1Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; 2and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" 3And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. 4And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."
6Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. 8When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9They sing a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
10you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
and they will reign on earth."
11Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12singing with full voice,
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!"
13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
"To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might
forever and ever!"
14And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the elders fell down and worshiped.
Easter is 50 Days – Revelation Concludes the Bible
• Easter 2 blog from last Sunday
As I blogged last week, Revelation reveals in coded insider language how empires everywhere operate, but more urgently and beyond graciously, this last book of the biblical canon reveals in Pastor Scott Hoezee's apt turn of phrase "another whole world" from the default Roman or other empire that objectifies life as it reigns and rains death.
As we practice resurrection for all seven Sundays and fifty days of Easter in this lectionary year C – Luke's year – the second reading for today and subsequent weeks moves toward the last page of the bible with its vision of God bringing heaven to earth, God living among us (notice an echo of John's gospel) and the reality of the new City of God (Jerusalem in this text) with its river of life and healing trees along the riverbank.
…comes after the author John's pastoral letters to seven churches. The number "Seven" of completion or perfection is so prominent throughout, we can consider Revelation a book of sevens (and not, not 666). As I mentioned last week, this John is not the beloved apostle John whose community brought us the fourth gospel. Strong tradition says Rome had exiled John the revelator to the prison island of Patmos; more recent scholarship suggests he may have been an itinerant preacher, with Patmos a regular stop on his circuit.
After verse 5, the author no longer portrays Jesus as the conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, but as Lamb whose death – and resurrection – has redeemed all creation. As a kind of lead-in to the rest of the book that culminates with the fullness of the New Creation, this chapter features a symphony of praise, acclaim, blessings, and amens from heavenly angels with "every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea."
Referencing Psalms and Isaiah that also report exuberant, joy-filled, non-human creation, OT specialist Walter Brueggemann reminds us, "Of course trees sing! No more clear-cutting! Of course oceans roar! No more pollution!" Each of us has our own list of where, what, and who on earth we're most passionate about restoring, redeeming—sometimes simply maintaining so it doesn't become extinct. BTW, a myriad is 10,000. Citizens and colonials were expected to acclaim the Roman emperor "Worthy" whenever he came into town, making Worthy is the Lamb speech that subverts empire and threatens the status quo.
You may recognize Handel's Messiah, familiar hymns, and parts of the Sunday liturgy in this passage.
Over the next four Sundays we'll continue to discuss interpreting Revelation as a roadmap for living well and faithfully in this other "whole world" of a redeemed creation in spite of inescapable empire.