Standing on Tiptoe

Rev. 5:4 “I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll.”

Observation: In Rev. 4 John reported seeing someone sitting on the throne, but the chapter’s focus is on what was occurring in its vicinity. Swirls of light and booming thunder claps enveloped four living creatures and twenty-four elders who surrounded the throne giving constant obeisance to God. Chapter 4 begins with a look at the throne itself where the one seated there held a sealed scroll. A mighty angel challenged in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” (5:2) Alas, no one living or dead, human or angel or demon, could open the scroll, so John “wept and wept”.

Application: Imagine the position in which John found himself. He was an old man living in exile when this vision occurred. He had outlived all the other disciples and no doubt clearly remembered Jesus’ promise decades earlier that “Some of you who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matt 16:28, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27)

Now, still housed in his aged, corrupt body, he was seeing by the Spirit into the future when God’s book, written in advance to reveal His plans for governance of the church and the world, was now to be opened. John had lived his whole adult life in anticipation of this moment. Now, no doubt standing on tiptoe as a mighty angel challenged all creatures living or dead to present sufficient merit to open God’s book, his heart sank. No one was worthy; the book appeared doomed to remain sealed.

When was the last time I was so bitterly disappointed that I wept and wept? And over what? What were my unfulfilled expectations that yielded such a torrent of tears? Whatever it was, I should multiply that sorrow by some infinite factor to approach John’s anguish. He stood on the edge of eternity hoping to know more of God’s mind, anticipating even a glimpse of His future plans. But he was now emptied of hope and filled instead with overflowing sorrow.

In the midst of what I think are great tragedies, I must remember that God bids me understand them as “momentary, light afflictions” (2 Cor. 4:17) I wonder: am I living my life in such a way that my only true fulfillment can come from God Himself, from knowing Him better, from seeing Him do what none other can do? Is all my hope, like John’s, in Him alone, or am I satisfied far too easily by things of this world?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, only in You are all my hopes and dreams fulfilled. Forgive me for thinking satisfaction could be had by even the grandest of temporal blessings. Give me greater hunger for Your kingdom, that I would be content in nothing less.

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