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Thursday, June 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 5

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

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Verse 1


The preceding chapter, having in Vision opened Heaven; this prosecutes the same Subject, in describing what took place, when the Hymn of the Church had celebrated the Lord's Glory. Here is an Account of a Book with Seven Seals. None was found worthy to open it but the Lamb. The Events which followed.

Verses 1-3

(1) And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. (2) And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? (3) And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

Perhaps there never was a subject, so admirably calculated to call up the attention, as the contents of this Chapter. Let the Reader recollect the state of John's mind. He tells us, that he was in the spirit. He relates, that a door was opened to his view in heaven. He describes, as far as he was able, some of the glorious objects which he saw. He heard thunderings and voices, with lightenings proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb. And he heard the hymn of adoration, which was offered to the Lord, from the host before the throne, Such were the things related in the foregoing Chapter. The mind of the Apostle must have been wrapt up in the most sublime meditation, at the time when what is related in this Chapter began to take place. And John hath given the particulars in this chapter in the most striking manner.

First. He saw a Book in the hand of him that sat on the throne, sealed with seven seals. It's being so closely sealed, seemed to imply the secrecy of it. And there can be no doubt, what the contents were; for the secrecy of it, and the hand of him in whom it was, plainly shows, that it was the decree of God, respecting his Church. I think a beautiful light is thrown upon this scripture, in the second Psalm. For no sooner had God, as is there represented, set Christ upon his throne, as King in Zion, than he saith, I will declare the decree. Now as none but Christ could open the Book, and declare the decree, as this Chapter shows; it must follow, that it is Christ which is represented in this scripture, and none other. See Psalms 2:6-7 .

Secondly. The proclamation made upon this occasion appears to have been done, for the manifestation of the greater glory of Christ, All the creation is called upon to know, who is worthy to open the book, and loose the seals thereof. Not simply who was able, but who was worthy. The inability of Angels is implied, as well as their unworthiness, for a strong Angel made the proclamation, and consequently he knew no Angel, either able or worthy. Reader! do not overlook, while reading this scripture, what is said of Jesus, that verily he took not on him the nature of Angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham, Hebrews 2:16 . What a Sweet thought to the soul. All creatures are nothing in a way of procuring salvation. And this blessed vision John saw, had evidently this great design, in showing the total inability of creatures to heighten the glory of Christ, Acts 4:12 .

Thirdly. It is evident, from the representation here made, that the opening this Book, and loosing the Seals thereof, implied the whole design of God's plan concerning the Church; and that in the opening and declaring the decree, was connected with it the fulfilling it, and of which, in the discovery of one worthy to this deed, everything in salvation is contained. Reader! before you proceed, pause over this view. Sweetly hath God taught here from in heaven, as Well as on earth, the personal and peculiar fitness of Christ, as the only Mediator, to raise up our nature from the ruins of the fall. None but Him was able. None but him worthy. None but that Almighty God-Man, who is made higher than the heavens, could be competent to this office! Oh! how doth it exalt the Son of God to our view! Oh! how ought it to endear him to our hearts.

Verses 4-5

(4) And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. (5) And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

The exercises of John are sweetly recorded, for the instruction of the Church. He was called up to heaven, But after a short space he is made to weep, yea, to weep much. Thus we see, that even visions of heaven when opened, are not immediate happiness. Sorrow is often before joy. Reader! recollect that this was but a vision. The redeemed when in reality they enter heaven, will weep no more, Revelation 7:16-17 . But in fact, John's mind was thus kept in suspense, for the greater glory which was to follow. Jesus himself was in the moment near at hand, yea, Jesus was soon after to come forward to John's view, and take the book and open the seals in his sight, but to heighten both Christ's glory, and John's joy; the Apostle shall first be exercised with seeming difficulties. It is so for the most part in the path of the Lord's people. Their Way to heaven lies through the valley of Baca. They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy.

The comfort and encouragement, given by one of the Elders to John, is very interesting. He not only tells him to dry up his tears, for there was one found worthy to accomplish all his wishes, but he points Out his Person, and by the well known name of Judah or Jehudah, from whom Christ, after the flesh, sprang, the identity of his Person was defined, Genesis 49:10 . I pray the Reader to pause here, in order to mark the special grace of God. It was With John, as it is often with the Church. When visions of God begin, then come exercises. And when exercises abound, God's consolations abound. All the difficulty thrown in the way of John, was only to heighten Christ's glory to the Apostle's view, and to increase the Apostle's joy and confidence in Christ. And what it was with John, so is it with all the Lord's people. When none can be found worthy in heaven, or in earth, to deliver the soul; oh! how blessed then is Christ.

Verses 6-7

(6) 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. (7) And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

Everything here mentioned is blessed. Christ in the midst of the throne. This is gloriously descriptive of his power and God-HEAD. The centre of the throne can only be suited for Him, in whom all fulness dwells. He could not have been seen in the midst of the throne, had he not possessed it. And he could not have possessed it, had he not been in his divine nature and essence, One with the Father over all, God blessed forever I So, that here is a most decided evidence of the Godhead of Christ. John saw him as a Lamb, in the midst of the throne.

Secondly. He saw him stand as a Lamb that had been slain; that is, I apprehend, bearing on his glorified body, the marks of our redemption. As if fresh blood appeared upon him. A sweet assurance this, of the perpetual and everlasting efficacy of his sacrifice. He stood as if he had been slain, Reader! never lose sight

of this. The merits of Christ's blood are as powerful, and will remain so forever, as in the moment of his death. For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified, Hebrews 10:14 .

Thirdly. By the midst of the throne must be understood, that all power is his, and that he is there to administer all government. For whether we consider this throne as a throne of grace, or a throne of justice, or a throne of glory, Jesus in the midst of it, implies that his is the office of administration to all. Oh! what a thought for all his redeemed ones to keep in view and cherish, and especially when they are told, that Jesus is there for them, and that they are commanded at all times, and upon all occasions, to come boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need, Hebrews 4:16 .

Fourthly. Christ is further described in this scripture, as having seven horns and seven eyes, meaning, as seven is a perfect number, that Jesus hath a perfection of power, and a perfection of knowledge; with the one to hear up and strengthen all his redeemed against their enemies, and to destroy them; and with the other, having all knowledge, to have a clear apprehension of all their wants, and to provide for them. Reader! shall not you and I find comfort from this precious view, of the Lamb of God which John saw in vision? There can be no question of the efficacy of his blood, for he appeared and stood a Lamb, as it had been slain. There can be no question of his carrying on his High Priestly office for his Church; for he stood as advocates stand to plead, There can be no question of his success, in pleading his own merits and blood, for the marks of that blood were still upon him; and he Was in the midst of the throne, to show his triumphs and his own personal glory. There can be no doubt, but that he will bring all his redeemed up to himself in heaven, for he was seen in the midst, of the Abram, as if to say, he had taken possession of it in their name. Precious Lord Jesus! give me with the eye of faith, unceasingly to behold thee, in this most blessed view, and let my soul be warmed continually, with the conscious assurance, that I have redemption in thy blood. Then shall I centre all my confidence in the Lord, who is in the centre of the throne for his people.

Verses 8-10

(8) And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having everyone of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. (9) And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (10) And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

What a delightful view is here of Christ coming and taking the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne? None but Christ could do this? He is the only Mediator. Hence the Prophet described him, as coming alone, and of the people there were none with him, Isaiah 43:3 . And there is a sublime and beautiful account, of this engagement, and undertaking of Christ, by the Prophet, in which God the Father is the speaker. And their nobles shall he of themselves, and their Governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me, for who is this that engaged his heart, to approach unto me, saith the Lord, Jeremiah 30:21 . Hence we blessedly learn, that Christ, as Mediator, engaged his heart to this service, when he took the book of God's decrees, and undertook to perform them. And he hath performed them. And his redeemed are secured in the performance, and are accepted, sanctified, and everlastingly blessed in him!

The wonderful effect which followed, in Christ's taking the book is here shown. Instantly the song of redemption broke out in heaven; and the words they sung, are handed down to the Church upon earth. It is called a new song, because redemption-work was newly finished, when Christ on the cross declared it so, and returned to glory; and because it is a new song, which can only be truly sung from new, hearts, when renewed by the Holy Ghost. And Christ to whom this song is personally addressed, is supposed here as having lately finished redemption-work, and now returned to glory.

I pray the Reader to observe some of the very sweet and leading notes of this song. First. That it is Christ's Person, as Redeemer, who is here said to be worthy of praise. And how ought all his redeemed, conscious, by regeneration, of their union with him, and redemption by him, to make him the daily object of their love, and Obedience, and praise, as the Church in heaven do?

Secondly. That the song itself is redemption. It was for this Christ was slain, and the Church is redeemed to God by his blood. And this is so blessed a subject, that even angels, who have no concern in it themselves, yet join in it, in blessing Christ for it to others, Revelation 5:13 .

Thirdly. This redemption-song hath another great property of sweetness in it, namely, in that it is not only redeeming the Church from among men, but redeeming to God. So that, while redemption in Christ, and by Christ, it is from God our Father the mercy also originates and returns. Thou Wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood. From God as the first cause, and to God as the final end!

Fourthly. This redemption song hath another precious note in its, namely, in that it is personal and particular. For the redeemed in heaven, which are here represented as singing it, declare that Christ is worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof, because he was slain, and had redeemed them to God by his blood, out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation. Not every kindred, but out of every kindred. Hence personal and particular redemption.

Fifthly. Another delightful note swell the song of redemption; for Jesus hath not only redeemed them from among men, but made them unto our God (said they) kings and priests. Oh! the blessedness and royalty of Christ's kingdom, where all the family are ennobled and consecrated in Jesus.

Lastly. The song ends with the assurance, and we shall reign on the earth. Reader! do observe the expression! The triumphs of Christ's kingdom in the latter-day dispensation, upon the earth, according to this song, will be greater than their spirits now have in heaven; for otherwise they would not have noted it with such joy in their song. In the prospect of it, they seem to lose sight of their present state, and pleasingly anticipate their reign with Christ upon earth. And they chant it with a firmness of delight and certainty. And we shall reign on the earth Reader! what say you to this song of redemption? Hath God the Holy Ghost, by regeneration, put this new song in your mouth, even thanksgiving to our God! Can you sing it now? If so, surely when you come to join this heavenly host, you will sing it then?

Verses 11-14

(11) And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; (12) Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (13) 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, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. (14) And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth forever and ever.

Here we have another goodly company, but different from the former, ascribing a seven-fold praise to the Lamb. These are described as angels round the throne; yea, John saith, every creature that was in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, all joining together in ascribing glory and praise to the Lamb. In order for the right apprehension of this hymn of adoration, let it be considered, that the elect angels, who, though not redeemed by Christ, and have no union with Christ, yet, being created by Christ, and kept and confirmed in their state of holiness by Christ, worship, and adore, and obey Him. Their multitude it here described, to intimate what a glorious body they are And all the creatures of God are said to praise Christ, yea, the very enemies of Christ shall bow their knee before Him, and be made to acknowledge his greatness and his glory. The Oath of the Lord hath said it, yea, the Lord hath sworn it. I have sworn by myself, (the Lord saith,) the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear, Isaiah 45:23 . These things explain to us the nature of this last hymn, so differently worded from the former. I do not think it necessary to swell these pages, by enlarging on the several particulars here expressed. The harps, and golden vials, are perhaps an Allusion to the Temple service, under the old Jewish dispensation. But the musical instruments of the New Testament Church on earth, and of the New Jerusalem Church in heaven, can mean nothing more than the new-strung chords of the renewed spirit in Christ Jesus. To these, the whole Church of God, both in heaven and earth, will give their hearty Amen. Yea, as one of the sweet names of Christ, and as an ordinance in holy worship, all, And every regenerated child of God will bless himself in Christ, the Amen, see Isa 65:23 ; 1 Corinthians 14:16 .

OH! thou glorious Lord of the tribe of Judah, precious Jesus, thou art He whom thy brethren shalt praise, for thou wert alone worthy to take the book, and to loose the seals thereof. Truly, Almighty Lord, but for thy undertaking the Church must have wept forever! But, praised be God our Father, thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood. And praised be God the Spirit for giving thy Church this precious record, and handing it down to us with such gracious explainings. All heaven was filled with odours to our Jesus's praise. And all earth shall offer their praises to the Lamb! Lord, amidst the ten thousand times ten thousands, and thousands of thousands, let not my poor soul be silent, who oweth all its mercies to God and the Lamb! Feeble, and poor, and unworthy as it is, still, Lord, hear me when I say, Thou art worthy to receive all praise, for thou vast slain, and hast redeemed me to God by thy blood.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Revelation 5". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/revelation-5.html. 1828.
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