Gems in the book of Revelation Part 135 - Revelation 5:1–8 The Lion/Lamb
John’s chapter 5 is one of the great chapters of the Bible. He has this wonderful picture of the lion that turns out to be a lamb. That says a great deal of what the whole work of Jesus was about. He was the lion of Judah prophesied and therefore promised in Genesis 49:9 in the final blessing of his sons by Jacob. The lion has always been considered the king of the beasts. Not only was he the top predator of that area, all of Africa, and much of Asia, he simply looked majestic. So, when they wanted someone sufficiently strong and majestic to open the great scroll that contained the plan of the future who was more appropriate than the king of the beasts? At one and the same time he was the Root of David, prophesied as the Root of Jesse, David’s father, by Isaiah in 11:10. It was widely accepted at that time that this was a reference to the Messiah, the greatly longed for one who was expected to deliver Israel from all the foreign powers, particularly Rome, who so reduced the nation treating it as a vassal state, little better than a kingdom of slaves.
And so, in his vision, John heard what was said and watched, prepared to be awestruck when he saw the lion. But, in place of a lion, he saw a ‘lamb, looking as if it had been slain’. If you have ever come across a dead lamb lying out on the ground you will know that it is the most pitiful of sights. Most dead animals look like the animals they are but just without life, but a dead lamb becomes just a scrap of wet wool (the ones I have seen have all been in the highlands of Scotland and so inevitably wet!) so the one who was equivalent to the most majestic of all creatures is the one who died on a cross the most abject and painful death. He had 7 horns and 7 eyes. He was all seeing and all powerful - though it was not the sort of power that this world delights in.
This was Jesus, Son of God, Saviour of mankind, king of all creation, lord of the kingdom of God. He set an example to all his followers that few have dared to follow in its entirety. ‘Take up your cross’ he told them. As this goes out to be read over all the world a few of you who hear and read will know that you face the possibility of following Jesus all the way; seeking to follow the lion you may be required to be literally a lamb and a dead one at that. Most of us do not expect that to be the way we shall have to go. If at the last it is demanded of us that we should face martyrdom for him we do not really know what our response will be. Will we boldly or tremblingly, be prepared for the ultimate sacrifice? We do not know. We can only conjecture. And there we must leave it. Making rash boasts is not helpful for us, or anybody. Please Lord in the final trial make us faithful.
There are many ways in which mankind is upsetting what might be the even tenor of the world. We shall come across some vivid pictures of some of these before we are finished with this wonderful book. But all the troubles of mankind are now downstream from the sacrifice of the Lamb. Where ever we are; whatever has been our lot in life; whether we have had it easy or life has been one long struggle, we can look back at the work of the Lamb of God. He has conquered in his strange upside down world where it is better to be a Lamb than a Lion. It is our great privilege to have been told this and, in part at least, to understand it. So it is our great privilege to live as the sons and daughters of the King.
The Lamb has taken the scroll and the plans of God continue to be realized. No wonder that all John sees next is praise and worship.