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Revelation 5

The Lamb Hath Prevailed

by David A. DePra

     If we were asked which book in the Bible we thought was the

most difficult to understand, it is almost certain that to a person

we'd say, "The Book of Revelation." And it IS difficult to

understand. Yet this is ironic, since the title of the book is the

REVELATION. The "apocalypse," as it is in the Greek, is a word

hardly indicative of a book which carries a hidden meaning. The

word means "an unveiling." Yet the book of Revelation is hard to

understand. For some, almost impossible.

     So why is it so hard to understand? Because of the symbolic

language. The book is John's account of a spiritual vision which

God gave him. It was a vision in which God was revealing to John

spiritual Truth -- yet revealing it by using familiar physical

symbols. In the book of Revelation we find used as symbols

almost everything under the sun. But we must never lose sight of

the fact that they ARE symbols. They are not to be taken literally.

     Unfortunately, this has been forgotten over the last 150 years.

Since the latter half of the 19th century, a more literal interpretation

of the book of Revelation has become the norm. It has become so

much the norm that it is now taught at many seminaries, and by

many prophecy teachers. Many bibles even have notes which

interpret this book along literal lines. One hardly dares to question

what has become accepted and unquestioned.

     Yet ask: How would we read the book of Revelation if we had

never been told to take it literally? How would we read it if we had

never before heard a single interpretation? Would we come to

identify the symbols God uses in this book the way we identify

them today? Would we eventually construct a prophetic time-line

like those constructed over the last 150 years? Or would we, as we

sought God for the Truth about this book, come to see a much

different message?

     One thing is for sure: This book is THE revelation of Jesus

Christ. It is supposed to unveil HIM. And God didn't give it to us

for the purpose of refusing to give us understanding about it. He

must surely want us to understand the message therein.

     Chapter 5 is a pivital chapter to understanding that revelation.

Contained in chapter 5 is the prelude to all that will follow in the

book. It is therefore incumbent that we grasp what is being said in

that chapter if we are going to build upon a proper foundation.

The Book and the Seals

     The last verses of chapter 4 brings us to the throne of God. In

his vision, John describes the throne of God and all that surrounds

it. Chapter 4 ends with this expression of worship from the

"twenty-four elders:"

And cast their crowns before the throne saying, "Thou are

worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power. For

Thou hast crated all things, and for Thy pleasure they are,

and were, created." (Rev. 4:10-11)

     Now to Chapter 5. It begins with a focus upon "He that sat

upon the throne." There was something in His right hand.

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. (Rev. 5:1)

     Now right here we MUST establish two things. If we miss them,

we are going to miss the meaning, not only of this fifth chapter, but

of the entire book of Revelation.

     First, we MUST see that the book described originates in the

hand of God. It BELONGS to God. It is in His right hand -- the

hand of authority and ownership. Thus, all that is in the book is

OF God.

     This tells us something vital. It tells us that later, when the

Lamb takes the book out of the hand of God, and begins to strip

off it's seals -- it tells us that what comes forth out of the book

are the things of God.

     This must be so. Nothing else is possible. This book came

directly from the hand of Almighty God as He sat on His throne. It

passed directly from the hand of the Father into the hand of the

Lamb. The Lamb then began to strip off the seals. Thus, all that

comes forth out of the book are those things which the Father

gave the Son, and which the Son, in turn, has released through

His Redemptive work.

     This is really what the book of Revelation is all about. The book

of Revelation is a revelation of the Christ in His Redemptive work

for us. It is this Redemptive work which is revealed and finished

by Christ through His breaking of the seals.

     The second thing we must see is that the rest of the book of

Revelation, from this point on, is merely an unfolding and releasing

of what is in the book which Jesus took from the hand of the

Father. The stripping off of the seven seals -- and the releasing

of what was within -- comprise the remainder of John's vision.

     Many commentators have always agreed with this Truth. The

seven seals are the symbols which contain ALL the remaining

symbols in John's vision. The seventh SEAL, for example,

contains the seven TRUMPETS. The seventh trumpet contains the

seven last plagues. There is a pyramid-like structure which God

uses in His pattern. But when all is said and done, all of these

come back to this book. ALL that John saw in his vision from this

point forward is nothing more than what happened when the Lamb

of God broke the seven seals. His vision is of what was released

from the book -- as the seals are broken. And as we shall see,

what is released is His Redemptive victory through Christ.

The Truth Within

     The book was written within and on the backside. In other

words, there were some things in the book which John could see

because they were written on the backside. But there were others

which he could not see, because they were within. Yet God made

him to know that they were there, presently hidden and bound up.

     Herein we see something about the Truth God has for us.

None of it is written "on the front." In other words, because of our

spiritual condition, the Truth is somewhat obscure to us. Even the

most attainable Truth is written, not on the "front" of the book, but

on the "back." God Himself must take the initiative to "turn it

around" for us to be able to see it. Yet we still don't have it. The

book is still in God's hand.

     This symbolizes one level of Truth -- that which we can at

least see is there. God, as it were, "holds it up to us" in His hand.

There isn't much we can do with it. But it does get us interested in

what is inside of the rest of the book.

      All the rest of the Truth God has in inside the book. It is NOT

attainable to us at all. We know nothing of it -- but simply that it

is there, sealed away from us. The only way in which we can

receive it is if the Lamb breaks the seals. Then it is able to come

forth to us.

     Here we see a wonderful picture of God's grace through Jesus

Christ. In the hand of God is all that God wants to give us. Yet

despite knowing, deep-down inside, that God has what we need,

we cannot receive the Truth. It is sealed away from us. Yet God is

going to release these things to us through Christ. He is going to

give what is in the book to us solely by His grace.

     God uses a written book as His symbol here because it typifies

the fact that the Truth is to become articulated -- rather than

remain merely an abstract doctrine. We are to become written

epistles, read by all men, unto the glory of God. That which God

has for us in the book is eternal and of another realm. Yet here, in

this realm, there is to come an articulation of this Truth which will

be a witness unto God.

The Seals

     The book is "sealed with seven seals." Now notice what this

means. It is very important. The SEALS are what are keeping the

contents of the book from us. Right? Sure. If a book is sealed

with seven seals, then the seals are what shut up the contents of

the book and make those contents unaccessable to us. Unless

the seals are broken, the contents of the book cannot come forth

to us.

     Now if the seals are what keep the contents of the book from

us, and the contents of the book are the things of God -- then it

is obvious what God is revealing in this passage. The seals are

that which keep us from the things of God.

     But what keeps us from the things of God? Only one thing:

The sin nature. This fallen creation. THAT is what the seals are.

For it is what Jesus came to remove so that we could receive what

God has for us.

     How different this is from what is often taught about this

passage! So often we are told that the seals are the things which

are described in the subsequent chapters. We are told, for

instance, that the first seal is the white horse, the second seal is

the red horse, etc. We then are told that these symbolize world

events which are yet to come. But as we are seeing, this just isn't

the Truth. The seals are not the things described in chapter 6 and

beyond. No. Rather, the seals are that which bind up the book

-- the book which holds these things and keeps them from

coming forth.

     We must see this. The seals are not the white horse, red horse,

etc. The seals are what kept those things IN the book; kept them

from being released forth. Furthermore, those things which come

forth are NOT the work of the Devil. They are from the hand of

God! They are from the book which God Himself held in His right

hand. They are therefore His redemptive work in Jesus Christ.

No Man Could be Found

     The fact that the contents of the book -- those things which

come forth when the seals are broken -- are redemptive things,

is confirmed by the next verses. Note the tone and magnitude

attached to bringing forth the contents of the book.

And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who

is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth,

was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I

wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and

to read the book, neither to look thereon. (5:2-4)

     Notice that no man could loose the seals. No one could break

them and release that which was in the book. And because of

that, John wept. He grieved because no man could so much as

read what was in the book, let alone release the contents. This

clearly illustrates that what was about to come forth out of the

book was good, wonderful, and redemptive. It was a thing to cry

over should these things be kept in the book, bound up by the


     If you read chapters 6 and onward, and read what happens

when the seals are broken, and then listen to traditional

interpretation of these passages, you will not conclude that what is

happening is good. You will be led to believe that what comes

forth is terrible. But not so, according to John. This book which

had been in the hand of God, and which was about to be given to

the Lamb, contained such riches that John cried at the thought

that no one could bring forth it's contents. Those things which

came forth were therefore GOOD things; Godly things.

     It is so difficult to divorce ourselves from Biblical interpretations

which are so traditional, and have been repeated over and over to

the point where you can barely read a passage without

interpreting it that way. This is especially so with regard to

prophecy. In this day and age, few question the traditional

interpretation of end-time prophecy. Even fewer consider that all

of it could be completely wrong. But if we really READ what it is

saying in chapters such as this one in Revelation, we may find that

it contains direction as to the true message God is giving us.

The Lamb is Able

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. (5:5)

     After John wept because no man could be found to loose the

seals, he was comforted. He was told that the Lamb was able.

And WHY was He able? Because He "hath prevailed."

     Here we begin to get a clue as to what God is revealing in this

chapter through the symbol of the seals and the book. If the

victory of the Lamb is what made it possible for Him to break the

seals, then are not the seals the very thing He overcame by His

redemptive victory? And are not the contents of the book what He

WON through that victory -- which is now released upon us --


     Absolutely. The seals stand for all that stood between God and

man -- all the sin nature and fallen creation. THAT is what

"sealed" away everything which God had for us. Jesus, "hath

prevailed to open the book" by loosing these seals -- by

overcoming through death and resurrection -- all that sin nature

and flesh. He loosed these seals of sin and death, and released

life for us through His Redemption.

     Note the redemptive motives of God. The Lamb of God takes

the initiative to loose the seals so that Redemption can be

released unto us. WE do nothing but believe and receive. We

can't loose the seals, and we can't even look within the book. All

we can do is allow Jesus Christ to do it for us by grace alone.

Lion and Lamb

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. (5:6)

     The moment after John was told the Lion "hath prevailed," he

was shown Christ as a LAMB. This is so symbolic. Christ is a Lion

in His victory. But He had to become a Lamb TO win it. He had to

become the Lamb of God who bears the sin of the world.

     The "Lamb, as it had been slain" is Christ, the perfect man,

having laid down His life to bear the sin of the world. But in order

to get to that point, Christ had to overcome all that would keep

Him from the Cross. He had to qualify to die. This too was a great

part of His victory over the "seals."

Spontaneous Worship

And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him

that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book,

the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before

the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials

full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 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; And hast made us unto our

God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.


     Imagine the magnitude of what Jesus did. The moment He

takes the book out of the right hand of God, it evokes worship.

This is not mere show. It is spontaneous worship -- the result of

experiencing something wonderfully beyond those who witnessed


     Have we really any grasp of the Redemption? Do we realize

what has happened through sin? And how evil it has been for

these past ages? Have we any sense that God Himself took sin

upon Himself, and in doing so, released to His creation all that He

has desired?

     We can barely take what little we know about such things. Yet,

in the book of Revelation, it is all there. It is clothed in language

amd symbolism which carries spiritual Truth about these

wonderful things.

     One of the results of what Jesus did is shown in verse 10.

Because of His victory, we too can sit with Him on His throne. We

can become kings and priests and reign over "this" earth.

Worthy is the Lamb

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; 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.

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 for ever and ever. And the four beasts

said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and

worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. (5:11-14)

     Here we see all creation praising Jesus Christ. We see an

eternal picture of the relationship between the redeemed and the


     Isn't it interesting that virtually every time God pictures heaven,

there is spontaneous worship going on? This is what happens

when we see God. We cannot help ourselves. We fall down in

utter adoration.

     Revelation 5 is a pivotal chapter in the book of Revelation. It

reveals to us that the rest of the book is nothing more then the

description of the spiritual impact which Jesus' redemption has

upon mankind -- both upon those who receive it and reject it. It

likewise shows the impact which this Redemption has upon the

spiritual forces at work behind the scenes. Jesus, the Lamb of

God, has prevailed. He has broken the seals, and in doing so, has

released upon us all that God intends for us now, and throughout

the ages to come.

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