worthy is the lamb (Revelation chapter 5)

I saw that in the right hand of the One sitting on the throne there was a scroll that was written on back and front and was sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a powerful angel who called with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?‘ But there was no one, in heaven or on the earth or under the earth, who was able to open the scroll and read it. I wept bitterly because nobody could be found to open the scroll and read it, but one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed, and so he will open the scroll and its seven seals.


Then I saw, in the middle of the throne with its four living creatures and the circle of the elders, a Lamb standing that seemed to have been sacrificed; it had seven horns, and it had seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits that God has sent out over the whole world. The Lamb came forward to take the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne, and when he took it, the four living creatures prostrated themselves before him and with them the twenty-four elders; each one of them was holding a harp and had a golden bowl full of incense which are the prayers of the saints. They sang a new hymn:

You are worthy to take the scroll and to break its seals, because you were sacrificed, and with your blood you bought people for God of every race, language, people and nation and made them a line of kings and priests for God, to rule the world.

In my vision, I heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the living creatures and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, loudly chanting:

Worthy is the Lamb that was sacrificed to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing.

Then I heard all the living things in creation — everything that lives in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, crying:

To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever and ever.

And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen‘; and the elders prostrated themselves to worship.

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5 responses

  1. Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod?Or Love in a golden bowl? (Thel)

  2. Umm? Is the answer yes? Did I win anything?

  3. more seriously, how do you see thse verses from Blake applying here Larry? I really don’t know this source well enough to say anything about it.

  4. Worthy is the Lamb that was sacrificed to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing…. interesting that the things we’re supposed to be detached from in life are a reward in heaven…. and the elders prostrated themselves to worship…. going back to an earlier post, where those in heaven spend all their time worshiping in prostration … I wonder why this bugs me? I think of how Adam and Eve spent their time in God’s presence … walking through the garden, chatting …. and that sounds preferable for some reason.

  5. Here at this crucial point my Jungian interpreter and Jacques Ellul had to return to the library. I say “crucial” because (as Ellul had it) we’re being offered the meaning of life and human history. Or we can think of the scroll as a kind of “legal document”, a divine decree that will manifest that meaning. A Roman will, for example, needed to be sealed by seven witnesses. The writing on the outside may be a summary/description of the contents within, but their actual fulfillment demands a public reading.The One on the Throne is surrounded by a considerable entourage because this would be an expected feature of any prominent person of “John’s” time. A “worthy” person is required to read the scroll; the concept involved is just not the moral worthiness we expect; it’s a matter of having sufficient public honor to be an appropriate participant in the ceremony. In Daniel a certain prophecy is said to be sealed up “until the time of the end”; my JP Sweet commentary says: ” ‘Sealing’ in apocalyptic signifies that God’s plan for the world is put into cold storage because of man’s unworthiness, until the appointed time.” So it isn’t odd for our prophet to weep bitterly for lack of an appropriate reader.As my Jungian pointed out, this Lamb is a most peculiar-looking creature (but we can probably guess it’s Christ. Again.”Singing ‘Ladybird, ladybird, what is your wish?Your wish is not granted, unless it’s a fish.Your wish is not granted, unless on a dish.A fish on a dish, is that what you wish?’ ” (Incredible String Band, on ‘The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter.’))Malina & Pilch identify it as Aries, considered the first constellation (in rank) below God’s Throne (the area near the celestial north pole, surrounded by the 24 subdivisions (“decans”) of the zodiac), but “standing” in the sky, anciently conceived to be looking over its shoulder at Tauris in a way that suggests a creature with its neck broken. “Eyes” are stars and “horns” (as well as “horses”) are comets (among other associated meanings); the whole description fits what a first-century astrologer of Jewish orientation would see in “the Heavens.”This passage also, of course, echoes and affirms the descriptions of Hebrew prophets of their visions of God and his court.And (shades of George Fox) implies “You aren’t going to understand this without Christ’s help.”Then we get some rather vast court ceremonies, in line with the common view of the time that the sky is filled with endless music. Jesus is honored in all this as his sacrifice has defended God’s honor by recruiting people of every nation for his kingdom, making them “priests”, ie qualified to approach God (and thus appropriate recipients for the revelation to come.)We are, as several of us have complained, getting the Oriental Monarch persona of God here, not the guy who’s been “closer than breath” to us all our lives. It’s a matter of emphasis, a way of making God’s actual power explicit. If we had to spend our whole lives bowing, we’d never get anything done–but now and again we do find ourselves awestruck.

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