THE PARADOX OF THE ‘LION AND THE LAMB’

(read Rev. 5:1-5) As John wailed because of the specter that no one was found worthy to open the book, one of the elders (acting as an angelic interpreter) comforts John, and tells him to ‘stop wailing, for the seals will be opened. John finds that Christ who is here called ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah’ (cf. Gen. 49:9-10; 2 Esdras 12:31-32) is worthy to open the book. But He is also spoken of as ‘a lamb’, looking as it had been slain’. It speaks of the Christ crucified on the cross that He is worthy. Satan is called a ‘roaring lion’ in 1 Pet. 5:8, but here it’s the Lord Jesus Christ who is called a ‘lion’; it speaks of His power and royalty. Now the next phrase is very important, notice He belongs to the ‘tribe of Judah, the Root of David’ – this is a direct reference to Isa. 11:1-9, and in Eccles. 47:22 where it seems to be a ‘Shoot’ of David instead of a ‘Root’. This also goes back to the promise of a royal Messiah from 2 Samuel chapter 7, and we see it again in Revelation 22:16. Another allusion to this ‘the root of Jesse’ is found in Jeremiah 23:5. It tells us that the Lion has triumphed (aorist tense, meaning triumphed once and for all) – a beautiful expression of this is found in Col. 2:15. Notice, He’s called a ‘Lion’ but He conquers by being a ‘sacrificial Lamb’. This is a paradox of the 2 comings of God in Christ; one is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, but one as the ‘suffering Servant’ of Isaiah 53:7. this is exactly what John is hitting here – these 2 allusions to ‘Lion and Lamb’. Now notice as it says, “who has conquered. He can open the book and its seven seals”. Verse 6, “Then I saw a Lamb standing in the middle of the throne, and the 4 living creatures standing among the elders, a Lamb that looked as though it had been slaughtered…” It was ritually killed as the throat was cut like it was ritually slaughtered. But He was alive, and it’s an allusion to the vicarious substitutionary atonement of Christ. The idea of a Lamb is repeated over and over and over in the book of Revelation, and you’ll notice the concept of the cross is found throughout the book of Revelation. This is the concept of the New Testament picture that Jesus died for our sins (cf. Mk. 10:45; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). Now what Lamb is it referring to? Well, some say it’s the Passover Lamb some say it’s the Lamb of the morning and evening sacrifice, some say it’s the Lamb of Isaiah 53:7, some say it’s like John 1:29’s “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” I’m not sure what Lamb it is, but I’m so glad that Jesus laid down His life on our behalf, and that’s how He has overcome. That’s how He is worthy to open the book, not because He’s just so strong, but because He gave His life for and in our behalf. It’s the central truth of the Gospel, and that’s what really matters! Hallelujah!