Commentary by Walter Albritton
Jesus, the Lamb of God, is Worthy of our Worship and Praise
Revelation 4, 5.
Key Verse: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. – Revelation 5:12
Not all worshipers appreciate modern “praise” music. Some prefer the stately old hymns, like “All hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” and “Jesus, Lover of My Soul.” I am blessed in that I love both the great old hymns and the new “praise” music, especially when our Lord Jesus is lifted up in song. Nonetheless, I must confess that few songs stir me more deeply that the moving chorus, “Worthy is the Lamb.” Sometimes I feel like falling on my knees; at other times I feel the urge to lift my hands in praise of the mighty Lamb of God. I can hardly imagine John the Revelator sitting quietly with his hands in his lap as the Spirit revealed to him the “new song” being sung in the throne room of heaven! Indeed, it is with weeping, rejoicing, and praise that John shares his magnificent vision of the “Lion” who is the Lamb.
Little wonder that the final book of the Bible should be the Book of Revelation. (Help others to understand that the name of this book does not have an “s” at the end; far too many people misidentify this as the Book of Revelations. The entire book is one remarkable revelation of the nature of Jesus Christ.) The author, John, is the beloved apostle. He begins by telling us that the revelation is a message he received from Jesus, and that it is a message about Jesus. What he offers us is not speculation, but revelation!
John may have been imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos, but his spirit was free to see, hear, and understand the glorious truth about the person of Jesus Christ. John shows us that our Savior’s identity is multifaceted. He is both the Lamb and the Lion. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending. He is the first and the last, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. As much as any book in the Bible, the Book of Revelation stirs us to fervent worship of Christ. When we “hear,” through John’s inspired writing, the voices of heaven singing praise to the Lamb, we want to join them, adding our voices to the heavenly chorus. In later chapters we will see the powerful imagery that inspired Handel’s “Messiah.”
John takes us, in chapter four, into the throne room of God. God, of course, is seated on the throne. In his right hand is a book sealed with seven seals. A strong angel speaks in a loud voice, asking if there is anyone worthy to loose the seal and open the book. John is grieved by the announcement that there is no man anywhere, on earth or in heaven, who is worthy to open and read the book. Then, John says, one of the elders proclaims -- You need weep no more for there is One here who is worthy to open the book. He is the Lion of Judah and the Root of David, the Lamb of God, whose name is Jesus!
Who are the “living creatures” present with the elders in the throne room? The best explanation I have found is that they are the cherubim seen by Ezekiel and the seraphim described by Isaiah. These living creatures never cease to sing, and they exist for one purpose – to serve and praise God. Perhaps they are the keepers of heavenly harmony who dispense to us the deathless melody of heaven.
Is it not wonderful that we cannot think about heaven without thinking also about singing? No wonder the songwriters proclaimed, “I have a song that Jesus gave me,” and “in my heart there rings a melody.” Jesus shared with us that the angels in heaven sing, and one day, by the grace of God, we shall add our voices to the heavenly chorus. My heart trembles when I consider what it will be like one day to add my own voice to that great multitude in heaven, crying with them, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns”!
Attention now focuses on the Lamb. Some 29 to 30 times John refers to the Lord as the “Lamb.” It is interesting that John uses a different Greek word for “Lamb” in the Gospel (John ), though his message is the same in the Gospel as in the Book of Revelation. This imagery is a remarkable paradox, combining innocence and power, meekness and authority. The Lamb, slain as a sacrifice for sin, now stands alive in the throne room! The seven horns symbolize power. Seven eyes suggest that God sees all, knows all. The seven eyes, seven torches, and the seven spirits may be identical. John may have been inspired by the imagery of Zechariah 4:10 where the seven eyes of Yahweh “run to and fro through the whole earth,” seeing everything. Therefore, John gives us a picture of Christ sharing both the omniscience and the omnipotence of God. Whatever happens to us, Christ knows, and he provides for us the power to resist the devil and to live as overcomers! What comfort this truth gives us – to know that Christ knows our circumstances and he cares!
Since the number seven was considered symbolic of perfection, the seven spirits represent the unlimited potential of Christ to understand the needs of his people, meet those needs, and punish those who reject him. As the song says, “No one understands like Jesus,” and no one can encourage believers to overcome the Adversary like Jesus!
When the Lamb takes the book from God’s hand, the elders and all present begin to worship. Their worship is a blend of praise and prayer. Here we find the idea that the prayers of the saints are a sweet-smelling fragrance to God. In every age, in every hour, God delights in the prayers of his saints. All who believe and trust Jesus are the saints of God, and all of us may please God by offering to him our prayers and our praise. This defines worship; it is sincere prayer and praise more than the reading of ritual. Little wonder the elders and the “living creatures” (a better translation than the “four beasts”) burst into singing a new song. They are aware of a new relationship to God made possible by the mighty deeds of Christ. He is the author of the new covenant. His blood has secured our salvation! He is the Savior because he has saved us from our sins. Our sins have been forgiven! Who, having been made aware of this precious truth, is not stirred to sing songs of praise to God?
This is the message of the book opened by the Lamb. God has conquered death and made life available to his people! The shedding of his blood was sufficient, fully adequate for the salvation of all who henceforth are willing to “call on the name of the Lord.” The blood of the Lamb establishes a new covenant, thus ending forever the need to sacrifice the blood of animals. The book opened by the Lamb is the book of life, eternal life, for Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Our new relationship with God through the blood of Jesus carries with it the privilege and responsibility of serving Christ as “kings and priests.” We become sons and daughters of the King. We live in the Kingdom to serve Him, always dependent upon his power and provision. One day, after ministering to him and for him, by serving others, we shall reign with him in heaven. What a great honor Christ offers us here! What a great reward awaits us in heaven! Yes, Christian, tell the world – Worthy is the Lamb! Let us offer our Amen, our voices and our lives, to worship the Lamb upon the throne! Hallelujah! + + + + (Contact Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org)