The Lion and the Lamb
Revelation 5 is a continuation of Revelation 4’s vision of God on the throne receiving worship from all of creation- this huge heavenly party where they are celebrating God because of who he is- the creator.
And all of creation is making a declaration of war on Satan and his followers by declaring their allegiance to God in worship, because remember, Worship is war. Today, we’re looking at the continuation of that worship, and John is going to use heavy symbolism to communicate who Jesus is.
And he tells us some profound things about the identity of the one who died for our sins in the symbols that he uses to describe Jesus, and in the events occuring around him.
Remind of Q&A
Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it. Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it.
This refers back to Daniel. John is standing in the line of the prophets here claiming to be in the presence of that which Daniel was commanded to seal up at the end of his book:
4 But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.”
John is saying that what is contained in the scroll is that which Daniel sealed up.
So what’s in it? Some scholars suggest that this scroll is a will:
Roman wills were normally sealed with seven seals; seals on legal documents guaranteed that no one had opened or tampered with them. A will could not be opened until the death of the person whose will it was could be attested
We’ll look a little more at this symbol in a little bit, but if it is a will, it still begs the question: why is John weeping here?
Let’s get into John’s head here:
I'm alone and everyone I care about is being persecuted and seduced. And really, what we need is a word from God. I'm the last apostle! They’re trying to kill me. What happens to them if they succeed? Jesus says to the churches, "wake up." Jesus says to the churches, “Repent.” What if they don't? What we really need is for God to speak in this moment. Finally, there’s a word from God… and no one can open it because no one is worthy. And John might be thinking “I wish I was worthy, but I KNOW I’m not.”
Do you feel the despair that John feels here?
5 But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.
The Elder describes Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. This goes back to Genesis 49:9
9 Judah, my son, is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
He also calls him literally the root of David, which goes back to language taken from Isaiah:
1 Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
10 In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.
This is all about restoration and victory and power and the elder uses both of these symbols to describe Jesus, the lion, and what do we see? A slain lamb. Why?
In the kingdom of God, victory comes through suffering.
And Jesus is worthy to open the scroll because he was slain. And he was worthy to be slain because he was sinless, or if you’re in the Old Testament in reading your Bible, you might be more familiar with the term “spotless.”
Jews would have thought passover. Jesus was crucified at passover- a new Exodus out of slavery to sin.
Do you see the beauty of what’s been done here?!?
See, for God the Father, we worship him for who he is, but Jesus here is worshipped because of what he did as we’ll see:
7 He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. 8 And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
How many groups of people? Four. What's he saying?
The complete number of the people to be redeemed from the earth. There will be people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. Let me just say that heaven is going to be a rough place for racist people.
All kinds of people will be there. From all over the place. This means different styles of worship will be there too. In heaven, there will be rap, samba, country, classical, pop, opera, rock, Gregorian chants, hymns, folk, punk, R&B- all kinds of styles giving glory to who God is.
And ALL of us will be able to worship no matter the style.
Worship is not about us, but the one who is being worshipped.
What would our churches look like if we all had a sacrificial attitude toward our particular worship style and preferences?
10 And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”
This should make us think of Exodus 19:6 and the promise to Israel:
6 And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”
Because we stand in that line. There is no special class of Christian. We are all called to ministry! You are called to evangelize and preach the gospel through the way that you live your life and interact with other people. We minister to the earth through our witness!
Our line is ancient and far reaching! We are descendants of Abraham:
28 For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. 29 No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.
11 Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. 12 And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised.
6 Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! 7 Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too. 8 This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children.
We ARE Israel. We ARE the Kingdom of Priests that God promised his people would be. Make sure tha you are carrying our the charge of being a priest in your daily life!
But the real encouragement of this chorus singing to Jesus is that we are still reading a letter addressed to seven churches. They are gathered for worship, and John here reminds them that they are not alone in their worship.
In heaven, worship never stops. We join in with them when we worship!
This brings a whole new meaning to the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12:1-2
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Do not grow weary. When people mock your faith, when you suffer shame because of your faith, when they try to get you down or are called intolerant or bigoted because you are a Christ-follower, stand firm. Jesus walked the way ahead of you and he has overcome!
11 Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders.
The number here is 10,000s of 10,000s and thousands of thousands. But in Revelation, we do not measure with numbers we weigh them. This is not a number to be counted. John here is saying that God has an uncountable number of angels at his disposal.
Count them out, point out significance
12 And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered— to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” 13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” 14 And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.
How many categories of creatures?
Four. What's speaking? All of creation
What is Jesus worthy of? EVERYTHING. ALL of creation!
And they said “Amen” and worshipped the Lamb in the same way the worshipped the Father.
Amen means, “I agree,” or “Let it be.” And it’s always accompanied by action.
Jesus is worthy of everything, so what are you giving him? Are you giving Him your BEST? You FIRST?
What role does he play in your marriage? In the way you raise your kids? In your friendships?
Are you giving him everything? Or just a few spare minutes when you feel like it? Is he the first place you go when you’re struggling or one of the last?
Let’s agree with all of creation and worship him in song and in action as we prepare to leave this building and go out into the mission field, holding nothing back!
Lifting hands- don’t let your worry about the opinions of other people keep you from giving everything to God.