In today’s passage we see Jesus sitting on His throne, scroll in hand. John goes on to tell us two very distinctive things about the scroll: it is written on both sides and it is sealed with seven seals. That is unique because ‘back in the day’ folks wrote on only one side of a scroll (mainly because the other side was too rough to write upon) and then only sealed it once. We see an example of such a scroll in Jeremiah 32:13-14.
“Then I charged Baruch before them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed (*one seal) and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days.”
The Exception to the Rule
If however the holder of that title deed somehow did not satisfy the requirements of the certificate, it was opened and the details of the new requirements were written on the back side of the scroll. Then it was rolled up and sealed with seven seals…The holder of the deed than had seven years to make good on the new covenant. By now, we should begin to see the significance of the ‘deed’ which Jesus holds in His hand.
The title deed to earth once belonged to Adam (and we know what he did). In his failure, he essentially forfeited his ownership to earth thus paving the way for the new deed-holder, satan, to take possession. The seven-sealed scroll that Jesus now holds is the original deed, rewritten on the reverse side, and by which He will ultimately reveal how ownership will be regained. Hallelujah!
The Lion of Judah
Most of us are familiar with Jesus being referred to as the Lion of Judah, but do you know where we first that title being used? In Genesis 49, Jacob is handing out some prophetic blessings upon his children and in verse nine and ten he says of Judah…
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? 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.
There is a lot more prophesy here than meets the eye. ‘Shiloh’ is another name for Messiah and the scepter refers to legal reign. Essentially the passage is saying that the rule of Israel will not be removed until Messiah comes.
That is why, in AD 12 (as the historian Josephus records), the Jews ‘freaked out’ (paraphrase mine). They were wailing and tearing their garments because the Romans had come into power and had taken away their scepter; or more accurately, their right to impose capitol punishment. They were upset for two reasons: they lost their authority ~and~ the Messiah had not yet come, therefore, the prophesy of their father Jacob was suddenly a sham…Or at least they thought it was.
What they failed to realize is that it was about this time a young Jesus had strayed from His parents and was found in the Temple preaching and astonishing His listeners. Shiloh had come and prophesy had been fulfilled. And interesting as it is, the Jews had to lose the reign at this time, because Jesus would be prophetically crucified on a cross, and crucifixion was not a manner by which the Jews imposed capitol punishment. Quite the prophesy!
Jesus is the Only Way and only He is worthy!