The Lion Who Is the LambRevelation 5:1-8Theme: Triumph through suffering.This week’s lessons teach us that Christ is the only one who can implement the eternal plan of God in history.
LessonThen in Exodus comes the Passover. A lamb was killed, the blood was spread upon the doorpost of the house, and God, as he came through to pronounce judgment on the firstborn of all the hosts of Egypt, passed over the houses of those where the blood was spread. It shows that the blood of an innocent substitute is a covering for sin.
Later at Sinai, God instituted the Law having to do with the Day of Atonement. On that day, which occurred once a year, the high priest took the blood of an animal that had been killed, and sprinkled it on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant within the most holy place of the tabernacle, thereby coming between the holy presence of God and the Law which we have broken. It was pointing to atonement or propitiation – the turning away of God’s wrath – so that those upon whom he has set his favor might be saved. And here in the Book of Revelation we find exactly the same thing. We find a Lion of the tribe of Judah who is actually the Lamb.
It is by becoming a Lamb and suffering that Jesus achieves the victory. Jesus has triumphed. And we’re going to triumph, too, but it’s going to be as Jesus did. He didn’t triumph by calling upon the armies of heaven to come and give a spectacular victory by removing him from the cross, overcoming, as it were, the worst that men could do by a deliverance – though he could have done so. Rather he triumphed by going through it and by suffering as the Messiah.
It’s what Jesus taught the Emmaus disciples when he explained to them in all the Scriptures what had to happen, and how it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and die in order that the victory might be achieved. And that is exactly the calling to which you and I are called as Christians. Peter learned it, standing there in the garden with a sword in his hand. He thought the way to triumph was by attacking Christ’s enemies. He tried to cut off the head of one of them, but he only got the ear. Jesus told him to put away his sword and then he healed the ear. Afterwards, Peter wrote this: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).
In Revelation the saints are described as those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. And in chapter 7, verse 14, they’re even likened to the Lamb of Isaiah. For the same reason, they’re said to have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and to have overcome the devil because of the blood of the Lamb. Jesus was defeated physically in the world’s eyes; but, in that very moment and by means of it, he was victorious. And it’s in our suffering that we also overcome. Didn’t Paul write that that was his own experience? After all the hardships that he experienced in order to advance the gospel, he put it this way: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:16-17).
Do you believe that? If you believe that, you’re going to count it more important to stand for truth and righteousness and the glory of God than to be successful in the ways that the world evaluates as success.
Now, here’s some encouragement. When John turned around and saw the Lamb looking as if it had been slain, he noticed two more of the Lamb’s characteristics. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which, John says, are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. This is a dream-like vision. God is communicating by symbolized revelation. This is telling us certain things about Jesus.
It says that Jesus has seven horns; what does that mean? In the Bible and its culture where people kept animals, people noticed that those animals with the biggest horns were often the strongest. A horn was a symbol of power. We find references to God raising up a horn, which meant a strong king or something of that nature. Now Jesus is said to have seven horns. Seven seems to be a picture of completion. A whole week is seven days. The number seven occurs again and again throughout the Book of Revelation. So the seven horns indicate that Jesus is all-powerful. Our word for that is omnipotent.
What three accounts in the Old Testament does Dr. Boice mention as pointing forward to the substitionary atonement of Christ?
In what way will we triumph?
What is the meaning of the seven horns?
ReflectionAre you suffering for your faith? Thank God that he has counted you worthy to endure suffering for his name’s sake, and pray that he will triumph through you.