"Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals." NIV translation
Now, John begins to describe a scene much like the closing on a house today. In the right hand of God (the one seated on the throne) is a scroll which represents the deed to all of creation. This deed is like the deed we receive when our home is completely paid for and it signifies ownership. This scroll has writing on both sides but it has seven seals which prevent it from being read. As we have seen before, the number seven represents completeness and this scroll is completely sealed so that there is no peeking at its contents.
Revelation 5:2 & 3
"And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?' But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it." NIV translation
In this passage, a search is started for someone who could open the scroll. Sadly, angels (those in heaven), men (those on the earth), or demons (those under the earth) could not open it or even sneak a peek at its contents.
"I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside." NIV translation
We might ask ourselves why John would weep so much over the opening of a scroll. The opening of the scroll is the start of the judgment, cleansing, and renewal of the earth. We are told elsewhere that all of creation waits in anticipation of this and it seems that no one can open the scroll and start the process. This would be very sad as all of creation would be stuck in this fallen state.
"Then one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.'" NIV translation
In the midst of the sadness, an elder points to the Hope. He explains that Jesus has triumphed and can open the scroll. To be released from the grip of sin and death, the price had to be paid. Just like the deed to the home, you get the deed when the price is paid. Jesus paid the penalty for sin which is death and, therefore, all of creation belongs to him.
"Then I saw a lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth." NIV translation
Now, John sees the Lamb of God. The picture is of a lamb with blood mixed into its white coat. This is evidence that the price had been paid but this lamb is special as it has seven horns and seven eyes. The seven horns for complete power as the lamb overcame all sin and death for all of the world and the seven eyes for all seeing so that there was not any sin hidden from the lamb. This lamb paid the entire debt for all of creation and therefore is worthy to take the deed (scroll) and open it.
Revelation 5:7 & 8
"He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." NIV translation
Jesus (the Lamb) takes the scroll from the Father and the worship begins. The creatures and the elders worship the Lamb. It is cool how they are holding bowls full of our prayers. Did you catch that? This passage says that the bowls they are holding contain the "prayers of the saints". If you know Christ, then your prayers are included in that incense.
Revelation 5:9 & 10
"And they sang a new song: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.'" NIV translation
Now the song from the living creatures and the elders changes. Throughout the Old Testament, a "new song" celebrated a new act of deliverance or blessing. This passage explains how the Lamb, that is Jesus Christ, purchased people by his blood. That is why Jesus would rightly receive the deed that is the scroll and be able to open it.
We are also told here of our purpose, as Christians, which is to "be a kingdom and priests to serve our God". The passage ends with more good news as it says that we will reign on the earth. We can take comfort now and during difficult times in that fact and even rejoice and praise God during the storms of this present time.
Revelation 5:11 & 12
"Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'" NIV translation
Now, the angels join in and what a party it must be. John describes how the angels are so numerous but it is striking that he describes them as singing in a single voice. Their song also tells of how Jesus is worthy because of his sacrifice.
Revelation 5:13 & 14
"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!' The four living creatures said, 'Amen,' and the elders fell down and worshiped." NIV translation
Now, all of creation joins in on the party and worship. We see that all of creation now acknowledges Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. The image from this chapter is of a celebration just continuing to grow as we watched it start with the four living creatures and the elders and build until this passage where all of creation is involved.