Saturday, 7 November 2020
But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5
John, overcome with anguish at the unworthiness of all created beings, and their inability to open the scroll or even to look at it, is now given the greatest of encouragements. While standing there and mourning, it says, “But one of the elders said to me. Do not weep.”
The identity of the elder is not stated, and it is thus irrelevant. The various possibilities of who these elders are were evaluated in verse 4:4. Regardless as to his identity, he is aware of something that John needed to know. And what that is contrasts to the state of mournful emotion that John was overwhelmed with – “Do not weep.” If the unworthiness of those in creation to open the scroll is what brought John to his current state, then the words “Do not weep” must provide a remedy to that state.
And so, he conveys the most magnificent of words to the mournful apostle, beginning with, “Behold, the Lion.” The lion is used at times as a symbol of kingly authority in Scripture, such as in Ezekiel 32:2 (and elsewhere) –
“Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say to him:
‘You are like a young lion among the nations,
And you are like a monster in the seas,
Bursting forth in your rivers,
Troubling the waters with your feet,
And fouling their rivers.’”
Further, the Lord (Yehovah) of the Old Testament is equated to a lion in Jeremiah 25:38 (and elsewhere) –
“He has left His lair like the lion;
For their land is desolate
Because of the fierceness of the Oppressor,
And because of His fierce anger.”
But more to the point, the words of this elder are certainly tying the title ascribed here in Revelation to the prophecy made in Genesis 49 concerning the coming Messiah –
“Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” Genesis 49:10
Understanding this symbolism, the elder continues with, “of the tribe of Judah.” This clearly identifies the One being spoken of as the fulfillment of the prophecy from Genesis 49. It then ties in with other messianic prophecies seen in the Old Testament, such as the promise of an everlasting throne being bestowed upon the line of David in 2 Samuel 7. It is to Judah that these great promises were made. Thus, this Lion of the Tribe of Judah is the fulfillment of those prophecies.
He is further described as “the Root of David.” This term is wrongly applied by scholars to say that Christ is a root which springs out of David. This is incorrect. A root is the basis for what springs out of it. A seed first goes down into the soil to find anchoring and moisture. From there, the roots are established, and the plant then proceeds upward.
Elsewhere, the Messiah is called a Branch, signifying One who would come from a plant, extending out. This would be a descendant. In this case, however, the Root refers to One who comes before. Thus, not only does this One descend from Judah (and obviously from David who was given the kingly promises), but He is the Source of David – the Root. This is confirmed later in Revelation 22 where Christ says He is both “the Root and the Offspring of David.” It is what is referred to in Matthew 22 –
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”
They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:
44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’?
45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” 46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore. Matthew 22:41-46
Jesus was showing that not only was the Christ to come from David, but He is also the Creator of David. It is of this One that the elder then says that He “has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
Here, in these words, the fifth chapter of Revelation corresponds to the fifth letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet. The fifth letter, he, signifies “to reveal.” The opening of the scroll will reveal its contents. The One referred to by the elder “has prevailed.” The Greek word signifies to overcome, overpower, stand victorious. It is a word that implies the fighting of a battle. This One has been in a battle, and He has prevailed (see Revelation 3:21). In His prevailing, He has earned the right “to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
That which was sealed and inaccessible can now be made manifest. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been found worthy!
Life application: What appeared to be a loss for humanity has become a victory – but only because of the intervention of God. The incarnation of Jesus Christ was the only hope for man because all men are conceived in sin through Adam, receiving his fallen nature. All of the other beings in creation – be they spirit or animal – are in a different category, and they are unworthy to accomplish for man what man had to do.
And so, Jesus came through a woman (He is fully Man) and by the Holy Spirit (He is fully God). In this, He did not inherit Adam’s sin. He was qualified to accomplish the task set before Him. From there, the gospel shows that He was also capable of doing so. He was born sinless, and He lived without ever sinning. In this, He prevailed. He is the great King. He is JESUS!
Lord, when things seem out of control in our lives and we are at our moment of greatest sadness and despair, You are there and in complete control. What have we to fear when You have gained the victory? You not only conquered death and defeated the devil, but You have promised to include us in Your great plan for the ages to come. Praises belong to You alone, O God. Amen!