Revelation 5:1-10, “And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
“And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” (NKJV)
John is weeping, but one of the elders comes to him and gives him some encouraging news. He tells John to wipe his eyes and stop his crying because, while no mere man is worthy, One has been discovered Who is! Let’s examine this worthy One together.
Notice the elder’s words, “Weep not, behold . . . ” Then, he points John to Jesus! That is the message the church has been preaching for 2,000 years, “Weep not, behold . . .” Regardless of the problem, Jesus is the solution! Weep not, look to Jesus and He will meet the need! What a Savior!
A Conquering Lion
The elder tells John that “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David hath prevailed . . .” When John hears the title “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” he immediately knows that the elder is referring to the Messiah. In Genesis 49:8-10, the Jews are promised that a great ruler will arise out of Judah. Like a lion, He will be powerful, strong, brave, majestic, and He will be a mighty conqueror. The Jews were looking for a Messiah Who would throw off the yoke of their oppressors and give them liberty. They were looking for a military leader to lead them to victory over their enemies.
This person is also called “the Root of David.” This title reflects both the humanity and the deity of the Messiah Who was to come. He would raise up the withered branch of the line of David and bring it to power once again. That is the human side of the Messiah. But, He was also the “power behind the throne.” The Messiah was the Root out of which David sprang! So, He was a King and He was the King of Kings!
When Jesus came to this world, claiming to be the Messiah, He did not fulfill the expectations of the Jewish people. Instead of delivering the Jews from their bondage in a great military victory, and establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, Jesus went around healing, preaching and performing miracles. As a result, the Jews rejected Him and their Messiah and crucified the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, and the Root of David.”
When John hears of Jesus in Heaven, He is described as a mighty Lion and as a King and as the King of Kings. John is told that this Lion has prevailed. So, Jesus is described as a Conquering Lion.
A Crucified Lamb
When John turns around to see this mighty, conquering Lion, he sees a “lamb as it had been slain.” The word “lamb” means “a little lamb; a pet lamb.” When John looked, he expected to see a great and powerful Lion; what he saw instead was a little, pet Lamb.
Of course, this scene is wrapped up in Jewish symbolism also. With this image of the “little Lamb,” we are reminded of the Passover lamb. In Exodus 12, the people of Israel were instructed to select a perfect lamb, one without blemish and without spot. They were to take that lamb into their home and nourish it and care for it for a number of days. During that time, you know what happened, that little lamb became like a pet lamb to that family. Then, on the prescribed day, they were take that lamb, kill it, apply its blood to the doorposts of their home, roast its little body and eat it. When the people did this, they were promised that they would be spared when the Lord came to judge the Egyptians. Don’t you know that it broke the hearts of that little family to kill that pet lamb?
In that little dead lamb, the Israelites were given a power picture of what the Lord was going to do someday through the Redeemer He was going to send into the world. Just as that family would kill their pet lamb; God would judge His darling Son on Calvary’s cross. Oh, how it must have broken the Father’s heart to send His Son into a world filled with people who would hate Him, reject Him and crucify Him. How it must have broken the heart of the Father to judge the Son in the place of sinners!
But, it was on the cross that Heaven won the greatest victory of all time and eternity! We are told that the Lion-Lamb has “prevailed.” This word means “to carry off the victory.” Just because Jesus is a Lamb does not mean that He is weak! Jesus carried off the victory at every possible turn.
- He carried off the victory on the Mount of Temptation, Matthew 4:1-11. (Satan thought Jesus would Fall!).
- He carried off the victory in the Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew 26:38-44. (Satan thought Jesus would Fail!).
- He carried off the victory on the cross, John 19:30. (Satan thought Jesus was a Fool!).
- He carried off the victory when He rose from the dead, Matthew 28:1-8! (Satan thought Jesus was Finished!).
Satan thought he had defeated Jesus when Jesus died on the cross. Hell must have celebrated as the broken, bleeding, body of Jesus was removed from that cross and placed in that borrowed tomb. For three days, the demons and devils of Hell must have cavorted in glee as they celebrated what they thought was Satan’s victory over the Lord Jesus Christ.
What Satan thought was his greatest victory was in fact his greatest defeat! The cross was God’s greatest accomplishment! In the cross, God displayed more power and glory than He did in creation. When Jesus cried “It is finished,” it was a far greater achievement than when He said, “Let there be!” Jesus is called “Lamb” 28 times in the book of Revelation. Satan, the Lamb’s enemy is described as “a great, red dragon,” Revelation 12. Satan’s power is described as massive. He masses a great human army and a great demonic army, all intent on defeating God. Heaven’s response to this vast display of infernal power is to send “a little Lamb.” When a nation chooses a symbol, they usually choose an animal that suggests power and authority. The Lion is the Symbol of Great Britain. The Bear is the symbol of Russia. The Eagle is the symbol of the United States of America. When Heaven looked for a symbol, it chose a “slain Lamb,” a symbol of meekness, submission and gentleness. Jesus conquered Satan’s kingdom not by military might, but be meekness, compassion, love and submission!
So, a “little, pet Lamb” won the victory and because of that, He is worthy to take the book. Before we leave this thought, let’s take a moment to examine this Lamb in a little more detail.
- This Lamb is in Heaven – He is not in a dirty manger. He is not on a dusty road in Galilee. He is not on a ship in a storm. He is not sitting wearied and dirty on the rim of a well. He is not hanging in shame and agony on a cross. He is not lying in a cold, sealed tomb. He is where He deserves to be. He is on the throne. He is in Heaven! He is glorified and exalted.
- This Lamb had been there all along – This Lamb had been in the middle of the action all along. John had not seen Him until now, but He had been there the whole time. Let me just remind you that Jesus is always in the midst when we gather. We might not recognize Him, but He is always here, Matthew 18:20.
- This Lamb still bore the marks of having been slain – When we see Jesus in Heaven, we will see the marks of His suffering in His body. For all eternity, Jesus will bear the wounds of the cross as a constant reminder of what He did for us. There will be no room for pride in Heaven! No one will be able to brag about how we got there. When we see Him, we will see His love on permanent display. What a cause for continuous worship and praise!
- This Lamb was standing – When Jesus ascended back to Heaven, we are told that He sat down at the right hand of God, Hebrews 1:3. He sat down because His work of redeeming sinners was complete. He stands in these verses because His work of delivering the earth is about to begin!
- This Lamb has seven eyes – He is all wise and all knowing. This Lamb is Omniscient. Nothing escapes His gaze.
A Completing Lord
The Lamb takes the book out of the hand of God. When He does, Heaven breaks out in an anthem of praise. Heaven knows that Jesus is about to do the work of the Lion and deliver the earth and all of creation from the bondage of Satan and from the blight of sin. He is about to complete His redemptive work.
The Lamb is worthy to take the book and open the seals. If this scroll really is the title deed to the planet earth, what right does He have to open it? There are at least three reasons why He has this right.
- The world is His by right of Creation – He made it!
- The world is His by right of Calvary – He redeemed it!
- The world is His by right of Conquest – He will retake it!
One day in Heaven, the Lamb will take the seven-sealed scroll out of the hand of the Father. When He does, it will signal the beginning of the end for sin and for Satan.
On that day, Jesus will receive the glory that He has been denied by the world for so long. He will be shown to be worthy of worship and to rule and reign over all of creation. He has earned the right because He squared off against all of Hell and He carried off the victory!
Jesus is a Winner! Those who know Him as their Savior are winners too. When Jesus stands, takes that scroll and opens it up; we will be standing there watching and we will rejoice as He takes the world by force.
Who is Jesus to you? He will be Who you let Him be! He will be a Lion Who will come to judge you some day if that is what you want Him to be. Or, He will be a Lamb Who will conquer your sins and save your soul. I am glad I know the Lamb! And, because I do, I will never have to face the Lion! What about you?