“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
“And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:7–10).
The Lamb who was the Lion then came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the one who sat upon the throne. And when He had done so, the heavenly authorities and the representatives of the entire historic church fell down before Him. All of them had harps, and bowls full of incense. The incense is defined here as symbolic of the prayers of the saints. This is additional confirmation on the identity of the twenty-four elders—the prayers of the saints are, in effect, offered by them. And secondly, this tells us how God receives the prayers of the saints. It tells us what He thinks about our prayers—they are a sweet-smelling odor to Him. It is possible that the particular prayers of the saints that are in view here are the prayers of the saints who are undergoing persecution (Rev. 6:10), and who are praying for deliverance.
The earlier song that was sung (4:11) was a song that emphasized creation. When this song is offered, it is described as a new song, and the theme of it is redemption. The reason the Lamb is worthy to take the scroll, and to open the seven seals of that scroll, is the fact that He was slain. Because He was slain, His blood was used to redeem His people. The elders here say “us,” meaning that they were included in that redemption. Not only were they redeemed, but they were redeemed out of every group of people on earth. All kindreds and tongues, all peoples and nations. Not only were they taken out of all these groups all over the earth, but they have now been established as kings and priests “on the earth.” This means that their reign is not invisible and spiritual in the heavens, and it is not an invisible reign over their own spirits. We are talking about the rise and ascendancy of the Christian faith.
There are three places in the book of Revelation where believers are described as kings and priests. We find that in Rev. 1:6, here in Rev. 5:10, and again in Rev. 20:6. It is a recurring theme. If we are kings and priests on the earth, beware of teaching that says we are no such thing.