Summary: Looking at Jesus being the conquering Lion and the sacrificial Lamb, the way to win is to submit to God’s plans and purposes.
Revelation 5:1-10 – The Way to go Up is Down
I’m sure most of you know what an oxymoron is. It’s a figure of speech that seems to contradict itself. There are lists and lists of the things, and here are some of my favorites: Artificial Grass, boneless ribs, big town, harmless lie, communist party, green oranges, easy labor, fresh frozen, jumbo shrimp, cafeteria food, military intelligence, one choice, random order, slumber party, freezer burn, small fortune, government organization, living dead, same difference, plastic glasses, peace force, pretty ugly, head butt, working vacation, Dodge Ram, work party, healthy tan, good grief, and devout atheist, as well as its sequel, Thank God I’m an Atheist.
Chapter 5 of the book of Revelation gives us another oxymoron. Something that sounds impossible, but yet it is still true. Of course God delights in the impossible, and this chapter is no exception. We see a Lion that is a Lamb. Two very opposite things, but yet in Christ they are the same. Hopefully, we’ll see how it relates to us as well.
The first part of Rev.5 is a picture of heaven. Read v1. God is sitting on a throne, and in His hand is a scroll. Not just any scroll. It was double-sided, and super-sealed. This scroll was full, with room for nothing else to be added. And, it was closed tightly, so that no-one could open it. Most Bible scholars think that this scroll represents God’s plans and purposes for the world. This scroll contains what God wants to see happen, and will see happen. And no-one knows what these plans are. They are sealed. And since the scroll is double-sided, scholars take it to mean that the plans are made in full. Nothing surprises God. So then, these perfect plans and purposes of God, they are complete, and no-one knows what they are.
You know, we wish we knew what God had in store for us. We wish we could see His plans. But as frustrating as that is, be confident in one thing: God knows His plans. He knows what’s in store for us. He can see the beginning from the end. He knows exactly what’s coming up. He knows what He’s doing. Does it sometimes look like He doesn’t? Yes. But take heart – He will reveal Himself to you in due time.
But the problem is, we want to be in control of things. We want to know. We want to be in charge of our own lives. We want to be able to make our own decisions. We want to sit on the throne. But the passage continues: v2-3. None of us here is worthy to be in control of our own destiny. No-one is good enough to be in control. As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t be a very good God. My brain isn’t God-sized. Neither’s yours. None in here is good enough to be in control.
That’s maddening at times. We wish we could just take control of our own lives but we can’t. We mess things up. Whenever we try to take control, we make messes. That’s why peace treaties fail. That’s why marriages fail. That’s why churches split. That’s why there is prejudice and pride, adultery and abortions. Because each of us thinks we can control our own lives and futures. But it just leads to pain and suffering and messes.
And for a moment, even John, the man seeing this vision of heaven, was discouraged. V4. Is no-one in control? Isn’t there someone who can make sense of it? Isn’t there anybody who is good enough to open God’s plans and purposes to us? Can’t somebody take control here? Well, there’s hope. V5. The Lion of Judah can make sense of life. He can put God’s plans into perspective. He can bring order from our messes. He can bring peace into our lives. He can fix the problem. He can overcome the evil in the world. He can roar and bring all things under His control. The Lion, the king of the jungle, can rule this world.
Well, that’s the image of a lion, right? Strong and mighty, roaring and reigning. The phrase, “Lion of Judah”, is a reference to Genesis 49:9 – “You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness--who dares to rouse him?” And the Root of David come from Isaiah 11:1, saying that the Messiah would come from the family of David, the son of Jesse – “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” So, the book of Revelation takes these 2 pictures from the OT and says that the Messiah would be a strong and powerful king in the line of the best king Israel ever had.