Revelation chapters 4 and 5 describe the Sanctuary in heaven. Chapter 4 only describes what is in side the Sanctuary, but the main character does not appear until chapter 5, which is the climax. In Chapter 5, the scroll that was in God’s hand and also the Lamb, who is Christ, come into sight.
THE MAIN CHARACTER STEPS ON THE STAGE: THE SCROLL IN THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.
The “scroll” refers to recorded information, “with writing on both sides”; it contained a lot of information, a full database. Later on we will find out that the scroll was related to things that were about to happen, it was a source of prophecy. This scroll came from God’s right hand, and was sealed with seven seals. It was sealed layer after layer, thus it was difficult to see its contents. Who sealed it? Why couldn’t people read it?
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: WHO CAN OPEN THE PROPHECY SCROLL?
2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?”
The purpose for asking this question was not to find out how many were able to open the scroll. The original text conveys this question expecting a negative answer, which is that nobody was worthy of opening it.
We must realize that only God can foresee the future. Because the Bible contains many prophecies, we naturally think that revealing a prophecy is a very common thing. Nonetheless, we should start looking at prophecies from a completely different perspective. 2 Peter 1:21 says, “ For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human , spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
That is to say, people can not utter prophecies, all prophecies come from God, and no human being can know the future. People live inside time; they can not know what will happen the next minute. All creation is subject to time. Angels , though they can move at a very fast speed, are still subject to the restrictions of time and space. Angels and devils are not omnipotent, omniscient or omnipresent.
Fortune-tellers use little devils to help them do divination for people about their past and their future; sometimes they could be accurate. They might know a person’s past, as they rely on demons to find information, but when the person starts to doubt what the fortune-teller is saying, they can only make an ambiguous guess on the person’s future. The fact is, there is no living thing that can know what will happen in the future, and that includes the devil.
NO ONE IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE COULD OPEN THE PROPHECY SCROLL
3 在天上、地上、地底下，沒有能展開、能觀看那書卷的。4 因為沒有配展開、配觀看那書卷的，我就大哭。
3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.
What the mighty angel proclaimed in a very authoritative voice was absolutely true. Otherwise, John would not have wept and wept. The fact that John wept so hard shows that the matter had already been decided, it could not be changed.
We might have this question, in the end, is God willing to reveal this prophecy to the people? If He is willing, why is this information sealed in such a way that could not be opened? Furthermore, it states clearly that it came from the hand of God; He was willing to reveal it. Even if no one was qualified to open it in the entire universe, as long as God would have said “Open it!” Unless God himself was not willing to do that, would not it just open up? Therefore, this is a question that is crucial in nature. If God wanted it to be opened so that John could see what was written inside, why did He say that no one could open it? Even having a mighty angel proclaim it with a loud voice? After all, did God want to open it or not?
It is not a matter of having or not having sufficient ability and wisdom, position or status. It is because it pertains to future events; and no one in the whole creation can know this or reveal it. Just as people have the concept of fear of death, but animals do not have it. When the time comes for animals to die, they would just hide somewhere and die quietly, they would not understand why people are afraid of dying. They not only do not understand the concept of dying, even if they were taught about it, they would not be able to learn it. It is a communication problem. God is beyond time and space; human beings live inside time and space; therefore, they do not have the ability to imagine what is like to live beyond time and space. The traffic reporters who do it from the air, they can see when there is a traffic jam on the road ahead; it is kind of like when God sees ahead before things happen to us, because He lives outside time and space.
能打開預言者的條件THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE ONE WHO CAN OPEN THE PROPHECY
5 長老中有一位對我說：不要哭，看哪，猶大支派中的獅子，大衛的根，祂已得勝，能以展開那書卷、揭開那七印。6 我又看見寶座與四活物並長老之中，有羔羊站立，像是被殺過的，有七角七眼，就是神的七靈，奉差遣往普天下去的。
5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
When John was weeping, one of the elders said to him: “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals .”When John looked, he saw a Lamb, not a lion. The Lamb looked as if He had been slain. He had seven horns on his head; He possessed all authority, He is omnipotent. He also had seven eyes, seven eyes means He is omniscient. He had seven spirits that go all over the earth, He is omnipresent. In the whole universe there is only one Lamb that was slain, the omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent God and Man, so He can become the interpreter.
He is God incarnate; He lived as a human being and experienced the real lifestyle of a regular person. He had to depend on the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit. Through His death and resurrection, He took back His authority, triumphing over Death and Hades. He reclaimed His identity and status as God. He previously lived inside time and space, now He lives outside of time and space. Therefore, He can become the one who can interpret the prophecies.
He did not just subdue Satan so he could not take any action, He triumphed over him. Satan is not just under His control but he has already been defeated, he knows his time is running out, yet he is still struggling. At the end , Satan will be destroyed; but at the present he is still on the move. The Lord said: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” He is the One who is victorious, even though He is not reigning in this world yet, we still have to face adversities, but do not worry, the Lord has already left us the secret for victory, as long as we follow in His footsteps, we can also overcome. At the end , He will officially reign in the Kingdom of Heaven, He will be the King of the Kingdom; and then, there will be no more suffering or crying or pain and Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire.
HE WAS WILLING TO BE THE ONE WHO WOULD OPEN IT
7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
The Lamb went and took the scroll from the hand of God. This action is similar to when the government posts a notice looking for a certain criminal, seeking for people to take action. If someone removed that notice, it meant that the person wanted to take action. In the old times, people would put up notices requesting help in curing the sickness of a family member and if someone would take that notice down, it meant that the person was going to take action; no matter what, when a certain person takes down a notice, it would mean that he was going to take action.
When Christ took the prophecy scroll from the hand of God, it meant that He was willing to accept the task, so that the people of God on the world can know what will happen in the future.
Someone might say, before Christ came to this world; didn’t some people already receive prophecies? Yes, however, the reason why they were able to receive prophecies was because of Christ. Regardless of whether they lived before Christ or after Christ, if people could foresee the future, it is because Christ revealed it to them. When Christ ascended to heaven, he went outside of time and he can re-enter time at any particular point.
1 記得耶穌對猶太人說( 約8:56) ：｢亞伯拉罕看見我就歡喜。｣人當時想用石頭打祂。其實舊約中向人顯現的神，就是道成肉身的基督，祂迴轉成為超越時空的神之時，可以再進入任何時空中。祂向亞伯拉罕預告所多瑪、俄摩拉的滅亡，亞伯拉罕不斷求情說：若有50 個義人在城裡，還會滅這個城嗎？一直求，一直減到若有10 個義人。卻原來在那城裡，連10 個義人都沒有，全都是罪大惡極的人。基督不單知道，而且也有權柄決定，滅城的事做還是不做。
Remember when Jesus told the Jews in John 8:56: “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”At that time, people wanted to stone Him. Actually, the God who appeared to the people in the Old Testament was in fact, Christ, the Word incarnate; after He transcended time and space as God, he could re-enter into any time in history. He announced in advance to Abraham the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham kept pleading saying: “What if there are 50 righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the 50 righteous people in it ?”He kept pleading and pleading, even for 10 people. But actually, there were not even 10 righteous persons in that city, they were all extremely wicked. Christ not only knew, but He also had the authority to decide whether or not to destroy the city.
HE IS GOD
8 祂既拿了書卷，四活物和二十四位長老，就俯伏在羔羊面前，各拿著琴，和盛滿了香的金爐，這香就是眾聖徒的祈禱。9 他們唱新歌。
8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song.
The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders are the servants who minister in the Sanctuary in the spiritual realm. They all fell down before Christ, the Lamb, and worshiped Him. Each one had a harp because they worshiped with a hymn. They were also holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. The twenty-four elders were priests who ministered inside the heavenly Sanctuary. Their duty was to bring the prayers of God’s people to the presence of God. This kind of prayer is also what we offer during Sunday worship. They used hymns and prayers to worship God.
This time they not only worshiped God the Father, they also worshiped Christ, the Lamb. Therefore Christ is equal to God in status, honor and glory.
The song that they sang as they worshiped was a “new song”. The song they sang in the past was an old song; it was about God’s wonderful creation, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”Now there is a new song to sing, because Christ came to earth and became a human being, and with His blood He opened a new way to worship the Lord, He purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. He not only broke down the wall that separated people from God, He also broke the barrier between people of every tribe and language and people and nation. He is the only Lord who reconciled human beings with God and brought different people together in Him . Thus, they sang a new song to praise Christ for His mighty works.
HE IS ONE OF THE PERSONS OF THE TRINITY
11 我又看見且聽見，寶座與活物並長老的周圍，有許多天使的聲音。他們的數目有千千萬萬。12 大聲說：曾被殺的羔羊是配得權柄、豐富、智慧、能力、尊貴、榮耀、頌讚的。13 我又聽見，在天上、地上、地底下、滄海裡，和天地間一切所有被造之物，都說：但願頌讚、尊貴、榮耀、權勢，都歸給坐寶座的和羔羊，直到永永遠遠。14 四活物就說：阿們。眾長老也俯伏敬拜。
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb , who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying : “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Not only the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders worshiped Him, but also many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and then thousands times ten thousand were worshiping Him. Also every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them worshiped Him. He is the second person of the Trinity, equal to God, and He received the same worship.
All creation worshiped Him in the same way; they all acknowledge Him as the Almighty God. In other words, if there is someone who does not acknowledge Christ to be the Almighty God, and who is equal to God the Father, that person is an unbeliever, and is singing a different tune; proving that he has no part and no relationship whatsoever with the Kingdom of Heaven.
HIS EXPERIENCE ENABLES HIM TO BE THE ONE WHO CAN OPEN THE PROPHECY SCROLL
9 他們唱新歌說：祢配拿書卷，配揭開七印，因為祢曾被殺，用自己的血從各族各方、各民各國中買了人來，叫他們歸於神。10 又叫他們成為國民，作祭司，歸於神，在地上執掌王權。
9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign] on the earth.”
Originally, God lived outside time and space and could see all the things that happened inside time and know the past and the future; not like the angels and Satan and all living creatures who can only know the past. The Bible says: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”Moses said: “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.”This is because He lives outside time; therefore, it is very difficult for people to understand why God has this ability.
Einstein pointed out that time is relative, and this is very hard for people to understand. The faster someone or something moves or the more mass they have, the slower time passes for them. When a person travels almost at the speed of light in outer space, not only his body mass will become very small, but it will feel as if he had gone away for weeks, and when he returns to earth he will find out that his spouse has aged several decades. People think this is an incredible thing . If people travel at the speed of light, time will stop, and their bodies will shrink so much that it will be hard to see them.
This theory sounds impossible, but science has slowly proven it to be true. If God travels at the speed of light, people will not be able to see Him, He is surrounded by a bright light.
He is the God who created time and space, He transcends the limitations of time and space. We live in a completely different world than God; there is a wide gap between God and human beings. Among people there are generation gaps, language gaps and cultural gaps; between God and human beings there is a life gap. It is more difficult for us to understand God than to understand our great-grandfathers, and the distance between us and God is farther than the distance between us and the African people. This is a very serious communication problem. Actually, the problem is with human beings, who are unable to be receptive, God had many revelations which He gave to numerous prophets and apostles, but they seem unclear in many places.
God has a way of communicating with human beings, He uses “Yes or No” to communicate. In the Old Testament times, the Israelites used the Urim and Thummim to inquire for God’s will, which is a “Yes or No” answer. In the New Testament times, the peace of Christ in our hearts will lead us to a decision, if there is peace in our hearts, it is God’s will, if we do not feel at peace with the matter, we should not do it, it is also a “Yes or No” answer.
Prophets need to explain the requirements of God and convey His will; they cannot depend only on a“ Yes or No” answer. Therefore, God uses visions, dreams or strong inspiration from the Holy Spirit to let people know His intentions. Prophecies are very different. It is not that God does not want people to know the future, but rather the difference between human beings and God is too great, so there are a lot of hindrances. God let John see the future in the way of a movie, but he still did not understand it. No one in heaven or on earth can reveal the mysteries of the future, because no one can bring together the two different worlds. We need to find an interpreter who is thoroughly acquainted with both places. Christ is that interpreter.