THE LION AND THE LAMB

THE LION AND THE LAMB

Rev. 5:5-6 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

I recently reread my favorite sermon of all, “The Excellency of Christ” by Jonathan Edwards. The first time I read it was on a long plane flight across the Pacific Ocean. Needless to say, I wept until I had no more tears. That message takes a long look at the vision of the lion and the lamb in the book of revelation. In it, Edwards unfolds what I like to call the diverse excellencies of Jesus Christ. He speaks of His glory and His humility, His sovereignty and His dependency, His eternal power and incredible weakness seen in His humanity. He is the lion and the lamb. Here is a short excerpt from the introduction of Edwards’ sermon.

“John was told of a lion that had prevailed to open the book, and probably expected to see a lion in his vision; but while he is expecting, behold a lamb appears to open the book, an exceeding diverse kind of creature from a lion! A lion is a devourer, one that is wont to make terrible slaughter of others; and no creature more easily falls a prey to him than a lamb. And Christ is here represented not only as a lamb, a creature very liable to be slain, but a “Lamb as it had been slain,” that is, with the marks of its deadly wounds appearing on it. The lion and the lamb, though very diverse kinds of creatures, yet have each their peculiar excellencies. The lion excels in strength, and in the majesty of his appearance and voice. The lamb excels in meekness and patience, besides the excellent nature of the creature as good for food, and yielding that which is fit for our clothing, and being suitable to be offered in sacrifice to God. But we see that Christ is in the text compared to both; because the diverse excellencies of both wonderfully meet in him.”

If you really think about it, there was no other way for us to come to God. We needed a holy representative from our fallen race. The problem was this, that person didn’t exist. There was only One who was holy and our only chance was for Him to become one of us. He stripped Himself of His rights as God and took upon Himself human flesh. The lion became a lamb. Today in heaven those diverse excellencies are still seen. The Lion is ruling the universe by the word of His power, the Lamb is comforting His sons and daughters as they are welcomed into His arms.

THE WOUNDS OF JESUS

THE WOUNDS OF JESUS

Rev. 5:6 ¶ 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…

I have a picture of this vision of Jesus that John saw over my desk. John is humbled and overwhelmed at the sight of the slain Lamb of God. There is no sweeter image in the world for His sons and daughters, the horrible wounds in the body of Jesus are precious to us. In Hebrews, Paul speaks about how the blood of Jesus speaks better things than the blood of Abel. His wounds are still speaking to us today. What are they saying? They are crying out to the sick, by His wounds you are healed. They are crying out to the sinner, Christ died to save sinners. His wounds are crying out to the poor, Jesus bore your curse that the blessing of Abraham might come on you. Charles Spurgeon shared abound the beauty of the wounds of Jesus, check out his thoughts.

“Beloved, the wounds of Jesus are far more fair in our eyes than all the splendor and pomp of kings. The thorny crown is more than an imperial diadem. It is true that he bears not now the scepter of reed, but there was a glory in it that never flashed from scepter of gold. Jesus wears the appearance of a slain Lamb as his court dress in which he wooed our souls, and redeemed them by his complete atonement. Nor are these only the ornaments of Christ: they are the trophies of his love and of his victory. He has divided the spoil with the strong. He has redeemed for himself a great multitude whom no man can number, and these scars are the memorials of the fight. Ah! if Christ thus loves to retain the thought of his sufferings for his people, how precious should his wounds be to us!

Behold how every wound of his

A precious balm distills,

Which heals the scars that sin had made,

And cures all mortal ills.

Those wounds are mouths that preach his grace;

The ensigns of his love;

The seals of our expected bliss

In paradise above.”

To the lost, the cross and the suffering of Jesus is irrelevant. To those who are being saved, it is crying out the favor and blessing of God. Every drop of Jesus blood that was spilled was precious. Starting from the great drops of blood in Gethsemane to the brutality of the whipping post. From the beating by the Roman soldiers to the piercing of the nails and the spear. His wounds are precious and are calling us into a place of intimacy with God. These wounds remind us of our redemption from sin, deliverance from the power of the enemy, and healing for our bodies. His death was not unimportant, it is the most awful and beautiful event of all time.

THEY CAN HOWL BUT THEY CANNOT SING

THEY CAN HOWL BUT THEY CANNOT SING

Rev. 5:9-10 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Everybody is singing some kind of song. The lover is singing about his passion, the lustful man about his conquests, the dreamer about somewhere over the rainbow, even the child is singing about his gifts he’ll receive at Christmas. There is something in all of us, we just have to sing. For the Christian, we have plenty to sing about. As Paul said, when we were children we played with our toys, but when we were grown we put away childish things. Jonathan Edwards spoke about the song of the redeemed. He said they sing a song no one else can sing. Check out his message about the song of the redeemed.

“Christ has purchased for a certain number that knowledge of the glorious excellency of God and Christ, and of the infinite riches of his grace appearing in the way of salvation. That excellent heavenly light that shines into the soul, and gives it a view and understanding of those excellent things, is a blessing purchased at the price of Christ’s precious blood. And so that ability, that harmony of the soul and melody of the heart, consisting in holy love and joy and delight in God and Christ, is a precious benefit that is the fruit of the same purchase. This heavenly melody is dear; it costs Christ’s precious blood.
And if these things cannot be obtained any other way than by the redemption (of Christ), then we may see the reason why none can obtain them but those that are redeemed by Christ. Other men are dumb and dead as to any such heavenly exercise as this. They can exalt their idols, but they can’t exalt God. They can rejoice in the objects of their lusts, in their worldliness and in their carnal pleasures, but they can’t rejoice in Christ Jesus. They can howl, but they can’t sing the new song. ”

Have you ever thought about that, the lost cannot worship. It’s not that they won’t worship, they can’t. Worship comes from a heart touched by God. The light of His goodness flows into the heart that has been born again. From that point on there is no other recourse. How can we not worship someone who is so lovely? His grace, His goodness, and His power command our worship. It is our response to the shocking Glory that streams from the face of Jesus Christ, He is altogether lovely. The lost have other things as the object of their affections. They may sing about a love or a love gone wrong but they cannot worship. As Edwards said, they can howl but they cannot sing.

THE LION AND THE LAMB

THE LION AND THE LAMB

Rev. 5:6-8 ¶ And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

John saw an incredible, seemingly, contradictory vision of Jesus Christ. He saw Him as a lion and also as a lamb. No two creatures could be more different. Each of these animals portray some of the beautiful aspects of the character and person of Jesus Christ. The lion proclaims the power and majesty seen in Christ as the Son of God. The lamb gives us a hint at the incomparable humility and graciousness found in Jesus as the Son of Man. To understand Him, you must see Him in both natures. He is truly the Son of God and also the son of Adam. What an astounding truth. Jonathan Edwards preached one of his greatest messages on this passage. Enjoy this small excerpt from his sermon “The Excellency of Christ”.

“Christ is the Creator and great Possessor of heaven and earth. He is sovereign Lord of all. He rules over the whole universe, and doth whatsoever pleaseth him. His knowledge is without bound. His wisdom is perfect, and what none can circumvent. His power is infinite, and none can resist Him. His riches are immense and inexhaustible. His majesty is infinitely awful. And yet he is one of infinite condescension. None are so low or inferior, but Christ’s condescension is sufficient to take a gracious notice of them. He condescends not only to the angels, humbling himself to behold the things that are done in heaven, but he also condescends to such poor creatures as men; and that not only so as to take notice of princes and great men, but of those that are of meanest rank and degree, “the poor of the world,” James 2:5. Such as are commonly despised by their fellow creatures, Christ does not despise. I Cor. 1:28 ‘Base things of the world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen’. Christ condescends to take notice of beggars Luke 16:22 and people of the most despised nations.”

This is what Paul called the mystery of godliness. The Son of God took on human flesh, He actually became a human for all time. In this person is this seemingly, contradictory nature; power and resignation, sovereignty and total dependence, glory and humility, justice and mercy. What an incredible Savior, what an incredible God! Today, the Holy Spirit can give us the same revelation that John had in Revelation 5. He was weeping in utter despair at the hopeless condition of mankind, until…. When he saw the Lion of the tribe of Judah and he saw the Lamb of God, his sorrow was turned into awe. He joined the rest of heaven worshipping before the throne.

THE LION AND THE LAMB

THE LION AND THE LAMB

Rev. 5:6 ¶ 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.

Several years ago I was flying back across the Pacific ocean after an international ministry trip. It was shortly after I had been introduced to the ministry of Jonathan Edwards, and I was reading one of his sermons, “The Excellency of Christ”. I was caught by surprise by his description of the diverse excellencies seen in the person of Jesus Christ. I was literally undone as I read his thoughts about the lion and the lamb described in John’s vision. He spoke of the mercy and the justice, the weakness and the power, the sovereignty and the resignation, the sufficiency and the dependency found in Christ. Edwards described the almost conflicting characteristics found in the person of Christ. What an amazing Savior we have in Christ. Pastor A.B. Simpson also has some powerful observations on this vision.

“This is the most sublime vision of the Lord Jesus Christ in the whole book of Revelation. As the evangelist stands looking into heaven, he beholds a scroll containing, it would seem, the purpose and the will of God for the future ages, sealed. No man in earth or heaven was able to open the scroll, or loose the seals. Suddenly an angel turning to him, explained that the mystery was about to be solved and that One had been found that was able to loose the seals and open the scroll. It was the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who had prevailed to loose the seals “and open the book.” As John stood looking for the Lion, lo! it was a Lamb, bearing the crimson marks of suffering and death, and yet, on closer inspection, wearing also the insignia of infinite power and wisdom, for he had seven horns and seven eyes, the types of perfect power and perfect knowledge.”

What an incredible picture of our Lord. I need Him to be a lion and I need Him to be a lamb. How often do I need His tenderness, compassion, mercy and understanding portrayed in the Lamb of God. He leads us like a flock of sheep and wipes away the tears from our eyes. I need His healing touch when I am sick and I need His compassionate counsel in my times of trouble. I also desperately need the Lion of the tribe of Judah. I need His strength to uphold me, empower me, defend me and correct me. I need Jesus Christ, I need His humanity and I need His deity. In this same vision John described the seven fold manifestation of the Spirit. It is through the person of the Holy Spirit that the Lord opens our eyes and our hearts so that we can see and receive this precious Savior. Come quickly Lord Jesus.

ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN

ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN

And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
Rev.5:13,14

I will never forget the early days of my Christian walk, it was at God’s Army Seminary of the Bible in Kerman, California. This was not an ordinary Bible School. Sure we had teachers and classes and grades and papers and all the normal school “stuff”, but that is where the similarities ended. This was a Christian community. We lived in “extended households”, we had a “common purse”, we ate our meals together, we prayed together, we worked together, we were experiencing the life of Christ as a true Christian community. It was very tough but that is where I experienced some of the greatest times in my Christian walk. Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke about Christian community, specifically about worship in his book “Life Together”, here is an excerpt.

“It is God who has prepared one great song of praise throughout eternity, and those who enter God’s community join in this song. It is the song that “the morning stars sang together and all the children of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). It is the victory song of the children of Israel after passing through the Red Sea, the Magnificat of Mary after the Annunciation, the song of Paul and Silas when they praised God in the darkness of prison, the song of the singers on the sea of glass after their deliverance, the “song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3). It is the new song of the heavenly community. Every day in the morning the community of faith on earth joins in this song and in the evening it closes the day with this hymn. The triune God and the works of God are being extolled here. This song has a different sound on earth that in does in heaven. On earth, it is the song of those who believe; in heaven, the song of those who see.”

Worship is happening in heaven, what else can you do when you behold His glory? As we come together in community, in the true fellowship of Christians, we begin to experience corporate worship, a taste of the heavenly ecstasy that will be ours soon. You can tell a lot about your spiritual condition by your worship experience with others. Worshipping with your spiritual family is as close as we get to the kingdom here on earth. This is the place where Jesus prayer is fulfilled, “Let your kingdom come, let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.