A. Jesus as the Lamb
“Behold the Lamb of God!” proclaimed John the Baptist (Johnaaa,.1.36 This introduces a major theme in John’s Gospel: lesns_ausur Passover The_apagitiolip (who is not the same as John the Baptist) ties the death of Jesus closely to the celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem (see John 13:1; 19:14, 15).
The lamb of Passover was a tradition the Jews had observed for over a thousand years by the time Jesus arrived on the scene. It was at the center of the feast of Passover, a commemoration of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery. In Egypt the children of Israel had been commanded to kill lambs and smear their blood on the doors.
When we look at the regulations for the Passover lamb, some striking parallels to Christ are found. The lamb was to be without blemish or defect (Exodus12:5); the apostle Peter described Jesus as “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter1:19). The Passover lamb was to have no bonebroken (Exodus 12:46); John included this detail into his account of Jesus’ death, telling us that His legs were not broken by the Roman executioners (John 19:36).
The most remarkable parallel is that, according to Jewish tradition, the Passover lambs were killed by priests within use Jerusalem temple precincts, and then taken to homes for the feast. At 3 PM on Passover day, the high priest would slaughter the final lamb, saying, “It is finished.”If we combine Mark 15:34 and John 19:30, we can see that it was at 3 PM 011 (what we call)Good Friday when Jesus uttered the words “It is finished” as He died for the sin of the world. The designations of Lamb is the most common way of referring to the risen Jesus in the book of Revelation, used some two dozen times there. A marvelous picture emerges if we examine these verses: the Lamb shares the judgmental wrath of God (Revelation 6:16); the Lamb’s blood cleanses His people from sin (7:14); the Lamb is the author of the book of life (13:8); the Lamb has a song akin to the song of Moses (15:3); the Lamb leads the victorious armies of Heaven (17:14);and the Lamb will be the light of new Jerusalem
(21:23). A central, climactic event in Revelation
is the marriage supper of the Lamb, where He takes His bride, the church (19:7-9).
The Passover lambs of the Jews symbolized purity, sacrifice, and escape from God’s wrath. The book of Revelation uses all of these attributes in drawing its picture of the Lamb. The book adds truths that the Christ-Lamb is victorious over death and over the enemies of God. This mighty image deserves our study!
B. Lesson Background
Last week’s lesson looked at the opening scene of John’s vision of Heaven.
John is aware that none of his fellow Christians whether human or angelic, has the requisite authority to break the seals and open the book.
4.And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
The facts of verse 3 cause what we may deem to be a strange reaction in John: weeping. He feels the crisis deeply. We can infer that he is sad for two reasons. First, he has a strong desire to know the contents of the scroll, both for himself and so that he may be able to share the contents with his fellow believers (see Revelation 1:1).When that happens. humans may know better how to proceed with God’s plans. [See question#1,
Second, John realizes that no human is worthy not even him. Much like Isaiah, it is his own unworthiness Isaiah5:15.). God has established the standard of worthiness apparently no one measures up to it.
C. Lion and Root (v. 5)
5.And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, bath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Both of these are obvious titles for the Messiah, the risen Christ. However, the exact phrase Root of David is not found in the Old Testament (see Isaiah 11:10, “root of Jesse,” realizing that Jesse was King David’s fattier). Sometimes the Old Testament prophets refer to the Messiah as the branch of David who originates from David’s dynasty (see Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15). This was true of the earthly Jesus, a rightful descendant of David(Matthew 1:1).
But in His eternal fullness, the Messiah is not derivative of the house of David. Rather, just the reverse is true: that house is dependent upon Him. The preexistent Christ is the source of the promise to David. This was taught by Jesus when He pointed out that David prophetically referred to the Messiah as “my Lord” (Luke 20:41-44).
NAVAJO CODE TALKERS
Navajo code talkers took part in every U.S. Marine battle in the Pacific between 1942 and1945. Fewer than 30 non-Navajos could speak the language at the time. One of them was Philip Johnston, son of a missionary who grew up on a Navajo reservation. He persuaded the U.S. government that Navajo was the perfect code language. An unwritten language, Navajo uses a very complex syntax and tonal system.
To make the code work, a series of unrelated Navajo words were first translated into English equivalents. Then the first letters of the equivalents were used to spell English words. To make the code even harder to crack, most English letters could be signified by more than one Navajo word. The skilled Japanese code breakers couldn’t break this one!
Some have seen the Bible as a book of codes—codes that we should try to “break.” Indeed, the idea of mystery or secret is found in many places in the Bible (examples: Daniel 2:18, 19, 27, 30;Romans 11:25; 16:25; Colossians 1:26, 27). The secrets of the book that John saw revealed were more inscrutable than those protected by any human code. We should not be surprised that only God can reveal those secrets. This might also be good advice to heed when someone offers the supposedly “one-and-only true” interpretation of the book of Revelation!
II. Lamb Worshiped in Heaven(Revelation 5:8-14)The Messiah now appears. He is not a cute, docile lamb, but a powerful, being. His authority and worthiness are unquestioned. The enthroned God gladly allows Hint to take the scroll in preparation for its opening (5:7).
A. Beasts and Elders (v. 8)
a. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.
B. New Song (vv. 9, 10)
9. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou a vast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. The idea of a priestly kingdom has already been introduced (Revelation 1:6; compare1 Peter 2:5, 9). This was the ideal for Israel as God’s holy nation (see Exodus 19:6). The promises we see here are encouraging to John’s first readers, who are under persecution from the Roman Empire.
C. Host of Angels (vv. 11, 12)
11.And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thou-sands of thousands.
The song of the elders is now joined by a seemingly infinite host of heavenly angels. Saying ten thousand times ten thousand is not a precise mathematical formula but is more like our exuberant expression “gazillions.” They are innumerable (compare Daniel 7:10; Hebrews 12:22). This glorious scene is beyond our imagination.
12. Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing important qualifications for worthiness.
Visual for Lesson 8. This visual can remind your students that there are more than six billion people on the earth. Ask, “How will we reach them?”
honor (esteem glory (majesty), and blessing (approval). See 1 Chronicles 29:11, 12.
D. Universal Chorus (vv. 13, 14)13, 14. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. The warship chorus is now joined by even’ creature. The celebration is so great that even heaven cannot contain it. The acclamation of the creatures is fourfold, symbolic of the entire world beating four of the items from the angelic song.
This song is also reminiscent of the original son worthiness Revelation 4.11.
The redeemer of humanity is worthy of worship, and no human king is similarly deserving. The scene ends on a high note with the worship by the 4 beasts and the 24 elders. They worship un-reservedly, counting the Lamb as worthy as the one who sits on the throne.
This powerful, moving description of heavenly worship is as inspiring today as it was when John first wrote it. We see in it the great esteem and worthiness that all Heaven accords to the risen Jesus, our redeemer and Lord. See question #4, page 296.1 HEAVENLY MUSIC:
Is there any piece of music composed by a human being that would be worthy of being sung before the very throne of God? Some believe that the “Hallelujah Chorus” could be it!
Handel composed this chorus in 1741 as part of his famous Messiah oratorio. That was a difficult year for Handel. He was trying to get by on a very small income and it was bringing him to despair. Creditors were hounding him. But one day he received a thick envelope from Charles Jennens, a wealthy admirer of Handel’s music. In-side the envelope was page after page of carefully chosen Scripture passages that Jennens thought should be set to music.
Handel was inspired! Over the next few week she worked day and night on the piece of music that was burning in his soul. When he had finished, he exclaimed, “I do believe I have seen all of Heaven before use and the great God himself!”Audiences since Handel’s day have seemed to agree, especially given the tradition of rising tone’s feet during the “Hallelujah Chorus.” We may be sure that the great chorus of praise in Heaven will be even more glorious!
A. Jesus in Christian Worship
One of the burning issues of John’s day was the danger of worshiping false gods. Under the reign of Emperor Domitian, citizens were required to do a yearly act of worship to the “genius” of the emperor—something Christians refused to do. For this they were persecuted, some even to death. John knew that one of the seven churches of Asia had suffered the martyrdom of a faithful member named Antipas (Revelation 2:13). Revelation tells the horrible story of people who worshiped a false god. This may be code language for emperor worship (see Revelation 19:20; 20:4).
There are two sides to the coin of worship. On one side is the principle that worship is for God and only for God. If there is another recipient of worship, worship has become idolatry, the most grievous sin in the Bible. When John falls down to worship an angel, he is admonished, “Do it not … worship God!” (Revelation 19:10). This is an absolute in the Bible. There is only one God and He alone is worthy of worship.
The other side of the coin is that acts of worship clearly reveal who a person’s god is. We may claim to worship God, but the way we live our lives will show what we really count as worthy. It may be ourselves. It may be a political philosophy. It may be wealth and pleasure. We see Paul’s awareness of this when he writes of those “whose God is their belly” (Philippians 3:19).With these principles in mind, we are con-fronted wills a difficult dilemma. If them is only one God, and He alone is worthy of worship, where does Jesus, the redeeming Lamb, fit in? If we worship God and His Son, are we guilty of worshiping two Gods?
We may not have an exhaustive answer to this question because it hinges on the mystery of the Trinitarian stature of God. The doctrine of the Trinity defies human logic, because it claims in a certain sense that 1+1+1=1. Some have there-fore had an aversion to doing anything that seems like direct worship of Jesus.
This is not what we find in the picture of worship supplied by John. Once the Lamb enters the scene, worship is directed, unreservedly, to the one sitting on the throne (God) and to the Lamb(Revelation 5:13). This combination appears several times in the book (example: Revelation22:1). It is proper and fitting to worship Jesus the Lamb, who redeemed us by taking away our sin. This is the Jesus we have a relationship with today. He is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven. Jesus should be counted as worthy in our hearts and in our worship.
To God, the one who sits on the throne, we offer our praise, our honor, and our blessings. To the Lamb, our redeemer, we offer our deepest thanks and devotion. In Jesus’ name, amen.
C. Thought to Remember
Honor Jesus in your worship.