Sunday, 8 November 2020
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Revelation 5:6
In the previous verse, John heard the voice say, “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” Expecting to see a kingly figure when he raised his eyes from weeping, it says, “And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures.”
Remembering the symbolism of the four living creatures, that of them representing the four aspects of Christ in the four gospels, one can mentally prepare for what is being depicted in this heavenly scene. Then John continues, saying, “and in the midst of the elders.” As noted in verse 4:4, these twenty-four elders signify heavenly government and worship. Again, this helps us to understand what will next be said. In the midst of the presentation of the four gospels, and in the midst of the heavenly government and worship, there “stood a Lamb as though it had been slain.”
Here, the word translated as “stood” is a perfect participle. It should say, “standing.” There is standing a Lamb, and yet it is as if it had been slain. The words are paradoxical. How can a Lamb be standing despite being as if it had been slain?
But this is the point. The focal point of everything presented in the gospels presented to man on earth, and the focal point of all governmental attention in the heavenly realm, is… a Lamb as if it had been slain. A moment before, He had been heralded as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and yet John sees a Lamb “as though it had been slain.”
The word translated as “Lamb” is the diminutive form of a sheep, thus it is a little lamb. There are two aspects to this then. The first is innocence. In the sacrificial system of Israel, this was what was required for the Passover lamb –
“Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.” Exodus 12:5
Further, the same thing is said of the twice-daily offering at the tabernacle/temple –
“Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year, day by day continually. 39 One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight.” Exodus 29:38, 39
Being of the first year, there is conveyed the idea of innocence. It is weak, cannot protect itself, and would normally anticipate each new day ahead as it continued to follow its mother along innocently. However, the description of the Lamb in John’s vision is an innocent Lamb “as though it had been slain.” The word translated as “slain” is sphazó. It signifies butchery for food or sacrifice.
Here, the Lamb is seen to have been sacrificed. The two thoughts together anticipate that an innocent lamb used for Israel’s sacrificial system was given in anticipation of the coming work of the Messiah. This Lamb in Revelation, then, is the fulfillment of those anticipatory pictures.
The focus of both the heavenly government and the earthly witness of God’s dealings with man is directed to this Lamb that was as if it had been sacrificed. And of this Lamb, John says it is “having seven horns and seven eyes.”
In the Old Testament, the horn comes from the word qeren. That is from the verb qaran, signifying “to send out rays,” meaning “to shine.” This then conveys the idea of prominence, exaltation, and strength. And this is how the horn is used in 2 Samuel (and elsewhere) –
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
3 The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge;
My Savior, You save me from violence.” 2 Samuel 2:22:2, 3
The eye, or in Hebrew ayin, is that which is outflowing, and thus that which gives appearance. For example, a spring or fountain is called “an eye” because it is where water issues forth from. Using this idea of appearance, the eye is used along with many descriptors – “an evil eye,” “a bountiful eye,” “the lust of the eyes,” “eyes full of adultery,” and so on.
In this case, the appearance of the Lamb is that of innocence and substitutionary death which is radiated out in power and exaltation.
Seven is the number of spiritual perfection (completeness). John takes these two things together, horns and eyes, and says that they “are the seven Spirits of God.” These seven spirits of God reflect His perfect power, exaltation, and appearance. In other words, this Lamb reflects those attributes of God perfectly. In His being a Lamb – innocent, and in His being slain -substitutionary death, these attributes of God are perfectly revealed.
One can see a reflection of what the Lord said to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Just as Christ’s strength is made perfect in weakness,” through the apostle, the perfection of God’s strength is displayed in the humility of Christ, the Lamb. It is this depiction of Christ by which the seven Spirits of God are “sent out into all the earth.”
It is the innocence (sinlessness) and death of Christ by which God has most purposefully revealed Himself. Despite all of the power, wonder, and majesty of the created order, the highest representation of Himself, in all of time and in all of His handiwork, is in the innocent crucified Christ.
Life application: The scroll which is to be opened is a will or title deed and as was previously noted, Hebrews 9:16 says, “…where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.” Jesus Christ gave up His perfect life to establish the New Covenant and to regain the title deed to fallen humanity.
The scroll which is to be opened will contain judgments upon the world, and the One who opens it will be the executor of those judgments. When they come, the people of the world will not be able to ask why the executor isn’t also participating in these judgments. His scars testify that He already has. He already took the judgments that the world can now expect, and He prevailed over what He was given.
He gave His life in the task before Him and, being sinless, He was resurrected. Those who call on Him will likewise be given eternal life. Those who don’t will receive what they deserve for rejecting His gracious offer.
The slain lamb that comes forward has “seven horns and seven eyes.” These are explained as being “the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”
In verse 4:5, we read, “Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” In other words, these “seven Spirits of God” that burned before the throne – illuminating the splendor of God – have now become the active agents of the Lamb that will go forth in judgment.
The eyes see every hidden thing and the horns will execute the judgment upon the unrepentant world. This Lamb will no longer be the meek and mild suffering Servant. He will become the One who comes to bring destruction on all who have rejected Him. He is the Lion and the Lamb. He is Jesus.
Lord God, when we think on the slain Lamb, innocent and spotless, standing in the heavenly throne, we can’t help but praise You. In humility and kindness, You came to this world, and in love, You have offered peace and restoration. And yet the world has mocked, ridiculed, and rejected You. Surely, You are righteous in the judgments to come. Amen.