I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. 4 Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; 5 and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
As the vision continued, John saw in God’s right hand a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. A strong angel proclaimed with a loud voice asking who was worthy to break its seals. Given that the angel was strong, opening the seals to the book was not a matter of strength but of worthiness. No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was found who was able to open the book or look into it. John wept at this greatly, for no one was able to open the book to see what it said. He must have understood that what was inside was holy, righteous, true, and necessary. But one of the elders told him to stop weeping because Jesus, the Lion of Judah of the lineage of David, is worthy to open the book and its seven seals. He has overcome sin and death, and that is why He is worthy.
6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Now, between the elders and the living creatures and the throne of God there was a Lamb standing. It was clear that the Lamb appeared as if it had died, but it was alive, pointing to the death and resurrection of Christ. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, signifying the seven Spirits of God, representative of the Holy Spirit as He goes throughout the world and indwells His church. The horns themselves symbolize strength, and the eyes point to the ability of God to see every heart. The Lamb, Jesus Christ, came and took the book out of the hand of God. When He took the book, the living creatures and the elders fell down before Him and sang a new song. As they sang, the elders held a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. The use of the musical instruments and the fact that they bring the prayers of the saints seems to reflect their roles as heavenly priests likened to what is seen in 1 Chronicles 24-25 (see notes on Revelation 4:1-4 for more information). Christians for years will have prayed for Christ’s justice to come and for His return to come quickly so that they can go and be with Him. That time had come, and the prayers will not go unanswered.
9 And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
The new song that they sing is worship in spirit and in truth, for those singing duly ascribe worth to Jesus on account of a right understanding of the gospel. They understand that He made Himself low and died as a man yet fully God for the sins of the world. They praise Him for paying the price that only He could pay to redeem those who would put their faith in Him, people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. The gospel is an indiscriminating proclamation, for God wants people everywhere to repent. But they must choose the only way, finding their righteousness and eternal life in the shed blood of Jesus (John 14:6). Apart from Him, they cannot be made worthy to enter heaven, for He alone is worthy. But those who do embrace Christ as Savior will reign with Christ in heaven as part of His eternal kingdom. They will be His priests, servants in His dominion to enjoy Him forever and worship Him eternally. During the millennial kingdom, believers will reign with Christ (Revelation 1:6, 20:4). Even into the creation of the new heaven and earth, believers will reign with Christ. There is great hope for Christians in the life to come on account of Jesus. The gospel has always been a marvel for the angelic realm (1 Peter 1:12) including the cherubim, and they praise God for His wisdom to claim a people for Himself Who will by His mercy reign with Him forever. It is indeed a privilege to be adopted into Christ’s family and to be part of His eternal kingdom.
It must be noted that there is a difference in the translation in the KJV and the NASB. The NASB speaks of the living creatures and the elders speaking in the third person concerning those people that God has redeemed and how He has made them to be a kingdom. The KJV shows the elders praising God for redeeming “us,” and the fact that they refer to themselves in the first person points to their recognition as being numbered among the redeemed. This translation would give further credence to the idea that the twenty-four elders are indeed raptured believers. The bulk of the manuscript evidence has a first person pronoun in verse 9 and a third person pronoun in verse 10, except for the manuscript which the KJV is translated from. It has first person pronouns in both verses 9 and 10. Thus, it seems that the most sensible understanding of the passage is to see the living creatures bowing down and the elders praising God for their redemption as well as all those who would still come to Christ during the tribulation period. All believers will serve God as priests in Christ’s coming millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).
11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, 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 might and honor and glory and blessing.”
Then John saw myriads of voices from myriads of angels around the throne singing to Jesus with a loud voice along with the elders and living creatures. They declared with a loud unified voice that Jesus is worthy because He was slain. He was obedient to the point of death, and now the Father has highly exalted Him with the name that is above every name. He has received power, riches, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing, and believers are joint inheritors with Him of His kingdom (Romans 8:17). It is an incredible gift and something that should cause believers’ hearts to overflow with praise as they realize just how much Jesus has done for them.
13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
The creation itself groans for its redemption (Romans 8:22), for, if people won’t praise God, then the rocks will cry out (Luke 19:40). Finally, the creation realizes that its time to be redeemed and remade is near (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1), and every created thing in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and in the sea cries out in praise to God. In unison, the heavenly cry from all of creation is to God Who sits on the throne and to the Lamb. It is a cry of blessing, honor, glory, and dominion forever and ever. They proclaim praise that God is God, that Jesus is Lord, and that His reign is forever. This is a much anticipated time, and it has finally come. The creatures echoed the cry of the creation, saying “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.