In Revelation, “we find ourselves eavesdropping on a majestic mystery. John the Seer, who is describing the vision he has seen, is himself something of a fly on the wall, peeping into the very throne-room of God himself. We, watching the scene through his eyes, are as it were eavesdropping at second hand.
It is an astonishing sight. John begins by describing God’s throne, and even – though cautiously and obliquely – God himself. Thunder and lightning are coming from the throne; this is a place of majesty and awesome glory. Around the throne are the representatives of the animal kingdom and the world of humanity: the whole creation is worshipping God for all he’s worth.
Here we see God’s world as it should be, God’s world as it already is within the dimension of heaven.
This is the point at which most of us want to say: but the world is in a mess! It’s all very well for people to praise God as creator; look at the state of his creation! What’s he going to do about it? The good news – and this is also right at the heart of what Christian worship is all about – is that exactly this reaction takes place before our eyes in the heavenly court itself. At the start of chapter 5, John notices that the figure on the throne is holding a scroll, which we gradually realize is the scroll of God’s future purposes, the purposes through which the world is at last to be judged and healed. The problem, however, is that nobody is able to open the scroll. God has committed himself, ever since creation, to working through his creatures, in particular through his image-bearing human beings, but they have all let him down. For a moment it looks as though all God’s plans are going to be thwarted.
But then there appears, beside the throne, a different kind of animal. He is, we are told, a Lion; but then we are also told that he is a Lamb. To read Revelation, you have to get used to its kaleidoscopic imagery. The Lion is an ancient Jewish image for the Messiah, the king of Israel and the world. The Lamb is the sacrificial offering for the sins of Israel and the world. Both these roles are combined in Jesus, in a way nobody had ever imagined before but which now makes perfect sense. And when he appears, those who were already singing (the animals and the humans) turn their praise to God the creator into their praise of God the redeemer:
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered, 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 the earth.”
– N. T. Wright, Simply Christian, pp. 123-126
May you have a wonderful Sunday celebrating our great Creator and dear Redeemer, our Lion and our Lamb, the Worthy One!