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Revelation 5 Bible Study With Commentary And Questions For Small Groups

Revelation 5 Video Bible Study

Audio Bible Study

Outline

I. The Scroll With Seven Seals (1-4)
II. The Lamb Is Worthy To Open The Scroll (5-7)
III. The Lamb Is Worshiped (8-14)

I. The Little Scroll With Seven Seals (1-4)

Discussion Questions

  • Who held this scroll?
  • What are your observations about the scroll?
  • What can you see about the importance of this scroll based on the focus it receives in heaven?
  • Why was nobody worthy to open the scroll (the angels in heaven for example have no sin)?
  • Why was John so disappointed?
  • What does this teach us about the importance of studying and learning?

Cross-References

Proverbs 25:2 – It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.

Revelation 4:11 – Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.

Teaching Points

1. Then I saw… a scroll – The focus shifts. The scroll in the hand of God draws the attention of everyone in heaven. If this were a scene in a movie, the camera would focus in on the scroll and slowly zoom in. The curiosity of John (and all of the audience) is pricked.

What is this scroll?
What is the message?
Why is it so important?
What will the contents show?

The importance of this scroll is clear. Whatever the message within, it is critical. All those present desire to understand it.

2. The seven seals – A seal was used for several purposes.

A. To show the authority of the one issuing the decree – Every emperor of the ancient world would have a royal seal, often a ring. He would use this on official correspondence or laws to signify that he his authority stood behind whatever was written.

B. A seal would also keep something closed and private until the right time to open it – Wax seals were designed to clearly show when the seal had been broken. The item, often a letter, could not be opened without breaking the seal. Thus no one was allowed to tamper with it or get a sneak peak before the intended recipient. A seal safeguarded an item from tampering until its proper time.

These seals show us God’s authority behind the content of the scrolls. It is His royal decree about what is going to take place. They also show us that the contents were secret and unknown until the proper time for its opening arrived. Not even the angels knew the contents of this scroll. And that explains why everyone gives such rapt attention to the scroll. They all want to know what it contains and the contents have been secret until this point in time.

Daniel 12:4 – But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

Daniel was given a special glimpse into the contents, but he was not allowed to share those things. John, however, was authorized to share the content of his vision in order to prepare the church and the world for what is to come.

The number seven shows the completeness of the judgments within. Each separate seal unlocks a specific portion of the contents.

The seals remind us that the judgments contained within are ordained by God and will only happen according to His perfect timing after everything else in His plan for the world has already been fulfilled.

3. A mighty angel asks who is worthy to open the scroll – This mighty angel is not named. But evidently He is something of a heavenly messenger or herald to make announcements to the heavenly host.

He shouts out asking “who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”

No one was found who was worthy.

Reflect: What qualities were necessary for the one opening the seals to possess?

The scroll contains God’s righteous judgments on a corrupt world. Therefore the one opening it must be qualified to execute these judgments. He must be holy and righteous, without sin. In addition, He must have authority as the divine judge.

John 5:22 – For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.

Acts 17:31 – Because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.

Jesus is the one who has this divine authority. He already conquered death and the grave and even experienced God’s judgment firsthand. No one else can perform this role.

4. I began to weep loudly because no one was able to open the scroll –

As the search was going on, there was a period of time before Jesus stepped up. That heightened the desire of the audience to see the scroll opened and also served as a clear contrast, showing more publicly that Jesus alone was worthy

During this time, we can see the desire to know the contents of the scroll increasing exponentially. John is moved to tears because of his great sorrow that no one could open the scroll. From this we see an important characteristic of John. He has a great desire to learn and know more about God and His plan. There is an intense hunger to know the things of God. When that hunger is not satisfied, it affects him on an emotional level.

Application: Do you hunger for God’s word? When you encounter something you don’t understand, do you eagerly seek to learn more about it or just let it go?

II. The Lamb Is Worthy To Open The Scroll (5-7)

Discussion Questions

  • Who told John who would be able to open the scroll?
  • What does this show us about the knowledge level of the elders around the throne?
  • Who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah? Why is He called that?
  • Why is He called the Root of David?
  • Why is He worthy?
  • What are your observations about the Lamb?
  • What does the fact that He is worshiped (and receives that worship) show us about Him?

Cross-References

Proverbs 15:3 – The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

2 Chronicles 16:9 – For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

Teaching Points

1. One of the elders said to me – From this short exchange we can get a bit of insight into heaven. Here are a few things we learn from this:

  • Conversations occur between people. You will be able to talk and communicate with others. It is not only singing and playing harps all the time.
  • The elder knew more about the situation than John did. This would indicate than when you are in heaven, you are always learning. You know more than those who just arrive.
  • The elder is teaching John. This would indicate that there will still be a role for people teaching other people as all believers continually learn and grow together into a better understanding of our Lord.

2. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah –

In the Old Testament, God compares Himself to a lion a couple of times.

Hosea 5:14 – For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and no one shall rescue.

Amos 3:8 – The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?”

A lion is fierce. You would be afraid to meet one in the wild. God compares His judgments to a lion.

Genesis 49:9 – Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

In Jacob’s prophecy about Judah, he also compares Judah to a lion.

Jesus is the Lion of Judah. The first time He came as a Lamb. He was meek and humble. He was a servant. He was our perfect and spotless sacrifice. But in opening the seals, He reveals Himself to be a lion. Jesus will not always be the meek and long-suffering lamb. He is going to judge the world for its sin. And that is a scary thing for those who have scoffed and ridiculed Him.

Think about that for a moment. Imagine a cruel person who picks on a lamb. The lamb is silent and takes it for a while.This encourages the person to be even more cruel. So he mocks and tortures the lamb. Then in an instant the lamb transforms into a huge lion. The scoffing, bully would rightly fear for his life.

Application: Don’t be afraid when opponents of God seem to triumph in the short term. Don’t worry when they are emboldened in their corruption because of God’s perceived silence. Don’t fear when they bully and intimidate you. The Lion of Judah is on your side and when He roars it will be all the louder because of the time He has kept it in.

3. The Root of David –

The root is something which comes before the tree. The root comes first and then the trunk and then the branches. So although Jesus was descended from David, He also preceded David. This is a Messianic title, which highlights Jesus’ divinity.

Jesus emphasized the same point when He told the Jews that He existed before Abraham.

John 8:58 – Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

In this metaphor David/Jesse is the tree, Jesus is the root, and the church is grafted in as branches to the nation of Israel.

Isaiah 11:10 – In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

Romans 11:17 – But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree.

4. I saw a Lamb standing as though it had been slain – In chapter four we saw God and the Holy Spirit present in the throne room. Now we see Jesus, so all three members of the Trinity are present. Even in heaven, Jesus appears as a Lamb that was slain, forever reminding everyone of His loving sacrifice for His creation. It wasn’t just something He did in the past. Rather, it will always be an integral part of His identity as well as the reason for His exaltation.

5. Seven horns – Just as Jesus is not literally a lamb (or a lion or a root), so these horns should not be taken literally. Rather they represent certain qualities that Jesus possesses. Horns are something in the Bible which generally represent power and authority. The fact that Jesus appears with seven horns here shows us that the Lamb (the meek sacrifice) has complete power and authority over all.

6. Seven eyes which are the seven spirits – These symbols indicate Jesus’ omniscience. He is fully aware of everything that goes on at all times everywhere. Not a speck of dust or an atom moves without His knowledge.

As we have seen in previous passages, the seven spirits seem to refer to the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ ministry is closely connected with the Holy Spirit. They are not independent of each other.

Application: Jesus sees all and knows all. When you are tempted, remember He is watching. When you are discouraged, take comfort that He knows and sympathizes.

7. He went and took the scroll – All eyes are on Jesus! He authoritatively walks and takes the scroll, knowing that the time has come!

III. The Lamb Is Worshiped (8-14)

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think John calls this a “new” song?
  • What can you learn about praise and worship from this song?
  • What does “ransom” mean?
  • What can you learn about the heart of Jesus in this passage?
  • After salvation, what does Christ transform us into?
  • As a priest in God’s kingdom, what is your role?
  • What do you observe about the number of angels from verse 11?
  • Since John was in heaven, and there will still unbelievers on earth, how can we understand the statement that he heard every creature “in heaven and on earth and under the earth” praising Jesus?

Cross-References

Daniel 7:14 – And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Revelation 14:6 – Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.

Matthew 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Teaching Points

1. Four living creatures and twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb – In chapter 4 we saw the heavenly host worshiping the Father. Now we see them worshiping the Son. It is one of the clearest passages in Scripture showing us Jesus’ divinity and His equality with the Father.

2. Each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense –

Revelation contains many images that are foreshadowed in the Old Testament tabernacle and temple. And this is one of them. They are holding golden censors (Revelation 8:2) full of incense, which is the prayers of the saints.

A censer is the small container used to hold coals. Incense is then put onto the coals. As they burn a cloud of incense rises up. We see this description in Leviticus 16.

Leviticus 16:12-13 – And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die.

What we see here is that the incense comes before the Lord together with our prayers. Our prayers are like incense to Him.

Psalm 141:2 – Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

So why is prayer described as incense? Incense is fragrant, much like a perfume. So our prayers are pleasing to the Lord, like a waft of pleasing aroma. What are your favorite smells? One of mine is vanilla. I love to smell the vanilla from baked goods. It’s pleasant. In a similar way, God delights in the prayers of His children.

And during this time period on earth, His children are suffering. They are being intensely persecuted and martyred. But God is not distant. He is there. He cares. He is listening to our prayers.

The harps remind us again of the saints role as worshipers.

3. You were slain and by your blood you ransomed people for God – All of the saints in heaven are there because of Jesus’ sacrifice. He purchased them with His blood.

4. Every tribe and language and people and nation – Here we see the heart of God. He is going to have representatives from every people group on earth in heaven. It will be a glorious scene to see the people’s of the world, with different languages, different skin tone, different backgrounds, and different cultures all coming together united in purpose and giving Glory to the King of Kings.

Application: What are you doing to contribute to this goal? How are you involved in fulfilling the Great Commission? What more can you do?

5. The number of angels mentioned in Revelation 5:11 is innumerable, a huge number.

6. He is worthy – The last few verses in this passage conclude with worship for the Lamb. He is worthy to receive glory, and praise, and honor. Hundreds of millions of angels are worshiping Him. Saints for all eternity will be worshiping Him.

Application: What is one specific way you can give Him glory in the coming week?

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