The Lion Who is the Lamb (Revelation 5)

The Lion Who is the Lamb (Revelation 5)

Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loosen its seals? This is a challenge no creature can answer because no creature is worthy to open this particular scroll.

No one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it: The strong angel looked through the entire universe to find someone worthy, and did not find anyone worthy to even look at the scroll.

This is testimony to the Sovereignty of the Living God i.e. His Kingship: There was no answer to the strong angel’s challenge because the creation is utterly incapable of deciding or effecting its own destiny. Someone above the order of created beings must determine the course of history – only God can unfold this plan.



The Baptist Faith and Message connects God’s Fatherhood to his reign over all things. God reigns over the universe, his creatures, and the flow of human history.

Scripture repeatedly affirms God’s providential reign over the universe. This reign begins with his act of creation but persists throughout history. Even after the Fall, God reigns over the universe with providential care and grace. David praises God’s reign over the daily cycle of the sun, “which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat” (Ps 19:5-6). God makes the sun rise every morning. He daily gives all the earth its heat. Another Psalm similarly teaches, “Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity’” (Ps 96:10). God reigned with care by establishing the earth and sustaining its continued existence. This providential care assures us that one day he will fully judge all the people of the world throughout history. One of the final “Hallelujah” Psalms especially emphasizes God’s ongoing care for the universe as abundant cause to praise him (Ps 147). We should praise God because he created the stars (v. 4), he provides rain (v. 8), he provides food for wild animals (v. 9), he makes the seasons pass one into another (vv. 16-18).

The Bible also teaches that God providentially cares for his creatures. We’ve already considered this from Ps 147:9, but it is taught throughout Scripture. It is a major theme of God’s first speech to Job in Job 38-39Psalm 146 similarly affirms God’s care for the people he has created. He provides justice for oppressed people, food for hungry people, and freedom for captive people (v. 7). He gives sight to the blind, lifts the heads of those bowed down, and loves righteous people (v. 8). He protects sojourners, widows, and orphans, even as he punishes the wicked (v. 9). Well did Jesus comfort us, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt 10:29-31).


Paul makes the point: God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26). God the Father is sovereign over all things, from the stars in the sky, to the number of hairs on our heads, to the course of human history.


John weeps because there is no one worthy to open the Scroll. We might be tempted to look at worthiness in terms of value or ability and while those are part of it, in this case worthiness is to be equated with legal claim. Not one created being had legal claim to the document in the Father’s hand.




Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah: One of the elders (not an angel) rescued John from his grief, showing him the one who has prevailed to open the scroll. This One was the great figure of Old Testament prophecy: the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, Messiah of Israel and of the Gentiles.


The Messianic title Lion of the tribe of Judah comes from Genesis 49:9-10, Isaiah 31:4, and Hosea 11:10. The title Root of David comes from Isaiah 11:10and is repeated in Revelation 22:16.

Trapp says that a Lion is a fitting image of our Messiah, “1. For the excellency of his strength. 2. For his heroical spirit. 3. For his principality; the lion is the king of beasts. 4. For his vigilance; the lion sleeps with open eyes.” Yet, when John turns to see, it is not a lion, glorious in power and beauty that he beholds. Instead…

And I looked, and behold… stood a Lamb:

John uses a particular word here. The word he uses,  “Signifies a little or delicate lamb.” (Clarke)


The Lamb is presented in a way both sympathetic and powerful; He is living (stood a Lamb), but He still had the marks of previous sacrifice upon Him (as though it had been slain).


When men want symbols of power they conjure up ferocious beasts and birds of prey such as those that represent nations and sports teams. But the representative of the kingdom of heaven is a Lamb, representing humility, gentleness, and sacrificial love.


You cannot help but be taken back to Ancient Israel. John the Baptist is proclaiming his message of repentance and then he sees Jesus approaching. At the sight of his cousin drawing near, John utters what has been the message of the Church for centuries, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)


Saying the Lamb looks as though it had been slain gives us a peek into the vantage point of God the Father. The sacrifice of the Divine Son is always before His face. That is to emphasize the fact that God will not forget the sacrifice. The satisfaction of His wrath against sin stays before Him forever and ever. The sacrifice of the Son, in the fullness of His grace, restrains the wrath of God from consuming the Redeemed.


Having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth


7 Horns, no doubt arranged in the shape of a crown, picture omnipotence. In the ancient world, horns were a symbol of power. 7 being the number of completion, The image of the horns make a declaration for us: this is not just Jesus, this is Christus Pantokrator, THE CHRIST WHO IS ALL POWERFUL!!


7 eyes speak of omniscience-Christ does not just see, He sees it all. The image repeats the earlier declaration of Christ, “I am Alpha and Omega…” All knowledge is comprised of words, made up from the alphabet and in identifying Himself as both the first and the last letters of the alphabet, Jesus is not only declaring His omniscience, He is pointing out that He is the sum of all that is worth knowing.


And there it is…The Divine Son is worthy to take the scroll-He has legal claim to God’s Testamentary Document as He alone is Beneficiary and Executor thereof.



In Revelation 4, the song focuses on creation; here the song focuses on redemption…


  • The song honors the priceof redemption: for You were slain.
  • The song honors the workerof redemption: have redeemed us.
  • The song honors the destinationof redemption: have redeemed us to God.
  • The song honors the paymentof redemption: by Your blood.
  • The song honors the scopeof redemption: every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
  • The song honors the lengthof redemption: have made us kings and priests to our God.
  • The song honors the resultof redemption: and we shall reign on the earth.


Note: The Textus Receptus, in verse 9, reads you have purchased us. The NA28 reads you have purchased a people. It is my estimation that it is proper to say, “You have purchased us, a people…



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