#3. The Lion That Is the Lamb (Revelation 4-5)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (28:39)

The purpose of this study is to understand the message of the Book of Revelation. The notes for this section are fairly sparse. (Just wait until next week!) But if you'd like to read a detailed exposition of this passage, see "#5. The Triumphant Lamb We Worship (Revelation 5:1-14; www.jesuswalk.com/lamb/lamb_5worship.htm), as part of my 5-lesson "Behold, the Lamb of God" Bible Study (www.jesuswalk.com/lamb/).

Ghent Altarpiece, Hubert and Jan van Eyck
"Adoration of the Lamb" from the Ghent Altarpiece (1427-1430), by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, Cathedral of St. Bavo, Ghent, The Netherlands.
Click to enlarge (165K).
We've seen the glorified Christ speaking to his Church in Revelation 2-3. Now the scene shifts and we see the glory of Almighty God as well as the worthiness of the Lamb of God. We are also introduced to the worship that goes on before the throne of God. Too often we are bored by worship, but worship is our destiny and our privilege as God's people.

4:2 "Behold, a throne." Heavens and earth are not ruled by Satan but by the throne of God. "We know the one who holds the future." See Psalm 47:8; 1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 6:1-8; Ezekiel 1:26-28; Daniel 7:9-10.

4:4 "Twenty-four elders." Twenty four seems to symbolize the 12 patriarchs (the people of God in OT days) and the 12 apostles (the people of God in NT days), thus the whole church of God, both before and since the time of Christ (Revelation 21:12-14). We, too, are seated in heavenly places with Christ (Ephesians 2:6) and share his reign (Revelation 5:10).

Griffin, ancient Babylon 4:6 "Four living creatures." These angelic beings are related to the four-faced cherubim of Ezekiel 1 and 10 with some differences. (See also Isaiah 6:2-3.) They serve as spokesman (Revelation 6:1, 3, 5, 7) and are continually singing and praising God (4:8). Winged creatures are commonly found in Near Eastern archeology, such as the griffin. Four seems to be another number of completeness, especially concerning of universal or worldwide scope, the created world (Beale 59, Wilcock), the four corners of the earth, the four winds (7:1).

Q1. Many Christian hymns, songs, and choruses come from Revelation chapters 4 and 5. Which can you think of?
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4:10 "Fall down and worship." The word "worship," Greek proskuneo, originally involved the idea of prostrating oneself before deity to kiss his feet or the hem of his garment.

"Lay their crowns before the throne," symbolically acknowledging that their authority is a delegated authority.

Q2. These chapters contain many insights into worship that have been adopted by the Christian Church. What do you learn about Christian worship from chapters 4 and 5? Don't miss the basics. Your list might include 20 elements and concepts of worship -- or more.
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5:1 "A scroll written within and on the back." Probably it represents God's eternal plan with respect to the entire universe throughout history, and concerning all creatures in all ages and unto all eternity. Hence it is full of writing on both sides. The seven seals signify the absolute inviolability of the scroll. (See Daniel 8:26; Isaiah 29:11).

5:2 "Who is worthy?" The call is for someone who is worthy to perform the supreme service of bringing history to its consummation.

5:4 "I wept much" at the prospect of an indefinite postponement of God's final and decisive action.

5:5 "The Lion of the tribe of Judah," Genesis 49:9-10.

"The Root of David (Isaiah 11:1; Romans 15:12) has conquered" -- victory through complete self-sacrifice. Jesus, of course, is the descendent of David (son of Jesse), and heir to David's kingdom --  the coming Messiah to whom the prophecies look forward.

5:6 "A Lamb standing as though it had been slain," Greek sphazo, literally "butcher or murder someone" (BDAG 979). This word also describes the fate of Christ's followers (6:9). On Jesus as the Lamb, see John 1:29; Isaiah 53:7.

"Seven horns and seven eyes." Seven = perfection, completeness. Horn = power. Eyes = wisdom, seeing, perception.

5:8 "A harp" (Psalm 33:2-3) and "incense" (Deuteronomy 33:10; Psalm 141:2; Revelation 8:3) typify our prayers that rise before God's throne.

5:9 "By your blood did you ransom men for God" (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 14:4).

Q3. (Revelation 5:9, 12) What made Jesus so worthy of opening the scroll and thus bringing history to its consummation? Why was this act so noteworthy and praiseworthy?
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5:10 "A kingdom and priests to our God." A fulfillment of Exodus 19:6 (see also 1 Peter 2:5, 9). Corporately believers are a kingdom. Individually we are priests to God.

"They shall reign," sharing Christ's rule (2:26-27).

"On earth." When this reign takes place isn't entirely clear -- either during the millennium (20:4) or the "new heavens and new earth" (22:5). Whichever it is, the destiny of believers is bound up with planet earth. Since our resurrection bodies will be like Christ's (Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2), we will have the ability to operate in both spiritual and physical realms.

Q4. (Revelation 5:10) How can our destiny as believers include reigning? In what sense could we reign? In what sense do we serve as priests? In what sense are we a kingdom?
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Q5. (Revelation 5:13) What is the significance of the same quality of worship being offered to both God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son? What does this tell us about their relationship to each other? Their relationship to us?
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Prayer

Father, we tend to be so self-centered. Teach us to center our lives on you and your son Jesus Christ, to get our priorities straight, and to live lives of worship. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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