In our last installment we left the Throne Room scene with the question of who is worthy to open the scroll found in the hand of “the One on the throne”? After a dramatic pause, the prophet hears that “the Lion of Judah, the Root of David” has “conquered” and therefore can open the seals. (Because this is a thorone room, this probably sounds like a formal announcement by a royal page announcing a royal dignitary.) As he turns to look, what he sees is something very different!
The “Lion” actually looks like a lamb that has been slaughtered. His “conquest” is his death and blood shed to pay for the sins of all people. (The “sevens” of eyes and horns represent perfection of vision and power or authority.) Jesus is honoured because his sacrifice allows Him to redeem a “kingdom” from “every tribe and nation” to “reign on earth under Him and God.”
[As an aside: The contrast between what he hears and what he sees is a stylistic device that is repeated in other places in this book, including the sequence in Chapter 7, where he “hears” about 144,000 Israelites (a description involving the multiples of Israel’s number, 12 recounted in a way that suggests a mighty army numbered for battle [read Numbers to get the flavour]). What he sees is “an innumerable multitude” of marrtyrs who, rather than fighting and winning a war, die as they witness of Jesus Christ and His saving work. The contrast is mind-blowing, because these are the same group. Just as the Lion and the Lamb are the same Saviour/Messiah.]
This worthiness leads to worship by angels, followed by the worship of “every creature in heaven and earth” alongside with “the One on the throne. The significance of this cannot be overstated! Jesus Christ is being worshipped equally with God (esp. 5:13 & 14). This is a pattern that continues throughout the rest of the book (e.g.: 11:15-18; 15:2-4; 19:4-6).
This brings us to the pivotal message of the book: Worship God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus, by His death and resurrection, is “worthy” to rule the entire created universe, including the entire human race. This is the message that will help each of the seven churches get out of its particular trap or challenge. But before we get to that part of the book, Jesus must open the seals… in our next installment [after a short break for other subjects].