And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?  And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.  And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.  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. (Revelation 5:2-5)
Before our congregational reading last week in Revelation chapter 4, I remarked that chapters 4 and 5 are two of my favorite chapters in the Bible. The scene in these chapters is heaven where a vast throng of worshippers lift up their praises to the Lord Jesus Christ the one who is worthy of all worship. This heavenly scene is made up of innumerable majestic angels and of redeemed saints from every kindred, tongue, people, and nation (5:9). Jesus Christ is worthy of worship for countless reasons, but we find the specific reason for this particular scene in verse 5 of chapter 5. Jesus is to be worshipped because He is the only one capable of claiming the title deed to the earth and redeeming the entire creation from the curse of sin.
We notice in verse 2 a question posed by a mighty angel, “Who is worthy to open the book?” The book refers to this title deed that is to be claimed by the one who can purge the earth of sin. A search is made in three places to find one suitable—heaven, earth, and beneath the earth. Our King James Version reads, “no man was found worthy”. This is better rendered as “no one” since it includes not only man but all creatures that have been created by God. There is no created being that is able to claim the title deed. This rules out all men and angels both elect and condemned.
Men are unable to redeem because the curse of sin is on us. In the creation, man was given dominion over the earth. However, when Adam sinned he forfeited the right to hold dominion and brought the curse to the entire earth. Because “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” man cannot be a suitable redeemer. Neither are angels suitable to redeem because they are unrelated to man. The earth is the inheritance of man and no angel can receive this inheritance. The heir to the earth must be a kinsman of the Adamic race. Since man has forfeited his rights through sin, the Redeemer must be both related to man and sinless. There is only one that matches this requirement. His name is Jesus which is the name given to the incarnate Son of God that came to earth to redeem the fallen race. He is related to man through human birth and yet does not have the sinful nature because His Father is God.
The scene of rejoicing in heaven is because God has not left the world without a Redeemer. John wept because the search of heaven and earth yielded no positive results. But when the Lamb of God stepped forward, heaven broke forth in peals of glory and praise. This chapter is moving because our Saviour was willing to do everything necessary to bring us salvation. The love of God in providing redemption by the sacrifice of His beloved Son causes wonder in heaven and earth. How can anyone do less than fall at His feet in worship crying, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.”
Pastor V. Mark Smith