David continued with John’s revelation of his startling vision of heaven, where a worship service is happening that will never end. At its centre is a throne and on it sits the Almighty, Eternal God.
Round the throne are four strange, living creatures and 24 Elders, who worship without ceasing. From the throne comes thunder and lightning, indicating sheer greatness, and before the throne is the Holy Spirit and a glassy sea, possibly indicating that before God even chaos is subdued.
The book of Revelation is all about Jesus. It is a letter written to seven churches who were under intense pressure to abandon their faith, and to help them see that things are not only as they seem, that God (not the Roman Emperor) is in ultimate control.
The throne image is dominant in the rest of the book. A second image, the focal point of Revelation, is a sealed scroll in God’s right hand. Yet no-one is found who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seven seals. At this, John breaks down in despair.
One of the Elders commands John to stop weeping and turn to look at the conquering Lion of Judah, the Root of David, who can open the scroll. (Both titles are explicit Old Testament references to the Messiah.) Obediently, John turns, but does not see a ferocious lion; he sees a lamb, looking as if it had been slain.
David urged us to imagine this Jesus, author and perfecter of our faith, the Lamb that was slain.
The Lamb triumphs by being slaughtered. He is extraordinary, having seven horns (symbolising strength) and seven eyes (symbolising wisdom), with seven being the number of completeness. Therefore, this Lamb has all strength and all knowledge. He is standing, this resurrected Jesus, at the centre of the throne. He is at the very centre of creation, and of redeemed humanity.
The Lamb takes the scroll and the living creatures and Elders prostrate themselves in worship. Each Elder is holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of believers. Incredibly, we His people are part of this worship.
David exhorted us to think of this if our prayer life is faltering. The humble prayers of Christians on earth appear now in heaven as fragrant incense! Things are not only as they seem!
Jesus’ shed blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and nation, making them a kingdom and priests who will serve God and reign on the earth. The only fitting response to Him is to worship!
David urged anyone for whom the Lord’s Table has become routine to catch a fresh glimpse of this victorious Lamb who was slain and is the present reality. May we constantly respond to this overwhelming chorus of worship with “Amen!”
The Lamb was killed to bear the penalty of our sin:
- We work from the place of victory, not towards it.
- We battle the enemy and evil, but the Lamb has already, ultimately, won the battle – He is on the throne!
The way to Life is the way of the Lamb, in self-sacrifice. At the cross, Jesus demonstrated the power and the wisdom of God.