The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
5:6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
– Revelation 1:1-3; 5:6-14 [ESV]
I’ve entered many a photo in the Northwest Houston Photo Club competitions over the years. Some of them have actually won ribbons. I even have two Best in Show photos hanging in my office. Before you are too impressed by this, let me say that this club represents a pretty small sample of photographers. And most of them are ametuer photographers – a step above hobbyists, but definitely not professionals. So there is no real bragging rights here. Seriously.
I think of people like Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, and several National Geographic photographers as truly worthy of fame and great appreciation as photographers. Such fame, however, is not only fleeting (most people would not recognize those names), but of little significance outside of their art. They’re famous as photographers. But their fame does not extend far beyond.
The Lamb, on the other hand, is worthy of eternal honor. The picture we see – this revelation of Jesus Christ – here in this hymn of praise is of One who is truly worthy first of all to take the scroll and open the seal, to reveal that which the scrolls contain. This Lamb is like no other. He takes the scroll from the One on the throne, and “when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Not only is he worthy to take the scroll (no one else is!), he is worthy of the honor of these heavenly beings: elders and living creatures: the heavenly heavyweights. Preeminent among the heavenly hosts. And they bow down to worship the Lamb.
The Lamb is also said to be worthy of of all honor, fame, glory, and might forever and ever. His is no fleeting fame. And well it should be.
We honor those who have served our country with medals of honor, Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts. And well we should. But this Lamb – the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world – is worthy of even greater honor. And in these hymns we see that honor being given. For these heavenly beings are having the final say.
The Lamb who was slain has now begun his reign. Whatever shame and ignominy he suffered is now put to rest. His humiliation is now turned to glory. All the insults, the suffering, the derision, the dishonor is now replaced with praise. Those who know Jesus’ steadfast and redemptive love, grace, truth, and mercy delight to see this scene. Whatever dishonor we must endure in his name will one day be fully redeemed. We will exalt in the exaltation of the Lamb who sits on the throne forever and ever! Amen.