There are many reasons to get excited about eschatology, the study of the future, and biblical books such as the book of Revelation. But perhaps the one really important reason is to simply see the glorious portrait of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Those of you who know me well realise that I am forever challenging believers to read through the entire Bible at least once a year. That, it seems to me, is a bare minimum. That is the least we can do if we claim to be disciples of Christ. How can we say we love him if we refuse to even regularly read and study his life-giving Word to us?
And if you read your 3.25 chapters a day, beginning with Genesis 1 on January 1, you will by now be right into the incredible book of Revelation. That is where I am now at and it is always such a mind-blowing and spirit-stretching experience.
What a way to round off the year and begin a new year. Yet sadly far too many believers miss the real heart of the book, being far too obsessed with pinning down elements on their prophetic calendar. They are too keen on setting dates and pinpointing the return of the Lord – even though Jesus himself told us clearly that no man knows when that will be.
Thus many prophecy buffs will dissect Revelation to pieces to see how things fit into their favourite eschatological schemes, while missing the very core of the volume. Equally unhelpful, many believers will skip the book altogether, filled as it is with so much cryptic and mysterious content.
But even if all the apocalyptic language, powerful and curious symbolism, perplexities in interpretation, and hard-core eschatology may render this book too difficult to fully comprehend and digest, the book’s major theme should not be missed. The very centre of the book should be always kept in view.
I refer to the amazing exaltation and majesty of the Lamb who was slain. This theme alone makes the book of Revelation well worth reading, and reading again. How exalted and glorious is the Lamb whom we will one day worship and adore throughout all of eternity.
Recall that another title for this book is the Apocalypse. The book reveals, it unveils, it uncovers. And as Thomas Torrance comments, “At its very heart Revelation means the unveiling of Jesus Christ”. Here we find the Lamb who was slain now exalted above all things, with all creation bowing before his majesty and wonder.
Graeme Goldsworthy puts it this way: “The Lion is the image of the glorified and reigning Christ. He alone can unlock the kingdom of God to us and make its reality known. But, like John, we can see the Lion only as he has come to us in the form of the slain Lamb. John points to the gospel-event; the living, dying and rising of Jesus Christ, as the key to the revelation of the kingdom. It is thus also the key to the Book of Revelation.”
William Hendriksen says, “In short, the theme of this book is stated most gloriously and completely in these words: ‘These shall war against the Lamb, and the Lamb shall conquer them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they also shall conquer that are with him called and chosen and faithful’ (17:14).”
But instead of sharing helpful commentary by others here, what I really want to do to round this article out is to simply share some of these magnificent portions of the book which exalt the risen Christ. The scenes of worship alone in this book make it such a powerful experience to read and contemplate.
So here then are just some of the exalted scenes we find in this book, some of the incredible portraits we have of the Lamb who was slain who is worthy of our worship and adoration and praise and obeisance forever and ever.
Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.” (Rev. 4:6-11)
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Rev. 5:11-14)
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!” (Rev. 7:9-12)
After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
And again they shouted:
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”
The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:
Then a voice came from the throne, saying:
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
both great and small!”
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.” (Rev. 19:1-8)
What more can be said? Nothing. Let us worship in awe and humility and amazement the Lamb of God.