The Lamb in the Apocalypse
Students of Scripture have long observed that the central message of God’s Word is reflected in the motif of the Lamb, who is Jesus.
The Lamb in the Old Testament is seen on the altar. In the Gospels, He is on the cross. And in the Apocalypse, He is on the throne.
The apostle John referred to the Lamb 28 times. But more significant is his use of a particular Greek term to achieve his purpose. In Revelation he used to arnion to denote a horned, Ruler Lamb. In John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; and 1 Peter 1:19 the regular term, amnos, is used, which carries the idea of Redeemer Lamb.
The only other times to arnion appears in the New Testament is in Luke 10:3 and John 21:15. This last reference is revealing. The resurrected Christ told Peter, “Feed my lambs.” Thus, by virtue of being united with their Redeemer Lamb, believers would share the triumphant reign of their all-conquering Ruler Lamb.
John’s portrait of Christ as the Ruler Lamb is inherent in the visions of Him in the Apocalypse. John introduced the whole of his revelation of Christ in chapter 1. As sovereign King-Priest and Prophet (Rev. 1:13–18), Christ’s authority is unrivalled; His character, sinless; and His Person, peerless.
In Revelation 2—3 He is the one who holds the “seven stars” (churches) in His hand—the Ruler Lamb in the midst of the golden lampstand, with the sovereign right to inspect the churches thoroughly. Significantly, He “walks” through the seven representative churches, and the Holy Spirit “talks” to them. The Head of the church must always be in the midst of His church. He cares for His own (Rev. 3:20; cf. 1 Pet. 5:7), and His abiding presence and power are sufficient—even unto death (Rev. 2:10).
In Revelation 4—5, John saw the Ruler Lamb on the throne in the celestial courtroom of heaven. The Lamb is to be praised because of who He is and what He has done. He is the Creator Lamb (4:9–11) and Redeemer Lamb (5:12–14). His credentials are impeccable and qualify Him to effect the forthcoming judgments on the universe.
As the one “worthy” to open the seals (Rev. 5—6; 8:1) the Ruler Lamb begins judging an unrepentant, godless world. After the seal judgments come the trumpet (Rev. 8:2—11:19) and bowl judgments (Rev. 15:1–8; 16:1–21). Each successive judgment becomes more intense, culminating in the fulfillment of God’s purpose in Revelation 16:17.(There is no mention of the church in chapters 6 through 18, as Church Age saints will be in heaven following the Rapture (1 Th. 4:17).
John’s vision reveals that, at the end of this “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), the Ruler Lamb, presented as the “The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13), returns to Earth with His saints as the invincible conqueror of all anti-God forces (cf. Rev. 19:11–16).
Then the Ruler Lamb will establish His millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20; cf. Isa. 2:2–4; 11:1–16), effecting eternal judgment on all unbelievers, including the Devil and the fallen angels, at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11–15).
Next follows the glorious appearing of the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven (Rev. 21:1–27), and the emergence of the eternal state. Believers will share the blessedness of the Ruler Lamb’s presence and the bliss of heaven itself, of which He is the central object of worship (Rev. 21—22).
The epilogue of these verses involves an appeal by the Ruler Lamb himself. Three times he says, “Behold, I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20). Each appeal is addressed to a different group: first, to the church universal (v. 7); second, to humanity at large concerning His com-ing personal judgment (v. 12); and finally, to believers who respond to the promise of the Lord’s return—“Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (v. 20). The book there-fore ends with longing and expectation for those who await His appearing.