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Bible Commentaries

Norris' Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Revelation 5

Introduction

II. MEDITATION--Revelation 5:1-14

Chapter 5 INTRODUCES US TO A NEW SONG

In the first verse John saw A BOOK in the hand of God.

A book in which the pages were close written on BOTH sides.

It was the COMPLETE record of the events of this world’s history.

Nothing could be added to it. (Its pages were close written on both sides).

John knew that the book contained the complete record of this world’s history. It contained the full story of the history and fate of the church--but the book was sealed with seven seals; and nobody was able to break those seals and open the book. Nobody was able to make those sealed pages known to men. Until Christ takes the book and in chapter 6 breaks the 7 seals and reveals God’s message and tells the history and fate of this world. But before that takes place we are shown this interlude of chapter 5 verses 8-14 when

"The four living creatures"

--that is ALL MANKIND

"The 24 elders"

--that is THE CHURCH

join in PRAISE and PRAYER.

Verse 1

THE BOOK AND THE LAMB

--Revelation 5:1-14

The interlude before the conflicts between the church and the world are described, begun in chapter 4, with the council in heaven, is continued in chapter 5.

Verse 1.

"A BOOK" (i. e., a parchment roll) "WRITTEN WITHIN AND ON THE BACK." It was unusual for a parchment to be written on BOTH sides. This indicates THE COMPLETENESS of the book and the impossibility of adding to it. (Ezekiel 2:9-10, has the same idea). But this book is COMPLETELY SEALED with "SEVEN SEALS". This book contains God’s record of His world. But a REVEALER IS NEEDED. John wept because he knew that in that book was the story of God’s plan and dealings with His church. His church so persecuted. And now, when God offered the Book there was nobody worthy or able to interpret the language of God’s Book in the language of men. Nobody able to make these silent, sealed pages of God’s purpose a living voice.

Verse 5

Verse 5.

"THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH" depicts Christ in His STRENGTH. And He is described in verse 6-8 as THE LAMB depicting the SACRIFICE by which He overcame sin and proved worthy to open the seals to God’s book. (Isaiah 53:7).

Verse 8

Verse 8.

CHRIST TAKES THE SEALED BOOK for He alone is worthy to loose the seals and reveal God’s record. The work of loosing the seals is interrupted by a song of praise--verses 8-14. "The four living creatures" --(all mankind, see 4:7) "The 24 elders" --(the church, see 4:2) "The harp" --symbol of praise "The incense" --symbol of prayer Verse 8 shows the whole church at praise and prayer.

Verses 9-10

We center our thought on verses 9 and 10 of chapter 5.

"AND THEY SANG A NEW SONG, saying, "WORTHY ART Thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for THOU WAST SLAIN AND BY THY BLOOD DIDST RANSOM MEN FOR GOD from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, AND HAST MADE THEM A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS TO OUR GOD, and they shall reign on earth."

THE NEW SONG IS IN 3 PARTS

ATONEMENT

--"Thou wast SLAIN."

REDEMPTION

--"By thy blood didst RANSOM men for God."

CONSECRATION

--"Made them A KINGDOM and PRIESTS TO OUR GOD, AND THEY SHALL REIGN ON EARTH."

Notice that this NEW song of 5:9, 10 links with Revelation 1:5-6 --(The Christian faith in one sentence)--"unto Him who LOVES us, FREED us from our sins by His blood. And MADE us a kingdom, PRIESTS to God."(Our Christian faith is all expressed in that one sentence). Here in Revelation 5:9-10 CREATION SINGS A NEW SONG.

1. ATONEMENT--For Thou wast SLAIN."

By His death on Calvary’s Cross Jesus Christ brought us to be AT ONE with God. (This is the meaning of the word "atonement’). By our sin we had been separated from God. By His death Jesus made us AT ONE. He united us to God and to each other. So the Cross of Jesus Christ comes as the first note of the NEW song which Christians can now sing on earth.

"Christ has for sin atonement made What a wonderful Saviour!"

2. REDEMPTION is the second note of this NEW song of Revelation 5:9. "And by Thy blood DIDST RANSOM (or purchase) men for God."

Note the "4" described here as "from every TRIBE, and TONGUE, and PEOPLE, and NATION" in verse 9.

"4" is always a symbol in John’s book of Revelation of anything concerning the EARTH. Therefore the NEW song of chapter 5 verse 9 indicated A WORLD-WIDE REDEMPTION.

Can we join in this NEW song of REDEMPTION? How frequently our song is but a faint echo! How often is our idea of redemption simply that our sins are forgiven, and that the guilt of our past sins is removed so that we are safe for the final destination of heaven? That is only ONE note of the new song that Christians have to sing. Listen as this NEW song is sung in Revelation 5:9-10.

(1) They sing of PURCHASE

"By Thy blood thou didst RANSOM (PURCHASE) men for God."

The coming of our Lord to Bethlehem, His life and death--the shedding of His blood at the Cross was not only to WASH AWAY OUR SINS AND REMOVE THE STAIN OF OUR GUILT, BUT IT WAS TO PURCHASE US FOR HIMSELF.

The Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28 that the Church of God was "PURCHASED with the blood of Christ," and so, Paul wrote to Christians in Corinth "You were BOUGHT with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:20 and 1 Corinthians 7:23).

Do we realize as church members that CHRIST HAS PURCHASED US? Have we really given ourselves "in full and glad surrender" to the Christ to whom we belong? "You are not your own. You have been purchased with the price of the blood of Jesus Christ."

(2) They sing of POWER--for verse 10 says "They shall REIGN ON EARTH" Over WHAT do Christians reign? Surely over sin and evil, in the sense of having it in subjection, having power over it. "Let not sin reign in your bodies" wrote Paul in Romans 6:12; Romans 6:14, "for sin shall not have dominion over you." Clearly, if sin is not to reign over us we must reign over sin. What do we as church members really know of that life of victory and power over sin? How many of us realize that Jesus Christ came not only to remove the guilt of sin but to FREE US FROM ITS POWER? Yet we do sing in the hymn ’Rock of Ages’ concerning Christ’s power to save us from sin.

"Save me from its guilt and POWER"

The Cross of Jesus Christ is the POWER that gives victory over sin in our daily lives. Calvary’s Cross is not simply a DATE on the calendar, it is a DYNAMIC in daily life. The Cross of Jesus Christ not only took away the guilt of our sin it also offers us the POWER to triumph gloriously over sin.

We recall that in Romans chapter 1 the Apostle Paul described the Christian gospel of the Cross of Christ as "THE POWER OF GOD"--The dynamic "POWER OF GOD." Think of it! God’s power--the power that created and guides the spinning planets through boundless space--the power that pulses in the great ocean tides--the power that throbs at the heart of all creation--that power is in the Cross of Jesus Christ made available to every Christian believer. The colossal energy to move a universe is available to every Christian to rid us not only of the guilt of sin but also of its power. The Cross is victorious. Hallelujah for the Cross!

(3) And They Sing of PRIESTHOOD

For in the NEW song of Revelation 5:1-14 verse 10 they sing "And hast made them A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS TO OUR GOD."

The Apostle Peter reminds Christians that "we are redeemed by Christ who has made us a holy priesthood, to offer us spiritual sacrifices" (1 Peter 2:5).

3. CONSECRATION is the third note of this NEW song.

"And hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth."

The kingdom of God is where God RULES, where God REIGNS. So, wherever a person lives according to the will and purpose of God, there is the kingdom. Romans 12:1-2 reminds us of the kind of sacrifices which Christians must offer as priests to our God. This involves real consecration.

How little some Christians really know of a daily life of service to God! Can we really say of Jesus Christ, as could the Apostle Paul, not only "Whose I am," but also "Whom I serve?" (Acts 27:23). I was impressed by the word of one aged Christian who said "My first question in heaven will be--"Lord, what’s my next task?"

May this NEW SONG of Revelation 5:1-14 verses 7 to 10 of

ATONEMENT,
REDEMPTION,
CONSECRATION,

become a reality to us as we read John’s book. "NEW!" Not because we have never sung it before but NEW because its strains are filled with NEW meaning, that from now on there may be--

A NEW SURRENDER of ourselves to God,
A NEW SERVICE to our Lord,
A NEW VICTORY over sin and temptation,
A NEW SONG OF PRAISE to our God and Saviour.

Verses 11-14

Verses 11-14.

John looks at the back-drop, the setting of the council in heaven of chapters 4 and 5. The walls of that council chamber are not of material bricks but of myriads of angels--further off than the elders, or the living creatures of men--"numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands" (verse 11 )--Surely this means that the angels in that heavenly council are innumerable. (see also Hebrews 12:22). And the subject being considered is the fortunes of the church on earth.

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Bibliographical Information
Norris, Harold. "Commentary on Revelation 5". "Norris' Commentary on the Book of Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/nor/revelation-5.html. 2021.