Lamb of God

John’s visit to the throne room of heaven took place at a time when an important event was commencing. As he viewed the worship of one who sat on a throne by twenty four elders who proclaimed, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created,” ( Revelation 4:11, NKJV) John “saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1). The mysterious book is believed by some to be a copy of the New Covenant that God enacted when Israel was about to be expelled from the the promised land in actualization of the most severe covenant curse (Major Covenants of the Old Testament, KJSB, p. 16). John said about this book, “And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon” (Revelation 5:2-3).

The fact that no one was able to open the book or to look at its contents suggests that it was a legal document of some sort that might have contained private information, perhaps a will that could only be read by the heir to the estate. John said, “So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals'” (Revelation 5:4-5, NKJV). The Greek word translated prevailed, nikao means to conquer or get the victory (G3528). This is the same word that was used in each of the messages John was given for the seven churches regarding their reward for overcoming (Revelation 2-3). Jesus said in his message to Laodicea, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21, italics mine).

The specific victory that Jesus won took place when he died on the cross at Calvary. John said, “And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” (Revelation 5:6-7). The transfer of the book from the right hand of him that sat on the throne to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29) likely signified the completion of God’s plan of salvation. At that point in time, it’s possible that the Lamb’s work will be finished in that everyone that wants to accept his substitutionary death on the cross as payment for their sins have already done so. John said, “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8).

The scene that took place as John looked on could have been a type of coronation in which the Lamb of God was ascending to the throne. The elders worship of the Lamb signified their acceptance of his authority over them. What seems to be clear about what was happening was that a transfer of power was taking place and the Lamb was claiming his inheritance which was documented in the book with seven seals. One of the roles that Jesus fulfilled was the kinsman redeemer of Israel. The kinsman redeemer was a blood relative that qualified to buy back property that had been sold for debt. “The book of Ruth is a beautiful account of the kinsman-redeemer. His responsibility is summed up in Ruth 4:5: ‘What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.’ Thus the kinsman-redeemer was responsible for preserving the integrity, life, property, and family name of his close relative or for executing justice upon his murderer” (H1350). It says in Ruth 4:13 that after Boaz claimed Elimelech’s property, Ruth became his wife.

One aspect of what was taking place in the throne room in heaven was the settlement of Israel’s debt of sin against God. After the elders fell down before the Lamb, John said, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10). The Greek word translated redeemed, agorazo (ag-or-ad’-zo) is properly translated as “to go to market, i.e. (by implication) to purchase” (G59). Jesus purchased or bought back the souls of believers from Satan with his own blood which was shed on the cross. The prophet Hosea portrayed this transaction when God instructed him to purchase his wife out slavery. “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go again and love your wife, even when she is loved by another and is not faithful. Love her as the Lord loves the people of Israel, even when they turn to other gods and love cakes of dried grapes.’ So I bought her for fifteen pieces of silver money and ten baskets of barley. Then I said to her, ‘You must stay with me for many days, and be faithful to me. Do not have another man, and I will also be faithful to you’” (Hosea 3:1-3, NLV).

One of the parables Jesus told the religious leaders that wanted to kill him was about a marriage dinner. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come….But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’” (Matthew 22:2-9, NKJV). The marriage supper of the Lamb that is recorded in Revelation 19 indicates that the great whore must be judged and the blood of God’s servants avenged before the wedding can take place, chapters 16 – 18 record that process. Revelation 5:13 appears to take place at the end of that process. It says, “And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!’” (NKJV).

Throne room of heaven

After he was given messages for the seven churches in Asia, John received an invitation from Jesus to join him in the throne room of heaven. John said, “After this, I looked and saw a door standing open in heaven. The first voice I heard was like the loud sound of a horn. It said, ‘Come up here. I will show you what must happen after these things.'” (Revelation 4:1, NLV). “Some interpreters find the rapture of the church in this verse” (note on Revelation 4:1), but John made it clear that he did not physically go to heaven. He went to be with Jesus in some spiritual form. He said, “And immediately I was in the spirit: and behold a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (Revelation 4:2).

John’s reference to the door of heaven standing open might indicate there was an open invitation and that anyone that wanted to could enter the throne room. If so, it seems likely that the timing of John’s visit was sometime before the rapture of the church because Jesus indicated in his parable of the ten virgins that when “the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage,” the door was shut (Matthew 25:10). Jesus went on to say, “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matthew 25:11-13, NKJV). Based Jesus’ parable, it appears that at least while the marriage of the lamb is taking place (Revelation 19:7), access to heaven will be restricted.

The scene depicted in John’s visit to the throne room of heaven is similar to the prophetic visions of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 10:1-14) and Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-3) with the exception of the “twenty four elders, sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold” (Revelation 4:4). It is possible that these twenty four elders are “representative of either the whole company of believers in heaven or an exalted angelic order worshipping and serving God there” (note on Revelation 4:4), but more than likely, John was looking at a future state of the throne room because Jesus told John he was going to show him things that would happen later (Revelation 4:1).

The important thing to note about John’s visit to the throne room of heaven was the activity that was going on there. Four winged creatures never ceased to praise Jesus. They “speak of His shining-greatness and give honor and thanks to Him Who sits on His throne as King” (Revelation 4:9, NLV). In the midst of this continuous worship service, it says in Revelation 4:10, “the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created’” (Revelation 4:10-11, NKJV).

One of the things that John’s visit to the throne room of heaven might represent is the gathering and preparation that takes place in the bridegroom’s chamber or dressing room while he and his groomsmen wait for the wedding ceremony to begin. Jesus’ return to Earth is depicted as a bridegroom coming to meet his bride. It says in Matthew 25:5-6, “But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’” The Greek word translated was delayed, chronizo (khron-id’-zo) is derived from the word chronos (khron’-os) which means “a space of time” (G5550). Paul used the word chronos to refer to the time apportioned by God for his plan of salvation to be worked out (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, NKJV).

The Apostle John, like most Christians for the past 2000 years, was probably wondering why Jesus hadn’t returned to Earth as he promised he would. Jesus may have brought John to his throne room to show him he wasn’t just sitting idly by while the world went on without him. The casting of the elders crowns before Jesus’ throne might have been a signal that indicated it was time for the wedding ceremony to begin. The elders refrain, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11), somewhat like a drum roll, announced to everyone that the climatic moment they had all been waiting for had finally arrived.