Friday, December 5, 2014

WORTHY IS THE LAMB (Revelation Chapter 5)

Revelation 5:1-6, “Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.  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.  And 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 between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”

John's vision continues.  He sees a scroll in the right hand of God.  The scroll had writing on both sides and was sealed intermittently with seven seals.  It was common in that day to prepare legal documents in such a way.  A document would be sealed with wax and then imprinted with the owner’s name or emblem.  The sealing of the document is reminiscent of Daniel 12:9.  The scroll and its seals represent the title deed to the earth.  As J. Vernon McGee has noted, “This suggests, I believe, that what is being handed over to the Lord Jesus is the title deed to this world in which you and I live.  He created it, He redeemed it, and it belongs to Him.”  The sealed scroll will soon be opened to unleash a series of judgments upon the earth.

In John's vision he sees a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open and break its seals” (Revelation 5:2)?  The message is one of great concern and urgency addressed to the entire universe.  But “no one was found worthy” (Revelation 5:4).  None of “Adam’s lineage qualifies.  No angelic being is worthy.  The powers of darkness are not able.  John beings to “weep loudly” because there is none to open the scroll.  John had good reason to weep.  Creation groans under the weight of the curse of sin (Cf. Romans 8:22).  Is life on earth to continue in its sin-plagued manner?  Is there none to intervene and put things aright?

One of the elders steps forward to assist John.  He counsels John to “weep no more” and directs his attention Christ-ward (Cf. Revelation 5:5).  In what better way can the sorrowful find solace then to set their gaze upon Jesus?  There is One worthy and He is none other than the “Lion from the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5).  In this prophetic manner Jacob blessed his son (Genesis 49:9-10).  He is also the promised “root of David” (Cf. 2 Samuel 7:11-14; Isaiah 11:1-10).  The prophesied and promised One “has conquered” and is thereby qualified to open the scroll (Cf. Revelation 5:5).  The term translated “conquered” is the Greek nikao which means to triumph or overcome.  He has overcome through His death and resurrection (Revelation 1:17-18; Colossians 2:15). 

Amidst the throne and four living creatures and elders, John sees “a lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6).  The conquering lion appears as a lamb.  The term lamb appears 28 times in the book of Revelation and four times in this chapter.  As a lamb He was slain and by His blood He “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).  He is worshipped by the multitudinous heavenly choir saying loudly, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12). 

J. Vernon McGee notes, “The lion character refers to His second coming; the lamb character refers to His first coming.  The lion is symbolic of HIs majesty; the lamb is symbolic of HIs meekness.  As a lion He is Sovereign; as a lamb He is a Savior.  As a lion He is a Judge; as a lamb He is judged.  The lion represents the government of God; the lamb represents the grace of God.”

Majestic like a lion.  Meek as a lamb.  “Emptied of His glory, God became a man…A Ruler, yet a Servant, A Shepherd, yet a Lamb” (“He is Lord;” Linda Lee Johnson, Claire Cloninger and Tom Fettke).  Worthy is the Lamb-like Lion!  Even now a great choir of the redeemed, those who have had their hearts tuned to sing His praise, is being gathered from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 4:9) to proclaim “Worthy is the Lamb!”

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