March 24, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XLI: The Lion That Conquers As A Lamb

LionLamb by   Zoebess   
For my next point, we speak of the imagery of the Lamb and what best explains this predominance of “Lamb” and its use in place of other titles? The most plausible explanation is that John is attempting to emphasize that it was in an ironic manner that Jesus began to fulfill the OT prophecies of the Messiah’s kingdom.

The Lion conquers by suffering as a slain Lamb. It is a Divine paradox…which is one of many in the Bible.

This juxtaposition implies that, in their struggle against the world, believers should remember that Christ also suffered at the hands of the world but triumphed over it. His destiny is to be theirs, if they persevere until the very end in faithfulness. This is why the saints are described as “those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes” The irony of this imagery is the idea that the sheep (people of God) follow the Lamb-a Lamb that is in reality, a Lion who will consume the wicked in judgment. A real lion on the other hand would normally consume sheep. But because of this Divine Lamb/Lion the lion will lie down with the lamb in the new creation/world. Things that would normally be an antithesis of one another or have enmity with each other--become united.

The Lamb is the one who not only conquered death but will conquer all of the persecutors of his people through historical punishments and the final judgment (6:1, 16; 17:14).

He was physically defeated but spiritually victorious. He willingly submitted to the unjust penalty of death, which was imposed on him ultimately by the devil. While he was suffering the defeat of death, he was also overcoming by creating a kingdom of redeemed subjects over whom he would reign and over who the devil would no longer have power. Therefore, while Jesus was being defeated at the cross by human standards, he was nevertheless beginning to establish his kingdom. This is elaborated on more fully in my post concerning chapter 12. This in no way shows that death of the Lamb is a defeat but rather it shows the juxtaposition between what God views as a victory and what man views as victory. It shows that those that often take literally things that are shown as either metaphor or symbolic in Revelation also often miss the half of the symbology of the book. Jesus is defeated and dies by human and worldly standards but it is a victory by God's standard on the spiritual level.

Concurrently, many view Revelation through a Pre Tribulation lens that says believers will not experience persecution in the end days. I am now beginning to severely question this presupposition for the reasons outlined up to this point. Persecution is mentioned throughout the letters to the seven churches. Even if we view that as separate to what follows in chapters 4 and 5, these chapters (4 & 5) also speak to suffering and persecution of the Lamb as if to parallel the suffering of the Church, all tis to show is the lot of believers to face persecution just as their Lord and Master did. The fate of the Good Shepherd becomes the fate of the sheep. The wolves of Hell killed the Good Shepherd, now they are coming for the sheep. But in the end the Good Shepherd was resurrected and the Good Shepherd will also bring back His flock in glory (and he’ll even bring back the wolves to judge them too…and condemn them).

We know our suffering will ultimately end in glory if we persevere to the very end in faith. This theme is redundant not only in Revelation but it is the pattern of Scripture as a whole...even for Jesus.

The Lamb’s “seven horns” probably are linked to the beast’s horns of Daniel 7. The Lamb may in fact mimic the beast with horns in Dan. 7:7. This mimicking emphasizes divine justice, which often mocks those who attempt to thwart God’s purposes. In this case, by the very imagery and means used to portray history in Daniel, God now shows in the end...He is sovereign. This means that the Lamb on or by the sea may indicate that he has defeated the satanic beast in his own watery abode. Our understanding of the “sea” or earth in 4:6 and of the overall structure of Daniel 4–5 makes this plausible.

The inner heavenly circle praises the lamb’s worthiness to receive sovereign authority (5:8–10). The prayers mentioned here are not just praises but especially requests that God defend the honor of his reputation for justice by judging the persecutors of his people.

Verse expresses the content of the “new song.” In the OT a “new song” is always an expression of praise for God’s victory over the enemy, sometimes including thanksgiving for God’s work of creation.  In this case, the “new song” celebrates the defeat of the powers of evil and sin. Interestingly, these songs or hymns in verses 9-12 emphasize Jesus’ deity more than most other passages in the New Testament. They address the Lamb in the exact same way as God is addressed in 4:11 and 5:13, especially in the clause “worthy are you.” The simple fact that worship is given to the Lamb in vv 9–13 demonstrates his deity. We therefore see the equality in nature of the Lamb to God.

There are a few more conceptual parallels between verses 3–5 and verse 9 that need to be noted for us to be able to continue to move forward through this astounding and often befuddling book/letter.

The parallels reveal that Jesus’ conquering in verse 5 is the generally the equivalent of being worthy in 3–4. Jesus’ conquering in verse 5 finds its interpretative equivalent in His being slain, purchasing a people, and his making that people priestly kings (9–10).
The whole clause “because you were slain and purchased for God by the price of your blood” emphasizes the redemptive nature of the Lamb’s death. The “by the price of your blood" is similar use of language in to Romans 3:25.

It is probably not ironic nor coincidence that Daniel 7:14 bears the same framework of  λαοί (“peoples”), φυλαί (“tribes”), and γλῶσσαι “tongues,” as that of Revelation 5:9 mentioned above.

Revelation 5:10 shows the influence of Exodus 19:6's “a kingly priesthood”. This means that the Exodus idea of the kingdom and priesthood have been universalized and woven in with the concept of the saints’ universal kingdom of Daniel 7 and it is also incorporated into possible future events.

In the last verse we see God's sovereignty full on. The whole vision ends in verse 14 with the heavenly representatives of creation and of the church confirming the praise ascending from the earth by respectively pronouncing a final “Amen” and worshiping.

What is prominent about the concluding section of Revelation 5:9–14 is it's observable relation to Daniel 7:13–27. Both present in the same order

  • Christ’s/son of man’s) reception of sovereignty
  • A kingdom including “all peoples, nations, and tongues”
  • The reign of the saints
  • The reign of God
If the idea that Revelation 5 and Daniel 7 are direct parallels...the following model or pattern from Scripture emerges and the following theological conclusions can be made.

John meant for Revelation 4–5 to show the fulfillment of the Daniel 7 prophecy of the reign of the “son of man” and of the saints. It was established by Christ’s death, burial and specifically his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). In his lowering to death He is exalted and given authority over all ["at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth"] (Philippians 2:5-11). Therefore the imagery of Jesus' approach to the throne is to receive authority. The combination of imagery from Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1–2 with the predominant scene from Daniel 7 expresses a judgment vision. These scenes all serve then as introductions to announcements of judgment that will now follow.

To view and understand these Old Testament imagery's that have been brought forward into Revelation, we must understand them as a vision of God’s sovereign reign, dominion and authority that first are issued in judgment, followed by redemption. Man must first be judged before final redemption can occur. This idea of judgment is further reinforced by the images of "the book".

The Daniel 7 idea of a kingdom in which all peoples will serve the “son of man” and God is seen by John as fulfilled in the church. Yet the church is also the fulfillment of Daniel's reign of the saints of Israel.

SO what does all this mean?

Its rather simple actually...

If God is sovereign over all creation, this therefore is the legitimacy or the foundation for his sovereignty to pass judgment and bestow redemption afterwards. This is turn brings forth the praise of all creatures, both human and angelic.

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