This week we’ve been working our way through the throne room scene in Revelation 4 and 5. Yesterday, we learnt two things from the image of the slain-yet-victorious lamb:
- He is victorious: bringing justice for God’s people.
- He was slain for a purpose: the redemption of God’s people.
Today, we look at a third:
The slain lamb now vindicated: comfort for God’s people
Because the Greek word used in this scene isn’t the usual New Testament word for ‘lamb’. It probably should be translated “little ram.” (That’s a boy lamb, for those following at home.) Although it is ambigious, and possibly intentional. Because the slain lamb, or slain little ram is a paradoxical image. It implies both weakness and strength.
The lamb was slain. Jesus suffered. He submitted himself to a cruel death. He endured weakness, for a time.
Yet this lamb that had been slain is now very much alive. That he’s a ram is evident by the seven horns, which are a symbol of strength. So this suffering, submissive, weak lamb – is also strong, powerful, and triumphant. The period of his weakness, his suffering is now over. Paradoxically, by virtue of his sacrifice, the never ending period of his righteous rule has begun.Rev 5:12-13 singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever!”
Again, we see a parallel with the fledgling church. They’re enduring suffering, enduring weakness for a time. But like the lamb, that period will come to an end. They will be vindicated, just as Jesus has been. If they endure, they will reign with Jesus – again, by virtue of his sacrifice for them.Rev 5:9b-10 “and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.”
So what is God doing about the injustices of the world? A number of years ago, a minor injustice happened to me. Although it didn’t seem all that minor at the time – I received from Telstra a $979 phone bill. For one month. Almost 5000 local calls. I mean, come on, even a woman can’t make that many phone calls in a month! I was incensed. I steeled myself to do battle with customer service, ready with all the Consumer Affairs threats I could think of making.
So there I was psyched up for call centre Armageddon. I made it through to an operator in under 5 minutes, explained the problem, and said ‘so what are you going to do about it’… And was almost disappointed when the voice on the phone said: yes, there’s been a number of computer errors in your exchange. You only owe $70; an amended bill has already been sent out and should reach you in the next few days.
Oh, OK then.
Well let that be a lesson to you. Don’t mess with me again… Except it’s a little hard to remain indignant when it’s already been sorted before you even complained.
So what’s God doing about the injustices of the world? About the injustices being done to his people; about the injustices being done to himself? The answer is – he’s already done something about it. It’s already been sorted.
Through the willing sacrifice of Jesus in our place, he has made it possible for rebellious humanity to have a relationship with him. He’s defeated the power of death; he’s defeated the power of sin. And he’s now poised to bring justice to his world; to his people.
So why is he waiting? We’ll see this in chapter 6 next week, when God, in his mercy, is giving humanity a little more time to repent, before he ushers in the end. For us, his people, it means we’ll have to endure a little longer. To bear the injustice; to continue in weakness, just a little longer.
But be assured, Jesus has already won the victory. The slain lamb is victorious and stands vindicated. It won’t be long until we are, too. God is indeed on our side: the slain lamb, the cross is the only evidence we need. And God is indeed in control of his world: if we had any doubt, the victorious ram, the triumph of the resurrection proves that.
In all the injustices and difficulties of life you witness this week, whether they seem big or small, remember this scene from Revelation. And the lesson in scale that it gives us.
Remember to imagine a throne-scene which portrays God as being in control of that situation. And remember that Jesus is already victorious – in a little while, we will be, too.