Revelation 5 - Worship the Worthy Lamb

Unveiled Hope: The Reigning Christ of Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:09
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All creation will be filled with our worship of the worthy Lamb



The book of Revelation is an intensely political book. It may seem strange to say it that way in the context of our current usage of the word “political”, because we’ve made politics in our country such a deplorable mess of mudslinging, character assassination and outright corruption that it’s jarring to apply that word to a book of the Bible.
But the book of Revelation is full of imagery that John’s original audience would have associated with politics, rulership and government—crowns, palms, thrones, sealed scrolls, and so on. The very first image of the chapter, for instance, “a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals” (v. 1), would be recognized in John’s day as a legal document—which were often sealed with multiple seals with a summary of the contents written along the outside and the full text inside. As this chapter unfolds, it becomes obvious what this scroll represents: It is a charter document authorizing the bearer to rule over all of creation. It is a document that grants supreme authority to reign.
And as this chapter opens, there is a Universe-wide search for someone worthy to take up that reign, but there is no one:
Revelation 5:2–4 ESV
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.
Take a moment here and think about John’s tears, because we find ourselves mourning for the same reason today, don’t we? It doesn’t take long to realize that our world has no worthy rulers; only worthless ones. My favorite campaign button from the 2016 election read, “Giant Meteor 2016 - Just End It Already” (and I’ve already seen the 2020 edition of that button online as well…) Sometimes it seems that every level of politics, the only choices we have are between the evil party on the one side and the stupid party on the other.
We look around at our society and we feel the same despair that gripped John’s heart and caused him to weep—we desperately want to see God’s will executed in our world—we want to see His Name and His glory and His rulership manifested in this world—but there is no one worthy to do it.
John is writing in verse 3 in terms of the ancient three-tiered conception of the universe—the heavens were the abode of the supernatural beings—gods, goddesses, angels, demons. None of the Roman gods or goddesses that John’s contemporaries were familiar with were anywhere near being worthy enough to take that scroll—or even look at it! And there was no one worthy on earth to take up that reign: No Caesar, no king, no earthly politician or ruler. And there was no one worthy under the earth—in the realm of the dead—who could take up that rule. No glorious ruler of any “Golden Age” of the past, no matter how legendary or spectacular their rule, could even come close to taking up the right to the universal reign over all creation that God holds in His right hand.
And so this chapter begins with John weeping over this world’s worthless rulers—but it ends with all creation worshipping the worthiness of Jesus Christ, with the twenty-four elders (the People of God in the Old and New Testament) falling down and worshipping the Lamb. The great message of Revelation 5 is that
Worship that magnifies the worthiness of Christ is worship that will fill the earth.
So the question for you and me today is, “How do we get there?” How can we go from weeping over the worthless rulers who are driving our nation and our world into the ground to a world that worships the worthiness of Christ? How do we live here in the midst of this present darkness that completely denies even the existence of Jesus Christ, let alone His worthiness to rule over all things?
In order to understand the flow of this chapter (and, in fact, the dynamic of the entire book of Revelation), we need to pick up again the thread that we introduced last week—that all Christian worship takes place in Heaven, and the worship that we carry out in Heaven—gathered on the Lord’s Day together in the Spirit—affects what happens on earth. We see this throughout Revelation—trumpets are blown in heaven, things happen on earth. A golden censer is filled with fire from the altar in heaven and thrown onto the earth, and the result is thunder, fire and earthquakes.
So understand this: The way that you and I worship when we come into the presence of God affects what happens in this world. The boys and I watched the movie Gladiator a couple of weeks ago. In the opening scene, when Maximus is speaking to his troops about the battle they are about to begin, he says, “What we do in life echoes in eternity”—here in Revelation we see just the opposite: What we do in the heavens in our worship echoes on earth.
Jesus Himself taught us to pray in Matthew 6,
Matthew 6:9–10 ESV
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
In other words, when we pray that prayer, part of what we are saying is, “Father, may you be worshipped on earth the way you are worshipped in Heaven when we gather on the Lord’s Day!” If we worship Him with shallow frivolity, seeking only to feel good about ourselves and be entertained, if we only bother to attend worship on the Lord’s Day when it’s convenient for us or when we feel like it, then we shouldn’t be surprised when the world is filled with a frivolous, shallow view of God and His reign through Jesus Christ. If God’s own people don’t hallow His Name when they appear before Him in Heaven for worship on the Lord’s Day, then why should the world?
And so what we need to do this morning is learn how to worship Christ the way He is worshipped here in Revelation 5. And the first reason He is worshipped in Heaven today is because

I. Christ is worthy to rule (Revelation 5:1-7)

Look at verses 5-7:
Revelation 5:5–7 ESV
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.
In the midst of John’s weeping, one of the elders comes to him and says, “Don’t weep, but behold!” And in the following verses we see three reasons why Jesus Christ is worthy to take up the scroll of the rulership over all creation.
First, we see that He is worthy to rule
Because He is the lion who conquered
He is the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David” who “has conquered” all of His enemies—here at the end of the Scriptures is a reference that ties up the entire Bible with the very beginning. In Genesis 49, as Jacob is blessing his sons, he says
Genesis 49:9–10 ESV
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? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Jesus Christ is worthy to reign, worthy of worship because He is the Messiah who has conquered all His enemies.
But He is worthy to be worshipped because He conquered His enemies in a way that no one had ever conquered before—Jesus is worthy to be worshipped
Because He is the lamb who was slain
The elder tells John to behold the conquering Lion, but when he turns he sees a slain Lamb—standing among the elders before the throne of God. Jesus stands with the scars of His death—His pierced hands, feet and side—plainly seen in Heaven, to show that He is the one who purchased atonement for His people. The “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”, as His cousin John said in John 1:29—He is worthy of worship because He was the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and because He died under the wrath of God we can live!
And Christ is worthy to rule
Because He is the Almighty God
John writes that the Lamb had “seven” horns and “seven” eyes, and the “seven” spirits of God “sent out into all the earth”. The number seven in Revelation is a symbol of perfection, of completion. A horn is a symbol of power or might—so “seven horns” means that Jesus Christ is all-powerful; the theological term is the omnipotence of God. That He has “seven eyes” means that He is all-seeing; the theological term is the omnisicence of God—there is nothing that Jesus Christ cannot see, nothing that He cannot know. And the “seven spirits of God” means that He has the perfection of the Spirit of God—the Holy Spirit. And His Spirit “goes out into all the earth”—the theological term is the omnipresence of God—He is present everywhere in all of creation.
Jesus Christ alone is worthy to take up the scroll of the universal reign of all creation; the only one worthy to break open the seals and carry out the judgments of God. In the next chapter we see Him begin to do just that—He takes up His reign and begins to destroy all opposition to His reign. And when we enter into the heavenly realms through our worship in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, we worship Jesus Christ as the Lion who has conquered, the Lamb who was slain for us, and the Almighty God, perfect in power, knowledge and presence with us.
Jesus Christ is worthy to rule, and in the following verses we see that

II. Christ is worthy of worship (Rev. 5:8-14)

Look at verses 8-10:
Revelation 5:8–10 ESV
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.”
Here again is that moment when Jesus Christ appears before the Father after His ascension, stepping forward to receive “all authority in Heaven and on earth” (cp. Matt. 28:18). And when He takes that scroll representing universal power and authority to reign over all creation, the first thing that happens is that He receives worship
From all His saints (vv. 8-10)
And it is important to note here—where does the worship of the Lamb begin? With the twenty-four elders! The representatives of all the saints throughout redemptive history—from righteous Abel in the Old Testament book of Genesis all the way through the New Testament believers, and on to the very last person that will ever receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is His saints that begin this worship in heaven—because they are the recipients of the salvation that Jesus bought with His blood on the Cross!
Beloved, when we gather here and sing songs and hymns that magnify the blood of Jesus— “Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb”—we are only echoing the worship that we hear in Heaven! The blood of Jesus isn’t something that is downplayed or minimized in Heaven today—it is the whole basis of the worship of Jesus Christ! His saints worship Him because He has ransomed us for God—He has purchased our lives with His blood!
And that is why this worship has to begin with His saints—because the unfallen angels in Heaven cannot comprehend what it means to be forgiven of sin! Peter says in his first letter that the angels “long to look into” the mystery of salvation from sin and the atoning blood of Jesus. And so this worship comes first from all His saints, and then comes
From all His angels (vv. 11-12)
Verses 11-12 tell us
Revelation 5:11–12 ESV
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!”
Think of it—the reason that those “myriads and thousands” of angels—millions and millions of mighty, unfallen creatures whose mere appearance on earth causes mortal men to cry out and faint from terror, millions upon millions of immense, ancient spiritual beings with more power and might and splendor than you can ever perceive—they all thunder in overwhelming voices in worship to Jesus Christ because of what He has done for YOU!
This cascade of mighty worship starts at the foot of the throne where His redeemed people praise Him, and it is picked up by a mighty host of millions upon millions of angelic voices, and then rolls on from there to earth itself! He receives worship from His saints, then from His angels, and finally
From all His creation (v. 13)
Verse 13:
Revelation 5:13 ESV
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!”
Worship that magnifies the worth of Christ is worship that fills the earth. Beloved, when you and I enter the heavenly places as we worship in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and as we praise Jesus Christ as the only one who is worthy to take the scroll of universal reign over all creation, as we worship Him for shedding His blood to free us from the penalty and power of our sin, we are not just undertaking a quaint little religious ritual that makes us feel good about ourselves way deep down in our hearts somewhere!
When we join our voices together with all the saints throughout the world and throughout history in worship of the Worthy Lamb who was slain, the mighty Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-present God and King of the Universe, we are beginning a cascade of worship that is overtaking the entire cosmos! What we do here in these hours in our worship sparks a mighty resounding thunder of praise from millions of the heavenly host that is cascading down from the heavenly realms to earth, and every time we worship that day of universal praise gets just a little bit closer!
But that doesn’t mean that we see everything magically fixed down here, do we? The reign of Jesus Christ is already taking place—He has received the scroll of His reign, and He is being worshipped in Heaven. Jesus Christ reigns now, but it is not yet what it will be here on earth. His reign is being opposed. In Chapter 6 we see Jesus beginning to “break the seals” of the scroll—He begins to enact His reign, and so we see His enemies begin to be destroyed, one by one. And so our prayer remains, as He taught us, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!”
Jesus Christ is worthy to rule, He is worthy of worship. And so we pray for that day to come when His worth is worshipped on earth as He is in Heaven. And as we weep under the worthless rulers of this present darkness, as we groan for the pride and wickedness and high-handed rebellion of our world, we still have confidence to worship and to work and to serve Him, because

III. Christ has made us worthy

Christian, don’t ever forget that you were no stranger to the wickedness and rebellion and pride that you see all around you—you once belonged to that world! There is no evil thought or blasphemous tirade or shameful perversion that you witness in this world around you that you were not at one time capable of yourself! It is so easy to become complacent and judgmental about the sin and rebellion of our culture—so don’t you ever forget that it was only the blood of Jesus Christ that made you
Worthy of salvation in Him (Titus 3:5-6)
Titus 3:5–6 ESV
he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Your only source for praise today doesn’t come from your innate moral superiority or natural wisdom that allowed you to choose to be a Christian—it was the blood of Jesus Christ that ransomed you!
And not only did the blood of the Lamb ransom you and make you worthy of salvation, but the blood of the Lamb made you
Worthy to minister for Him (2 Cor. 5:18-20)
The song of the redeemed in Heaven says that the blood of the Lamb “made them a kingdom and priests to our God” (Rev. 5:10)— a priest is one who represents the people before God, and represents God before the people. Christian—the blood of Jesus Christ has made you a representative of God to your friends, your family members, your neighbors, your co-workers. The Apostle Paul tells you in 2 Corinthians 5 that He has given you a ministry:
2 Corinthians 5:18–20 ESV
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Perhaps you think to yourself, “I can’t share the Gospel with anyone—I’m a terrible example of a Christian! I haven’t been saved long enough, I don’t know enough, too many people remember me in my former life, and they’ll think I’m a hypocrite for talking about Jesus—no one will listen to me, I’ll mess it up and tell it wrong...” And on and on the objections go.
But listen to the Word of God here, Christian—all of the credentials you need to share the Gospel have already been purchased for you by the blood of Jesus Christ! All of the authority you need to act as an Ambassador of Reconciliation to the world has already been granted to you by the blood of the Lamb! And that blood applied to your life not only authorizes you to share the Gospel, it makes you effective in sharing the Gospel! You are worthy to minister as a priest before God on behalf of your friends and loved ones, pleading to God for them, and pleading with them to be reconciled to Him!
Christ has made you worthy of salvation, He has made you worthy to minister, and He has made you
Worthy to reign with Him (Ephesians 2:6-7)
Today you weep for the worthless rulers of this world, but you have this promise from the Almighty, the Worthy Lamb today—that He has
Ephesians 2:6–7 ESV
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For now, you endure the darkness and rebellion and arrogant pride of the worthless rulers of this world. But “weep no more; behold, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered!” He is worthy to rule, He has taken up the scroll, and He is reigning today in all power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing—and He promises that you will reign with Him! He has promised that He will seat you with Him in the heavenly places to rule with Him! And He has promised—with a promise that can never be broken—that He will spend all eternity lavishing the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward you! So look to Him, enter into the heavens and praise Him for His blood so that you may spark all of the thundering worship of Heaven and earth until that day when He finally and completely answers the prayer He taught you to pray, that His will will be done and He will be worshipped on earth as it is in Heaven!
Ephesians 3:20–21 ESV
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


When you turn on your TV or go online, what do you see? What messages, priorities and values are being conveyed? In what ways do these conflict with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Why is it important for believers to meet together regularly for worship on the Lord’s Day? How does this passage describe the effect of the believers’ worship on the rest of Heaven? How does that worship affect the earth?
This passage teaches that by His blood Jesus Christ has purchased your authority to act as a priest before God. A priest represents people before God—who do you know that does not know Christ as Savior that you can be praying for this week?
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