5And 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.” 6And 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. 7And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:5-10)
We left the dejected apostle, stricken with grief, with no hope in our last blog post (Revelation 5:1-4). But an angelic elder comes to comfort John in the very next verse.
The first figure John is introduced to is a Lion (verse 5). A lion preys upon the weak; the noble creatures are strong, majestic, and dangerous. You don’t fight with a lion, you submit to a lion. Lions aren’t hunted as prey, they are hunters.
Christ, like a lion, devours His enemies. The book of Revelation displays Christ as a sword wielding horse riding warrior with a tat on his thigh (Revelation 19). With one swipe of the His just sword He will slay the enemies of the gospel. The devil is only “like a roaring lion” (1Peter 5:8) but Jesus IS a roaring lion. Satan and the demons tremble before His might.
He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The protector of Israel in the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Yet He is before Abraham (John 8:58).
He is also the “Root of David” (verse 5). The source of David’s reign. The pre-eminent one above every King or patriarch.
He is a descendant yet He is pre-eminent.
And He is worthy to take the scrolls because He has “conquered” (verse 5)
In an incredible contrast, when John fixes his eyes to behold this “lion,” He in fact sees a Lamb (verse 6). Lambs are preyed upon; they are weak, harmless, lowly, sheared for clothes and killed for food and sacrifice.
These two juxtapositions could not be more shockingly stark. In Christ we have the paradoxical Servant King, the conquering Lion and the lowly Lamb.
In a mysterious peculiar narrative that could only be God-borne, the Lion conquers all His enemies by becoming a Lamb. (Phil. 2:5-11)
The Lord of the Universe becomes a suffering Savior to His covenant children (Isaiah 53:3-12).
The Lamb is standing, alive forevermore, though it appeared for a short time He “had been slain” (verse 6)
Christ’s final cry on the cross “It is finished” was not the surrendering death gurgle of a tortured Jewish man, it was the victorious roar of a Lion that shook foundations of heaven and earth.
This is a lamb like Lion, and a Lion like lamb. And he is “standing,” next to throne not slumping or laying down. Not dejected and defeated, but upright and fully alive because the war is won.
Seven (perfection) horns protrude from His head– Again seven, the number of perfection or completion. Horns in the Old Testament signified authority. Christ is a Lamb with perfect authority and power, or “omnipotence” Seven eyes-He sees all and knows all. Seven eyes signify perfect wisdom and knowledge of all. He knows the beginning from the end (Isaiah 48:9-10). This is Christ’s “omniscience.” Seven Spirits signify God’s presence everywhere at all times. No one can flee from Him, He is always imminent in our lives. This is Christ’s “omnipresence.”
A king with only authority and no wisdom would be a cruel tyrant dictator. A Hitler of sorts. A King with only wisdom and no authority would be helpless to exercise good for his people. A figure-head of sorts (King of England?)
Look how both perfect wisdom and perfect authority dwell in the person of Jesus Christ. These are the diverse excellencies of Jesus Christ!
As a father I can be very loving and gentle with my children. But if I were to feel they were in harms way that gentleness would be replaced with a fierce hand (or bullet) of violent protection. As you know, I will go straight William Wallace on you and your speeding chick car in my neighborhood.
God in Christ is the same way, only exponentially more loving and powerful. He protects us with a loving soft hand of a father and defends us with a clenched fist of a righteous warrior.
In verse 7 we see Jesus literally take the scroll of history from the very hand of God the Father. This is the Father handing over the keys of the Kingdom to the Son. Christ the sovereign one holds history in his perfect hands from beginning to end! He is working all things out (your life) according to the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11).
The heavenly company falls down to worship the Lamb (verse 8) an adulation that was at one time reserved for God the Father (Revelation 4:10).
They reveal in their song why the Lamb is their sole object of worship: Because of His blood shed for His ransomed people (verse 9).
Or as John the Baptist said “Behold! The lamb who takes away the sins of the world John” (1:29)
The culmination of God’s perfect love, justice, holiness, mercy and glory is found in beholding the God-man suspended between heaven and earth taking the full cup of the Father’s wrath for us.
Behold the worthy one being revealed in Revelation 5. CH Spurgeon concludes :
We admire him for his glory, but even more because his glory is mingled with humility; we admire him for his transcendence, but even more because his transcendence is accompanied by condescension; we admire him for his uncompromising justice, but even more because it is tempered with mercy; we admire him for his majesty, but even more because it is a majesty in meekness; we admire him because of his equality with God, but even more because as God’s equal he nevertheless has a deep reverence for God; we admire him because of how worthy he was of all good, but even more because this was accompanied by an amazing patience to suffer evil; we admire him because of his sovereign dominion over the world, but even more because this dominion was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission;
Even obedience to the cross. Amen.