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Book of Revelation
“The Lion Becomes The Lamb”
In chapter five, John continues his dramatic description of the scene in heaven. Again his attention is drawn back to the throne of God.
Read Revelation 5:1-7
In the Lord’s hand is a scroll. There’s writing on both sides and it’s sealed with seven seals.
The way it’s laid out each seal must be broken in succession before more is revealed. Further, being that there are seven seals indicates that it was a document of importance. Roman documents, like a Last Will and Testament, needed to be sealed seven times.
The scroll could be reference to Daniel 12. Here Daniel is told to seal up the book until the time of the end, and when Daniel asked when that time will be, he’s told,
“Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:9 NKJV)
The time has now come. But not just anyone can take possession of this scroll.
What is this scroll? It contains the rest of the book of the Revelation, the future of humanity and planet earth. Some have said it’s literally the title deed for the planet, a deed the human race signed over to Satan in the Garden of Eden.
The seals kept the document secret and with their breaking terrible things happen as God judges humanity’s sin. What John sees, therefore, is some sort of legal document, like a will or title deed, legally sealed with seven seals.
This scroll gives authority and power to its recipient to enact God’s final purpose. It contains the climax of God’s purposes to reward His people, to give them their inheritance, and on the flip side condemn the wicked. Remember it’s written on both the front and back. It contains the destiny of the world.
No angel, human, or creature could open the book. Not Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Peter, or Paul. Not Alexander the Great, Caesar, Napoleon, or president of the United States. Not Confucius, Buddha, Mohammad, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, or the Pope. Not J. Paul Getty, H.D. Rockefeller, Warren Buffet, or Bill Gates. Heaven, earth, and below the earth was searched, but no one in all creation throughout the ages was found worthy. No one.
This is what the Bible proclaims, “There is no one righteous, no not one.” (Psalm 143:2; Romans 3:10)
We live in an age where people want to be self-made; we want to “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.” We feel like we can forge our own destiny without God. But the call goes forth and no one is found worthy to open the scroll.
John understands the enormous significance of the scroll and begins to weep at the terrible calamity. John weeps because without the opening of this scroll evil will continue.
We should all be feeling such sorrow because without a savior we’re merely pawns in Satan’s hands. We should all weep when there is no champion for us!
But just then, John is told: “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.” (Revelation 5:4 NKJV)
The description of Jesus as a lion comes from Jacob’s blessing over his sons. To Judah Jacob says he’s a lion and that the scepter of rule will be his, Genesis 49.
Being from the root of David comes from the prophet Isaiah where he says that from Jesse’s descendant, whom King David comes from, the Messiah will come, and who’s referred to as coming from the line of David, Isaiah 11.
John immediately turns to see this great lion that has just been described, but he doesn’t see a lion; instead he sees a lamb. And not just any lamb, but one with death wounds.
He’s just as John the Baptist described Him saying, “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world.”
And so, while the angels and heaven see Him as a lion, John sees Him as the Lamb. Why a lamb, because He gave His life as that perfect sacrifice for sin, and as the Lamb, Jesus is the grace and mercy of God personified.
Jesus was able to take the scroll and open the seals because He was worthy having no sin, and He conquered and was victorious. He earned the right by paying the price by the blood He shed upon the cross, and then when He rose from the dead He proved that He alone conquered sin, death, and Satan.
In the song the 24 elders sing they say, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” (Revelation 5:12 NKJV)
Let’s take a moment and look at A Lion Who Is A Lamb and what it means to us.
First, how can a lion be a lamb? The two are opposites. One is a hunter, the other the prey. One is placed in a cage with iron bars, the other in a petting zoo.
A lion-like lamb is an oxymoron. The terms do not belong together, that is, excepting in heaven. Here the lion is the lamb. His power was found in his death, because with His death He purchased people’s souls, making Him worthy to open the scroll.
With the number “7” representing God and perfection, the 7 horns represent the fact that He is omnipotent, that is having divine power, and the 7 eyes represent His wisdom, that He is omniscience, that is, He has all wisdom.
The seven Spirits of God represents the Holy Spirit, which Jesus sent to fill believers on the earth. Jesus is the One who sent the Holy Spirit after His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus said that He wouldn’t leave us as orphans, but that He would send the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit.
From the Lion turned Lamb and taking the scroll there are three things we see
1. God’s Strength is Disguised as Weakness
The secret to God’s strength is in His apparent weakness. Look at the Lamb of God dying on the cross. Was there any greater appearance of weakness on God’s part? They even taunted Jesus saying, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:40 NKJV).
Jesus’ power was hidden in apparent weakness! Isaiah prophesied about this saying,
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7 NKJV).
The irony is that Jesus was able to come down from the cross, but He chose not to. What God was doing was the most powerful act He would ever perform. Christ’s redemptive act on the cross was His greatest hour. It was greater than creation, and greater than bringing this world to an end. His strength was hidden, but it was God’s most powerful moment.
The appearance of weakness is not a concern of God, for it’s his strength. The reality is that He rules the universe despite what anyone thinks, and He’ll bring the world to its appointed end.
The Bible says, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men … But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” (1 Corinthians 1:25, 27)
Jesus now has the power over sin and death, and all who believe in Him are redeemed, that is, taken by force from the realm of Satan and are now a part of God’s kingdom as children of God and if children then heirs.
People who follow Christ are ridiculed and even persecuted. But those who truly love God will follow and live for Him, because of who He is rather than what they can get from Him. Only those who love the truth, regardless of how weak or irrelevant it may appear, will follow Him.
It doesn’t take courage to follow what everyone else believes, but it does take courage to follow the truth when others do not understand and belittle what you believe. It takes courage to do the right thing even though you are punished for it at work or school. It takes courage to stand up for what’s right even when everyone else thinks you’re wrong.
But greater is He that is in you than Satan and the forces of evil that are in the world. And while the rest of the world is going to hell in a hand basket, when you die you’ll be on your way to glory, having conquered because Jesus, the Lamb of God, conquered.
2. God Has a Plan
There is a scroll, and because there is a scroll in God’s hand, there’s a plan, and seeing that it’s in God’s hand means that it will be fulfilled. God has a plan and He is carrying it out. History is headed somewhere. The scroll is written on both sides, from end to end, so that there is no room for anyone to add anything else to God’s plan.
“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 1:9-10 NIV)
This was God’s purpose; this was God’s plan, that everything in heaven and on earth, even under the earth, would be put in Christ’s authority. And the good news about this is that just as God has a plan for heaven and earth, He also has plan for you and me.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)
3. God is in Control
Sometimes we look around at the world and it seems like evil’s winning, but we have the Bible and we know who wins in the end. God is in control. Appearances are deceiving. Things are not always what they appear. The lion is a lamb, but the lamb is also a lion.
On October 30, 1974, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman squared off in the boxing ring in Zaire. It was dubbed, “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Foreman was considered the favorite because of his devastating punch. But Ali did something that no other fighter dared. He held up his arms, leaned back against the ropes and allowed Foreman to punch away.
Foreman beat on Ali until he could punch no more. When the moment came, Ali bounced off the ropes and knocked out Foremen. Ali called this technique “rope-a-dope.” Even though it looked like he was losing the fight, he was in control the whole time. He took all those punches because he knew he would deliver the final punch.
God is using the “rope-a-dope” technique on Satan and evil. Just when the devil and the antichrist amass all their armies, and have spent themselves fighting the Lord and his people, just when it looks as though the kingdom of God is on the ropes, God will deliver the final blow.
Just when it looks like evil will win, God steps in. Just when it looks as though evil will have the final word, God will destroy it with his final word.
Listen to what happens when the Lamb opens the fifth seal:
“And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:15-17 NKJV)
The battle may be long and weary. It may even appear as if you’re losing the battle. But keep leaning on God, and while this may appear to others to be weakness, it’s your strength. And you will triumph in the end. Paul said,
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NKJV)
The lion who is a lamb proved Himself worthy to break the seals and open the scroll of man’s destiny by living the perfect life of obedience to God, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, and rising from the dead to show His victory and power over sin and death.
Only Christ conquered sin, death, hell, and Satan, so only He can be trusted with the world’s future. And only Jesus can save us from the tribulation events unleashed by the opening of the scroll. The Lamb of God who died for us has already won the greatest battle of all-time, for all mankind.
But we are not worthy to usher in God’s destiny. We only find our destiny in Jesus’ destiny and in His victory.
Read Revelation 5:8-14
The Lamb takes the Scroll
Once the book of destiny was taken, those in heaven pay adoration to the One worthy to take it.
“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.’” (Revelation 5:9-10 NKJV)
The term “ransomed” was used of a slave’s freedom being purchased for a sum of money. Our redemption was accomplished by the payment Jesus made at the cross through His blood so we can receive release from the bondage of sin and death. It’s by the blood of the Lamb that we have been redeemed, 1 Pet. 1:18-19.
Further, the song of the redeemed extends to the entire world. God’s message of salvation and eternal life is not limited to a specific culture, race or country. Every tribe, tongue and people is called to participate. The power of the blood can redeem any person, anywhere, and at any time.
In this verse we see the type of church we need to be, that is, inclusive, where there’s neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male or female, because we are all one family in Christ Jesus. And here’s the point. If we can’t stand worshiping the Lord with others, no matter their race, nationality, or gender, how can we think about worshiping God in heaven?
The song of the redeemed praises Christ for His work. Jesus by His redemption and sanctification has brought into existence a new creation. He who was slain for us, who purchased us with His blood, is gathering us into a kingdom, making us priest and has appointed us to reign. Jesus has already died and paid the penalty of sin, He is presently making us into a kingdom and into priests.
And that is what we are right now through Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter said,
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:10 NKJV)
When we’re in heaven we’ll be joining our voices with all of God’s creation singing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12)
We see something similar in what the Apostle Paul told to the Philippians church. He said,
“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11 NKJV)
There is one more thing we see in this scene, the golden bowls that are held by the 24 elders, which is described as the prayers of the saints.
The golden bowls were saucer-like pans used in the tabernacle and the temple. They were filled with the prescribed incense and when ignited sent up an aroma that was pleasing to the Lord. The incense produced an agreeable fragrance and the rising smoke ascending towards heaven represented prayer, the prayers of the saints rising up to the Lord, Psalm 141:2; Luke 1:10.
The focus of the prayers is most likely for the Lord’s return to make things right. All those prayers that we’ve have poured out for Jesus’ return and bring His peace are gathered up in these bowls held by these elders before God.
It’s what’s found in the Lord’s Prayer.
“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10 NKJV)
These prayers are not forgotten. Not one is lost. They are treasured in these golden bowls in heaven. These prayers are sacred incense before God and before the Lamb. In heaven our prayers are precious, so precious that they are brought into the very presence of God Himself.
So don’t underestimate your prayers.
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers.” (1 Peter 3:12 NKJV)
Every time you open up communication to God in prayer He listens and answers. We need to pray with all types of prayers, big prayers, small prayers, and urgent prayers.
James 4:2 say, “You don’t have because you don’t ask.”
The reason we’re so tied up is because we don’t believe in the power of prayer. The Apostle Paul said,
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)
And so the Lion is the Lamb, and He’s worthy to receive all power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing because He won, and because He won we win.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study