Read: Revelation 4:1 - 8:1 (ESV). Re-read in the English Standard Version for new insights and questions.
Reflect: Who can open this scroll? becomes the burning question. What is so important about this scroll? For those in John’s day, the suspense would have raised their blood pressure, creating the same anxiety that is demonstrated in Chapter 5. The reason for this is simply because when they first requested a king to rule over them, the primary function was for the king to read the scroll that contained the law—most likely the book of Deuteronomy. In the case of the first king—Saul—that did not go well. Under David however, the authority was firmly established. Stefanovic writes:
To the people, the possession of the covenant scroll and the ability to open and read it demonstrated the king’s right to rule and judge the nation (p. 71).
As you may recall, the journey of the kings with regard to the scroll did not proceed smoothly. Some lost the scroll. Some ignored it; some tried to follow it. It was widely understood that after the exile, the Jews had no king and therefore the scroll was sealed (Isaiah 8:16) because of their disobedience. This is why there were looking for their Messiah to be a king from the line of David. In particular, they wanted one who could open the scroll. When Jesus took hold of the scroll, the world was never going to be the same. Stefanovic writes:
Sending the Holy Spirit in connection with Christ’s exaltation to the heavenly throne is significant. According to John 7:39, the Holy Spirit “was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” However, in His Pentecost sermon, Peter explained that the coming of the Holy Spirit to earth was the result of Christ’s exaltation on the heavenly throne at the right hand of God (Acts 2:32–36). The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was, thus, heaven’s message that Jesus had appeared before the Father and that His sacrifice had been accepted on behalf of humanity. After this, He was inaugurated into His post-Calvary ministry as our King and Priest. He is now our mediator in the heavenly sanctuary, and through Him, we fallen humans have access to God (p. 75).
Recalibrate: What radical choice is Jesus calling you to consider?
Respond: Pray for courage.
Research: Read one of the suggested books from the bibliography on these chapters.