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Dear friends in Christ,
The book of Revelation is a mysterious book. Many want to study it for that reason. People want to know what they are to get out of it.
John was on the island prison of Patmos. He was an old man by that time. But “God promises to make all things work together for the good of them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” God used the golden years - maybe they were his platinum years - to let his church know about the future. That’s what his book is about.
To human beings the future is a closed book. No human being can gander past the present. To try to look into the future is sorcery; that’s forbidden by the Lord. Anyone who believes that time is in their hands and not in God’s hands is an enemy of God. If someone claims that ability he is branding himself as a false prophet.
Yet humanity craves to know the future. Even God’s people want to look into the future. That is what the book of Revelation is. We get to peer into the future. As John was imprisoned on the islandof Patmosas a prisoner of the Roman Emperor, God said to John, “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” As God reveals to John what is ahead, he is given the assurance that as in the past, in he present or the future, Jesus is the “Lamb – A wondrous Name of Love.”
We can see the Lamb gives to his people. As you read Revelation, it is easy to figure out that John saw some strange and incredible things in the vision that God gave him. In chapter one he said he saw Jesus as the “son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” He identifies himself as the “First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!” That’s Jesus, isn’t it? Different from the Upper Room that Thursday night when he washed the disciples’ feet and as he instituted the Lord’s Supper.
As chapter five begins he sees Jesus in another way. John sees a scroll in the hand of Almighty God. It has everything that will happen in the future. It is sealed, however, and those seals need to be broken so the scroll can be unrolled. No one is found who is worthy. John begins to weep because no one is found who is worthy.
While John was weeping, because he thought he would never find out what was in the scroll that would tell him about the future, a mighty angel called out, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” He is the Lion of Judah. He is connected with the family of David. You would expect to see a warrior, a rough and ready soldier. That’s Jesus.
But how does he appear this time? “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lion of Judah is the Lamb of God. That’s an irony. Lions love to make dinner of any lamb that they could get their jaws on. Yet 26 times in the book of Revelation Jesus is called the Lamb. Yet as a member of God’s family that doesn’t shock us one bit, does it? John the Baptist called him by that name - “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Isaiah said it like this, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Lion/lamb - that is quite the paradox. But then he was God and man, the Son of God and the Son of man, the Creator and the creature. He is the Mighty God who became the servant of all.
Understand what the common Jew understood when he thought of a lamb. They thought of the lamb that took a good faithful Jew back to the night so many centuries before when the angel of death swept overEgypt. The angel struck down the first born in the every home that did not have the blood of he lamb on the doorposts of their homes. Millions of lambs were slaughtered over the centuries to remember the Lord’s deliverance from the Angel of Death andIsrael’s freedom from slavery. Yet all that was a picture of the Lamb whose blood would forgive sin and bring the blessing of live eternal in the Real Promised Land, Paradise, the home of our God, his holy angels, and his holy Church.
Yet he is the Lamb with lion-like characteristics. “The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.” He had seven eyes and seven horns. We think that he must have looked ugly. Actually not so! The seven eyes show he sees all and knows all. He is wise. He has seven horns. He is strong. He is weak and he is strong. He is God and he is man.
He is the one who took the scroll and unrolls it. He is the only one who can, because he is God. He sees the history of the earth before it even happens. It is an awesome vision all about the Lion/Lamb!
Lent is really all about the Lamb/Lion, isn’t it? He set aside his power. He didn’t use it to the fullest. He was slain. But even more than that. He was slain for you as an individual and slain for me as an individual. I saw a statement that I thought was cool and memorable. “To say Christ died is history. To say Christ died for sinners is theology. To say Christ died for me is salvation.” He was slain to give you salvation and me salvation.
That’s real personal, isn’t it? Our sins were the reason he was slain. The fact that he was slain gives us freedom and forgiveness.
But it gets even more personal. What happens when we step up to the altar? He gets real personal. It is like the Lord puts his hand on our shoulders and looks into our eyes and deals with us really personally. “Take eat, that body that was slain and paid for your sins, it’s for you! Take drink. It is my blood that was shed and it’s for you.” Those sins that you slip back into every day. Those sins that are so part and parcel of your life, are forgiven. This body and this blood is your proof. This is what the Lamb does for you. This is what the Lamb gives to you.
Now serve him in return! “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. The four living creatures are there before the throne too. In chapter four they are described like this: “They were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”
Years ago I remember a mother who wasn’t able to be at church one night when I preached on Revelation. She sent her son. She served asked her son what Pastor Zahn preached about during the sermon. The son said I preached about monsters. She wanted to check up on her son. The four living creatures appear to be grotesque and strange but remember this is heaven. In heaven, nothing is ugly or grotesque, but perfect and beautiful. Most commentators agree these are some of God’s angels. Then there are the twenty four elders. They represent the twelve tribes of Jacob, representing the Old Testament believers; they are the twelve apostles representing the New Testament church. We are included here.
What did they do? They raise their bowls of incense. They are the prayers God’s people pray. What does it mean? We all join in worship and sing the praises of our God.
You see, there is a point to be made. Our God doesn’t want us just savoring the forgiveness of sins. He wants us to get out there and get up get at them. He wants us serving the Lamb.
He want us to know we are kings and priests. The Lamb has made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” We have a purpose. We are to serve others by using our lives as a testimony to share the love of Christ. Spread the Gospel. Let the rubber hit the road. Start with your family and go from there to every person you want to see in heaven. You know the places. Start in the workplace. Not everyone there knows Jesus. Go down the hall ways of your school and down the street in your neighborhood. Go to the hospital where reality never takes a nap! In our congregation where a lot of times too much is being done by too few.
Let people know about the Lamb – Another Name of Wondrous love.