Exaltation of the Lamb

OVERVIEWIn Revelation, the exaltation of the lamb is based on his past Death and Resurrection, the immovable foundation of his present reign

Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash
The sacrificial death of Jesus and his consequent exaltation figure prominently in
Revelation. His death on the cross is the foundation of the book. The plan of God to redeem humanity and creation itself through His messiah is unveiled through its visions. The death, resurrection and enthronement of the “Lamb” put this plan into action. His exaltation resulted from his faithful obedience and sacrificial death - [Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash].
  • 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 out of our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests unto his God and Father” - (Revelation 1:5-6).
Above all, to bear “faithful witness” points to martyrdom. For example, overcoming saints, the “witnesses” of the “Lamb,” present their “testimony” before the “inhabitants of the earth” and the representatives of the “Dragon” by suffering for his sake. In this way, they bear the same “testimony” as Jesus did, thereby qualifying to reign with him “on his Father’s throne” - (Revelation 3:20-21, 12:10-11).

The “firstborn of the dead” refers to his resurrection. And his death not only liberated men and women from sin, but also made them into a “kingdom of priests.” Originally, the role of mediating the light of God to the nations was assigned to Israel. However, this mission is now actualized through the “churches” because of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus - (Exodus 19:5-6, Revelation 5:6-10, 20:6).

Already, he is the “ruler of the kings of the earth,” once again, because of his faithfulness in death and his resurrection. His “faithful testimony” demonstrated his fitness to reign over the earth and its political powers.

In the first vision, John saw Jesus as a glorious figure “like a Son of Man.” The language alludes to the passage from the book of Daniel where the prophet saw “one like a son of man” who received the “kingdom and dominion” from the “Ancient of Days.” Now, in Revelation, this figure is described as the “Living One, and I became dead and, behold, living am I unto the ages of ages,” clear references to his Death and Resurrection, and his resultant exaltation:
  • (Daniel 7:13-14) – “I saw in the night-visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man, and he came to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
Though he now reigns from the Throne of God, he remains the one who died and rose from the dead. Therefore, he has full authority to unveil to the churches in Asia “what things that must come to pass soon.” In the first vision, this same Jesus is a priestly figure who walks among the “seven golden lampstands” in the sanctuary of God to trim the wicks and replenish the oil of each “lamp.”

This same Jesus encourages, corrects, and chastises his churches as needed, and assures every saint who “overcomes” of his or her eternal rewards. Christians who “overcome” participate in his reign, “just as I also overcame and took my seat with my Father in his Throne.” He “overcame” and gave a faithful testimony by enduring the Cross. Likewise, believers “overcome by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and because they love not their lives even unto death.”

The theme of Jesus “overcoming” through death is prominent in the vision of the “sealed scroll.”  God’s redemptive plan could not be put into effect until the scroll was unsealed, opened, and its contents unveiled. After an exhaustive search, the only one in the entire Cosmos found “worthy” to open it was the “Lamb who was standing as slain,” Though he was declared the “Lion from the tribe of Judah,” he fulfilled this messianic role through his sacrificial death - (Revelation 5:6-10).

From this point forward in the book, “Lamb” becomes the dominant title applied to Jesus, a total of twenty-eight times (4 x 7). In contrast, he is called “Christ” seven times, and “Jesus” fourteen times (2 x 7), all multiples of seven. The label “Lamb” stresses the theme of victory through his self-sacrificial death.  He is never described as the “lion of Judah” again.

Photo by Hetty Stellingwerf on Unsplash
Photo by Hetty Stellingwerf on Unsplash

The “
Lamb” was “slain.” The latter word translates the Greek participle esphagmenon (Strong’s - #G4969) from the verb esphagō, the term used commonly for animals “slain” in religious sacrifices. The participle is in the perfect tense, signifying an action completed in the past with results continuing into the present – “He has been slain” - (Revelation 5:6).

Immediately upon arriving before the Throne, the “Lamb” took the “sealed scroll” from the “right hand” of the “One Sitting” on it. Next, the heavenly choir declared him “worthy to take the Scroll and to open its seals” because:
  • “You were slain and thereby redeemed unto God by your blood men from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are reigning on the earth” - (Revelation 5:9-10).
Throughout the rest of the book, it is the “Lamb” who acts in concert with the “One Who sits on the Throne.” Together, they reign over the Cosmos, judge the impenitent, destroy their enemies, inaugurate the New Creation, and grant rewards and everlasting life to the righteous - (Revelation 6:16-17, 7:9-17, 14:1, 14:10, 15:3, 21:22-23, 22:1-3).

In the seventh chapter, John saw an innumerable multitude of men and women from every nation standing before the Throne and the “Lamb” arrayed in white robes, proclaiming loudly, “Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb!” They were exiting the “Great Tribulation, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” - (Revelation 7:9-17).

The company of the redeemed will stand forevermore before the Throne.  They will never know hunger, thirst, or pain, “because the Lamb that is in the midst of the Throne will shepherd them and lead them to life’s fountains of waters.”  Redemption, victory, and everlasting life were achieved through the past death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - The “Lamb.”

In the vision of the “Great Red Dragon,” John saw the Devil poised to destroy the male figure about to be birthed by the “woman clothed with the sun.” Identified as the “son,” he was the Messiah who was destined “to shepherd all the nations with a scepter of iron.” Before the Dragon could destroy the child, he was “caught away to God and to his Throne,” resulting in “war in heaven.” Consequently, Satan was defeated and expelled from heaven - (Psalm 2:7-10, Revelation 12:1-11).
  • (Psalm 2:7-9) – “I will tell of the decree: Yahweh said to me, You are my son; This day have I begotten you. Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; You will dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
In the interpretation, the “Great Red Dragon” is identified as Satan. He was banished to the earth and lost his prosecutorial power. The “son” who was “caught up to the Throne” is identified as “Christ.” A loud voice proclaimed, “now has come salvation and power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ…and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb!”  Thus, the “brethren” were declared victorious over Satan because of the death of the “Lamb.”

The vision of the Woman and her “son caught up to the Throne of God” portrays the same reality as the vision of the “slain Lamb” standing before the Throne.  In both images, the victory of the saints was proclaimed because of the death of the “Lamb.”

Later, John saw a vision of one hundred and forty-four thousand males standing victorious with the “Lamb” on “Mount Zion.” Each had the name of the Lamb and his Father “written upon their foreheads.” Together, they “sang a new song” that no one outside their company could learn. Only those who belonged to the “Lamb” could sing the song of redemption - (Revelation 14:1-5).

The 144,000 “males” were those “who had been redeemed from the earth” and “followed the Lamb wherever he went.” Once again, this is the same group seen previously in the vision of the Throne. Note the parallels:
  • They sing a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the Scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and by your blood redeemed unto God men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”
The book culminates in a vision of the “holy city, New Jerusalem.” All God’s enemies were defeated, sin and death were no more. The overcoming saints inherited everlasting life. Victory was total. Nevertheless, in the final vision, Jesus continued to be identified as the “Lamb.”

New Jerusalem” is the “wife of the Lamb.” The apostles are the “Twelve Apostles of the Lamb.” In the city, the “Lord God, the Almighty, is its temple, and the Lamb.” The city is illuminated by “the glory of God, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb.” Only those whose names “are written in the Lamb’s book of life” gain access to the city. The “river of water of life” flows out from the “Throne of God and the Lamb.” And at the center of the Universe is the “throne of God and of the Lamb” - (Revelation 21:9-22:5).

The vision of the Throne is the central to the book with its focus on the “slain Lamb” who achieved victory and received sovereignty over the creation. Jesus is the one who unveils and implements the redemptive purposes of God.

By means of his death, he fulfilled the role of the Davidic Messiah, became the “ruler over the kings of the earth,” and redeemed men and women from every nation, constituting them a “priestly kingdom.” His exaltation over all things is based on his past Death and Resurrection.


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