The first Passover is detailed in the twelfth chapter of Exodus. Its history goes back nearly 3,500 years, and its rituals are freighted with spiritual and prophetic meaning. It came on the fourteenth day of the first month – Nisan – and has been observed ever since. It features two primary aspects: First, it is referred to as “feasting for freedom.” It marks Israel’s liberation from Egypt, a type of the world system. Second, it is a prophecy, reenacted annually to preserve the hope that Israel will one day witness the establishment of the Kingdom in Israel, coming on a wave of fulfilled Bible prophecy. Each year, it concludes with a victory cry: “Next year in Jerusalem!”
But its centerpiece is perhaps the greatest archetype in Scripture: the lamb. The lamb, sacrificed and roasted in the fire during the night, foreshadows Jesus’ own arrest and illegal midnight trial, culminating in His sacrifice the next day. His function was the same as that first Passover lamb in Egypt, to bring liberation and redemption, first to Israel, then to the whole world. It represents “… the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).
It is introduced in the dramatic narrative of Exodus:
“5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover. (Ex. 12:5-11).
That momentous night, when the blood of the lamb was applied to the doorposts of Israel, another tradition was established. The lamb’s blood was commemorated in the fruit of the vine, and the four cups of Passover. Taken in order, they symbolize: 1. Sanctification 2. Liberation 3. Redemption 4. Completion.
The commemoration of Passover is structured around the consumption of these four cups of the fruit of the vine, which is itself a symbol of our Lord: John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Passover … feasting for freedom … liberation from Egypt … establishing the Kingdom … all of these are witnessed in “The Four Cups.”
“But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29). This will be the final Cup: Completion.
The Lamb Steps Forward
One day, all the created beings in the heavens will watch as the Lamb of God steps forward to open a seven-sealed scroll. When He does, He will be acting as the Divine Judge, who takes in His hands a sealed indictment – that sealed scroll. What is written upon it no man knows. But it must certainly include a list of charges accrued across the ages by a depraved humanity. In the opening of its seals, the Lamb will right the wrongs of six millennia and establish peace and justice.
But why does Jesus appear in heaven as a lamb? In his work as Judge of the world, He would seem to be more accurately acting the part of the lion. And indeed, at His appearance, He is recognized by that title:
“And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Rev. 5:5).
But when He actually receives the scroll, He appears as a Lamb, not a lion: “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6). The Lion of the tribe of Judah is one of the most ancient of all biblical figures, going all the way back to Jacob’s prophetic blessing of his sons. He said, “Judah is a lion’s whelp …” (Gen. 49:9). Why did the Lion become the Lamb? The Bible provides an answer to this question, in the process, giving us an inside look, not only at the true meaning of sacrifice but at God’s very nature.
The Lamb is not a mere figurehead… a stiff and lifeless symbol. He loves, feels pain, longs for a relationship and expresses Himself in emotional language. What must He be thinking as He comes forward to take that fateful scroll? Surprisingly, His motives and goals are not concealed. He has, in fact, gone out of His way to make sure that humanity knows the thoughts of His very heart in detail. A bit later, we shall examine some of them. First, however, let’s look at the historical figure of the Lamb.
The symbol of the sacrificial lamb goes back to the very beginning of humanity, in the recounting of the acceptable sacrifice. Apparently, after Adam’s fall, the Lord had instructed him about what constituted an acceptable sacrifice for sin. We know this because his son Abel brought the proper sacrifice, prepared in a specific way, as described in the following Scripture:
“1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering” 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell” (Gen. 4:1-5).
The rest of the story is well known, as Cain’s jealousy grew to violent anger that led to the murder of Abel. This event might well be described as the first war in history, with Abel being recorded as the first casualty. From that time to the present, mankind has been engaged in an unending war for supremacy, or for acceptance in the sphere of power. War is man’s primary institution.
Almost forgotten in the conflict between Cain and Abel is the lamb. Its role as the atoning sacrifice is central to humanity’s survival … a prophetic archetype that runs through the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Scripture progressively reveals the submissive lamb as the way to victory over sin and evil. In fact, the lamb represents the absolute opposite of taking power and possessions by force. It is the very emblem of selfless sacrifice.
At key points in biblical history, the lamb emerges again and again as the key to the Lord’s plan of redemption. The “sacrificial lamb” has become a universal cliché. But biblically, the lamb appears at historically significant moments, to certify the relationship between God and man.
It is next seen, for example, in the covenantal transaction between the Lord and Abraham on Mount Moriah:
“7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold there and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Gen. 22:7,8).
In the heart of Abraham, the sacrifice had already been accomplished. Never did Abraham tell Isaac that he was to be the sacrifice. Rather, he told his beloved son that God would provide “a lamb.”
All this happened on the mountain known as “Moriah,” which means, “appearing of Jehovah.” Thus, the Bible recognizes this as the mountain where Jehovah appeared to Abraham, and would appear again in the days of David and Solomon. This is where the Temple would be built.
The sacrifice provided by the Lord was not merely a lamb, it was a ram, trapped by its horns in thick underbrush. Abraham took it and laid it upon the altar. To him, it must have seemed a greater and fuller sacrifice than a mere lamb. In fact, it was only a foreshadowing of the greater sacrifice to come.
From this scene on Mount Moriah, we leap forward half a millennium to about 1450 B.C., and the period of the Exodus. This wonderful event centers about the blood of the lamb, which is painted upon every Israelite doorpost. This crucial identification spared Israel from the visiting angel of death. He passed over their houses, instead, inflicting death upon Egyptian homes.
But on this night – the first Passover – the lamb is more than mere sacrifice. It becomes the symbol of relationship, the common experience of the Israelites, and remains so to this day. Let’s revisit the scene in which the flesh of the lamb was roasted and quickly eaten on the night of the fourteenth day of the first month:
“5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6. And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it” (Ex. 12:5-8).
From the first, Passover was a family institution, intended to bring Israel together around the promise of freedom in the Messianic Kingdom. To this day, its customs are annually repeated, but only the shank bone of the lamb is present on the Seder table. After the Romans razed the Temple, the sacrifice of the lamb abruptly came to a halt.
John Sees the Lamb
And of course, the reason for this is well known. The Lamb had offered Himself on that last Passover, taken with His disciples on the night of His arrest and trial. This act instituted the Lord’s Supper, in which the Lamb became the actual leader of the ancient tradition. But it must also be remembered that Jesus appeared at the beginning of His public ministry as the Lamb without blemish, just as He ended it as the Lamb sacrificed for sin.
His role is publicly announced by John the Baptist:
“26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:26-29).
Acting in the spirit of Elijah, John announced the appearance of the long-awaited Messiah. His public statement might have invoked many promises and historical references. But he didn’t. He simply introduced the Lamb. Priests and Levites had crossed the Jordan to question John. He denied being the great prophet promised by Moses. He also denied being either the Messiah or Elijah.
But truly, John was a prophet, who now prophesied the coming of the Messiah. He didn’t announce Jesus as King or prophet. Nor did he mention Jesus’ link to the royal tribe of Judah, dating back to the House of David. Instead, he simply called Him “the Lamb of God.”
Israel’s leaders had no way of mentally linking the Passover lamb to the Messiah. Even though the Old Testament symbol of the Lamb foreshadows Jesus’ finished work, the prophets had never referred to the coming Messiah as a lamb. The blood of the Lamb as a Messianic idea is clearly developed only in the New Testament.
Certainly, Isaiah referred to Him in this way, but never actually connected Him with the Passover or atonement:
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Is. 53:7).
So, John’s announcement of the Lamb brings a new dimension to the mission of the Messiah. He comes as the personification of the atoning sacrifice, as the remedy for the sin which has crippled the world. From the very beginning, the Bible recognizes Him in this role. Now, John announces it publicly. But of course, no one understands what he is saying.
John’s prophecy at the Jordan River continues, adding a further note about the identity of the Messiah. John was born six months before Jesus, a fact probably known to Jerusalem authorities, and certainly to a number of faithful Jews. Yet he declares that Jesus came before him, adding that the Lamb is confirmed by the Holy Spirit of God, and is the very Son of God:
“30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:30-34). This is the clearest possible statement of His divinity.
Jesus’ first disciples were drawn by John’s repeated statement that this was the Lamb of God. They were spiritually drawn to a great new idea, which they had no way of understanding: “35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 36 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 37 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 38 He saith unto them, Come and see. 39 They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother” (John 1:35-40).
What must these two have thought as they heard John’s ecstatic words? Was this really the Messiah? But John didn’t call Him that. He didn’t say, “Behold your Messiah!” In fact, he withheld the full truth. Instead of the office of the Messiah, he emphasized the role of the Messiah in redemption. John prophesied the mission that Jesus would perform, and the way that He would perform it, as the Passover sacrifice.
The two disciples mentioned here are identified in the context of John’s declaration. It is most interesting to see that they had no difficulty in connecting the concept of the Lamb with that of the Messiah:
“40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ” (John 1:40,41).
Doubtless, they didn’t fully understand the connection. In fact, Scripture tells us that when Jesus later told them that He must die and depart from them, they refused to accept the idea. He openly told them that He must “… be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matt. 16:21). He sternly rebuked Peter, who resisted the simple truth that the Lamb must die to complete the sacrifice for sin.
But it must be remembered that for those alive at the time, Jesus’ mission was fraught with riddles.
In reviewing the biblical history of the Lamb, we find a surprising fact. The Old Testament often refers to the lamb of sacrifice. But in the New Testament, the sacrificial lamb is mentioned by name only four times outside the book of Revelation.
This title appears twice in the Gospel of John (both of which are quoted above). In these two cases, the word “Lamb” is capitalized. It is seen twice more after that, once in Acts 8:32, where Philip quotes from Isaiah 53:
“The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth.”
Again, we encounter it in 1 Peter 1:19, where Peter quotes from Exodus 12:5, naming the requirement for purity in the Passover lamb:
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet. 1:18,19).
In both of these cases, salvation is explained in the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. Based upon the importance of this symbol, one would expect to see references to Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb mentioned over and over again. But they are completely absent from the epistles of Paul, James, John and Jude!
Furthermore, the letter to the Hebrews, devoted to explaining the superiority of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice to Jews still observing Temple worship, does not mention the Lamb at all! When speaking of Jesus, Hebrews typically refer to His sacrifice in statements like the following: “… but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place …” (Heb. 9:12). The Jews would have made an immediate connection with the idea of the Passover lamb, but His sacrifice is never detailed in this way.
Moreover, the first three Gospels never mention the Lamb by that name! Matthew, the Gospel that announces the King to Israel, is built around the theme of the presentation and rejection of the king.
Mark introduces Jesus as the servant. His style of factual immediacy presents the servant, who goes about His work with energy and total devotion. He is then rejected and suffers for those whom He has served.
And Luke documents Jesus’ role as Son of Man … human in every way, yet divinely incarnated. Luke emphasizes His compassion and His perfection as a human being. He is presented and rejected as the man who bore the sorrows of humanity. As one man to another, he entered the home of diminutive but wealthy Zacchaeus. Addressing this sinful tax collector at his own level, Jesus changed the way this man lived his life:
“8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:8-10).
As King, Servant and Son of Man, Jesus acts at the earthly level. While important, these roles do not address the spiritual and metaphysical truths that we see in John’s Gospel, which reveals Jesus as Deity.
It makes perfect sense, then, that since The Lamb is a spiritual sacrifice, transcending the boundaries of earth, and reaching all the way into heaven, John would introduce Him as the Lamb, “… which taketh away the sin of the world.”
The Lamb and the “Kosmos”
This phrase, from John 1:29, emphasizes the fact that the Lamb’s sacrifice reaches all the way into the heavens. The word “world” is from the Greek kosmos, which means, “the order and arrangement of the world system.” To the Greeks, this word included all that could be observed or inferred from observation. The same concept in the mind of the modern man would most probably be “universe.”
But to the student of the Bible, the New Testament concept of the kosmos includes even those things not seen. As the Apostle Paul put it in Ephesians 6:11,12:
“11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against esh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:11,12).
The above four levels of authority arrayed against Christians, all operate beyond the range of human vision. Yet they radically affect the daily lives of humankind. Therefore, they must be included in the definition of kosmos. The dimensions of this universe are much greater than most will admit, yet biblically, the invisible aspects of the world system are as important – if not more so – than the visible ones.
The “principalities” mentioned by Paul are called archons in the Greek language. They would be the superhuman beings generally called angels, whether faithful or fallen. But in Paul’s epistle, the reference is to the first level of evil power, including Satan, and his delegated powers. They are trans-dimensional, operating outside the natural realm of human beings, yet deeply influential in the circles of world nance, politics and religion.
The “powers” that Paul mentions are called exousia in New Testament Greek. These are delegated authorities operating beneath the first level of power just described. Yet they are still able to act on their own, even though subject to their superiors. Elsewhere, Paul describes them as powers at the angelic level. Like the first group, they are able to affect both the unseen world and our own physical world.
The third level of power – “… rulers of the darkness of this world …” – are called kosmokrators, in the original language of the New Testament. In the literature of the ancient Greeks, these are high-level rulers, on the order of an emperor, a world-lord. Yet they, too, operate outside the influence of human perception. In the well-known passage from the book of Daniel, the heavenly visitor who came to him was delayed in conflict with just such a ruler:
“12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia” (Dan. 10:12,13).
If, as we believe, it was the Lord, Himself who came to Daniel, he was forced to take a circuitous route in recognition of an existing world boundary of some sort. Apparently, the Lord allows many such zones of rule in the cosmos.
But we must also note that the phrase, “darkness of this world,” uses a different word for “world.” Here it is a translation of the Greek aion, denoting an age or period of time, probably corresponding to the period of Gentile rule that began with Nebuchadnezzar, and comes to an end under the reign of the antichrist.
Finally, Paul describes the lowest and most widespread of the trans-dimensional powers. He refers to them in general as “spiritual wickedness in high places.” A literal reading of the Greek text tells us that these are spiritual powers of evil in the heavens. They come and go on errands of mischief and malevolence, following the dictates of the evil powers above them. Their chief work is to corrupt the progress of the Gospel, and to destroy the unity and saving grace of the body of Christ.
The submission of the Lamb to the cause of redemption (His willingness to sacrifice Himself) was the mechanism that signaled the end of their system. From the moment of His sacrifice, their days were numbered.
To us, operating on the time scale of planet earth, the time from then until now seems very long, indeed. From the Lamb’s perspective, there is no doubt that the scale of perception is quite different. Cause and effect can only truly be viewed from His throne.
We can gain some idea of this viewpoint by recalling Jesus’ moment of temptation. Just prior to His public ministry, and following John’s baptism of the Lamb, Satan took Him to a place where the power and glory of the kosmos could be viewed in a single, sweeping view:
“8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matt. 4:8,9).
Here, the Lamb is offered the kosmos, in all its glory. For Jesus to have witnessed every single kingdom and the glory of each one, it must have been necessary for Him to see past, present and future in a single glance. Furthermore, there is no location within this Earthly dimension that affords a view of the world like the one described above. Christ’s atonement was intended to reach all the way into this evil realm.
If Satan and his subjects held this kind of power, it is easy to see that no ordinary challenge could defeat them. It was necessary for the Lord to prepare a stunning offensive, with a single stroke of power that cut through the entire universe (or universes).
In effect, the Lamb’s blood sacrifice turned Satan’s own devices against him. Once dominant among heavenly creatures, He boasted of wisdom and beauty as the primary fruit of existence. But he rejected holiness, as well as the worship of God, Creator and King. It was holiness … dedication to God’s will … personified in the blood of the Lamb that overthrew him.
The world system is doomed to crash into ruins as the Lamb’s work is finally sanctified in the formality of a heavenly protocol that was devised for a signal moment in history.
The Lamb and the Book
As earlier noted, outside the Book of Revelation, the Lamb is mentioned only four times in the entire New Testament. But it is astonishing to see that in the pages of Revelation, itself, the capitalized proper noun, “Lamb,” is used twenty- six times!
This serves to emphasize a basic truth. Though consummated upon earth, the true extent of the Lamb’s sacrifice can only be perceived at the heavenly level. This brings us back to the question that we posed at the beginning of this study: Why does Jesus appear in heaven as a lamb? This question goes to the heart of the action we observe when, in Revelation, we hear a formal question voiced by an angel, who almost seems to be acting in the role of legal counsel:
“1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. 6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. 7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” (Rev. 5:1-7).
The question posed here by the “strong angel” is an unmistakable challenge that rings through the vaults and arches of heaven like a mighty blast. It is a call to attention, commanding every being in Creation to come to full attention. A monumental legal question like this one demands an answer.
Satan and his fallen ones must also hear the angel’s words. Surely, they hope that no one answers the call, since they must know that if the book is unsealed, it means certain doom for them.
The book is a scroll. John carefully describes its appearance. He sees it as covered with writing on both sides. Apparently, if completely unrolled, it would be full to capacity with a list of written charges. In other words, the charges against the world system are all-inclusive, absolute and comprehensive. The scroll is a legal indictment, without loopholes or escape clauses. It seems obvious that the charges were compiled by God, Himself.
But there is a catch … a legal requirement of the first magnitude. The inscribed charges must be executed by someone who is properly qualified. Hence the question: Who is worthy?
As the angel’s loud query echoed toward silence, John observed that no created being in all the heavens seemed capable of answering the call. Note that the question is heard “in heaven,” “in earth” and “under the earth.” In every dimension of Creation, the question rings forth. Archangels stand silent and angels watch, daring not to utter a single word. The rebellious followers of the Old Serpent, angels and demons wait trembling, as their fate hangs in the balance.
At this time, the church has already been caught up, even though the Tribulation period has not yet been initiated. So, the Lord’s own people must also be watching this unfolding drama from a heavenly point of view. Imagine their great curiosity, as the final act of the drama commences.
Those of the body of Christ who studied Scripture while on earth must certainly know in advance that the Lamb will come forth to take the scroll, but they dare not speak a word. They watch in respectful silence, awaiting the coming of the great Day of the Lord, in which the Righteous Judge will finally put down all wickedness and establish His Kingdom.
They remember the words He spoke to the Jewish leaders during His ministry on earth. After healing the paralyzed man who lay helpless at the pool called Bethesda, he instructed the man to pick up his bed and walk, a violation of carrying a burden on the Sabbath.
Rather than receiving Him as Messiah, the Pharisees charged Him with sinfully and willfully breaking the Law of Moses. He answered by declaring Himself equal with God the Father in power and authority. His resounding answer to them is a statement of absolute authority: “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22).
A Legal Technicality
As the words of the strong angel fall to silence, John is struck down with the realization that no one has answered. He must be asking himself if the kingdoms of evil will win yet another battle. He begins to think that no one can answer the call. Imagine how you would feel if you thought that Satan and his followers would get o absolutely free on a legal technicality. You would be devastated. Surely, you would think to yourself, someone must be able to effectively lodge criminal charges against the followers of Satan … once and for all. Yet no one seems qualified.
Doubtless, John is waiting for someone to unseal the book and read the charges that will allow the execution of the final judgment. Apparently, some time elapses at this point. John believes that no one is qualified to do the work of judgment. He weeps bitterly at the realization that Satan’s crimes may go unpunished.
He suffers greatly until he is comforted by one of the elders who comes to inform him that the Lion of Judah has overcome the world system … the sin that has ravaged the kosmos. His action has qualified Him to receive and open the scroll.
And then, in what must be one of the greatest and most dramatic entrances of all time, the Lamb comes forth to receive the scroll from God the Father. It is true, just as Jesus told those Pharisees all those years ago, that the Father has given all power of judgment to the Son.
Thanks to John the Baptist, Christians who are alive today to read the words of Revelation will be aware of something that many of the citizens of heaven will not know at that time. We know in advance that the Lamb has done His work and will, at the proper time, step forward to open the sealed scroll. Why? Because He submitted Himself to death and purchased the freedom of those oppressed by Satan’s evil regime. He is the only One who could ever have qualified for this critical mission.
The Lamb and Our Home
As the Lamb opens the scroll, the events of the Tribulation unfold in a series of unprecedented cataclysms. Israel is sealed in the power of the Spirit, only to be persecuted by the forces of the antichrist. Israel is forced to flee into the wilderness, then is rescued. The evil powers of the world, headed by the antichrist, are overthrown. Israel rises to receive the Kingdom. The King assumes His throne.
After the Lamb is introduced in the Revelation narrative, the Lamb is mentioned by name twenty- five more times before we arrive at the end of the book. It is not the purpose of this article to detail all His activities through the Tribulation. But we should always remember that Jesus will eternally carry the title, “Lamb.”
As we have seen, He rises up in the end times as Judge. But in the future era of the New Jerusalem, the Lamb is fully identified within the Godhead. In this context, it is exciting to contemplate our eternal home, which the Lamb promised to prepare for those who would follow Him.
In Revelation, His final appearances as Lamb are absolutely enthralling:
“22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev. 21:22,23).
Imagine the pure light that illuminates the New Jerusalem. His living radiance transcends anything that man has seen, or can ever imagine. God’s own city will become the source of all that is pure and all that is everlasting.
“1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life,which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations 3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him” (Rev. 22:1-3).
The Lord entered this world in Bethlehem as a being of flesh and blood, without spot or blemish. The in nite became nite. Before His arrival here, He had been many things, but never the Lamb! At that moment in time, the Lamb began to exist. The Lord took upon Himself a new identity, which He retains to this day.
He is the perfect model of eternal life. The little baby born among the shepherds was the perfect Lamb. Fragile, delicate and seemingly ephemeral, he defied death, inviting us to follow in His steps and bask in his glory … forever!
He entered the world not to partake of the Passover, but to become the Passover. At the moment of sacrifice, the Lamb leaped from the finite to the infinite. And He takes us with Him!