By Pastor David M. Choi
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. -Revelation 5:2-4
Hundreds have died since the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China (still in counting), with an estimated million Turkic muslims currently imprisoned in the reeducation camps of Xinjiang. To their right in North Korea, millions have died, and are dying, due to famine and starvation, while to their south helpless infants are being left abandoned in the dumpsters of deserted alleyways, mainly due to birth defects.
In America, police brutality is claiming the lives of countless, innocent young black men, and the issues of poverty and gun violence don’t seem to be faring any better. Political turmoil has displaced thousands of families with young children in the Middle East, and the bodies of refugees are horrifically washing up on disparate shores. Across the world, countless young children – many having been sold into slavery by their parents out of economic desperation – are fighting to survive abuse and sexual exploitation.
Every twenty-four hours, one to two hundred animal and vegetative species are going extinct due to ecological catastrophe. Climate change and rising sea levels have already begun to plunge the world’s coastal cities, and, in California and Australia, unquenchable fires have exuberantly taken numerous lives and numerous homes.
We’ve been holding on to the modern hope of progress for so long, yet, to all of our plight and suffering, there seems to be no end in sight. For every fire that is put out, a thousand more erupt. For every marble that gets stored away, a thousand more slip out. If the optimism of progress promises an end to all of these things, then the question we demand an answer for is when. When will the world be made new? But this is a question we know the world cannot answer. So then what I think we’re really trying to ask is who. Who will make it new? In other words, as John has written, who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?
Our spirits are weeping, and our souls are crying out. Not for more technological advancements, not for the vague, precarious, and misguided promises of modern science, not for the morally inept dreams of progressive political agendas. Indeed, if world history has taught us anything, it’s that there is no hope in such things, and one does not need to be a scholar to see how true that is. Instead, what we are groaning for is perfect justice. Someone who will make the wicked suffer, right all wrongs, save humanity from sin, and make the world new. Who is worthy of such an awesome thing? It turns out no one is worthy to bring the world the hope it needs, and because of that John weeps: “I began to weep loudly because no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.” But then something out of the ordinary happens…
“And then one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals…’ And the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, and they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you [Christ] were slain…'” (Rev. 5:5, 8-9).
Indeed, we are longing for a hope that is real, yet we don’t know what could be worthy of such a hope since, it is clear, only an otherworldly hope can put an end to all our groaning. So with John we weep…
But like him, just when we thought such a hope couldn’t exist, we are given sight to see that God has abruptly entered into this war-torn and pestilence-stricken world, to extend to us the hope we’ve been so desperately longing for. Through his cross, God has brought forth perfect justice, and through his resurrection God has brought forth healing and perfect peace. The King has come. Creation has been reclaimed. Rebellious nations have been conquered. And now the Spirit of God bears witness to this truth: that Christ has not only done this, namely, the work of new creation, but that he who has begun this work will soon bring it to completion.
Though we feel the world is broken, we are not without hope. For in these things, Christ has shown himself to be worthy as the One who brings perfect justice and new life. Indeed, who is worthy but the spotless Lamb of God, sent to redeem us from our sins? Who is worthy but the root of David, who has perfectly done what we ought to have done but could not do? Who is worthy but the Lion of Judah, unleashed into this world to break every chain and to set the captives free? Who is worthy but him?
Weep no more. But if you must, do not weep as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13). For there is One who has been found worthy to break the seven seals and open the scroll.