The joy of believers in the presence of the Lamb seated upon the throne of heaven in Revelation chapter 5 contrasts with the disappointment, despair, death and loss of those who pursue the world with its passing atheism, materialism and hedonism. We cannot have both heaven and earth as our part and portion, a wise man will chose that which lasts the longest (Jim Elliot) - J Stewart Gillespie
Trace back the fuse wire to the detonator that triggered the pouring out of the 7 vials of judgment, the fall of Babylon the Great, the battle of Armageddon, the sounding of the 7 trumpets, and the opening of the 7 seals, will lead you to this book in the hand of God in Revelation chapter 5. Whatever this book is, it contains the secret of all subsequent judgments and catastrophes in the book of Revelation which are to befall the world. Whatever it is, this book is important. Despite the fact that loosening the seals to open the book leads to global environmental, economic and spiritual melt down following in the wake of war, famine, disease and demonic attack, this is a risk worth taking.
The 4th message in a series of studies in the book of Revelation given at Faskally Family week 2022 on the theme of "Tell me There's a Heaven" by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.
The lion of the tribe of Judah reigns sovereign and supreme from the throne of the Universe in Revelation chapter 5. His sovereignty has suffered and sacrificed through time and humanity. To the throne of heaven He brings Divine right and appointment fused with moral right and authority. He is the King who wore the crown of thorns ever before He bore the royal diadem. His reign in Righteousness is above fault and criticism, He was both given this right to reign, and He died for this right to reign. As the Lamb He concludes His retribution with redemption, His purpose in time for the universe collectively and for us individually will not be revealed in the raw power of destruction but rather every pain, each sorrow, every disappointment, all trials and affliction ultimately work together for good and Glory.
The 3rd message given at Faskally House Family Week in 2022, by Dr J Stewart Gillespie on the theme of
"Tell me there's a Heaven" - studies in the book of Revelation.
Tears begin to flow in Revelation chapter 5 at the possibility that this book in the hand of God could remain unopened. It is the losing of the seals of this momentous book which determines all else that subsequently happens in the unfolding purposes of God in this final prophetic conclusion to the Bible: the book of Revelation. This book, in the hand of God, is destined to be opened and read at the great white throne judgment, determining the destiny of God's redeemed people. It is the eternal list of those, sealed, saved and secure. This is the Lamb's book of life! That such a book should remain unread would be unthinkable.
There is to be found only one who is worthy to break the seals and thus open the book. Redemptive character and power are needed for this task. This alone is can be undertaken by the Lamb.
Revelation chapter 5 concludes with a great, unified, although diverse chorus of praise to the worthiness of the lamb, affirming that indeed He is worthy to take the book and unloose the seals. Each individual in heaven, in turn affirms who the Lamb is, what the Lamb is and what He has done.
To the elder He is the only one fitted by might and by moral right to take the throne of the universe. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and has proven His worth and character as a man born into and through the line of Judah. The Lamb upon the throne is uniquely qualified for this role. Unlike mere human and mortal kings the Lamb does not reign purely by inherited right nor even by convincing others of His personal ability nor might. His path of ascendency came through humanity, through the tribe of Judah. His life is an open book in the Gospels and in the scriptures. We see His character, "He did sin... He knew no sin... in Him is no sin." In every way He was tested like we are yet found to be without sin. He is worthy of the throne. He is worthy to reign.
To John He is marked with the attributes of God; all powerful with His 7 horns, all knowing and seeing with His 7 eyes and omnipresent with the 7 Spirits of God sent forth upon all the earth.
To the living creatures and 24 elders His motives and character are above and beyond reproach for He not only has a people, not only has He redeemed a people but the Lamb has redeemed them with His one blood. His people are precious to Him, infinitely and personally precious.
Finally we ask the angels for their perspective on the Lamb? Is He worthy? Ask the angels! He above all inhabitors of a throne is able by the purity of His character to handle absolute power, riches, wisdom, honour and glory without pride and without tyranny.
The one who sits today on the throne of the universe is absolutely trustworthy and dependable.
Part of our series of systematic Bible Teaching in the book of Revelation, brought by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.
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It is John who assures us in Revelation chapter 21 vs 4 that there will be no tears in heaven and yet it is his very description of heaven that opens with the intensity of his own tears (Revelation 4:4). This is indeed a strange and sorrowful introduction to the tearless place. We may be unsurprised that the description of disaster, famine, plaque and pestilence of the subsequent chapters are preceded by tears. What is about to unfold in the 7 seals, the 7 trumpets, and the 7 vials amounts to global catastrophe and world wide destruction. The 4 riders of the apocalypse are followed by the veiling of the sun and the blood moon. The 7 trumpets announce the destruction of 1/3 of the land, 1/3 of the sea. 1/3 of the rivers as well as the solar, lunar and stellar disasters. The bottomless pit is opened and the demonic plaque of locusts are released upon the earth followed by 200 million horseman reeking destruction on the earth. Boils and sores are followed by seas and rivers of blood as the satanically inspired Kingdom of the beast comes crashing down along with the global economic and religious systems. Yet it is not because of any of this John weeps! Even more astounding than the weeping of John in heaven is his reason for weeping. John weeps that these seal may not be loosed and the book may not be opened!
Whatever this book contains the glory of the book is infinitely greater than the grief which it causes! This is a book which demands the redemptive rights of the lamb to open. This is not title deeds of the universe which in reality do not exist. The earth is and always has been the Lord's and the fullness thereof. He did not purchase, neither did He lose the earth. The earth is His by rights. The Creator needs no work of redemption to judge a fallen world; that is His Divine prerogative! Neither does this book contain the story of future events, not the book of revelation in part nor in whole. The story of Revelation chapter 6 to 19 are the product of the seals and not the scroll.
The identity of this book, is perhaps heaven's best kept secret and can only be that of the Lamb's Book of Life of Revelation chapters 20 and 21. It is only this book which requires redemptive rights to handle. It is only the Book of Life who's eternal Glory eclipses the grief of the loosed seals. It would be an unopened book of life which truly would be worth the tears of John for if the Lamb's book were never to be opened the fate of all would be that of eternal loss and damnation. This is indeed why John wept, he wept for you! The opening of this book determines the eternal destiny of all those whose names are contained within it's pages. Once this book is opened John will in chapters 20 and 21 present to us the presence and reality of the opened book of life of the Lamb. Let us value greatly the cost and consequence of our salvation.
Listen below or watch online to the full bible teaching message preached on Revelation chapter 5.
Upon the fulcrum of Revelation chapter 5 the whole of John's great prophetic book turns. John has introduced us to heaven in Revelation chapter 4 and to the God of heaven. In chapter 4 we learn WHAT God is; He is the covenant making and covenant keeping God of the rainbow encircled throne. All of His rule is founded on the principle of faithfulness and of God's unbreakable promises. He is the God of the crystal sea, impeccably Holy, absolutely pure. We glimpse WHO God is in the Jasper and the Sardine stone. The stones of the breastplate of Israel's high priest contain the names of Benjamin; the Son of His Father's right hand and Reuben: behold a Son. The God of eternity seated upon the throne of glory is the Son. This is the Jesus of the bible! Write above chapter 4 of Revelation:
"Our Father which art in heaven..."
Here is God in His dwelling. Here is God seated upon His throne!
From chapter 6 to 19 of Revelation John will describe in detail not so much WHO God is or WHAT God is like but WHAT God will do. Chapter after awful chapter, catastrophe follows disaster and yet these calamities are anything short of natural or accidental. These earth shattering events are deliberate, ordered, designed and ordained; each one triggered by a definitive act of the Lamb and His angels. These events can in fact be traced back to the opening of the seven seals of Revelation chapter 5.
And so after:
The 4 riders of the Apocalypse; harbingers of war, famine, death and disease you can write:
"Thy will be done on earth..."
After the veiling of the sun and the blood red moon you can write:
"Thy will be done on earth..."
After the destruction of 1/3 of the land, 1/3 of the sea, 1/3 of the rivers; you can write:
"Thy will be done on earth..."
As the solar system moves and the stars fall; you can write:
"Thy will be done on earth..."
As the bottomless pit is opened and as Apollyon leads the demonic locusts on their merciless mission; you can write:
"Thy will be done on earth..."
As 200 million horsemen emerge to destroy 1/3 of mankind, you can write:
"Thy will be done on earth..."
As Armageddon rages, the beast and Antichrist arise and the global financial and religious systems fall; you can write:
"Thy will be done on earth..."
With so much in these chapters as to who God is, what God is like and what God will do; what indeed is the purpose of Revelation chapter 5, and more particularly a scroll or book unsealed, one seal at a time unleashing global destruction? This pattern teaches me that:
Pain has a purpose
Grief has a Glory
Madness has a meaning
All of these subsequent judgments; wars and destructions are the essential forerunner to the opening of the book. It is in other words the opening of this book which heralds in Gods eternal Kingdom and New Jerusalem that necessitates the opening of this book. You can't have the open book without the preceding catastrophe!
You can't have success in life without the sacrifice!
You can't climb a mountain sitting on your sofa with your slippers on!
You can't have the donuts without the calories!
You can't have a world of sin, rebellion, and separation from God without first the purging of fire, the fulfilment of the ultimate and eternal consequences of sin, the judgment of Satan and rebellion. To be separate from the God of life, light and love necessitates the experience of death, darkness and despair!
The tragedy of Revelation has meaning and purpose as does all tragedy and turmoil under the hand of a sovereign God.
To open the book that leads to Glory means to lose the seals which each demand judgment!
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Book within a book Scroll within the seals Meaning within the Mystery
Book within a book:
Revelation chapter 5 presents us with a book
It is a book on the hand of God
It is a book in the hand of the lamb
This is an interesting and strange phenomenon
Here we are reading God’s book – the Bible, in God’s book the Bible we read of a book in the hand of God!
That is rather strange!
Herein is a book within a book!
That of course is not completely unique in the Bible, the Bible does contain a number of references to ‘external’ books:
The Book of the prophet Shemaiah The Book of Jehu the Son of Hanani The Book of Gad the Seer The Book of Nathan the Seer The Book of the acts of Solomon The Book of the Wars of the Lord The Book of Jasher The Books of the Kings of Babylon (Ezra 4:15) The Books of the Chronicles of Media and Persia (Esther 6:1; 10:2)
Often of course a book or piece of literature will cross reference other works to give validity to it’s own thesis or ideas; as if the author is saying; ‘here you can go away and check the facts for yourself.’
Intriguingly of course of all of those external books referenced by the Bible, none are still in existence. If you were to place your inter library loan request it would be returned as ‘volume unavailable’.
The Bible has no real need of external validation in any shape nor form! The Bible is the absolute source of validation itself.
It is interesting too, to reflect upon the unique character of the Bible we hold in our hands. That whilst all of these other books have been lost, some that perhaps we might think ought to have been preserved; the histories and chronicles of the Kings of Persia and Babylon, the histories and records of the greatest empires in the world, this book the Bible has bee preserved. Down through the centuries and generations, men and women have been persuaded of the unique value and content of this book and through fire and flame have preserved the Bible at great personal cost.
In the archives of Yad Vashem are scrolls from the synagogues of Eastern Europe, texts of the Torah, preserved through the holocaust, scrolls stained with blood and burned by fire.
Even for those who perhaps do not have faith in the Christ of the Bible, they must surely acknowledge the uniqueness of His book.
Within the pages of this unique book; the bible, there is hidden another book; a book within a book, almost like the Russian dolls of old, a doll within a doll.
We open the safe of the Bible, a book of phenomenal interest in and of itself and within it we find a locked safety deposit box!
Perhaps we ay suspect that this book within a book will contain something of even greater and deeper interest? Some hidden mystery? Some deeper secret?
In fact the hidden character of this book of Revelation chapter 5 is even deeper than that. The bible as we know it, is a title taken from the Greek ‘ta biblia’ which literally means the ‘books’ or the ‘scrolls’ plural.
In our hands we not only have God’s book, but within that book we have 66 of God’s books; ‘ta biblia.’
The book on the hand of God in Revelation chapter 5 is thus:
A book within A book within A book
That makes it of course a very interesting book indeed!
It is perhaps also worth noting that what is translated as a ‘book’ in Revelation chapter 5 verse 1 is in reality a ‘scroll’ – a rolled up parchment or papyrus.
The ancient word for book was of course ‘biblos’ which was the same as the word for a scroll. The word came from the Lebanese port of ‘biblos’ through which the exportation of papyrus came.
The Book here in Revelation chapter 5, sealed with the 7 Seals would have been in the historical context and from the description given, in reality a scroll. That would be significant to notice for later.
This is not only a book with a book but it is also:
A Scroll within 7 seals:
What may that indicate?
Many over the years have been very caught up on what the contents of this book may be but perhaps an even better or more fundamental question lies in the very existence or description of this scroll with 7 seals.
Why should the unfolding of the subsequent chapters of Revelation be dependent upon the loosing of the seals of this scroll?
Why are chapters 6 to 19 dependent directly and indirectly on these scrolls being broken?
Chapter 5 is positioned strategically within the book of Revelation
It would be easy to miss the significance of the transition between from chapter 4 to chapter 6.
In chapter 1 John has a vision of the Lord Jesus
In chapters 2 to 3 – We are presented with practical and prophetic and personally ministry on teh 7 churches.
Chapter 4 brings us into heaven and a glimpse of:
Where God is Who God is – the Son of God – Reuben and Benjamin What God is like – sovereign, covenant making and covenant keeping, a God of absolute holiness
In chapters 6 to 19 we see what God will do.
Why bother then with chapter 5 and the book with 7 seals.
Why break these seals?
Why make everything else in the book of Revelation dependant upon the breaking of these seals? It is the breaking of these seals one by one that triggers:
The 4 riders of the apocalypse The judgment upon the son, moon and stars The sounding of the 7 trumpets The destruction of 1/3 grass, sea, rivers and stars The release of the locusts from the pit The 200 million horseman of the apocalypse The rise of antichrist The pouring out of the 7 vials on man, sea, rivers, sun, moon and stars. The battle of Armageddon The fall of Babylon
All of these catastrophic events are dependant upon the opening of the 7 seals!
Had we no chapter 5 we would see:
Who God is (chapter 4) What God does (chapter 6 to 19)
But we would have no idea as to Why God did it!
It is chapter 5 that teaches us that all of the events of chapters 6 to 19 are not simply reactive, ie their ultimate cause and purpose does not lie with man, these chapters are not solely focused on the subject of man’s sin and judgement, there is a bigger picture and a grander theme and goal.
The cause of these global and universal events lies here in chapter 5. All of these subsequent chapters unfold, as a consequence of the breaking of the seals. These seals are broken that the scroll might be read. All subsequent events have this as their cause – the reading of the scroll.
It is this scroll with its ultimate glory that demands the grief oo chapters 6 to 19, it is this scroll ultimately of salvation that requires the suffering of subsequent chapters.
This is perhaps too a truth I can apply to my own life and experience. That the grief and the suffering are in the hands of the Lord the unwrapping of Divine blessing!
These chapters are not solely the means of judgment
These chapters are in fact the path to glory.
Christ with a security and guarantee which comes from Him. Christ promised that we are safe and secure, in His hand and in His Father’s hands (John 10:28-31). Our salvation is signed, sealed and delivered. For our security we have the Word of Christ, we have His Word for it, ‘heaven and earth shall pass away but my Word shall not pass away.’ In these chapters we will see that Destiny is so secure, that in order to open and declare it, this world must indeed pass away and having passed away His eternal Word and purposes remain immutable.
Here is a scroll passed from the hand of God to the lamb (5:1)
This scroll in ‘On the right hand of Him that sat on the throne’(5:1), offered out for the lamb to take from His hand.
From Revelation chapter 5 onwards, the story of this scroll reads like a mystery novel, like a cliff hanger film, or a children’s book that constantly teases the reader with, ‘but what’s in the scroll.’
The story of Revelation from chapter 5 to chapter 19 is essentially the story of the unsealing of this scroll. The breaking of the 7 seals occupies chapters 5 to 6, the 7th seal includes the sounding of the 7 trumpets which is the subject of chapters 8 to 10, the 7th trumpet announces the transfer of the kingdoms of this world to Christ (chp 11) which results in the outpouring of the 7 vials, occupying chps 15 to 16 with the consequent fall of Babylon in chapters 17 to 18.
The bulk of the book of Revelation pertains to the opening of this scroll.
The question then remains – what does this scroll contain?
What is in it?
Title deeds of the world The future plans and purposes of God for the world The subsequent events of Revelation The book of Daniel chapter 12 The lamb’s book of life
hat is in it?
Title deeds of the world
Seems like a reasonable suggestion
Whatever is in the hands of God must be important after all, that seems pretty important.
By the time all of the seals are open the world is now ready for Christ to receive His Kingdom (11:15); so it may seem reasonable that these are the title deeds to the inheritance that Christ is about to receive.
We also know that title deeds in Jeremiah were recorded on a scroll and sealed.
We know historically that title deeds recorded on a scroll were sealed and witnessed and the names of the witnesses were written on the scroll, which may well relate to Rev 5:1.
There is no clear statement in Revelation that these are title deeds.
Certainly title deeds could be written on a scroll as they were in Jeremiah, but go along to any Roman museum such as the one outside Hexham and you will find that party invitations were written on them too!
The identification of this scroll as a title deed seems greatly dependant on extra biblical knowledge and the serendipity of archaeology, a means of interpreting scripture with which I would take issue. Is not the child of God indwelt by the Spirit of God able to interpret the Word of God? John 14:6; 1 John 2:27.
Why is it that in order to open the scroll one must be found who is ‘worthy’? Surely if this is the title deeds for the world then the only qualification to open the scroll is that of Deity?
‘The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.’(Psalm 24:1)
Why are redemptive rights needed take the book (5:8-9); do the deeds for the earth need to be redeemed? Do they need bought back? Were they lost? Were they not always Gods? Who can steal the deeds of the whole earth from God?
The future plans and purposes of God for the world
Certainly a reasonable suggestion and more or less the same as (3)
The problem here of course is that it is the opening of the seals, blowing of the trumpets from the 7th seal and the pouring out of the vials which actually occupy the bulk of the book of revelation, no specific reference is made to the contents of the book referencing a plan as such.
It seems a good suggestion but lacking substantial evidence.
The subsequent events of the book of Revelation
The book referenced in Daniel chapter 12 verse 4?
I would consider this to be the book of Daniel itself, corresponding not to the book of Revelation chapter 5 but to the book of Revelation itself, cf. Rev 22:10.
The lamb’s book of life
Let me make another suggestion, unusual amongst the commentators, although not unknown.
By the time the seals are opened, trumpets have sounded and the vials have been poured out we reach the closing chapters of Revelation, in fact the repercussions of those events take us to the threshold of chapter 20. The book appears to have been forgotten about if the previous interpretations are correct. No further mention of any of the contents of that scroll despite the fact that the unsealing of the scroll had global and universal repercussions throughout the book of Revelation. All of that pre amble and expectation, then according to the views that this is the deeds of the earth or the future plans for the earth, this all seems to evaporate in the most massive anticlimax of the entire book of Revelation, if not the bible.
Details are added and developed regarding this book through the book of Revelation:
Rev 13:8 : ‘And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’
Rev 17:8 : “whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.’’
These 2 verses appear to be transitional, stepping stones from the ‘book’ taken by the lamb freshly slain in Revelation chapter 5 to the ‘book of life’of Revelation 20:12, 15.
This would explain the need for one worthy to open the book in Revelation chapter 5 and that the qualifications of redemption. This is the Book of Life, only possible because of the work of redemption.
As these seals are opened and the book of Revelation unfolds this qualification of Rev 5:9 is critical in the opening of the scroll. The unfolding purpose of God in Revelation is not primarily that of judgment upon a lost world but rather this book concludes with a new heaven and a new earth and a redeemed people. The emerald rainbow of Revelation 4 sets the scene for the subsequent chapters. Grace informs government, the elect are sealed, preserved and saved (Rev 7, 13, 14) and ultimately brought to the Kingdom (Rev 20) and to eternity (Rev 21-22).
We may expect something secret, something special, some deep and mysterious purpose in the book we discover inside the book of the bible. Not without significance do we discover in the final book of the bible, the book of Revelation, a book hidden within the book and kept secret till the very end. Of all the books external to the bible referenced by it, the book found in Revelation chapter 5, is one of the few whose whereabouts we know of. Many enquire as to what this book contains. Is it the title deeds of the world or universe? Probably not since the earth has no title deeds! The earth is the Lord's and then fullness thereof. No special qualification of redemption is needed by God to claim what is rightfully His! Does this book contain the details of future events? Does it detail what is to be revealed in chapters 6 to 19? It is not the reading of the scroll which provides the content of subsequent chapters but rather the losing of the seals. Not until all 7 seals are broken can the scroll be opened and read!
Perhaps a better question would be not so much what do we find in the scroll but why do we have the scroll? What purpose is there here in the scroll? Is the scroll here for mere dramatic effect? What purpose is there in the progressive breaking of each successive seal?
The meaning of the symbolism appears to rest in this simple observation that for the scroll to be opened the seals must be broken! From these broken seals, all of the subsequent events of Revelation flow. The reason behind the 4 riders of the apocalypse, the sounding of the 7 trumpets, the pouring out of the 7 vials of judgement, global destruction, the loosing of the locusts from the pit, the release of the 200 million horseman, the rise of the antichrist, Armageddon and the fall of Babylon, lies here in Revelation chapter 5. All of these catastrophic events find their cause not in man and not purely as a reaction or response to man's sin but rather in the eternal purposes of God. All of the judgements and events of Revelation chapters 6 to 19 are triggered by the opening of these seals. These seals are broken that the book might be opened. Gods purpose is to be found not in destruction but construction, not in grief but in the eternal glory beyond the judgements of this world, in the new heaven, the earth and the new Jerusalem, in the eternal glory of His Son.