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Revelation 5:1-14



He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 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 the saints. And they sang a new song:


“You are worthy to take the scroll

and to open its seals

because you were slain,

and with your blood you purchased men for God

from every tribe and language and people and nation.

You have made them to be a kingdom

and priests to serve our God,

and they will reign on the earth.”

(verses 7-10)

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The immediate precursor to this scene is the cry that rings out in heaven from a mighty angel, in booming voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” (verse 2). And no one answers. No one is found. Not anywhere, in all heaven and earth and under the earth. No one is worthy. No one is up to the task.

John, witnessing the scene, weeps. He can’t contain himself – he

weeps and weeps.


It is at this very moment, against the backdrop of an empty, universe-wide field of worthy candidates, and the potent sound of John’s grief, that one of the elders speaks. “Look,” he says. “Don’t weep. Look! The Lion of the tribe of Judah is worthy – he will open the scroll!”


And here, one of the mysteries of this Revelation-vision emerges, for as John turns his eyes, expecting to see a glorious Lion, what he sees instead is a wounded Lamb. The triumphant Lion of Judah is the Lamb who was slain. The expansive sweep of Old Testament and New Testament scriptures finds itself culminated in the vision of the slain Lamb, with all heaven’s eyes focused on him.


The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders spontaneously break forth into song, capturing the essence of the salvation story. This wounded Lamb is in fact worthy because of his very wounds – because he has been slain. For in his death, through his blood, he has paid the ransom price. He has purchased men and women for God. The breadth is huge. The price has been paid for those from every corner of the globe – from every ethnicity and culture and language, every tribe, every nation. Such is the accomplishment of this wounded One. His blood covers it all.


But not only does his sacrifice bring about salvation and redemption; it also brings a new creation. For this diverse mix of people, rescued from such diverse circumstances, has been forged into an altogether new kingdom, each member commissioned as a priest to serve the One who sits on the throne, and the Lamb, by the Spirit. These are those who will reign upon the earth. What a glorious transformation! No wonder all heaven sings the glories of the Lamb!


Bringing it home, I’ve just now been privileged to listen-in as an African family spontaneously sang praises to the Lamb. They sang as only Africans can – such heart and harmony and rhythm. Such passion. John wept in grief when he heard the silence ring out – no candidate forthcoming. I found myself, just now, weeping in worship as I heard the praises ring out – the only possible candidate, in all time and space, has indeed come forth. It is the Lamb.


All praises – from every tribe and language and people and nation – be to him!

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Lord Jesus – you who are the Lamb slain, you who are the triumphant Lion – all praises to your name. May you tune my heart, my very life, to sing your praise, adding my worship to the harmony of your people. To your eternal glory. Amen.

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Worship:

Take time right now to pause in the presence of the Lamb. Reflect on his sacrifice for you – for all humanity.

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Photo: Francisco de Zurbarán, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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