Revelation 5:9-10 The Lamb

Singing plays an important role in the lives of God’s people.  This is reflected in Scripture, particularly in the Psalms.  The NT speaks of Jesus and his disciples singing at the Last Supper – Matthew 26:30, singing a portion of the Psalter used at the Passover.  Christ himself is the fulfilment of what the Passover Lamb depicted.  Often in Revelation he is described in such terms, for example in Revelation 5:6 ‘a Lamb looking as if it had been slain.’  We consider Revelation 5:9-10 The Lamb, a vision of heavenly worship that centres on the Lamb.

1. The task that the Lamb performs

The heart of the song is in v9 ‘you are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals.’  The scroll, first mentioned in v1, contains the plan of God yet to be unfolded.  It is sealed to indicate its inviolability.  The scroll is filled – nothing can be added to God’s decrees.  BUT v4 ‘no-one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.’  The search is comprehensive (v3).  How can the plan of God be carried to fulfilment?  One, however, is worthy – the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David.’  He is ‘a lamb looking as if it had been slain’ (v6) – see Isaiah 53:7 and John 1:29.  He combines mighty rule and humble suffering.  Attention is turned especially to his atoning death (v9).  This work above all establishes the worthiness of the Lamb to open the scroll.  Christ is fully qualified – he has authority ‘to take the scroll’.  He is able to open the seals and carry out everything written in the scroll.  He will convert promises into realities.

2. The purchase that the Lamb has made

Christ has ‘purchased men for God’.  He buys back with a ransom what was lost.  Sinners are in bondage and a ransom must be paid to God.  It is God who in the person of his Son, pays the ransom – ‘with your blood…’.  Christ is ‘a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45).  Note ‘for God’ – this involves a change of ownership.  We belong entirely to God.  Atonement is definite and specific.  Not all are purchased.  It has however world-wide scope – ‘every tribe and language and people and nation.’  The scope of the atoning work of Christ should move us to praise and gives encouragement in the proclamation of the gospel.

3. The dignity that the Lamb confers

v10 sets out the wonderful status conferred upon the redeemed.  Their dignity contrasts sharply with their previous condition as guilty rebels without God or hope.  ‘You have made them’.  This is a definitive act of the Lord, a dignity conferred once and for all.  A decisive change has taken place in all who experience the redeeming work of the Lamb.  ‘A kingdom and priests’ – applying a description of OT Israel to the Church (see Exodus 19:6, quoted in 1 Peter 2:5,9).  ‘A kingdom’ – a royal status.  This is our present position, spiritually sitting with Christ (Ephesians 2:6).  We enjoy victory in him and exercise authority in his name, even when persecuted and suffering.  ‘Priests’ – representing God to men and men to God.  We pray for the world and witness to the world.  All of life is priestly service.  ‘They will reign on the earth’ – we are now kings, and our reign will be fulfilled along with King Jesus in the new creation.  We will reign with the exalted Lamb forever.  No greater dignity is possible.  This is all of grace – a status we could never earn or deserve, and so our hearts should be filled with thanks and praise, and we should be motivated to serve our King faithfully in any way he allows us.