Description
Jesus is declared worthy to take the scroll from the Father's hand. As he does so, he is worshipped by millions of angels, together with all creation.
Commentary
In chapter 4, John entered into the throne room of heaven, where he saw God the Father seated on his throne, surrounded by four living creatures and twenty four elders.

Now John sees a scroll in God's right hand as he sits upon the throne. It has writing on both sides, and is sealed with seven wax seals (v1). A powerful angel asks in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?" (v2). But John tells us, "no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look into it" (v3). Initially this makes John weep (v4), but then one of the elders tells him to stop, for "the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered; thus he can open the scroll and its seven seals".

What is this scroll and why is no-one but Jesus worthy to open it? As Jesus opens the seven seals in chapters 6 to 8, we see that the scroll releases the first series of events in God's battle plan for defeating all that opposes him on Earth. Mike Bickle suggests that the scroll also represents the title deed of the earth. When God created Adam and Eve, he gave them authority to subdue the earth and rule over it (Genesis 1:26-28). Effectively, God gave them Earth's title deed. But when Adam and Eve sinned, it is as though they handed that title deed over to Satan (Luke 4:6). As the second Adam, Jesus conquered where Adam failed, and he will ultimately reverse the consequences of man's fall (Romans 5:12-21). So Jesus alone is worthy to take back the title deed that Adam gave to Satan.

The elders refer to Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David. The God-Messiah is depicted as a lion coming to do battle over Jerusalem and to deliver Israel in Jeremiah 25:30 and Isaiah 31:4. His identification with Judah, and as the root of David, further affirm Jesus as the promised Messiah. Jesus says in Revelation 22:16, "I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star!" As the descendant of David he fulfils 1 Chronicles 17:10-14 as the promised 'Son of David'. As the root of David, he fulfils Psalm 110:1 as David's lord. In other words, Jesus is the divine Son of David, the lion-like warrior king.

In verse 6, however, John looks to the middle of the throne, and instead of seeing a lion he sees a lamb, looking like it has been killed. Jesus fulfils both Old Testament portrayals of the Messiah. He is both the warrior lion who delivers Israel (Jeremiah 25:30 and Isaiah 31:4) and the lamb who is led to the slaughter to take away our sins (Isaiah 53:7). John tells us the lamb has seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God. Each seven implies the lamb's divinity, for seven is God's number. Horns represent strength and rulers, so the seven horns imply that he is the omnipotent king. The seven eyes imply his omniscience. The seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth imply his omnipresence.

As the Lamb approaches God's throne in verse 7, the picture is similar to that of Messiah's coronation scene as portrayed in Daniel 7:13-14. The elders and the four living creatures proclaim his worthiness to take the scroll, because by his death he purchased 'persons from every tribe, language, people and nation'. They in turn are surrounded by a hundred million angels who join in, praising the lamb (v11-12). And they in turn are joined by all of creation, in heaven, on earth, under the earth and in the sea, singing and praising the Lamb (v13). Despite the similarities however, I believe this scene will be fulfilled just before the Great Tribulation, for it is the opening of the first seal that sets off the first Great Tribulation event. The coronation scene of Daniel 7 will be fulfilled at the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15) at the end of the Great Tribulation. At that point, God's throne will descend upon the clouds as it did in Ezekiel 1, and Jesus will be visibly crowned within eyeshot of those on earth. At the same time, believers will be resurrected and raptured in order to attend the coronation ceremony on the clouds.

In verse 10, the four living creatures and the elders declare that Jesus has purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people and nation, and appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve God and reign on the earth. Let me address several questions that might arise from these statements:
1) Why did they need to be purchased for God? Didn't they belong to God anyway? Because Adam sinned and gave the earth's title deed to Satan, and because all mankind also sinned, there is a sense in which every sinner became Satan's slave and needed to be bought back by Jesus for God.
2) Will every redeemed sinner serve as a priest or ruler in Christ's kingdom? No, apparently such a role is rewarded to those who demonstrate particular faithfulness to Christ in this life. This includes those who show endurance and faithfulness in the face of trials, including those who are martyred for their faith (Obadiah 1:21, Luke 19:17, 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 2:26, 3:21 and 20:4-6). During the Great Tribulation, large numbers of Christians will be martyred, including people from every nation, tribe and language (Revelation 7:9). From 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, it appears that every true living Christian will be raptured at the last trumpet. But after the rapture, perhaps some of them will spend the Millennium in heaven, like Jesus has done for the last two millennia, instead of returning to earth to rule with Christ. If every believer who has every lived were to reign with Christ during the Millennium, the number of rulers would likely outnumber Christ's mortal earthly subjects.
Tags
Places: Heaven, Throne room of heaven
Symbols: Scroll
Tags: Throne of God, Four living creatures, Twenty four elders, Heavenly worship, Jesus as a lion, Jesus as a lamb, Jesus as God-incarnate, Jesus as Messiah, Jesus as the Son of David, Coronation of Jesus, Lion of Judah
The Opening of the Scroll
5 Then I saw in the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne a scroll written on the front and back and sealed with seven seals.
2 And I saw a powerful angel proclaiming in a loud voice: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?”
3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look into it.
4 So I began weeping bitterly because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.
5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered; thus he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 Then I saw standing in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the middle of the elders, a Lamb that appeared to have been killed. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
7 Then he came and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne,
8 and when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders threw themselves to the ground before the Lamb. Each of them had a harp and golden bowls full of incense (which are the prayers of the saints).
9 They were singing a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation.
10 You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels in a circle around the throne, as well as the living creatures and the elders. Their number was ten thousand times ten thousand – thousands times thousands –
12 all of whom were singing in a loud voice:
“Worthy is the lamb who was killed to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature – in heaven, on earth, under the earth, in the sea, and all that is in them – singing: “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise, honor, glory, and ruling power forever and ever!”
14 And the four living creatures were saying “Amen,” and the elders threw themselves to the ground and worshiped.
(NET)