Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Table of the Lamb

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)
This is the song of the saints and angels in John’s heavenly vision of the throne room of God. In this scene, God has a scroll in His hand, sealed with seven seals. An angel calls out, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” But no one is found until an elder says to John, “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” John looks in the midst of all those who surround the throne and is surprised to see that the Lion is a Lamb “as though it had been slain.” The Lamb takes the scroll out of the right hand of God, for He is worthy.

In the days when this was written, it was a Roman practice to seal important documents such as wills or deeds with seven seals. Many Jews also adopted this custom. These were not to be opened by anyone except those who were worthy, or qualified, to do so. In this divine vision, it was the Lamb who had the right to take the scroll from the hand of God and open the seals, and this was cause for great rejoicing:
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped Him who lives forever and ever. (Revelation 5:8-14)
The “four living creatures” are those described in Revelation 4:6-8. They are seraphim, like the ones described in Isaiah 6, who worship God day and night. The twenty-four elders represent the Church ministering and worshipping before the Lord, like the twenty-four divisions of priests in 1 Chronicles 24:7-18 and the twenty-four orders of worship leaders in 1 Chronicles 25:9-31. They fall down before the Lamb bringing songs of worship and the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song concerning redemption and the fulfillment of God’s purpose on the earth.
You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Here is the reason the Lamb is worthy: He was slain for us and has redeemed us by His blood. He bought us out of the marketplace, paying the price of His own blood. He is the Kinsman Redeemer (Hebrew ga’al) who has paid the ransom on our behalf and set us free.
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.
This redemption is not just for Israel but also for the whole world, out of every nation and people. The purpose was to make us both kings and priests before God. The role of kings is to rule and reign with Him. This was God’s original plan when He created man to have dominion over all the earth (Genesis 1:26). It is now fulfilled through Jesus Christ, who has been seated on the throne at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:20-21). We also have been raised up and seated there with Him (Ephesians 2:4-6).

The role of priests is to bring prayer and worship before God in heaven. God’s purpose for Israel was to be a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6), and now all who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ have become a “royal,” or kingly, “priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).

The domain of our kingship is the earth itself: “We shall reign on the earth.” For the role of the Kinsman Redeemer was not only to buy back His own people but also to recover their land. The earth, which was originally given to man when he was created, to subdue and fill it with the glory of God, once again comes under the dominion of the people of the Lamb.

For this reason, the Lamb is greatly praised: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing! … Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29) is worthy, fully qualified, to redeem us, and all the earth, because He was slain on our behalf. He gave His body and blood so that out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation He might make kings and priests to our God.

The bread and the cup at the Table of the Lord is the constant sign of the worthiness of the Lamb, and of what He has done for us. As we partake of it, we are offering up our worship with all the saints and angels to give Him highest praises.