Commentary by Walter Albritton


April 22, 2007


Come Worship and Adore the Lamb of God that Was Slain!


Revelation 5


Key Verse:  Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” – Revelation 5:13


How we approach the imagery John uses in the Book of Revelation is important. It is not necessary that we “see” and understand rationally all that John saw. We can never know, for example, what the “living creatures” actually looked like or how a Lamb could have seven horns and seven eyes.           God offers us both mystery and mercy. We would be foolish to miss God’s mercy because we cannot comprehend with our finite minds his mystery. We shall be wise to let mystery have its place while we look for the compelling truths of the big picture. With that in mind, let us study chapter five.

Immediately John shows us God on his throne. God is in charge. He who created all things is the King. Our God reigns! That means this world is not spinning helplessly in the universe; God is in control. So even when we feel like a leaf being tossed about on a stormy sea, we can cry out in faith to the One who can quiet the turbulent waters. Fears subside when we remember that we are living under the reign of the Lord God Almighty.

The scroll suggests that God has a plan. He knows what he is doing. He is neither absent nor silent. He is present and he speaks. God holds the scroll in his right hand, the hand of power. This brings to mind the beautiful picture Isaiah (41:10) painted:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
       do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
       I will strengthen you and help you;
       I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The New Living Translation substitutes the word “victorious” for righteous which seems more in keeping with the idea that God helps us obtain victory in life’s battles. Those of us who are left-handed can rejoice that we are upheld by the victorious right hand of God!

John sees a strong angel asking for someone who is worthy to open the scroll and allow the plan of God to proceed. When no one seemed available for the task, John weeps in distress. Then one of the elders tells John to stop crying because Christ, the Lion of Judah, can open the scroll.

Thus does John underline the unique role of the Christ. Only Jesus, who has conquered death and hell, can bring an end to the work of Satan. Only Jesus can herald the new day of the new creation of God begun when the Messiah was raised from the dead. He is the strong Lion of God.

Quickly John changes the focus from the Lion to the Lamb. It is his favorite depiction of Christ, a figure he uses 29 times in Revelation. Christ is the slain but victorious Lamb having seven horns and seven eyes. The horn is a symbol of power; seven horns symbolize complete power unlike any other.

The seven eyes are, John explains, the seven spirits of God. Since seven is the perfect or complete number, the seven eyes testify that God sees everything. He misses nothing. Recall that Zechariah (4:10) had a similar vision of God:

For who has despised the day of small things?
      For these seven rejoice to see
      The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
      They are the eyes of the LORD,
      Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

The next compelling truth is the singing of a new song. God’s people may suffer but they also sing! God has made us with the capacity to sing. We are made for love and we are made for singing. In the presence of the Lamb there is worship and singing. So is it in heaven now. So shall it be forever and ever. The saints and all living creatures cannot help but sing and give thanks for the mercies of God.

Observe the consistency of the Scriptures by reading in Isaiah 42 how the prophet sees God’s people singing to the Lord “a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth” (verse 10). God’s people are singing people! The Christ comes as our conquering Savior and puts a new song in our hearts and on our lips!

We must not overlook the prayers of the saints. When the living creatures and the elders fall down to worship the Lamb, each is holding a harp and “golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” God’s people sing, and God’s people pray! God saves us so he can make us saints who can offer prayers of praise and thanksgiving constantly to God.

The great theme of this chapter is the adoration of the Lamb. All those in heaven worship and adore the Lamb. They sing with one voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain”!

Perhaps to prepare ourselves for singing praise to the Lamb in heaven, we should sing more often the wonderful hymn of Charles Parkin (page 674, The United Methodist Hymnal):

See the morning sun ascending, radiant in the eastern sky;

hear the angel voices blending in their praise to God on high!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Glory be to God on high!

So may we, in lowly station, join the choristers above;

singing with the whole creation, praising thee for thy great love.

for thy loving kindness ever shed upon our earthly way;

for thy mercy, ceasing never, for thy blessing day by day;

“Wisdom, honor, power, and blessing!” with the angelic host we cry;

round thy throne, thy name confessing, Lord we would to thee draw nigh.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Glory be to God on high!

The time is coming, John proclaims, when every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea will join in a mighty chorus offering glory and praise to God and the Lamb forever and ever!

What a day that will be! The thought of it makes my heart cry, O Lord, I want to be in that number when the Saints go marching in, singing “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain”! Until that day pour such love into my heart that others will know by my daily life that my first love is the precious Lamb of God! 

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