Summary: Creation joins in heaven's song.
CHORAL SYMPHONY No. 1
If I was looking for a single motif for our readings in the Apocalypse in the Easter season, it would be that of a slain Lamb, STANDING in the midst of the throne (Revelation 5:6). There is evidence here of the Resurrection.
As well as here (Revelation 5:11-14), the Lamb is the focus of the praises of the redeemed in Revelation 7:9-10. We shall find the Lamb ranked beside the Lord God Almighty as the Temple and the Light in the city of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22-23). There, in New Jerusalem, the throne (singular) is inhabited by God and the Lamb, and His (singular) servants shall serve Him (Revelation 22:3).
(I) Revelation 4
John was conveyed spiritually to the throne room of heaven (Revelation 4:2), and beheld the One who sat upon the throne (Revelation 4:3). Seated around the throne are twenty-four elders, representing the whole of God’s people in Old Testament and New (Revelation 4:4) - who ‘fall down and worship Him’ (Revelation 4:9-11).
Four living creatures (also known as ‘beasts’) are introduced in Revelation 4:6-8:
1. The lion, the king of the untamed beasts, symbolising nobility (status);
2. The ox, foremost of the domesticated beasts, signifying strength (power);
3. The human being, the crown of creation, signifying wisdom; and
4. The eagle, the most majestic of all birds, a symbol of speed.
(II) Revelation 5:1-10
(1) The question: “Who is worthy to break the seals of the scroll?” (Revelation 5:1-4)
Until the seals are broken, the whole of redemption history is held in suspense. There can be no conclusion to the book of Revelation if we are stuck here at the first hurdle. To John’s great distress, no man could be found who was counted worthy to open the seals of the scroll which the LORD was holding.
(2) The Lion who is a Lamb (Revelation 5:5-6)
Given the grandness of Jesus’ appearance in the first scene of this epic vision (Revelation 1:13-16), it is somewhat surprising to find the dramatic change in His figure in the second scene. John was encouraged to look for a Lion, but instead he saw a Lamb: not only a Lamb, but a slain Lamb; and not only a slain Lamb, but a slain Lamb STANDING. In other words, John looked for a strong conqueror, but instead he saw a meek (but not weak!) man who had made the ultimate sacrifice - and conquered death itself!
(3) “Thou art worthy” (Revelation 5:7-10)
As the Lamb took the scroll into His hands, the whole of Creation burst into praise. A dead Saviour saves no-one, but the risen Lord Jesus is found worthy do all things - and thus He enables His people to “reign upon the earth” (10).
C. Text: Revelation 5:11-14
The Lamb engages the praises of an innumerable company of angels around the throne, and the living creatures (also known as ‘beasts’), and the elders (Revelation 5:11).
This is a continuation of the liturgy of Revelation 4:8-11 - but now the Lamb has been revealed, it is not sufficient for the congregation to sing their responses alone: we are joined by a myriad choir of angels. We are reminded of the multitude of the heavenly host that appeared to the shepherds when Jesus was born (Luke 2:13-14).
They are worshipping “the Lamb that was slain” (Revelation 5:12). To Him they designate the same glory and honour and power as they had already ascribed to the Creator (Revelation 4:11). Later, the Lamb will be designated ‘Lord of lords, and King of kings’ (Revelation 17:14.)
The “power” is the same ‘dynamite’ power, strength and ability which empowers the people of God. We are a resurrection people, with royal resurrection blood coursing through our veins.
To this attribute is added “riches” - wealth, opulence, abundance - He is the Lord from whom our blessings flow (Philippians 4:19).
“Wisdom” is also His prerogative: if we have any wisdom at all it is derived from Him.
“Strength” conveys might, and ability, which He in turn conveys to His people.
“Honour” puts a high value on Him, respecting His dignity, and regarding Him highly.
The “glory” of the Lamb is the glory of the Father. ‘We beheld His glory’ (John 1:14).
“Blessing” - we bless the one who blesses us, from whom all blessings flow (Ephesians 1:3).
The last “Amen” of this particular choral symphony comes from the four living creatures: and again, the twenty-four elders fall down and worship before the throne (Revelation 5:14).