Jesus Is King (Rev. 5:1–10)
It may come as a surprise that Jesus, who is God, actually gained authority after the Resurrection, becoming the King of this world. Right before He went to the cross He said, “ ‘Now the prince of this world will be driven out’ ” (John 12:31, NIV). After the Resurrection, Jesus said, “ ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’ ” (Matt. 28:18, NIV). When God created the earth, He gave its authority to Adam, but when Adam sinned, that authority was transferred to Satan, who has held the whole world under his rule of sin and death (Luke 4:6). Jesus, who never sinned and was resurrected from the dead, conquered Satan and took back the authority that Adam lost.
Thanks to Revelation we can see what happened when He took His throne in heaven and what has been happening since.
Were it not for the book of Revelation, the last time we would see Jesus would be in the book of Acts when He was taken up into heaven. Thanks to Revelation we can see what happened when He took His throne in heaven and what has been happening since. Revelation 5 records the wondrous events taking place in heaven when Jesus is given authority and power after the Resurrection. Jesus, who lived as a tempted human being and can relate to the human experience of death, is now uniquely qualified to be our Judge; because of His qualification and authority, Revelation says that He was found worthy to “ ‘take the scroll and to open its seals’ ” (Rev. 5:9, NIV).
Jesus Is a Man of Action (1 Kings 16:11; Acts 1; 2)
What is this mysterious scroll with its seals that Jesus opens? One thing we know is that Jesus begins to open the scroll’s seals immediately after His resurrection when He sits down on His throne as King. When we look at the Old Testament, we see that the moment a king took the throne, he began to execute judgment. This was a time to take action and exercise his newly given authority. One example is in 1 Kings 16:11: “As soon as he began to reign and was seated on the throne, he killed off Baasha’s whole family” (NIV). Similar instances are repeated throughout the history of the kings of Israel and Judah in the Old Testament, so it should come as no surprise that Jesus takes immediate action upon receiving His new role as King of this world. Upon coronation, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit and works for the salvation of humanity in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1; 2).
Jesus Is Judge (Lev. 26:21–26; Isa. 10:5, 6; Rev. 6:1–8)
Judgment comes first to the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17). When we look at what happens on earth as Jesus opens the first four seals, we see language that calls to mind the judgments that would come upon the people of God if they were unfaithful to His covenant. The white horse of the first seal represents the success of the gospel during the apostolic movement, but progressively declines through the subsequent seals.
The covenant curses are spelled out in Leviticus 26:21–26. Here we see that if God’s people were unfaithful to Him, they would suffer from famine, sword, plagues, and wild beasts. These are the very same afflictions that occurred on earth when Jesus opened the first four seals in heaven. God has a hedge of protection around His children, but we see in Scripture that when the children of Israel went astray, God would remove this protection and allow other nations to afflict them in order to lead them to repentance and faith (Lev. 26:23).
Jesus Is an Avenger (Zech. 1:15; Rev. 6:9–11)
Another common scenario we see in the Old Testament is that once the nations God has used to bring judgment on His people have overstepped their bounds, God judges those same nations for being too violent or oppressive: “ ‘And I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment’ ” (Zech. 1:15, NIV). In the opening of the fifth seal, Revelation 6:10 records the cry of martyrs asking, “ ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ ” (NIV). God’s martyrs call for justice for how they have been brutalized, just as Abel’s blood figuratively cried from the ground. The time has come for God to vindicate His people through the judgment. The white robes reveal what their verdicts are. Ultimately, the sixth seal then records God’s judgment of the nations and the second coming of Christ.
Jesus Is Savior (Rom. 8:37; Gal. 3:13)
Jesus Christ is uniquely fit to be Judge because He has taken on all of the curses that God said would befall those who break His law. Jesus not only took our curse but was tempted and overcame, even overcoming the grave. Because of this, He can relate intimately with our pains while giving us power to overcome. Jesus promised that those who overcome as He overcame will sit on His throne with Him. So we can look at every trial as an opportunity for God to make us an overcomer and fit us for the throne!
1. Can you think of a trial that you have faced lately? How can God use it to make you an overcomer in the same way that Jesus overcame?
2. What is something Jesus overcame that inspires you?
3. What are sources of encouragement that we can draw on from seeing that Jesus is calling His people to repentance through the trials they face?
4. What are some of the curses that Jesus took on our behalf as recorded in Leviticus 26:21–26?