Who Will Wipe Away the Tears

(Sermon Notes) By Warren Zehrung 7/4/2020

Revelation 1:1  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 

The beloved apostle John records for us what he experienced: In Revelation 3 the message to the Churches is given.

Revelation 3:22  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. 

Then, John is invited into heaven for a closer look:

Revelation 4:1  After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither [into heaven], and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 

We begin with the apostle John being invited to the very throne of God the Father in heaven.

Revelation 4:2  And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. [The Most High God]

Twenty-four elders and four living creatures surround the throne.

Revelation 4:4  And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 

In chapter 4, John refers to the throne twelve times, and he mentions it another five times in chapter 5, indicating that the throne is a dominant element in this vision. A throne is often used as a symbol of judgment or as a representation of ruling legal authority. Thus, John, “In the spirit” saw God about to act in judgment and rulership, and it revolves around this sealed scroll.

Revelation 4:6  And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind. 

Revelation 4:8  And the four living creatures had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. 

As Revelation 4 closes, John describes the twenty-four elders prostrating themselves before God and saying something very significant:

Revelation 4:11  Thou art worthy, O Lord, [this is Lord God Almighty] to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. 

God the Father created all things by and through Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16-17). It is important that we understand that God the Father created everything by Jesus Christ. There is no chapter break – continuing John says:

Revelation 5:1  And I saw in the right hand of Him [God the Father] that sat on the throne a book [biblion – scroll] written within and on the backside, [both sides of the parchment – front and back] sealed with seven seals. 

The seven seals on the scroll are introduced here – and John will expound on then later – in great detail in subsequent chapters. Then the question is asked: Who is worthy?

Revelation 5:2  And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy [axios – suitable] to open the book [biblion – scroll], and to loose the seals thereof? 

Revelation 5:3  And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book[biblion – scroll], neither to look thereon. 

Why? Because all men are sinners – none are worthy to open the scroll – they’ve lost their credibility. Who, then is worthy to bring judgment upon all the earth, or to rule the world? All men have done damage to God’s creation. All men come far short because they are not righteous.

Romans 10:3 “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Who, then has submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God? Men cannot submit themselves unto the righteousness of God because of their excessive interest in themselves.

Revelation 5:4  And I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and to read the book [biblion – scroll], neither to look thereon. 

What was John thinking as he was carried to heaven in vision? Why does the apostle John “weep much”? Was he emotionally overwrought because his desire to see the scroll’s contents was denied, or is there more to it? Was John simply disappointed that Jesus had not come in his lifetime?

John 21:23  Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that [John] should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you? 

But that is not why John wept much.

Who Will Wipe Away the Tears?

John’s weeping signifies something momentous taking place. John, probably in his 90s at this point, had already seen and experienced extraordinary things. Given the amount of time God had worked with him, he must have attained a level of spiritual maturity of the highest order. Yet, this faithful servant—staunch of character—sobbed over what was at stake.

Something shook him to the core—something far beyond mere disappointment over not having a prophecy opened. John realized that no man was worthy or able to right all the injustices that have taken place on God’s green earth.

Brethren, some of you may have seen the television interview this week with an extremely emotional man. As he tried to speak, he cried, wept, sobbed uncontrollably, and agonized bitterly over the death of his son. His pain and emptiness in the loss of a dear loved one rendered him overwhelmed and writhing in agony. He hardly got the words out, “All I know is my son is dead.”

He publicly pleaded for answers. “They need to come talk to me and somebody needs to come tell me something, because I still don’t know anything. Somebody needs to come to my house and knock on my door and tell me something. All I know is my son got killed up there. That’s my son, and I loved him.”

He had not been contacted officially by anyone. The father took some solace in knowing that he often told the boy that he loved him—and he broke down in anguish. No one had called to notify him of his son’s death – not the mayor, not the hospital, not even the police department, they never came.

The President called the grieving father on the day of the funeral – to offer his personal condolences and support. When someone has just lost a loved one – WORDS offer little comfort – though they are intended to provide some measure of peace and strength. Brethren, please understand this:

There is a day coming when all the tears will cease flowing.

Our patriarch Jacob could not be comforted when he was lied to by his own sons: Jacob was led to believe by them that Joseph had been killed.

Genesis 37:33  And [Jacob] knew [Joseph’s bloody coat], and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast has devoured him [he deduced]; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. [what else could he surmise?]

Genesis 37:34  And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. 

It is exactly like the news story this week of a man who could not be comforted in the death of his son.

Genesis 37:35  And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for [Joseph]. 

Jesus too, wept when He contemplated the horror that would befall Jerusalem – though He fully knew the ultimate salvation of the City. (Luke 13:34–35, Luke 19:41-44, Matthew 23:36-38).

The scene is a sad one. Jesus came near the city of Jerusalem, and wept over it. Jerusalem, the holy city, was built on Abraham’s Mount Moriah and David’s Mount Zion. Jerusalem’s foundation rests upon the Salem of Melchizedek. It was made the capital of Israel during the reign of King David. Jerusalem was rebuilt by a remnant of the Jews under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. One day soon, Jerusalem will be the capital city of the world and the center of God’s Kingdom on earth!

As the day of the crucifixion approached, Jesus wept over the city because He knew of its terrible fate in the Tribulation. Brethren, in spite of well-wishes, the huge void in the heart of a parent who has lost a child, remains.

There are no answers, as no one, or nothing can bring a loved one back and make things right – except for God’s promise of the hoped-for resurrection. Without that glorious expectation of eternal life, hopelessness abides.

So, John was asking himself this question when he had gone up to heaven and saw in the right hand of God the scroll that would usher in Judgment and righteous rule – but NO ONE was found worthy to bring Judgment and Righteous rule.

Who will bring justice? How can those who have suffered great loss ever be comforted? Where will judgment arise? Who can chasten the guilty and set things right?

The father who lost his son cannot be comforted right now. Nothing can take away the hurt – short of having his living son – alive in his arms. We, in God’s Church, know that he will be united with his loved-one one day because God has said, “I will wipe away every tear.” For now, we live in an evil and unjust world.

From whence will Godly judgment arise?

In today’s sermon we are exploring why the beloved apostle John also wept much – agonizing bitterly (Revelation 5:4). John was sighing and crying, moaning and groaning for someone worthy, to not only vanquish evil, but who would be able to set in motion events which would finally lead to the vindication of just men.

John knew that the judgment of the seven seals needed to be opened and unleashed against wicked men so that the equity and justice of the Kingdom of God might be established on earth.

That is the way the beloved apostle John felt because no one was found worthy to open the scroll that would right the wrongs and bring equity and justice to all who had ever lived.

Why did the fact that there was no one worthy to open those scrolls upset John to the point where he heart wrenchingly agonized so bitterly – like the man who had just lost his irreplaceable son? John knew the Scriptures very, very well. He knew what the seven scrolls were indicative of.

They indicated that God’s wrath would be poured out on wicked and sinful mankind. The seven scrolls were seven measures of retribution and judgment that would come on a world of iniquity. John knew the prophecies of Daniel well:

Daniel had had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters (Daniel 7:1).  In Daniel’s vision, worldly thrones are cast down, making way for the Ancient of Days takes His throne, and books are opened (Daniel 7:9-10). Just like we find in the Book of Revelation.

The significant theme in Daniel 7 is that of one showing the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven, given dominion, glory, and a kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14, 27).

That is the same thing that the closed scrolls of Revelation 5 will reveal when opened – the Judgment on this world by Jesus Christ, followed by dominion, glory, and the Kingdom of God being established.

In Revelation, John sees the Ancient of Days likewise seated on a throne. Remembering Daniel’s vision, John knows that the court’s purpose is to remove the dominion of man from the earth, and the satanic power behind world rulers, and to give the Kingdom to the Saints of the Most High under the Son of Man—Jesus Christ.

More scrolls in Prophecy

Several passages can provide insight into this scene that John witnesses in heaven. Obviously, the very old apostle, John, was familiar with the Scriptures, so when he saw this vision of God’s throne, the One who sat on it, and a sealed scroll, several writings of the prophets probably came to his mind. The prophet Ezekiel provides another related record.

He also had a vision of the divine, including cherubim and a throne of God (Ezekiel 1:1-28) as a prelude to his commission to warn the rebellious house of Israel (Ezekiel 2:1-8). Ezekiel’s vision contains another, similar scroll to the one John saw:

Ezekiel 2:9 Now when I looked, there was a hand [Revelation 5:1] stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it.

Ezekiel 2:10 Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe.

Like Ezekiel’s scroll, the one John saw had writing on both sides of the parchment, “inside and on the back” (Revelation 5:1), but there are some differences as well: Ezekiel’s scroll was the symbol of a commission to a human servant, while the one John saw was not. Also, Ezekiel’s scroll was open and readable, while in Revelation 5, the scroll is sealed. Both scrolls, though, do involve “lamentations, mourning, and woe.”

Another vision of a scroll is in:

Zechariah 5:1-4 contains another vision of a scroll, which may also have flashed through John’s mind when he saw the scroll in the right hand of the Most High.

An angel explains that Zechariah’s scroll, also written on both sides, is “the curse that goes out over the face of the whole earth”—specifically, a curse on thieves and perjurers.

When John sees the divine scroll opened, it likewise contains a judgment for sin, but it affects far more than just thieves and perjurers.

Each of these scrolls symbolizes the judgments contained within them. In addition, each is written on both sides, indicating that nothing further is to be added. The contents of each scroll are complete for its purpose, and once the scroll is opened, everything written on them will occur until God’s purpose is fulfilled.

As He says in Isaiah 55:11, “My word . . . goes forth from My mouth [and] it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

Nothing more needs to be added, and nothing will change the judgment that has been decreed by God. Brethren, think of all the injustices that have been committed since the world began. For the great majority of injustices, – millions of them, multiple billions of them, there has never been reparation or recompense.

Romans 12:19  … it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord. 

Who is worthy to take the scroll?

When the Last Great Day arrives, we can be sure that God will have executed and implemented perfect justice, equity, reparation, and recompense for every case, for all cruelty for all time, on the entire face of the earth.

To this day, the blood of righteous Abel cries out from the ground for vindication (Genesis 4:10) and justice. Abel, and every casualty since, then must have the restoration of his or her life given back to them. Abel must be exonerated and have his life reestablished—his life that was never lived out, and all that was lost – Abel was cut off from the family he never had.

In the resurrection, Jesus Christ will bring complete equity and justice.

Isaiah 56:1  Thus says the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. 

Isaiah 56:2  Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that lays hold on it; that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. 

Do not blame God for this world’s hate:

Isaiah 56:3  Neither let the son of the stranger, that has joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD has utterly separated me from His people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. [no family – no children]

Isaiah 56:4  For thus says the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 

Isaiah 56:5  Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 

Let’s take a closer look now that we are able to tell a little more about what John understood as he entered heaven.

Revelation 5:1  And I saw in the right hand of Him [God the Father] that sat on the throne a book [biblion – scroll] written within and on the backside, [both sides of the parchment – front and back] sealed with seven seals. 

Revelation 5:2  And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy [axios – suitable] to open the book [biblion – scroll], and to loose the seals thereof? 

Revelation 5:3  And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book[biblion – scroll], neither to look thereon. 

Revelation 5:4  And I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and to read the book [biblion – scroll], neither to look thereon. 

John sees the scroll in the Father’s right hand because the time has come to release the seals. It is time for the property to be redeemed and the proper ownership to be legally determined.

With the sealed scroll in the Eternal Judge’s right hand, a strong angel—an officer of the court, so to speak—issues a challenge for the worthy party to step forward and claim what is his. Understanding this scroll answers why John wept so much: John was looking at the title deed of all things!

Jesus owns the Title to all things.

We are awaiting the unsealing of the scroll when the rightful title to all things is returned to Jesus Christ. God is praised for creating “all things” (Revelation 4:11), and He has appointed the Son as heir of “all things” (Hebrews 1:2).

However, the world and its inhabitants are presently in Satan’s hand. He currently holds the property in question, having the whole world under his sway (1John 5:19).

Thus, the ownership of the creation and the whole Plan of God – the purpose of Elohim in creating humanity in God’s image are hanging in the balance—and nobody is found who could claim it.

The weight of what it would mean for the deed to go unredeemed—for the world to continue with Satan as its ruler—must have overwhelmed John.

Having paid the ultimate purchase price for His property [the earth and the universe], the Lamb alone is worthy to open the sealed deed.

Revelation 5:5  And one of the elders said unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book [biblion – scroll], and to loose the seven seals thereof. 

Revelation 5:6  And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. 

Revelation 5:7  And he came and took the book [biblion – scroll] out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne

Revelation 5:8  And when he had taken the book [biblion – scroll], the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints. 

The seals denote that only the one wo owns the whole world is legally allowed to open the scroll.

Revelation 5:9  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book [biblion – scroll], and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 

Revelation 5:10  And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 

Revelation 5:11  And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; [apparently over 100 million voices singing praises to the Father and the Son]

Revelation 5:12  Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb [Jesus Christ] that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing

Everything that exists was created to serve the Divine purpose—the Plan of God.

Revelation 5:13  And all creation which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, [give honor and glory to the Father and the Son] heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 

The physical nation of Israel was redeemed with lambs (Exodus 13:13-16; 34:19-20), but the spiritual nation—the church—has been and will be redeemed by the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

Paul writes in Romans 8:19-24 that the whole creation eagerly awaits the revealing of the sons of God. “All things” are subjected to futility and entropy, and all of creation waits to be delivered from the bondage of corruption—he describes it as “groaning” (verse 22).

This is why, after the Lamb takes the scroll, all creation in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them [declare]:

Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13).

Revelation 5:14  And the four living creatures said, Amen! And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that lives forever and ever. 

The beloved apostle sobbed and wept.

Won’t someone do something about all this injustice?”

Won’t someone do something to usher in the Kingdom of God on earth?”

We understand that the One who became the Son, Jesus Christ, was His Word – His Spokesman (John 1:1-3), but the Most High—God the Father—was the motivating Source behind all that has ever existed.

John sees a scroll in the Father’s right hand. (Revelation 5:1) But there is something else to consider about the setting. When the scrolls are finally opened, events will be set in motion which will result in all creation will finally being set right! To grasp what was weighing on John so heavily, then, we have to understand this scroll with its seals.

Who Is Worthy?

In Revelation 5:4, John gives the primary reason for his weeping, and the issue is one of worthiness.

Revelation 5:4  And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 

Isaiah describes a similar circumstance where he also had a vision of the Lord sitting on His throne (Isaiah 6:1). Seraphim are praising God, and at the sight of all this, Isaiah becomes unnerved (verses 2-5), painfully aware of his uncleanness.

Isaiah knows that in his state he is not worthy to look upon the Lord of Hosts. However, a seraph touches Isaiah’s mouth with a coal, removing his iniquity and purging his sin (verses 6-7). Then the prophet hears the Eternal asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” [God the Father and Jesus Christ] Isaiah eagerly answers the call and receives his commission (verse 8). With cleansing, he was fit—worthy—for God to use him to take a message to Judah.

However, in John’s vision, something like a call goes out, but nobody answers it. Even with the cleansing that God is willing to do for His people—as He did for Isaiah—nobody can be found who is worthy.

John, looking forward in vision to the Day of the Lord, sees that no angel in heaven, no servant of God on earth, and no spirit under the earth can open the scroll. John asks himself:

Where Will Judgment Arise?

The matter of worthiness, then, must go beyond the matter of sin, because heaven is filled with angels who have not sinned, yet they still are unworthy to take the scroll. Likewise, as with Isaiah, God can purge the sin of His servants, but something even above sinlessness is needed to be worthy to open the scroll of Revelation. What, exactly, makes this scroll’s worth so great?

John’s reaction to it indicates that he was not ignorant of what it was; instead, he felt the full weight of its significance and expressed great distress over the absolute need for it to be opened.

The apostle John, greatly desired the scroll to be opened, suggesting he knew that it contained something of tremendous worth, — greater than the judgments of the other prophetic scrolls.

God gives hope when all seems lost forever.

Paul says that Abraham and his spiritual descendants are heirs of the world (Romans 4:13), and the Lamb’s works are how we obtain that inheritance.

Having paid the ultimate purchase price for His property, Jesus alone is worthy to open the sealed deed. When the scroll’s seals are opened, we see glimpses of what happens as the redemption is fully realized.

The seals reveal a world in turmoil as Satan, the current ruler strives to retain what has been his, even as Jesus Christ, the Redeemer stakes His claim on what He, alone, has created and purchased.

The End of the Story

The last trumpet of the Seventh Seal sounds, completes the redemption of the earth. Not only that, but the firstfruits are resurrected, finalizing our redemption as well.

Revelation 21:2  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 

Revelation 21:3  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 

The answer to today’s Title comes from this next verse:

Revelation 21:4  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 

Revelation 21:5  And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 

End: Who Will Wipe Away the Tears