+ In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me.
One thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.
Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
Revelation 5:1-14 (ESV) – to be read aloud
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
THE SECOND VISION – THE SEVEN SEALS
The Sealed Book (5:1-14)
Summary: The focus moves from God, enthroned in heaven and surrounded by adoring and worshipping elders and living creatures, to the Lamb who alone is worthy to open the scroll of destiny. The worship of God for his role in creation gives way to the worship of the Lamb for his work of redemption…. As [the Lamb] takes the scroll from the hand of the One on the throne, the elders and living creatures prostrate themselves before him, praising him in song for his redemptive death and the universal consequences it effected. Countless angels join in joyous praise to the Lamb. Nowhere else in the literature of worship will one find a scene of such unrestrained praise and adoration. (Mounce, p.128-129)
The book: The easiest identification… is that it contains the prophecy of the end events, including both the salvation of God’s people and the judgement of the wicked. It is God’s plan for the denouement of human history, the overthrow of evil, and the gathering of a redeemed people to enjoy the blessings of God’s rule. (Ladd, p.81)
The seven seals: Here is a simple but profound biblical truth which cannot be overemphasized: apart from the person and redeeming work of Jesus Christ, history is an enigma. For centuries since Augustine and his City of God, a Christian view of history as having a divinely ordained goal which was inseparable from the redemptive word of Christ has colored western thought. Since the Enlightenment, many philosophers have rejected the Christian view of life, and for them history has become a problem…. In the face of this modern dilemma, the fact that the scroll is so tightly sealed that no human eye can read its contents is highly significant. Christ, and Christ alone, has the key to the meaning of human history. It is therefore not surprising that modern thinkers are pessimistic; apart from the victorious return of Christ, history is going nowhere. (Ladd, p.82)
The right hand of God: It is equally significant that… the whole story of human history rests in the hand of God…. However strong evil becomes, however fierce be the satanic evils that assail God’s people on earth, history still rests in God’s hands. (Ladd, p.83)
Christ: The Lion of Judah / the Root of David / the Lamb of God – The important thing to emphasize is that the biblical hope is not one of spiritual salvation alone, of the salvation of the individual from his guilt and his sin. While individualistic salvation is included, the primary emphasis is upon the salvation of the people of God as a spiritual society on the earth and their deliverance from all evils – spiritual, social, political, and physical. (Ladd, p.84)
In some way extending far beyond our understanding, the death of Christ on the cross was a victory over the enemies of God’s people… Satan, sin, and death. Satan will not be finally destroyed until he is cast into the lake of fire after the return of Christ; but by his incarnation, death, and resurrection, Christ has already defeated the powers of Satan…. This victory is not only over Satan but over the entire host of evil spiritual powers…. In the same way, Christ’s victory is a conquest over the power of death. (Ladd, p.84)
The final victory of Christ… as the conquering Messiah… is possible only because he has suffered as the Lamb…. Christ’s worthiness and ability to break the seals of the scroll of human history and destiny are dependent on the victory he won in his incarnate life. If he had not come in humility as suffering savior, he could not come as conquering Messiah…. Only by virtue of Jesus’ sacrifice as the Lamb of God can he fill the role of the messianic King and bring human history to its denouement in the Kingdom of God. (Ladd, p.85, 87)
The adoration of the Lamb: By his sacrificial death the Lamb has taken control of the course of history and guaranteed its future. He alone is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll of destiny. The hosts of heaven break out in jubilant song honoring the redemptive work of the Lion who is the Lamb. His triumphant sacrifice has transformed men and women from every part of the universe into priests in the service of God. Countless angels circle his throne and declare his power and praise. This vision of the grandeur of the triumphant Lamb prepares John to share with his readers the more solemn aspects of the judgements that lie in the future. A vivd portrayal of the one who has won the crucial battle against sin supplies the confidence that in the troubled times to come there remains a hope that is steadfast and sure. (Mounce, p.138)
Christ, as a light – illumine and guide me.
Christ, as a shield – overshadow me.
Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me – on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me – on my left and my right.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Peanut Gallery: In September, we will begin reading through the Book of Revelation (ESV). Our purpose will be devotional, i.e. to discover the word of blessing that God has for us in these troubled times… to find hope and help for our daily lives.
This will not be a Bible Study per se: we will not attempt to unravel the “mysteries” of Revelation… that is far beyond our abilities and is not our interest here. However, so as not to get too far afield, we will rely on three study resources: primary – A Commentary on the Revelation of John (George Elton Ladd); supplemental Revelation (Leon Morris) and The Book of Revelation (Robert H. Mounce).
The general format for Morning Prayer is adapted from the Northumbrian Community‘s Daily Office, as found in Celtic Daily Prayer (see online resources here.) On Sundays, we’ll return to the USCCB readings (see online resources here) and various liturgical resources in order to reflect the Church’s worship and concerns throughout the world. Photo illustrations and music videos, available online, are included as they illustrate or illuminate the readings. I will try to give credit and link to sources as best I can.