In the face of the unworthiness of mankind steps in the Savior Jesus Christ our Lord. God has been declared worthy and rightly worshipped by all that are in heaven. But, when asked who was worthy to approach God and take the book of God’s secret counsels and bring them forth, mankind and all created things were shown to be unworthy. This is the grand moment at which our Savior Jesus Christ is introduced.
First, let us consider the comforting news of Christ. “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” When we are made to weep for our own failure the good news of Christ presents us with joy and victory. The elder, speaking from the expository point of view, is doing what all Christians should do, exhorting and encourage other Christians. This elder was pointing the discouraged to the Lord. Weep now, fear not, fret, not, these are phrases that accentuate the Christian life. Christ is our peace. Going beyond the Christian encouragement, we see the comfort of the message. The bad news melts away when we see Jesus. The elder introduces Jesus Christ in three specific lights.
The first term of comfort we have is that Christ is that he is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. We are asked to behold this with our eyes of faith. The dual reference of the tribe of Judah and the lion are answers to direct prophecy where Jacob prophesied of the coming Messiah that would come through the tribe of Judah. “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up” (Gen. 49:9)? This prophecy is connected with the scepter that was given to Judah until the Messiah came. The Lion is the king of the beasts and so among all creation the man Christ Jesus is king. He is the promised one that God would bring out of the tribe of Judah who would make prey out of this world.
The second term of comfort is that Christ is the root of David. In the 11th chapter of Isaiah the opening words go like this: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots….” That grand chapter follows with the Spirit, the seven spirits, resting on Christ. It goes on to speak of his righteous judgment on this earth and the peace which He will bring over all creation. So the two terms the lion of the tribe of Judah and the root of David both point us back prophetically to the One that is coming to rule and reign on this earth. He is the root of David as well as the righteous branch. Gill said, “… the metaphor of a root well agrees with him as Mediator, he being hidden out of sight, and unknown to a natural man; and may denote his meanness in his state of humiliation, when he was as a root out of a dry ground; and because he is the root from whence all the elect of God spring, in whom they have their being, and by whom they are bore and supported, and from whom are derived to them all the blessings of grace, all their spiritual life, holiness, fruitfulness, and perseverance.”
The last term of comfort that we see is Christ the conqueror. He has prevailed to open the book and to loose the seals. It has been pointed out by many that the word prevailed is the same word that is translated overcome in the second and third chapter. We remember that we overcome only through Him; He overcome the world (John 16:33). And He had a grand purpose in our text for overcoming. He was the promised One that was promised in the Old Testament. He prevailed over death and the grave. He prevailed over all our sin to be our Savior. And He ultimately prevailed to reign over creation. There was the ultimate end in mind in mind when Christ endured the cross. He defeated death and now He has the right to claim all things. Johnson said, “The Lion had become a Lamb. The Lamb became a Lion, a conqueror, and “prevailed” so as to be able to hold and open the book, or to hold the reins of all power by submitting unto death.” All that is left to do is for the end to be initiated by the opening of the book and the loosing of the seals. Jesus overcame to do just that and He will do so one day.
Secondly, we see the sight of the glorified Savior. “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.” We go from Christ being preached by the elder to Christ being seen by all that are in heaven. What an exciting moment!
Consider, first, His place. The position of the Savior is important as well and there are three specific points about His position. The first thing we see is that He is in the midst of the throne. To be in the midst of something is to be centered in it; to be a focal point to it; or to be close with it. The one that sat on the throne was the one of whom we just sang as being worthy of all things. This shows His oneness with the Father. “I and my Father are one.”There is fellowship between the Father and the Son; the Son is glorified with the Father and sits with the Father on His throne. The second point is that He is in the midst of the four beasts. These are the directors of worship as we have seen. These represent the host of angels that are worshipping the thrice Holy God. He is in their midst because He is their focal point as well. It is said that “when he [God] bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (Heb. 1:6). So, He is in the midst of the throne to show His oneness with the Father and He is in the midst of the four beasts to show His adoration and worship by the angels. The last thing we see under this heading is that He is in the midst of the elders; the glorified saints. He is in the midst of His church (Matt. 18). This shows His fellowship with the saints. So shall we ever be with the Lord. His position shows that he is the most important figure now in this scene; He is the mediator between God and men.
Consider, second, His appearance. He appears as a Lamb, a slain Lamb, and a risen Lamb. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. He will always appear to us as the one the loved us and washed us from His sins in His own blood. That is always to be a glorious sight of Christ. He is the slain Lamb. One once sang a song that stated that the only things in heaven made by man are the wounds on Christ. When He was glorified from the grave He appeared to the disciples showing them the wounds in His hands, feet, and side. The appearance of Christ represents the grand and wonderful paradox of Christianity. He appeared as a slain lamb but is introduced as a conquering lion. Christ conquered through weakness. Through death He gave Life. Through the grave He conquered. The Jew stumbles over the cross and the Greek joins them in calling the cross foolishness. But, to us the cross is the power of God and the wisdom of God. But, He is also the Risen Lamb. We note the past tense; He is the Lamb as it “had been” slain. He is not slain or defeated He is risen and He is living in Heaven.
Consider, lastly, His possession. He had “seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” Two things are given here: seven horns and seven eyes. The seven horns describes the compete authority of Jesus Christ which He in heaven possesses. Gill said that, “these horns are expressive of the power of Christ, of his dominion and government, even of his kingly power and authority; so kings are signified by horns in Daniel 8:20; and Christ himself is called the horn of David, and the horn of salvation, Psalm 132:17; and signify, that upon his resurrection from the dead, and ascension to heaven, he was made and declared Lord and Christ; and the number “seven” expresses the fullness and perfection of his power and authority, having, as Mediator, all power in heaves and in earth given him.” Christ said that all power in heaven and earth is given to Him. And then there are the seven eyes. We have already connected the root of David with the Seven Spirits of God in Isaiah 11:1-4. He was not given the Spirit of God by measure. In our text we have found that the Son has perfect fellowship with the Father being in the midst of the throne and perfect fellowship with the Spirit in that he has seven eyes which are the seven Spirits of God. This is connected with His knowledge of earthly things. With the seven horns He has perfect authority and with the seven eyes He has perfect omniscience. Gill again said, “these “seven eyes” may design the perfect knowledge of Christ, his foresight of future events, and his all wise providence, which is always and everywhere concerned to fulfill and accomplish them; so that he is every way qualified to take the book of future events, as to the church and world, and reveal it, open and explain it, and fulfill the things contained in it.”
Lastly, we see the new mission of Christ. “And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.” He has finished our salvation and now He will bring all things to their final cause. We see first of all that the mediator approaches the throne. Again, Gill said, “He drew nigh to the throne of God, he engaged his heart to approach unto him, and came up even to his seat, which a mere creature, without a Mediator, cannot do….” Just as it was with salvation now it is with consummation; the work can only be effected in the hand of a Mediator and there is only one mediator between God and men. So we see secondly that the mediator not approached the throne but He took the book. Wesley commented, “Here was “Ask of me,” Psalm ii, 8, fulfilled in the most glorious manner…. it is one state of exaltation that reaches from our Lord’s ascension to his coming in glory.”
This is what He prevailed to do. He is entrusted by God to redeem all creation and He did so by taking the book and will initiate by loosing the seals. In this grand act we see that it is now given to the Son to judge all things as it is written. It is now given by God for the man Christ Jesus to reign over this earth. All that follows from the sixth chapter to the last Amen will not be affected by the hand of Christ. Henry stated, “[He] prevailed by his merit and worthiness, he did it by authority and by the Father’s appointment. God very willingly and justly put the book of his eternal counsels into the hand of Christ, and Christ as readily and gladly took it into his hand; for he delights to reveal and to do the will of his Father.” Now He rejoices as a strong man to run a race. Lift up your heads, our redemption is drawing nigh. There is a wonderful response in heaven that falls this simple act from the Lamb of God.