Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 14 2020 - Revelation 5:1-14 – The Lion and the Lamb

Revelation 5 presents us with a wonderful vision which provides the key theme for the remainder of this book.

In the hand of him who sits upon the throne, John sees "a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals" (Revelation 5:1). This is the scroll of history, detailing the plans and purposes of God. It is written on both sides – nothing has been left out and there is no more to be added. It is sealed with seven seals because it is a finished document and is not to be tampered with. But who can open the seals and unroll this scroll? Who is able to execute God's plans and turn the purposes of God into reality?

In all creation, there is no one who has the power to open the scroll except the Lion of the tribe of Judah (5:5). But when John looks for the Lion he sees a "Lamb, looking as if it had been slain" (5:6). The Lamb who has been slain is the Lion of the tribe of Judah; the Messiah is the Suffering Servant. The purposes of God in history will be accomplished not by raw might and military strength but by the conquering power of suffering love. The might of Rome will fail; the kingdom of our God and of the Lamb will last for ever.

Now it is the Lamb who receives the praise of the four living creatures (representing all creation) and the twenty four elders (representing God's people). 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 for God
persons 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” (5:9-10)

Jesus, the Lamb of God, is worthy to open the scroll because it is through his sacrificial death that he has redeemed a people for God's own possession. It is through the cross that the kingdom is established.

But there is one more keynote here that we must not miss. Jesus has redeemed us that we might be "a kingdom and priests to serve our God"; he has redeemed us that we might "reign on the earth". We are to share in the reign of Christ. We, his people are to become his agents through whom the kingdom is established and God's plan for human history is unrolled. We are to be a priestly people through whose ministry the world is reconciled to God.

And how are we to accomplish this great task? In the face of indifference, opposition and even violence, we too are to conquer through sacrificial love. We are to follow the way of the Lamb.

I cannot but hear in my head the glorious chorus of Handel's Messiah as I read:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honour and glory and praise! ...
To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honour and glory and power,
for ever and ever! (5:12, 13)”


Lord Jesus we worship you as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the promised Messiah clothed in authority and power, the one whose kingdom cannot fail. Precious Saviour, we worship you as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. You were slain for us. We are your purchased possession. Help us to worship you as your priestly people, bringing the life of God to the world and reconciling people to God. Use us, your servants, to build your kingdom.

Peter Misselbrook