“And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it.”
Revelation 5:2-3 NLT
I wonder who the strong angel was. The experts in Biblical analysis think it might have been the angel Gabriel, a name that means “God is my strength”. There is also a reference to Gabriel in Daniel 9, when he brought an answer to Daniel’s prayers. But whoever it was, the strong angel (some versions say mighty angel) shouted out a challenging request, “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it”?
Why would a worthy person, or being, be required to open this scroll, breaking the seven seals in the process? Obviously it couldn’t just be anyone, because the scroll was still in the right hand of God. And John continued, pointing out that there was no-one worthy enough to “open the scroll and read it”. The search for a worthy person covered everywhere in creation – Heaven, the earth, and Sheol, the place under the earth. There was no other place where a worthy person could reside. But what was so important about this scroll that was going to require a worthy person to open it? It was obviously something of much consequence never seen before, and all those in Heaven were in a cliff-hanging position awaiting to discover what was written.
What is a worthy person? Worthy of what? We see the UK Honours List, that comes out periodically, awarding “worthy” people an honour, encapsulated in a medal, for people deemed “worthy” by their work perhaps for charity or some other good cause. In the workplace, we perhaps notice someone who is “worthy” of a pay rise because of their hard working ethic. But none of these “worthy” people got anywhere near what the strong angel was looking for.
We pilgrims achieve a certain amount of worthiness by default. Because of our unstinting faith in God through our journeys in life, we will one day receive our Heavenly reward, our crowns of righteousness. Perhaps this is a mention on the Heaven Honours List. We will hear the words of our Saviour, saying to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). But we don’t aspire to becoming “worthy”. That is the road to pride. We seek to please God through our faith. Hebrews 11:6 reads, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him“.
In the rest of this chapter in Revelation we will find out more about the real “Worthy”, and what happened when the scroll was opened. The writings on the scroll will shock us. But hopefully inspire us as well.
Dear God. We thank You for Your loving care and kindness. For Your grace and mercy. For Your guidance on our walk through life. You pick us up when we fall and bring us back to earth when we become too full of ourselves. What a loving Father You are. We praise You today. Amen.