After the elders predict the restoration of man to his priestly calling in Revelation 5:10, the chapter takes a noticeable shift. It summarizes what will happen in creation as man is restored to his priestly place. The first stage of man’s restoration was the exaltation of Jesus as the one and only perfect priest, but verse 10 makes it clear that the next step is for the nations to come into their priestly calling on the earth.
As John’s vision continues, he sees the angels declaring the beauty of God:
11Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11–12 ESV)
Then he sees all of creation declaring the beauty of God:
13And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13 ESV)
The message of Revelation 5 is that once man recovers his calling and steps into the priesthood it is going to release something in creation that enables creation to come into the glory of God. To say it another way, creation is being held back so long as mankind does not take his place as a priesthood that releases the knowledge of God in the nations. This is precisely what Paul tells us in Romans 8 – creation is groaning and in bondage until human beings come into their calling.
19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:19–21 ESV)
Note Paul says that creation wants to obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Right now man is enslaved to darkness and therefore so is creation. What Romans 8:21 tells us is that man – as the priests over the earth – must enter into the glory that is our inheritance so that creation can then enjoy the freedom of that same glory.
Revelation 5 is a prophetic chapter. John not only sees the beauty of Jesus, he also sees what must happen. Creation must respond to that beauty. In order for creation to respond to this man must first encounter and respond to that beauty and by doing that come into his priestly calling. Revelation 4 summarizes the priestly calling. Revelation 5 tells us that men are to have revelation of the glory and beauty of God and then declare what they have seen. This is why Paul prays for the church that this very thing would happen:
17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, (Ephesians 1:17 ESV)
Revelation 5 ends with the living creatures crying out “Amen.” The word amen essentially means “so be it.” The living creatures are making a statement of agreement. These things must come to pass. Man must enter into his calling so that creation can be liberated. They are saying “Let man take his place. Let him encounter the beauty of God and lead the earth into the embrace of that beauty.”
14And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:14 ESV)
Revelation 5 is following the same central theme of Revelation 4. In Revelation 4 the beauty of the One upon the throne is revealed. In Revelation 5, the beauty of the Lamb is revealed. In Revelation 4 the living creatures and the elders declare the beauty of God. In Revelation 5 the living creatures, the elders, the angels, and all of creation declare the beauty of the Lamb. Revelation 5 reveals that the pleasure the living creatures encounter in the beauty of God and the exhilaration they experience declaring that beauty is ultimately the inheritance of human beings.
The message of the two chapters taken together is that the beauty of the One on the throne is the beauty of the Lamb and the ministry that is in heaven must also come on the earth. This is the great revelation of precisely what Jesus asked us to pray for (Matthew 6:10) and it also gives us insight into how it will come. The key transition between Revelation 4 and 5 is the revelation of the Lamb. The revelation of Jesus is what brings man into his eternal calling and what will fill the earth with the declaration of God’s beauty.