The Exalted Lamb

The sacrifice and exaltation of Jesus are prominent themes in the Book of Revelation. The plan of God to redeem humanity and His creation is unveiled in its visions and images. It is his death and resurrection, and his consequent enthronement that have put this plan into action. His sovereignty over the Cosmos is the result of his faithful testimony given in his sacrificial death. Jesus of Nazareth is the “Lamb who is worthy”!

However, he is no tyrant or despotic dictator. He does not subjugate his enemies through violence, threats, and oppression, or force his subjects to do his arbitrary will. Instead, he is the “Lamb who was slain,” and he is “shepherding the nations” as he redeems by his shed blood men and women from every “tribe and people and tongue” for his Father’s Kingdom.

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

At the outset of the Book, Jesus is called the “
Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the Dead, and the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth.” “Faithful Witness” points to his death by which he bore witness, and “Firstborn of the Dead” refers to his resurrection. As a direct consequence, he now is the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth.”

In the first vision, John saw him as the glorious priestly figure identified as the “Son of Man.” The term alludes to the incident when the Prophet Daniel saw “one like a son of man” receiving the “kingdom and dominion” from the “Ancient of Days” on behalf of the “saints.”

This “Son of Man” describes himself as the “Living One, and I became dead and, behold, living am I unto the ages of ages,” references to his death, resurrection, and exaltation - (Daniel 7:13-14, Revelation 1:12-20).

Though he now reigns, he remains the one who died and rose from the dead, and therefore, he has the authority to unveil to the Seven Assemblies of Asia “what things must come to pass soon.” This same Jesus is the high priestly figure who walks among the “Seven Golden Lampstands” in the sanctuary of God, trimming their wicks and replenishing their oil as needed.

He encourages, corrects, and chastises his congregations as needed, and assures everlasting rewards to every saint who “overcomes.” They participate in his reign, “just as I also overcame and took my seat with my Father in his Throne,” and he “overcame” by enduring the Cross. He is their savior and caretaker, not their overlord.

Likewise, believers overcome Satan by “the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and because they love not their lives even unto death.” That is how they qualify to sit with Jesus on the Throne - (Revelation 3:20-21, 12:11).

THE SEALED SCROLL


The theme of his “overcoming” through death is central to the vision of the “Sealed Scroll.”  God’s redemptive plan cannot be put into effect until the Scroll is unsealed and its contents disclosed and implemented.

After an exhaustive search, the only one in the entire Universe who was found “worthy” to open it was the “Lamb who was slain.” Though he was the “Lion of Judah,” he fulfilled that messianic role as the sacrificial “Lamb” - (Revelation 5:6-10).

From this point forward in the Book, the name “Lamb” becomes the dominant title for him, 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 sacrificial death.

He is never called the “Lion of Judah” again in Revelation, and it is the “Lamb” who is next seen standing before the Throne, NOT the “Lion.”

Upon arriving before the Throne, the “Lamb” took the “Sealed Scroll” from the “right hand” of the “One Sitting” on it, and the heavenly choir declared him “worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and thereby redeemed unto God by your blood men from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation” - (Revelation 5:9-10).

It is the “Lamb,” not the “Lion” who now rules and otherwise acts in concert with the “One on the Throne.” Together, they reign over the Cosmos, judge the impenitent, inaugurate the New Creation, and grant rewards and everlasting life to the righteous.

In Chapter 7, John saw an Innumerable Multitude of men from every nation standing before the Throne and the “Lamb” while proclaiming loudly, “Salvation to our God who sits upon the Throne and to the Lamb!”

The multitude that John saw was exiting the “Great Tribulation, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Redemption, victory, and everlasting life were achieved through the “Lamb who was slain” - (Revelation 7:9-17).

Later, John saw the Devil poised to destroy the male figure that was about to be born from the “Woman clothed with the sun.” Identified as the “Son,” he was the Messiah destined “to SHEPHERD all the nations with a scepter of iron.” Before the Dragon could destroy him, he was “caught away to God and to his Throne” - (Psalm 2:7-10, Revelation 12:1-11).

In the vision’s interpretation, the “Great Red Dragon” represents Satan. He was banished to Earth and lost his prosecutorial power. 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 (and are) declared victorious over Satan because of and through the death of Jesus – (Revelation 12:9-11).

Green Fields Spring - Photo by Xavier von Erlach on Unsplash
[Photo by Xavier von Erlach on Unsplash]

FINAL VICTORY


In Chapter 14, John saw 144,000 males standing with the “Lamb” on “Mount Zion.” Each one had the name of the “Lamb” and of his Father “written upon their foreheads.” Together, they “sang a new song” that no one else could learn. Only those who belonged to the “Lamb” sang 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.” This was the same group seen in the Vision of the Throne in Chapter 5. 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” – (Revelation 5:9-12).

The Book culminates in the vision of the “Holy City, New Jerusalem.” All God’s enemies were defeated, sin and death were no more, and overcoming saints inherited everlasting life. The victory was total. Nevertheless, in the final vision of “New Jerusalem,” Jesus remains the slain “Lamb.”

The city of “New Jerusalem” was the “wife of the LAMB.” The apostles were the “Twelve Apostles of the LAMB.” In the city, the “Lord God, the Almighty, was its temple, and the LAMB.” The city was illuminated by “the glory of God, and the lamp thereof is the LAMB.”

Only those whose names “were written in the LAMB’s Book of Life” gained access to the city. The “river of water of life” flowed out from the “Throne of God and of the LAMB,” and at the center of the Universe John saw the “Throne of God and of the LAMB” - (Revelation 21:9-22:5).

Thus, by his death and resurrection, Jesus as the “Lamb” fulfilled the role of the Davidic Messiah, and he now reigns as the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth,” indeed, of the entire Universe. His exaltation over all things and the redemption of humanity are based on his self-sacrificial death and his being raised by God from the dead. Truly, therefore, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!



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