THE LAMB: Glorified in the Revelation “…WORTHY IS THE LAMB…” Revelation 5:12
What’s in a name? Not much. some would say. The ancient Hebrews, however, thought that names were very significant. Oftentimes, a person’s name would describe his character. After receiving the promise that he would be “a father of many nations” (Gen. 17:5), the name of Abram (“exalted father”) was changed to Abraham (“father of a multitude”). When the Lord granted barren Hannah’s petition for a child, she named the boy Samuel, meaning “God has heard” (1 Sam, 1:20). When nearly everyone was worshiping Baal as god, the prophet Elijah boldly proclaimed through the meaning of his name, “The LORD is my God!”
It is appropriate, therefore, that the names and titles of our Savior should express the nature of His person and work. The name Jesus (Yeshua) means “salvation”. It was given to Him because it described what He would do: “. . . he shall save his people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21 b). The title of Christ means “anointed one”, or Messiah. In the gospel of John, Jesus has many titles e.g., the “bread of life” (6:48), “the light of the world” (8:12), “the good shepherd” (10:14), “the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6), and “the true vine” (15:1).
It is appropriate, therefore, that the one book which claims to be “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1) should reveal Him by so many rich and varied titles that describe the wonder of His person and work. Consider the following titles ascribed to the Lord Jesus in the book of Revelation: faithful witness, first begotten of the dead, prince of the kings of the earth (1:5); Alpha and Omega, the first and the last (1:11, 17; 22:13); Amen (3:14); Lion of the tribe of Judah (5:5); Root of David (5:5; 22:16); King of kings and Lord of lords (17:14; 19:16); Faithful and True (19:11); The Word of God (19:13);and bright and morning star (22:16). He even has a personal name “. . . that no man knew, but he himself” (19:12).
But of all the titles of the Lord Jesus in the Revelation, the one that appears most is the “Lamb”. This title is applied to Him twenty-eight times in the twenty-two chapters of the book. If the Lamb was typified in the law, personified in the prophets, identified in the gospels, He is glorified in the Revelation!
Since the Lamb is so prominent in the Revelation, to study the Lamb in the book is to study the book itself. There are four aspects of the Lamb that progressively unfold in the pages of the apocalypse. In chapters four and five, the worship of the Lamb is celebrated. In chapters six through eighteen, the wrath of the Lamb is revealed. In chapters nineteen and twenty, the wedding of the Lamb is observed. In chapters twenty-one and twenty-two, the wife of the Lamb is described.
THE WORSHIP OF THE LAMB
All of the references to the Lamb appear in the third division of the Revelation. According to 1:19, the book is divided into three sections: (1) “the things which thou hast seen” (chapter one); (2) “the things which are” (chapters two and three); and (3) “the things which shall be hereafter” (chapters four through twenty-two). The events described in 4:1 through 22:21 are future to the Church age. These events will take place following the Rapture of the Church.
John was caught up to the throne room of Heaven, and there he beheld God on the throne surrounded by twenty-four elders seated on thrones. Since the elders are described as white robed, crowned and redeemed, they are representative of the Church raptured, resurrected and rewarded. This is evidence that the Church has been raptured prior to the Tribulation period. In the right hand of God was a scroll written inside and out, sealed with seven seals. When an angel asked, “.. . Who is worthy to open the scroll, and to loose its seals?” (5:2), a search was made in Heaven and earth. but no man was found who was worthy. John wept audibly because the book contained the destiny of mankind, which John passionately wanted to know.
One of the elders, however, encouraged him by saying that there was One who was worthy to open the scroll. His titles: “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” and “the Root of David” (5:5). Immediately, we are reminded of the messianic credentials of the Lord Jesus Christ (Gen. 49:10; 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Jer. 23:5). But when John turned to see this worthy royal personage, he saw Him not in regal splendor, but as “… a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes.. . ” (5:6).
How appropriate is this twofold aspect of the Messiah! He is worthy because of His credentials (as the Lion) and because of His crucifixion (as the Lamb). Before the Messiah will take His throne and reign in His role as Lion, He must come first as a Lamb to suffer for sin (Isa. 53:7). John called Him “. . . the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). It is because He shed His blood to redeem lost mankind that He is worthy to open the scroll that reveals the destiny of mankind.
When the Lamb took the scroll from the right hand of Him on the throne, a magnificent oratorio of praise to the Lamb echoed throughout Heaven and earth. The twenty-four elders, the four living creatures, a myriad of angels, and finally all nature blend their voices in a mighty chorus of praise, saying, “. . . Thou are worthy . . . Worthy is the Lamb . . . glory . . .unto the Lamb.. . ” (5:9,12, 13). When the climax is reached with a solemn “Amen” by the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders fall down in silent worship (v. 14).
The power of a magnificent musical composition like Handel’s “Messiah” pales into insignificance before this mighty worship scene in Heaven. And the whole experience focuses on the worthiness of the Lamb who was slain. Will you be part of that group which will worship the LAMB face to face? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
THE WRATH OF THE LAMB
The blessed scene of chapters four and five changes drastically as the Lamb begins to open the seals of the scroll. Chapters six through eighteen record the contents of that scroll. As the Lamb opens each succeeding seal, the wrath of the Lamb begins to pour out on the unbelieving earth of the Tribulation period.
Three successive series of seven judgments begin to unfold. The seven seals of chapter six give way to the seven trumpets of chapters eight and nine and finally to the seven bowls of chapter sixteen. In between, the reader is introduced to two evil personages, the beast and the false prophet, whose reign of terror is joined by the third member of the unholy trinity, Satan himself (Rev. 12, 13). This seven-year period, referred to also as the seventieth week of Daniel 9:27, and known as the Tribulation, is not without its moments of blessing, however. In chapter seven, it is recorded that 144,000 Jews and an innumerable group of Gentiles will be saved during this period.
The one prevailing characteristic of this time, however, is that it will be the great day of “the wrath of the Lamb” (6:16, 17). It is revealed that the unbelievers who reject the Lamb and choose to follow the beast (the Antichrist) will suffer the Lamb’s wrath in His very presence (14:9, 10).
There is something that sounds almost contradictory in that phrase, “the wrath of the Lamb”. A lamb is universally recognized by its qualities of meekness, gentleness and mildness. While visitors to a zoo are protected from the wild beasts by cages and bars, little children can hold and pet a lamb in the same zoo! Why should the Lamb be wrathful? The answer is plain. Those who have not received the love of the Lamb in His death for their sins must suffer the wrath of the Lamb as the just judgment for their sins. The Lamb himself put it this way, “He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:18).
The Revelation reveals that this time will be marked by war, famine, death, anarchy, persecution, natural disasters, demonic invasions, international turmoil, occult oppression and demagogic control. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus warned that this period of time would be unequalled in history for its severity and that if it continued without end, no one would be left alive (Mt. 24:21, 22). And yet it is amazing that most of the world’s population will continue to curse God and refuse to repent when they suffer these terrible judgments (9:20, 21; 16:11, 21). Their evil thoughts and deeds will culminate when ten kingdoms give their allegiance to the world dictatorship of the beast. It is against the Lamb himself that these combined armies will unite in opposition: “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them; for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings, and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (17:14).
The Lamb offers His love to all who will receive it. Those who spurn His love must face His wrath. Have you received the Lamb as your sacrifice for sins?
THE WEDDING OF THE LAMB
When the great harlot Babylon is judged by the Lamb, a time of rejoicing takes place. Revelation nineteen opens with a fourfold “Hallelujah” (19:1-6). Then the following announcement is made: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me. These are the true sayings of God” (19:7-9).
The time for the public revealing of the bride has arrived. The ancient Jewish wedding ceremony forms the background for understanding this passage.* The basic elements are as follows:
(1) The prospective bridegroom and bride were betrothed at a formal ceremony. In the same way, believers are espoused to Christ and are to keep themselves pure for the wedding day (2 Cor. 11:2).
(2) The bridegroom arrived for his bride at a set time to take her away to his father’s house. In the same way, the Heavenly Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, will arrive to catch away His bride, the Church (Jn. 14: 1-3; 1 Th. 4:16, 17).
(3) The bridegroom took his bride to his father’s house where the marriage was consummated. This “honeymoon” period would often last seven days. In the same way, the Church will be personally with her beloved Bridegroom, away from the eyes of a watching world, for a period of seven years. It is during this time that she makes “herself ready” (19:7) through the purging experience of “the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5: 10).
(4) After this period of seclusion, the Jewish bridegroom would publicly present his new bride to the eyes of the admiring wedding guests, and a long supper celebration would be enjoyed by all. In the same way, the Heavenly Bridegroom will publicly present His bride at His second coming to earth (Col. 3:4; Rev. 19:14).
It is this joyous occasion that is announced in Revelation 19:7-9. The bride is arrayed in white linen, a suitable picture of the glorified and purified Church. Old Testament and Tribulation saints join in this happy occasion. The marriage supper will last for a long time ~ one thousand years to be exact (20:4-6). This will fulfill the multitudinous promises of the Old and New Testaments that a true Utopia will exist on earth – a time of peace, prosperity and prevailing righteousness.
One cannot help but contrast the beauty and purity of this woman — the bride — with the ugliness and filthiness of another woman described in chapter seventeen — the harlot Babylon. But, whereas that wicked woman was judged and destroyed, this woman is elevated and preserved. My friend, which symbolical woman are you a member of — the bride, who is Christ’s, or the harlot, who is Satan’s?
THE WIFE OF THE LAMB
One final, glorious vision remains for the beloved disciple of Patmos to behold. It is the wondrous sight of “. . . that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (21:10). The capital of Heaven becomes the capital of earth, and the “heavenly” Jerusalem — the original of the earthly — becomes “new” Jerusalem. And the Lamb is at the center of it all. Seven times in chapters twenty-one and twenty-two, John mentions the Lamb.
(1) The city is called “the Lamb’s wife” (21:9), because it will be the dwelling place of His beloved ones for all eternity.
(2) The twelve foundations of the city wall have “the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” written on them (21:14).
(3) There is no need of a temple in this city because “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (21:22).
(4) There will be no electricity bills for this city, for the shekinah glory of God will light it, “and the Lamb is the lamp of it” (21:23).
(5) The city will be inhabited by a special group — “they who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (21:27).
(6) John beheld “a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (22:1).
(7) The occupation of the redeemed for all eternity will be to “serve” the Lamb who served them by giving His life so they could dwell with Him in this city (22:3).
We may disagree on the interpretation of the many details of the Revelation, but there is one thing on which we must agree — the central person of this blessed book is the Lord Jesus Christ, or, as He is called in the book, the LAMB. If, in the midst of the many events and persons of this book, we miss Him, then we have missed the message of the Revelation. May it be said of us, as it is said of that innumerable multitude of Gentiles saved during the Tribulation, that we “have washed [our] robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14).