Revelation 5:3, “And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.”
In summary, we conclude that if God will be satisfied for the sins of man, four things must take place. (1) God’s wrath must be carried away, (2) The one to do this must do it in love for God, (3) While doing it, the person must not sin, (4) In the end, the person must change the nature of the sinner so he stops sinning.
Obviously, we conclude that the sinner cannot do this.
Now the question is raised, what about a substitute?
The possibilities for such a substitute are given in the catechism. What about some creature? Some animal since they were sacrificed in the Old Testament? Some fellow human being? Could one of the saints in heaven come down and help out? Or finally, can an angel meet the needs of a substitute?
The impossibility of such a creature is indicated in two ways. Who can substitute or take the place of sinful man? God’s justice requires the man who sinned must make payment. He will not transfer such punishment to another creature. The second issue is, who can bear the punishment and deliver the sinner? A mere creature cannot, because they would be destroyed by hellish wrath and unable to deliver others.
The text quoted above asserts these truths.
The vision John saw was, God sitting on His heavenly throne. The book in his right hand represents the plans He has to save His church and bring the saints to glory. The question is, “Who is worthy to open the book?” Who can bring about the salvation of the sinner and take the church to glory?
Silence in heaven is an indictment upon all the creation. No one can satisfy justice and complete God’s program of salvation. John weeps, for neither man nor any other creature can atone for sin.
But look again. The vision focuses upon Jesus, Rev. 5:5, “weep not; behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book.” And all heaven burst forth into singing.
We look at these verses just to keep the right perspective. If there is a substitute, it must come from God alone.
Salvation is of the Lord, thank God.