Peeling the Onion: Revelation 5

A Scroll and a Lamb

I hope you got started on your sketch yesterday of the throne and thrones, elders and beasts and laid down some background soundtrack of the heavenly court and worship -

Now we get the zoom in on the scroll with the seven seals – in the hand of the one on the throne and the lamb who can break the seals and read it and the crowd goes wild in a swelling audio!

This is pageantry. This is EPIC. You'll weep and wail -it'll be better than 'Cats' (as we’d say in the last century) the new element of the vision is the scroll –how big is it, how written back and front, how sealed with wax seals, in your vision?

One new figure is a mighty angel, Proclaiming loudly – A court functionary, near the throne? What’s the scale, the garb, the gender? Does she have wings in your vision? Another new figure is the Agnus Dei, Lamb of God. You may know from music or art – Google away! How does a lamb hold or open a scroll? You see from traditional images more elements, To be added later in the book

For now, adjust your vision: 7 horns, 7 eyes, for the seven spirits – not only wounded, having been slain, but mutant – what a scary sheep’s-head!

The tableau changes when the lamb takes the scroll: 4 beasts, 24 elders, each with harp, and incense bowls, filled with the prayers of the saints all prostrated, yet playing and singing

Let’s note v.9 on the way past – ‘Sacrifice’ and ‘bought with blood’ belong here,in the cultic context of ancient altars not in our commercial, or even medieval or mercantile culture v.9 also introduces the universal promise of the vision, Too often reduced to a selective, exclusive one: Every race, language, people, nation! v.10 - The role of that universal polyglot group, Is an elevated one of leadership, priests and kings, Not an exclusive one of insiders, keeping outsiders out And in case you hadn’t noticed that the scale of your vision was too small add 10,000 X 10,000 angels,singing around the throne

And in turn, They are simply a choir leading all creatures who sing praise from land, sea, and sky To the One on the throne, and to the Lamb.

This is not the stuff of print and reason, But of music and art, Vision and drama. Let’s not ‘explain’ it, even yet!

New Revised Standard Version

Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals;

2and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’

3And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it.

4And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

5Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’

6 Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

7He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne.

8When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

9They sing a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;

10 you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.’

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,

12singing with full voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!’

13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, ‘To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might for ever and ever!’

14And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the elders fell down and worshipped.

 

New Jerusalem Bible

Revelation c.5

1 I saw that in the right hand of the One sitting on the throne there was a scroll that was written on back and front and was sealed with seven seals.

2 Then I saw a powerful angel who called with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?'

3 But there was no one, in heaven or on the earth or under the earth, who was able to open the scroll and read it.

4 I wept bitterly because nobody could be found to open the scroll and read it,

5 but one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed, and so he will open the scroll and its seven seals.'

6 Then I saw, in the middle of the throne with its four living creatures and the circle of the elders, a Lamb standing that seemed to have been sacrificed; it had seven horns, and it had seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits that God has sent out over the whole world.

7 The Lamb came forward to take the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne,

8 and when he took it, the four living creatures prostrated themselves before him and with them the twenty-four elders; each one of them was holding a harp and had a golden bowl full of incense which are the prayers of the saints.

9 They sang a new hymn: You are worthy to take the scroll and to break its seals, because you were sacrificed, and with your blood you bought people for God of every race, language, people and nation

10 and made them a line of kings and priests for God, to rule the world.

11 In my vision, I heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the living creatures and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands,

12 loudly chanting: Worthy is the Lamb that was sacrificed to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing.

13 Then I heard all the living things in creation – everything that lives in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, crying: To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever and ever.

14 And the four living creatures said, 'Amen'; and the elders prostrated themselves to worship.