Worthy is the Lamb

John saw Jesus as the sacrificial “Lamb” in the central vision of Revelation, the one whose shed blood purchased men from every nation. Because he gave his life to redeem humanity, all Creation proclaimed him “worthy” to open the “Sealed Scroll” and receive absolute sovereignty. His reign began when the “Lamb” took possession of the Scroll and began to open its “Seven Seals.”

This reality is described at the start of the Book when Jesus is identified as the “Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the Dead, and the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth. Unto him who loves us and loosed us from our sins by his bloodand he made us a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.” From the start, Revelation anchors its visions in his Death and Resurrection – (Revelation 1:5-6, 1:18-20).

Lamb - Israel - Photo by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash
[Photo by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash]

In the vision of Chapter 5, the “Sealed Scroll” was held tightly in the right hand of the “One Who Sits on the Throne.” The Universe was searched for someone “worthy” to open it, but no one could be found. This caused John to weep profusely. However, one
 of the twenty-four “elders” told him to “weep not,” for the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David overcame” and therefore was worthy to open the Scroll - (Revelation 5:5-7).

The Greek term translated as “overcame” is nikaō, the same verb used for “overcome” numerous times in the letters to the “Seven Assemblies” (e.g., “to the one who overcomes…”). Especially relevant is the concluding promise of the seven letters:

  • He that overcomes, I will give to him to take his seat with me in my Throne, AS I ALSO OVERCAME and took my seat with my Father in his Throne” - (Revelation 3:21).

Jesus “overcame” by giving his life for his people. His sacrificial death qualified him to sit on the “Throne” where he now reigns, and from which he summons his saints to “overcome” in the same manner that he did.

The Elder called him the “Lion of Judah” and the “Root of David,” terms with Messianic implications. In Genesis, Judah was called “a lion's whelp” that would hold the scepter until the arrival of the one to whom it belonged (“to him shall be the obedience of the peoples”). Likewise, the Book of Isaiah prophesied of the time when “the Root of Jesse will stand as an ensign to the peoples” – (Genesis 49:9-10, Isaiah 11:1-10).

John “heard the elder declare, “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” but when he looked, he SAW a “Lamb” rather than a “lion,” and one that had been “slain.” What he saw interpreted what he first heard.

THE SLAIN LAMB


The “Lamb” is the promised Messiah of Israel, but he fulfills his Messianic role paradoxically, not as a royal or military figure who uses force to suppress his enemies, but as a sacrificial victim.

The English noun “Lamb” translates the Greek word arnion, the diminutive form of the more common Greek term for “lamb” or arnén. It refers to a juvenile animal and it becomes his primary designation for the remainder of the Book, applied to him twenty-eight times (4 x 7). In contrast, the name ‘Jesus’ occurs fourteen times, and ‘Christ’ seven times. The term “lion” never appears again.

The Greek term translated as “slain” is the verb sphazō. It is used often in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament for the Hebrew verb shachat, which is applied to the “slaying” of sacrificial animals in the Levitical system (Strong’s Concordance #G4969). The usage in Revelation echoes the passage in Isaiah where the Servant of Yahweh is compared to “a lamb being led to the slaughter” (sphagé, from sphazō) - (Isaiah 53:7).

Upon his arrival, the “Lamb” approached the “Throne” and took the “Scroll.” This image echoes the vision of the Book of Daniel when one “like a Son of Man” approached the Throne of the “Ancient of Days” and received the authority to reign over “all peoples, races and tongues” - (Daniel 7:13-14).

The authority of the “Lamb” was proclaimed by Heaven and Earth. His sovereignty was the result of his sacrificial Death. This understanding is confirmed by the “new song” sung by the four “Living Creatures” and the “Twenty-Four Elders” - (Revelation 5:9-12).

In Chapter 4, all creatures sang praises to the “One Who Sits on the Throne” for His creative acts, but in Chapter 5, the “New Song” rings out in praise of the “Lamb” for his sacrificial act. It was “new” because his death inaugurated the redemption that would culminate in the “New Heavens and the New Earth” - (“Behold, I make all thing NEW” - Revelation 4:8-11, 21:1-5).

The slain “Lamb” is the Messiah of Israel, and his victory achieved the redemption of men from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” His sacrifice will conclude in nothing less than the New Creation when “New Jerusalem” descends to the Earth.

His death constituted men as a “Kingdom of Priests.” Collectively, they are a kingdom; individually, they perform priestly acts as they mediate the victory of the “Lamb” to the nations. They participate in his reign as they perform their priestly roles. Jesus promised that overcoming believers would exercise authority over the nations, but their reign is implemented through priestly acts of witness, martyrdom, prayer, and worship - (Exodus 19:5-6, Revelation 1:6, 20:6).

The heavenly choir praised the “Lamb” for his act of redemption and proclaimed him “worthy” to receive all “power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” This was followed by praise from “every created thing that is in Heaven and on the Earth and under the Earth and on the Sea” since his death would also result in the redemption of the Creation at the end of the present age, making the “Lamb” truly “worthy” of all praise and authority!



RELATED POSTS:
  • The Lamb Reigns - (The Faithful Witness, Jesus Christ, now reigns supreme over the Kings of the Earth, and even over his enemies - Revelation 1:4-6)
  • Royal Shepherd - (The Lamb’s reign commenced with his death and resurrection, and since then, he has been shepherding the nations toward New Jerusalem)
  • His Priestly Kingdom - (Disciples reign with Jesus by fulfilling their role as priestly kings who mediate His light to the world)

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