(5.2)    And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?


1.   From what we know of God’s plan and purpose as it is revealed in the Bible, it is God’s purpose to open the book and to redeem His earth from sin.


2.   The Bible does not indicate who this angel is, but he is very powerful and appears to have great authority. When powerful angels are mentioned in God’s Word, which two most readily come to your mind? Right. Michael and Gabriel.


3.   The question asked by this angel, proclaimed to the farthest reaches of the universe and God’s creation, by this angel who may or may not be either Michael or Gabriel, is “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?


4.   Who has the authority, who has the power to open the book and to loose the seals? Allow me to paraphrase. I think what is meant is, “Who has the qualifications required to be a redeemer?” Those qualifications are kinship, willingness, and ability.


(5.3)    And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.


1.   My friends, the search will be conducted throughout the universe. Heaven, earth, and under the earth, will all be scanned and examined to find a man qualified to redeem the earth. But no man will be found who meets the qualifications.


2.   You see, the redeemer must be a man to be a kinsman to humanity, since the human race occupies the earth. But of all men, none are both able to redeem and willing to redeem. Indeed, none will be found able to redeem the land.


3.   As a matter of fact, not only will there be no one qualified to open the book by breaking the seals, neither will there be any qualified to look at what is written in the book after it is opened.


(5.4)    And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.


1.   Why do you think John wept so much at this point? Was he a weakling? No. Remember, this old man has already been boiled in oil for Jesus’ sake, according to traditional accounts. He has already been beaten for Jesus’ sake. He has already been persecuted for most of his adult life for Jesus’ sake. No, he is no cry baby. Only something very important could move this man to tears.


2.   John was moved to tears because he was impressed by man’s complete inability to help himself in this enterprise, man’s utter helplessness and hopelessness. Man cannot save himself. He is utterly depraved, and this redemption of the earth is just one small part of God’s overall plan of salvation. John also wept and cried out aloud (which is what this particular word means) because he understood, far more than we, how very important it is for God to redeem back the promised land given to the nation of Israel.


3.   Remember folks, John was a Jewish man. Being a Jewish believer, he appreciated the importance of the promised land in the plan and purpose of God. You see, for God’s plan of salvation to be fully worked out, God’s covenant with Abraham must be fulfilled. And for the Abrahamic Covenant to be fulfilled, the land must be returned to the Jewish people to whom God promised it, and it must be returned purified from sin.


4.   Realizing that a kinsman could not be found who could fulfill this aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant, John had a typically human response to what appeared to be a hopeless situation. He broke down and cried. There was no man to open the book, to read the book, or ever to look upon the book.


5.   Let me read some comments by Lehman Strauss: “But how can there be weeping in Heaven? Whatever the correct answer is to this question, it certainly is not revealed fully in the Scriptures. John wept because no man was found worthy to open the scroll, and I only assume that the scroll, unlifted and unopened, brought forth from God’s servant tears of concern and compassion over an inheritance unredeemed. Little wonder he gave way to grief, and tears flooded his eyes! Present day Christianity seems to show little concern over the very thing which caused John to weep. John knew that the finding of a redeemer and the opening of the scroll was necessary before many prophecies of the Old Testament could be fulfilled. There remained to be fulfilled the retribution of the wicked, the restoration of Israel to Palestine, and the reign of Christ over all the earth. These and other prophecies could not be fulfilled as long as the scroll remained sealed.


“There was a time in the life and ministry of our Lord when He wept. John wept, and so he might. Jeremiah wept over the fallen city of Jerusalem. When did you and I weep over a world in spiritual darkness, from which men are passing one by one into an eternal eclipse, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth? John wept audibly, not because of any weakness, but because of deep concern. Someone has said, ‘Without tears the Revelation was not written; neither without tears can it be understood.’”[1]

[1] Lehman Strauss, The Book Of The Revelation, (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1963), pages 143-144.

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