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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 5

Smith's WritingsSmith's Writings

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Verses 1-14

4 The Book (Revelation 5)

In Revelation 4 and 5 we are carried in spirit into heaven itself, there to have unveiled before us events that will take place when the church has been rapt from earth to heaven. It is true that the rapture, though assumed, is not directly revealed in the Revelation, for the aim of the prophecy is not to declare the secrets of the church, already revealed in other Scriptures, but to set forth the judgments which prepare the way for the setting up of the kingdom of Christ.

(V. 1) The Book. In Revelation 4 all centres round the throne and the maintenance of its glory and holiness. In Revelation 5 the great theme is the Book that sets forth God's counsels for the blessing of the world, under the reign of Christ, after all evil has been dealt with in judgment. The glory of the throne must be maintained before the blessings of the book can be fulfilled.

"A book written" would indicate that God's will is unalterably settled. Men, from lack of courage, or from motives of policy are often chary of stating their plans in writing. But, to speak after the manner of men, God has committed Himself to writing. Then the book is filled, for it is written within and on the back, there is no room, as there is no need, for any addition to what God has written. When at last, in the future, all is fulfilled it will be found that every judgment foretold has been carried out, every blessing reached, and that there is nothing to take from nor add to the book. Revelation 5, men have been endeavouring to open the book. They have tried by codes of laws, by courts of justice, by prisons and reformatories to repress evil: they have sought by every form of government - monarchial and republican, dictatorial and democratic - to bring in a time of peace and plenty. Every class has been tested, kings and nobles, plebeians and socialists; but amongst them all no one has been found with either ability or worthiness. Yet men still proceed by desperate efforts, by leagues, conferences, and pacts, to redress the wrongs of the world, and to bring about a time of universal peace and blessing; every effort only proving that they have never yet heard the voice of the strong angel. Those who have heard that voice know full well that it loudly proclaims that all the efforts of men are foredoomed to failure, inasmuch as they are attempts to put the world right without God and Christ. Men consider only the rights of man, they ignore the rights of God and the requirements of His throne.

(Vv. 4, 5) John weeps. John wept much because no man was found worthy to open the book,* and to break its seals. Thinking only of man's inability and unworthiness, we too might weep at the pitiful sight of a world directing its energies, its wisdom, its money, its resources, its youth, and its time to a perfectly hopeless task. But however much we may weep on earth, weeping will not do for heaven. John is the only man that ever wept in heaven, and if he "wept much" he was not allowed to weep long, for immediately one of the elders said unto him, "Weep not." Intelligent in the mind of heaven, elders do not weep, for while they realise the hopelessness of all men's foredoomed efforts, they are in the secret of God. They know, that if the task is too great for man, there is One who is both able and worthy to open the book. Pro 30:30). His power then is irresistible, so the prophet Micah can say of the lion he "both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver" (Mic 5:8). The lion of the tribe of Judah tells us of this mighty power being exercised in the cause of God's ancient people, according to the prophecy of Jacob, which foretells that Judah will prevail over his enemies - "Thy hand shall be in the neck of shine enemies." In order that Judah may prevail he has the strength of "a young lion." But the real source of Judah's strength is that out of that tribe the One would come unto whom the people would gather (Gen 49:8-10). Christ is the true Lion of Judah.

Christ is also the Root of David. In David we see the King chosen of God to be victorious over all his enemies. Nevertheless Christ is the true King, the One who will put all enemies under His feet. He is first in the mind of God and hence the Root from whence David sprang. Thus Christ in His irresistible power as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and as a Divine Person - the Root of David - is the One who alone is able to open the book.

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Revelation 5". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/revelation-5.html. 1832.
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