The image in chapter five of God holding the scroll that no one in heaven or on earth was worthy to open is certainly a symbol of the fulfillment of God’s plan for the redemption of man and our salvation. Jesus is the only one that could fill that post. The image of the Lamb who is the Lion of Judah (a reference to Genesis 49:9) from the root of David all point back to Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1, 10, Isaiah 53:4-7). Taking the scroll from the hand of God is clearly symbolic of Jesus, the Lamb, having been crucified, thereby fulfilling God’s plan and taking His place there with God, having proved himself worthy to be praised and worshiped as God was in the previous chapter (verses 9-11).
Chapter six begins to thicken the imagery in great detail. The interpretation of the seven seals has spawned so much commentary that one could read for hours upon hours about these 17 verses, and still come away unsure about what they mean. It is highly likely that some of this imagery had more definite meaning to the first century Christians for whom it was originally written. To understand it better ourselves, we must put ourselves, as much as we can, in their place.
Most scholars place the date of the writing of this book in the mid-90’s. If the mid-90’s estimate is correct, it would mean that Rome had destroyed Jerusalem some twenty years ago. Many of those in these churches could have had relatives that were killed in the blood bath that occurred. And make no mistake, it was a blood bath. Of the siege, Josephus wrote that “the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews, are not so considerable as they were.” Christians had become a scattered and sparse group of people who were reviled and persecuted.But what events would “soon take place” that would be as significant as the destruction of Jerusalem?
Nero began his persecution in 64 A.D.; and one need only read the writings of Tacitus – Annals (XV.44) to get a glimpse of the brutality of that time. Again, it is contrary to the thinking of most scholars, but some have made a very good case that the book was written in the years preceding the Roman siege of Jerusalem – possibly the mid-sixties. This fits much better with the promise of Revelation 1:1-3 that the time of God’s judgment is near – near to the first century Christians to which it was written (see this previous blog post for more on that).
The first seal that is opened is commonly thought to represent Jesus as the conqueror. The second seal has a reference to what we must surmise as war. then we have saints crying out as to who will avenge their blood. Then an earthquake and everyone hiding because the wrath of the Lord is coming. Clearly, the message to Christians is that there will be a day of reckoning for those who have turned their hands against the Lord’s people.
Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke
Rev 3, Rev 4, Rev 5, Rev 6, Rev 7
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.
All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.