GETTING THE MESSAGE/Sins have all been blotted out in Christ

GETTING THE MESSAGE/Sins have all been blotted out in Christ


Revelation 5 continues the apostle John’ s vision of heaven in the presence of God in the holy of holies. In chapter 4, the scene is the glorious angels around the throne, worshipping and praising God. They sing, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things.”

Now in chapter 5, the scene changes so that John “Saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.” A mighty angel asks, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” After an exhaustive search, no one is found worthy to open the scroll. John’s response is to weep loudly. An elder points John to Christ (verse 5). Verses 1-4 eliminate any other hope for man. Christ alone can save sinners.

The book of Daniel and the book of Revelation are closely connected. Daniel interprets a King’s dream of kingdoms as pointing to a time when the Sovereign God will establish a king and kingdom in the “latter days” that would overcome all other kingdoms and endure forever. And in Daniel 12, the prophet is told to seal up the book of things to happen in the latter days. 

These prophecies point to Christ and his church. In Revelation 5:1, the book being held in the right hand of God signifies the power and authority of God. The book contains the comprehensive plan of God in the judgments and redemption he will accomplish on earth. The question of who is worthy to carry out the purposes of God is a rhetorical question. 

There is but one name whereby men may be saved, and one name who can fulfill the whole counsel of God. In Isaiah 29, the book or word of God is closed to men, because they are blind to the glory of God. The Lord says, “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” This sums up the condition of mankind.

John weeping loudly reflects a mourning over the sinfulness of men. There are none worthy, and God is not worshipped as he should be. In Daniel 9, the prophet Daniel laments the sins of God’s people that have left the temple of God “desolate.” Daniel prays fervently for God’s intercession, and an angel is sent to show Daniel the redemption that Christ will accomplish.

In the time of redemptive history in Revelation 5, Christ has come into the world as the prophets wrote. He has fulfilled God’s purpose in going to the cross, bearing the sin of men, being raised from the dead, and ascending into heaven. 

At the end of the book of Revelation, heaven and earth will be reconciled. The nations of men will be healed. All evil and all rebellion against God will be vanquished, and the redeemed of God will dwell in the presence of God forever. But that time is not yet. First Christ will build his church, gathering men from all the nations of earth as the rest of Revelation 5 points to. Revelation is about Christ being given all power and authority to do that.

He alone is worthy to fulfill the purposes of God for man, and he alone has the power and authority to do so. The tribulations in the book point to Christ saving his people through tribulations, persecutions, and temptations in this world. As Christ suffered and then entered into his glory, so shall his people overcome the world and the devil by faith in him, suffering for his namesake.

So, Christians are not to be surprised by tribulation in this world. God dramatizes this truth in the book of Revelation to point his people to the one rock that cannot be shaken, Christ Jesus our Lord. If we have not Christ, we are certainly lost and undone. He is the salvation that God gives.

Richard Sibbes said, “God in paradise did choose a wife in Adam, so God has chosen a husband for his church. He has chosen Christ for us. Therefore, it is intolerable sacrilegious rebellion and impudence to refuse a Savior and Mediator of God’s choosing, and set up others for our own—as if we were wiser to choose for ourselves than God is.”

Books are important in Revelation. At the judgment, books of sinners will be opened, exposing the truth about men. Nothing will remain concealed. Another book, the book of life, contains names of sinners whose detailed sins have all been blotted out in Christ. God cannot make any clearer our need of Christ, so make sure of him.

The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.

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