Revelation 5:6

Sermon preached on July 15, 2012 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

The past couple of weeks I've been following the Tour de France. It's always exciting and it looks like Great Britain may have its first winner in Bradley Wiggins. His nickname is Wiggo. In my opinion, that's not a very good nickname. Bernard Hinault the great French rider who won 5 Tours was nicknamed the Badger. Hinault said that the nickname came from his youth and just meant 'buddy' or 'mate' but many believe that the reference to the animal the badger was more appropriate. The badger has short but powerful legs. Its front legs have long claws. It can be a ferocious fighter, especially when he gets backed into a corner or has some prey in his sights. I've read that their jaws cannot be dislocated—when a badger gets its prey in its mouth, it is almost impossible to pry its teeth apart. Hinault was like a badger. In 1985 teammate Greg LeMond helped him win his fifth tour. Hinault promised that he would work for LeMond in 1986. But instead of doing that, he betrayed LeMond and tried to win the tour for a sixth time. He attacked his teammate again and again. He was a real badger.

The greatest cyclist of them all, Eddy Merckx, had a intimidating nickname—the Cannibal. From the mid 1960s to the mid '70s, Merckx entered just about every race there was and he won more than a third of the races he entered, an almost unbelievable percentage. In 1969 he not only won the Tour, capturing the Yellow Jersey, but he also captured the green jersey as the Sprint leader and the King of the Mountain jersey. An admiring Peugeot teammate, Christian Raymond, told his 12-year-old daughter that Merckx would not let anybody else win a single franc. His little girl replied,

"Daddy, he's a cannibal."

That's how Merckx got his nickname. It was like he devoured other riders.

But it's not just names that describe what the riders are like—sometimes it's their appearance that describes their character. In his book, "
Slaying the Badger", Richard Moore described Bernard Hinault this way,

"When Hinault was on the attack—as he was a lot in the 1986 Tour… his piercing eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched as though he were gripping something in his teeth, like a snarling dog refusing to give up a bone. It had the effect of making him look permanently angry, capable of great violence, and not someone to mess with."

Eddie Shack played hockey in the 60's for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was a big guy and when he skated down the ice people likened him to a freight train. His nickname was, "The Train". Someone even wrote a song about it. It was called,

"Clear the track, here comes Shack."

It reached number one on the pop charts in Canada in 1966. His skating style, full change forward, with great intensity, from such a big guy—he was like an oncoming train. You didn't want to get in his way.

In our text we have things exactly like that. What is Jesus like? His names and appearance tell us a lot about Him. In our text Jesus is described here with two names and we are told three things about His appearance.

Jesus is called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David. We saw last week that both of those suggested great power and majesty. Then we see Jesus as a Lamb, looking as if had been slain. That is an amazing picture. It is a picture of
such love. To think that Jesus, the King of Glory would stoop to take our nature upon Himself. To think that He would take the place of sinners and take the curse that was against us and die for us. It's absolutely incredible. Not only that, but to think that He rose from the dead with the marks of His crucifixion on Him. Thomas and the other disciples could see the marks on His body. When John sees Jesus on the heavenly throne—he sees a lamb looking as if it had been slain. Marks of death, effects of the consequences of sin—are seen on the throne. This shows us the depth of Jesus' commitment to us. The fact that Jesus is a lamb also shows gentleness, humility. Jesus is welcoming to sinners. We can go to Him for forgiveness of sins.

What is Jesus like? Should we fear Him? Is it all right to indulge in sin? After all, He's pictured here as a lamb, so He'll probably accept us no matter what we do. Is that how we are to view this?

In Christian circles there has been some recent controversy lately over comments made by Alan Chambers, of Exodus International. He basically stated that your lifestyle doesn't matter, what matters is your faith in Jesus.

"'Some of us choose very different lives than others,' Chambers said of gay Christians in same-sex marriages. 'But whatever we choose, it doesn't remove our relationship with God.'""When asked to clarify whether or not that meant 'a person living a gay lifestyle won't go to hell, as long as he or she accepts Jesus Christ as personal savior,' he replied, 'My personal belief is … while behavior matters, those things don't interrupt someone's relationship with Christ.'"

Can we have such a cavalier attitude toward sin, toward sinful lifestyles?

Absolutely not. The descriptions of Jesus here show that that cannot be. Our text reads,

"Then I saw a Lamb,
looking as if it had been slain,
standing in the center of the throne,
encircled by the four living creatures
and the elders.
He had seven horns and seven eyes,
which are the seven spirits of God
sent out into all the earth."

There are three images of Jesus here. Not one. They are also associated with two names. One of the things that we noted last week is that the rule of the Messiah was not only about power, but also about righteousness. Last week we saw that the Root of David went back to the prediction of the Messiah in Isaiah 11. It reads, (verses 1-5)

"A shoot will come up
from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge
and of the fear of the LORD—
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge
by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness
he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions
for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth
with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips
he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt…"

The Messiah's rule is about righteousness. He is One who fights against and slays the wicked.

The three ways that Jesus is described also show that He is righteous and that His power is directed against wickedness. They're about
redemption—about God not only saving us from the consequences of our sin, but also from the power and tyranny of sin.

Consider the Lamb looking as if it had been slain.

This image has much to teach us about sin, about righteousness, about justice, about God's acceptance of sin—or rather, His refusal to accept sin.

We saw last week how incongruous this image was. Marks of death are on the throne of God. But we need to ask certain questions:

What did that to Jesus? Why is He a Lamb looking as if He had been slain?

It was our sin. Sin has a curse associated with it. That curse was death. Can God just overlook sin? No. The Lamb looking as if it had been slain shows us that. Sin cannot be tolerated. It has to be punished. Sin is horrible. It is an affront to God. It is opposed to His righteousness. If we were going to be saved Jesus had to die. It was the only way. In the Garden of Gethsemane He asked the Father if there was any other way. He said, (Matthew 26:39)

"My Father, if it is possible,
may this cup be taken from me."

But it was not possible. Sin had to be dealt with. In Habakkuk 1:13 the prophet said to God,

"Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrong."

The curse of sin is death, nothing less. It is that horrible. There was no other way for us to be saved than for Jesus to die. In Galatians 2:21 the apostle Paul wrote,

"if righteousness could be gained
through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

But He didn't. It was the only way for us to be saved. Consider the scene here. It's the Lamb looking as if He had been slain. This was the Father's beloved Son. How precious the Son is to Him. Yet in order to save us He had to send Him to die on our behalf.

How horrible sin is! It caused the Son to suffer. It caused Him to die. Sin is horrible. It is despicable.

This shows us that sin has no place in the life of a follower of Jesus.

Sin has consequences. Sin is an affront to God. Sin caused Jesus to suffer and die. Sin caused the Father to abandon His beloved Son on the cross.

We are called to be holy. We are called to be righteous. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we are told the purpose of Jesus being our substitute.

"God made him who had no sin
to be sin for us,
so that in him we might
become the righteousness of God."

Faith and repentance go together. They cannot be separated. You cannot have one without the other. People need to repent of their sins. That means they need to turn from them, renounce them.

Does behavior, lifestyle matter? Yes, absolutely. They show that someone is really a Christian. 1 John 2:3–6 says,

"We know that we have come
to know him if we obey his commands.
The man who says, I know him,
but does not do what he commands is a liar,
and the truth is not in him.
But if anyone obeys his word,
God's love is truly made complete in him.
This is how we know we are in him:
Whoever claims to live in him
must walk as Jesus did."

We also see this in the Old Testament. We see it in many places. For example, in Jeremiah 11:1–5 we read,

"This is the word that came
to Jeremiah from the Lord:
'Listen to the terms of this covenant
and tell them to the people of Judah
and to those who live in Jerusalem.
Tell them that this is what the Lord,
the God of Israel, says:
'Cursed is the man who does
not obey the terms of this covenant—
the terms I commanded your forefathers
when I brought them out of Egypt,
out of the iron-smelting furnace.'
I said, 'Obey me and do everything
I command you,
and you will be my people,
and I will be your God.
Then I will fulfill the oath
I swore to your forefathers,
to give them a land
flowing with milk and honey'
—the land you possess today."

Yes, we are saved by faith in Jesus apart from the works of the law. But faith and works go together. As

James 2:14–17

"What good is it, my brothers,
if a man claims to have faith
but has no deeds?
Can such faith save him?
Suppose a brother or sister
is without clothes and daily food.
If one of you says to him,
'Go, I wish you well;
keep warm and well fed,'
but does nothing about his physical needs,
what good is it?
In the same way, faith by itself,
if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

The second image we see in our text is that the Lamb has seven horns. This means that Jesus is powerful and that

He is the conquering Warrior Lamb.

The lamb image becomes a ram image. The lamb has seven horns. Rams use their horns to fight, to overcome their enemies. The Lamb is standing, ready for action. This is an image of power, how He will defeat His enemies.

Grant Osborne tells us that in Revelation the number 7 'pictures perfection'. (p. 257) In ancient times horns symbolized 'power and strength'. The warrior Lamb has absolute power. So we have an image here of the Lamb having ultimate and unchallengeable power. Philippians 2 tells us that on the basis of His work Jesus has been exalted to the highest place. He is now using His power to subdue and overcome His enemies. He is using His power to save His people. The seven horns indicated His power to do that. Grant Osborne says of this passage, (Revelation, p. 256)

"The Lamb fulfills the promise of God to establish righteousness."

Those who believe and teach that people may indulge in a sinful lifestyle and still be Christians are mistaken.

We saw that time and again in the letters to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3. He saves His people, not just from external enemies, but from the tyranny of sin. If some of them go astray He brings them back to Himself. As Hebrews 12:10–11 says,

"God disciplines us for our good,
that we may share in his holiness."

In the rest of Revelation, as He opens the seals and scroll, we see Jesus fighting against the wicked and overcoming them. Jesus is opening the scroll. God's plan is going to be fulfilled. There will be a new heaven and a new earth wherein will dwell righteousness.

Who will enter it—wicked sinners whose lifestyle is against everything that God abhors?

No. Those who enter it are those who are cleansed by the blood of Jesus and who are sanctified by His Spirit. They believe in Jesus and they follow Him. The gospel goes forth in spite of Satan's opposition and hatred. (Revelation 12:17) It goes forth with power. We see the result in Revelation 7:9–10. John wrote,

"After this I looked and there
before me was a great multitude
that no one could count,
from every nation, tribe,
people and language,
standing before the throne
and in front of the Lamb.
They were wearing
white robes
and were holding palm branches
in their hands.
And they cried out in a loud voice:
'Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.'"

They wear white robes. They are cleansed by the blood of Jesus and are holy. Revelation 21:25–27 says of the New Jerusalem,

"On no day will its gates ever be shut,
for there will be no night there.
The glory and honor of the nations
will be brought into it.
Nothing impure will ever enter it,
nor will anyone who does
what is shameful or deceitful,
but only those whose names
are written in the Lamb's book of life."

Revelation 22:14–15 adds,

"Blessed are those who wash their robes,
that they may have the right
to the tree of life and may go
through the gates into the city.
Outside are the dogs,
those who practice magic arts,
the sexually immoral, the murderers,
the idolaters and everyone
who loves and practices falsehood."

Jesus will ensure that will happen.

The last image we see here is that

the Lamb has seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.

As we have seen before, this could be a reference to seven angelic beings. But the reference is most likely to the 'sevenfold Holy Spirit'. God's Spirit in His fulness—going out with great power and effect. Jesus is the King of Kings. He has defeated death and the curse of sin. He has seven horns. The result of this is that He sends the Spirit to bring people into His kingdom. A major theme of the book of Revelation is the, (Osborne, p. 257)

"conversion of the nations."

God's Holy Spirit goes forth with power, to save, not just from the consequences of sin, but from the power of Satan and sin. When he was before Festus, Paul said that when he was converted, Jesus said to him about the Gentiles, (Acts 26:17–18)

"I am sending you to them
to open their eyes and turn them
from darkness to light,
and from the power of Satan to God,
so that they may receive
forgiveness of sins and
a place among those
who are sanctified by faith in me."

There are two important lessons for us here.

First, for those of you who are not Christians. This shows you that

you need to embrace Jesus.

Jesus is love. Yes. He is the epitome of love. There is no one like Him.

But His love is accompanied by absolute power. He is the Lord. He must be obeyed. In Psalm 2:7–12 we read that the Father said to the Messiah.

"You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.
Ask of me, and I will make
the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will rule them with an iron scepter;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.'
Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
and you be destroyed in your way,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him."

Jesus is loving, gracious, long suffering. But if you do not embrace Him, if you flaunt His will, His lordship—he will fight against you and overcome you. In 2 Thessalonians 1:7–10 we read,

"when the Lord Jesus
is revealed from heaven in blazing fire
with his powerful angels.
He will punish those who do not know God
and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
They will be punished
with everlasting destruction
and shut out from the presence of the Lord
and from the majesty of his power
on the day he comes to be glorified
in his holy people and to be marveled at
among all those who have believed."

Secondly, for Christians, this means that

you need to obey Jesus.

One of the themes of Revelation, as well as the book of Acts is that God judges. He is to be held in great esteem. We are to have reverence and awe toward Him. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead when they sinned and fear came upon all the church. In the messages to the seven churches we saw that Jesus fights against those who indulge in sin. Jesus warned His people that they needed to repent. He would not tolerate Jezebel, sexual immorality, spiritual coldness, disobedience. He is Lord. His eyes see right to your heart. You'd better obey Him. Only the righteous will enter this kingdom. The righteous are those who believe in Jesus and follow His commands. Hebrews 12:14 says.

"without holiness no one
will see the Lord."