The issue in the vision of Revelation 5 is finding One who is qualified to open a certain scroll that contains a listing of events that will occur beyond the present time, both before and after Christ's return. The issue is resolved because Christ, the Lamb, is qualified to open it because of what He has already accomplished. He is our Redeemer and thus qualified. His qualification sets an example for us to follow in our Christian lives.
Verse 10 concerns us most. It helps to know that the term “kings and priests” is better translated as “kingdom of priests,” as numerous modern translations render it. Christ has appointed the redeemed (verse 9) as a kingdom of priests to serve our God and to bear a measure of rulership (“we shall reign on the earth”). They are appointed to a responsibility by Christ because they, like Him, have been prepared to render these services in God's behalf.
Beyond the priestly functions, rulership is clearly in view for the redeemed. Christ will appoint only those already prepared for these positions. Both rulership and priestly functions contain shepherding responsibilities. A priest is an individual especially consecrated to the service of a deity as a mediator between the deity and his worshippers.
Note two passages of Scripture that confirm what we are being prepared for:
» You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. . . . But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (I Peter 2:5, 9)
» They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. (Revelation 14:3-4)
Both of these future positions help us focus on what we are to do within our calling now before the events of Revelation 5 and 14 occur. We must prepare to lead in the Kingdom of God. The world's approach to salvation focuses almost exclusively on being saved by confessing Jesus Christ as Savior. As important as that is, it pays little attention to any other purpose and responsibility attached to it.
However, this period prior to our ultimate admission into the Kingdom of God has a major purpose: to be prepared to continue serving God at a remarkably higher level of responsibility after Christ returns. We are being created into Jesus Christ's image, and leadership is what God is looking for in us. He does not need to see us leading vast numbers of people, but He wants to see leadership in spiritual growth as we overcome our carnal natures.
How? We are to be living sacrifices, deliberately choosing to allow ourselves to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ through obediently following His way of life. If we lead others in this life, it is primarily by example, as we are not forcing God's way on others.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Four)
Revelation 5:9-10 provides a vision of what we are being prepared for. This incomplete vision presents a generality that points specifically to Jesus Christ. The issue in the vision is finding One who is qualified to open a certain scroll. Beginning in Revelation 6, we find that the scroll contains visions of events that will occur beyond the time of chapter 5, events both before and after Christ's return. The issue of opening the scroll is resolved because Christ, the Lamb of God, is qualified to open it due to what He has already accomplished. He has been prepared to open it.
His qualification is important because it sets an example for us. Revelation 5:10 speaks to what is most critical to us concerning our present lives as God's called, as well as to what we will be doing in the future. Christ has appointed the people mentioned in verse 9 to be a kingdom of priests to serve our God and to bear a measure of rulership. They are selected to fill such responsibilities because they, like the Lamb, Christ, have been prepared to render these services in God's behalf. These preparations are taking place in the lives of Christians right now.
Note that “kingdom of priests” is a better translation of the Greek in verse 10 than “kings and priests,” as the King James and New King James versions render it. By the word “reign,” verse 10 indicates that rulership is definitely in view in addition to priestly responsibilities. There can be no doubt that both ruling and priestly positions include shepherding responsibilities, so the positions that await Christians in God's Kingdom require leadership training to prepare those God will assign to them after Christ's return.
By way of contrast, the world's approach to salvation focuses almost exclusively on merely being saved. As important as that is, it pays little attention to any other purpose and responsibility connected with being saved. However, this period prior to our transformation into the Kingdom of God has a major purpose: to prepare to continue serving God at a far higher level of responsibility after Christ returns.
God does not call people who already possess the leadership qualities He desires they practice in His Family Kingdom. Instead, He calls those with potential, gifts them with the raw materials they need, and then creates them individually into what He desires for them in terms of purpose and position.
We are being created in the image of Christ, and leadership is what God is looking for in us. Not that each of us is leading vast numbers of people, but we are learning leadership by overcoming the carnal nature and growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. How? By faith in God's existence and in His Word—by following His way of life—we are deliberately and with full purpose, choosing to allow ourselves to be transformed into His image.
The fruit of following this program under our High Priest's direction and the Father's oversight is leadership in God's way. If we happen to lead others, it is primarily by example. We are not forcing this way of life on others.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Two)