Notice that such praise is eternal. It appeared as though the whole of nature rejoiced in God. The inhabitants of Heaven will never tire in worshipping the Lord. There are four songs of praise sung before the Throne (4:11; 5:9, 12-13).
14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
The four angelic beings sang their Amen to the song of creation. The twenty-four elders bowed before God to worship Him again.