John wept because no one was able “to open the scroll and break its seals.” Then one of heaven’s twenty-four elders comforted him with the arrival of God’s Lion-Lamb, who approached the throne and took the seven-sealed scroll. With that action, worship once again breaks loose in heaven.
Look, for a moment, at what takes place (Rev. 5:7-10): “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.” I have sometimes heard an alcoholic referred to as a “stumble-down drunk.” It seems to me, based on how often the denizens of heaven fall on their knees in adoration, that we might accurately describe them as “stumble-down worshipers,” although they are of course filled with the Holy Spirit, not with wine (Eph. 5.18).
Somehow, in spite of their prone position, they manage to sing and pray. And what a song it is!
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 earth.
Not only does this song express the elders’ and angels’ adoration, it also manages to instruct us in the saving work of Christ.
We are informed, first of all, that Jesus Christ is worthy to reveal God’s plan for the ages because of his death on the cross. We have already pointed out the connection between cross and crown, but it is worth reiterating: The regal lion is worthy to open the scroll precisely because he is also the sacrificial Lamb of God.
Second, we are told that Jesus Christ ransomed people by his blood. This introduces a new element. The idea of a ransom is the price given to a kidnapper to free a hostage. Spiritually speaking, we have been kidnapped by the devil, but so greatly does God love us that he willingly pays a hefty ransom in the death of his own Beloved Son that we might forever be with him.
Third, we are told that God’s love for people is universal in scope. God’s mercy is not limited to his chosen people Israel, nor to those who have grown up in a Christian church. “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world; red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.” Do we really need a children’s song to remind us of such a simple truth? No, we need the song of Israel’s patriarchs, the church’s apostles, and the seraphim of the throne room. The universal scope of God’s love is a message too important to be left to little children.
And finally, we are told that there is a purpose in our salvation that extends beyond putting away sin. God created us to be kings and priests, to reign on earth and to enter God’s presence in heaven. It is never enough for us to escape the devil’s clutches. We must be prepared to be enfolded in God’s embrace and to do his work.