Welcome to A Revelation of Jesus. We are continuing our series on the Seven Seals which are the focus of Revelation chapters 4-7, more specifically, we will look into the symbolic meaning of “Lamb” in the book of Revelation.,
In our last video we looked at Satan’s challenge to the opening of the Book of Life that resulted in war in heaven. In order to get the context we went into a fair bit of detail about Satan’s origin, fall into sin, and attacks on God, His angels, and His human followers.
But I would like this video to be a recalibration.
The Book of Revelation begins with the words, “The Revelation of Jesus”. Jesus is the hero and main character of the Revelation story. Satan’s challenge was more than met by Jesus, symbolized by the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, and the Lamb as though it had been slain.
We see in the profusion of names and titles for Jesus just how richly multi-faceted He is; in just the first chapter of Revelation Jesus is called “The Alpha and the Omega”, “He who is and who was and who is to come”, the “Faithful Witness”, the “Firstborn from the dead”, the “Ruler over the kings of the earth”, the “Son of Man”, the “First and the Last”; seven titles in just one chapter!
But by far the most prominent name for Jesus in the Book of Revelation is the Lamb; Jesus as the Lamb appears 25 times in Revelation; this is all the more remarkable when we consider that in the rest of the New Testament Jesus is only referred to as a Lamb 4 times!
In the New Testament Jesus is a literal and living reality, so symbols are not needed to portray Him. But the themes, events, and individuals in the Book of Revelation are literally out of this world. Revelation uses symbols to picture the unimaginable heavenly reality.
Different symbols and metaphors focus on specific characteristics of Jesus; The most important is His sacrificial nature, symbolized by the Lamb.
This symbol is introduced in chapter 5 as “a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered” (Rev. 5:6 NLT), taking the sealed book of Life from God the Father. This results in the greatest outpouring of praise in the book of Revelation: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12).
Then in chapter 6, we see the Lamb opening the seals to reveal the four horses, the martyrs, the 144,000, and the great multitude.
In chapter 7 we see the Lamb shepherding and comforting the great multitude who are coming out of the trauma of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:9-17).
In chapter 14 the Lamb presents the 144,000 who follow Him wherever He goes (Revelation 14:1-4). And in chapter 15 we again see the multitude who have overcome the trials and temptations of the tribulation on the sea of glass, singing the song of the Lamb (Revelation 15:2-4).
In chapter 17 the final antichrist and his minions make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb overcomes them because “He is Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:11-14).
In chapter 19 all heaven rejoices because of the marriage of the Lamb, and His faithful followers on earth are also filled with joy that they will attend the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:5-9).
Finally, in chapters 21 and 22, verse after verse proclaims that the Lamb is and will be at the very center of the eternal kingdom of God.
In one of the most amazing and profound verses in Revelation, we learn that Jesus is “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). When God created a perfect world, He planned for humans to reflect the image of God, with the freedom to think and choose. But this very freedom made sin a possibility. God never planned that we should sin, but He was not surprised by sins appearance. Before He created the world, Jesus “Laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16).
The theme of sacrifice and the symbol of the lamb weave through the whole Old Testament. When Adam and Eve sinned, God Himself performed the first sacrifice: “the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife” (Genesis 3:21).
The death of an animal provided more than just a wardrobe; through Isaiah God revealed the deeper symbolic meaning: “He has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). When sin began Jesus had already offered up His perfect life to cover our sinfulness.
God taught the symbol of the Lamb to the children of Adam and Eve; “Abel [Adam and Eve’s son] brought the firstborn of his flock” (Genesis 4:4) and God accepted His sacrifice. But He did not accept Cain’s offering of garden produce, which was a symbol of his own hard work.
The first thing Noah did after disembarking from the ark was to offer sacrifices to the Lord that symbolized his salvation from death (Genesis 8:20,21). Abraham also built altars and offered sacrifices wherever he went. And in his willingness to offer his own son Isaac as a sacrifice he provided a dramatic image of “God, [who] so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son” (John 3:16).
The descendants of Abraham went down to Egypt and ended up slaves. Pharaoh was determined to keep them in bondage forever, and he was only willing to let them go when all the firstborns of the land were killed by a destroying angel. The firstborn of Israel were also under the sentence of death, but through the sacrifice of an innocent lamb as their substitute they were saved from death and freed from slavery.
With the Passover feast the Children of Israel were to commemorate their deliverance year after year. But they were not to simply go to the meat market and buy a carcass.
They were instructed to choose a perfect lamb, the most loveable of all animals, keep it in their homes for four days and then slaughter it themselves. This symbolized Jesus who came to earth and lived among us. “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:28) and revealing God’s great love, but in spite of this, He was killed by those that He came to save.
The children of Israel escaped through the Red Sea and made their way to Mt. Sinai where God gave them the Ten Commandment law. They promised to keep it, saying, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:8). But God knew their weak human nature and made a provision; As soon as he gave the law, he also gave them instructions to build a sanctuary where they could find forgiveness by offering sacrifices that symbolized the Lamb of God.
The heathen nations all around them also offered animal sacrifices, but there was an essential difference: the sacrifices of the nations were designed to appease their offended gods and demonstrate their obedience to them. But the sacrifices of Israel were a symbol of the sacrifice God would make for His offended and disobedient children.
The Bible calls these sacrifices a shadow. “The law [of sacrifices] was a shadow of the good things to come” “But the substance is of Christ” (Hebrews 10:1, Colossians 2:16,17).
During the next 1500 years, millions of lambs and other animals were offered in the sanctuary, each one a shadow of Jesus on the cross. The Israelites did not recognize the significance, thinking that the shadow was the reality, and so they failed to understand the message of John the Baptist who announced, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
“As innocent as a Lamb”, Jesus lived a perfect life, but the people He had chosen to represent Him instead murdered Him, being manipulated by Satan, the prince of this world. As He poured out His life Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). “And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:37,38). With the tearing of the veil the mysterious symbolism of the earthly sanctuary was over; no longer would the sacrifice of lambs have meaning, because the reality that they had pointed to had come.
But as we see in the Book of Revelation, the symbol of the slaughtered Lamb still has the power to evoke all that Jesus did in taking upon Himself the sins of the world and dying the death that every person on earth deserves.
“Christ has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2). Who is the Lamb who gave Himself? All Christians and many non-Christian religions “believe in Jesus”. But from the very beginning of the church, there has been fierce, sometimes violent disagreement about just who Jesus is. I don’t have time in a short video to cover this in-depth, but I do want to affirm one of the most basic teachings of Christianity: Jesus, the Lamb that was slain, was God Himself.
The prophets of the Old Testament revealed that the coming Messiah would be more than a man: “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
The New Testament writers also made it clear that Christ was not just a great man or a mighty prophet:
- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1,14).
- “To the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).
Both Paul and John identified Him as the Creator, linking Him intrinsically to the first words of the Bible: “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)
- “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was mad that was made” (John 1:3)
- “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:16)
Jesus allowed people to worship Him, even though He Himself had said, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10).
- “[The disciples] ran to [Jesus], grasped his feet, and worshiped him” (Matt. 28:9). See also Matthew 8:2, 9:18, 14:33, 15:25, 28:9,17, Mark 5:6, Luke 24:52, John 9:38, Hebrews 1:6
Jesus forgave sins, which no other person in the Bible ever did:
- the Pharisees rightly declared, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7, Luke 5:21). He said of Himself, “Know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (Luke 5:24). See also Matthew 9:2, Mark 2:5, Luke 5:20, 24, 7:47,48
Jesus claimed unity and identity with God the Father:
- “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9)
- “I and My Father are One (John 10:30)
Jesus repeatedly applied the divine name “I Am” to Himself. For example, “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). A careful reading of Exodus chapter 3 shows that Jesus, I AM, is the God who met Moses in the burning bush, also called Yahweh and Elohim.
The divinity of Christ is not simply a theme for theologians to argue over.
It is vitally important for having a clear understanding of God’s character. God created human beings, who fell into sin. “Sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15). God wanted to save sinners, but who would pay “the wages of sin [which] is death” (Romans 6:23). If God had created a substitute and then let him suffer the consequences of humanity’s sin, it would have shown a very ugly picture of a God who did not take responsibility for His own creation.
Instead, God took upon Himself the full burden of the sins of the whole world and died the death that we should die so that we could live. When God ‘gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). He was giving Himself.
Paraphrasing this truth in the words of Isaiah, “Surely [God] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…[God] was wounded for our transgressions, [God] was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon [God] and by [God’s] stripes we are healed…and the Lord has laid on [Himself] the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:3-6).
The recurring symbol of the Lamb in Revelation reminds us that this is not primarily a story about beasts, horns, dragons, and other enemies. We are the ones who have made ourselves enemies of God, but “while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). We have every reason to join with the rest of the universe, proclaiming, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 5:12)
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And to find out in advance where this is all going, you can order the book A Revelation of Jesus by David Lackey, available from online bookstores.
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