Revelation 5:1-14 - The Redeeming Lamb
We saw the power of God as Creator in chapter 4.
In chapter five, we see the love of God as Redeemer.
A Christian believes in God the Creator who it is all-wise and all-powerful.
The Christian also believes in God who loves and proves His love by redeeming man from sin.
This is the view presented here.
The One on the throne holes in his strong right hand, a book written on the inside and on the outside
and sealed with seven seals.
The fact that it was written on the inside and on the outside and covered on both sides
with writing indicates that it was filled with meaning and importance;
so many were his judgments that he was pressed for space.
The book was "close sealed" with seven seals.
The perfect passive participle, together with a perfect number " 7," indicates
just how securely the book was sealed.
Some would say that this book is the book of destiny.
This idea and the idea of justice are closely related.
The book appears to hold the destiny of men faced by the visitations of God's just wrath upon their sins.
The fact that the book was securely sealed indicates the impossibility of anyone's explaining
the destiny of man.
Here it is in God's hand.
The Christians feel their hearts leap within them at the sight of it when they think
on the unfolding and reading of it.
But it is perfectly sealed and closed to their eyes.
Here are God's providential dealings with the world, but they cannot be seen.
The outcome of the struggle is yet unknown.
Here is the future of Christianity in its struggle with emperor worship, but it is sealed up and cannot be seen.
No wonder John "started weeping much" -- the imperfect of the verb "
to weep audibly" as a disappointed or hurt child, is used -- when he heard no one respond
to the invitation, " Who is morally worthy to open the book?"
No one was found to be worthy.
It appeared that the mystery would still be unsolved, and John, thinking of the distress condition
of the churches and longing to know the outcome, started to weep loudly of disappointment and pain
which was more than physical.
But John was bidden to "stop weeping" because there was one worthy
to open the book and reveal God's purpose for men.
This indicates that the book was the introductory means of bringing forward the central figure
of this chapter, the triumphant Christ.
The description of the Lamb and the work ascribed to Him leaves no doubt
that the figure portrayed here is the redeeming Christ.
One of the elders tells John that the " Lion of the tribe of Judah"
has " overcome," and this has made Him worthy to open the book.
John stopped weeping and looked to see a Lion, but beheld instead a Lamb,
a " little lamb" -- used only in this book and in John 21:15.
A Lion quickly becomes a Lamb.
There is significance in this symbolism.
The Lion represents absolute strength and bravery.
The Lamb is a religious symbol representing absolute goodness.
The characteristics of the Lamb are significant.
It stood as " one slain."
The word indicates the wounds received in cutting the throat of the young lamb sacrificed on the altar.
Christ is here pictured in His atoning sacrifice.
He had been slain but is now alive forevermore.
He has " seven horns."
Horns in apocalyptic literature are symbolical of power.
The Lamb has "seven" horns, the perfect number.
He is perfectly equipped for putting down opposition to His kingdom.
He has "seven eyes which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth."
This represents the ceaseless and perfect vigilance on behalf of His people;
the perfect spiritual essence of God is thus engaged on behalf of man.
The next action expresses a vividness which is difficult to bring out in the English.
The Lamb " came," the aorist tense picturing the whole action in one flash,
and "taketh the book."
Only Christ can open the book and carry forward God's judgments on wicked men.
The destiny of men is in the pierced hands of the Lamb who was slain.
This action called forth great joy on the part of all those around the throne.
It brought great joy to the persecuted Christians.
The Lamb was worshiped by the four living creatures who had worshiped God in the last scene.
The Lamb was also worshiped by the twenty-four elders.
With harps of praise an offering the prayers of the saints whom they represent,
they fall before Him singing the Song of Redemption.
The song which they sing is new.
This is a unique song; there is nothing else like it -- man redeemed by death of God in the flesh.
In the song (5: 9-10) praise is attributed to Christ because He is worthy to open the seals
-- worthy is the Lamb!
He is worthy because of His redemptive work.
This redemptive work is described by four qualitative terms.
First, it is for God, primarily -- " thou didst purchased unto God."
This same idea is reflected in Ephesians 1: 1-14.
The redemption of man is first of all for God's benefit.
Second, it is through the blood of Christ -- " thou wast slain... thou didst purchase with thy blood."
This can have a reference only to the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.
Third, it is unlimited -- " men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation."
The grace of God is not limited to any nation; it is for all nations.
Fourth, it makes the redeemed a kingdom -- " and madest them to be unto our God
a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon the earth."
As men partake of the redemptive work of Christ, they become parts of God's kingdom.
They become priests to serve Him in this world.
For such redemptive work, the elders praise the Lamb.
A multitude of angels join in to sing the worthiness of the Lamb.
Natural creation joins in to sing " blessings, and honor, and glory, and power, and dominion"
unto the One who sets upon the throne and unto the Lamb.
John's first vision closed with this thrilling scene of the triumphant saints and an adoring universe
offering praise and homage to the triumphant Christ.
Such a scene was calculated to bring now courage and new hope to the hearts
of John's first readers, the persecuted Christians of Asia.
It brings the same cheer to Christian hearts in any age.
Believing in the power of God (ch. 4) and the redeeming love of God (ch. 5),
there is no enemy or force of evil which Christians need to fear.
They can enter the conflict or endure the evil knowing that God is still on His throne.
He has not abandon His throne to any other.
He is mightier than all the forces arrayed against His people.
Faith in God gives man the proper evaluation of life, of its issues and their outcome.