(Today’s post by Wayne Bunting)
Revelation 5 comes in the wake of chapter 4, where we see the throne of God detailed, and the subsequent worship of Him by the elders and the four living creatures (angels?). The emerald rainbow and the four living creatures shown are reminiscent of the opening scene of Ezekiel 1. A lot that is going on in Revelation 4 is similar to this, and I think Isaiah 6 also.
In Revelation 5 John gets a little more specific and says that the one who sits on the throne in chapter 4 is holding a scroll. An angel asks “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But there is no one who can open it, and it seems that this is a very terrible thing because John begins to cry. But one of the elders of chapter 4 says to him: “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” The next section of chapter 5 is one of my favorite parts of the whole Bible:
“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”’
A few times in my life God has given me dreams. They are always very clear, poignant, and prolific; and I always know the difference between a dream that God gives me and one of those weird dreams that you have when you eat weird food. Sometimes I don’t understand parts of them until much later. As far as I have understood these dreams, God has used them to show me things in my life and about my calling, correct me when I’m going down the wrong path, and to show me what will (or could) happen in the future. I think they are amazing, and I am very thankful for them. I am no prophet, but this is definitely from God, and much of them have been confirmed by the words of others who are prophetic.
So a few years ago I had a dream where God was trying to put me back on track. He was warning me about certain things I was doing, and about certain things I was holding in my heart, especially towards the church. Now that I think about it it was sort of like when He spoke to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. He first told them something good that they were doing and encouraged them, but then He told them something bad that they were doing. He did the same with me, encouraging me at first, and then correcting me. He used imagery that I didn’t fully understand at the time, but now that I have grown a little I understand much better. I won’t go into all the details of this dream, but at one part I saw Jesus standing in the middle of a bunch of other Christians. Despite all of their stupidity, flaws, and overall wrongness, Jesus was standing in the middle of a crowd of them. They were looking up at Jesus adoringly, and it was apparent that they submitted to Him as their leader.
And then, with a staff in His hand, He turned and looked at me. Actually, He didn’t just look at me; He looked into me, or through me. I saw His face, and who He is looked into who I am. There was nothing between us and everything that I am was exposed to Him. He was absolute. In fact, He was what absoluteness is. I can’t really describe it very well. When He was looking at me I saw that He is an incredible leader, or that He is leadership. I also saw that He is very wise, or that He is wisdom. When I saw His leadership and wisdom it kept going, like it had no end. It was wisdom and leadership on a level that is beyond any comparison. That’s about the best I can do to describe what I saw, other than to say that I saw Jesus, and it was more than I have the ability to describe.
A few years after this, after I had learned some things about Revelation and how it should be interpreted, I was reading Revelation 5. When I came across the words “standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth,” I almost fell out of my seat. I realized that I was reading what I saw in my dream. In Revelation, a writing that was composed in the literary form of an apocalypse, horns represent authority and power, and eyes represent knowledge or wisdom. Seven represents completion or perfection. So what this is saying is that Jesus is perfect in wisdom and authority. I saw perfection in the dream and it was amazing.
The seven eyes that the lamb had are said to be “the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” This is a reference to Zechariah 4:10 which says that “These seven are the eyes of the Lord, which range through the whole earth.” Here God tells Israel, who had struggled to rebuild the temple after returning from exile, that they would rebuild the temple not by might or power, but by His spirit. The seven eyes, there representing perfect knowledge/ sight, show that God sees (knows) what is happening in the world, including Israel’s struggle, and that God’s promise would be fulfilled through His spirit.
Within the context of the book of Revelation these verses are very significant. A major theme of the book of Revelation is the persecution of the church, and the suffering that it will inevitably endure because it follows Christ. In this cosmic battle of good versus evil, the church is shown many times to be ultimately victorious because of Jesus. Here in Revelation 5 Jesus, the slain lamb who is perfect in wisdom and authority, is solely responsible for making God’s plans happen (opening the scroll). So what this chapter in Revelation can tell us is that no matter what happens, no matter what forces war against Christ’s church, and no matter what persecution comes, Christ’s plans will be carried out in this world. This is extremely comforting, because even our death can’t stop Jesus.
I write this to help illustrate how Revelation should be understood. John used certain imagery to convey a certain message. And in chapter 5 this message is that Jesus sees our struggle here on earth, has conquered (past tense – the lamb “had been slain”), and that because of that the church is victorious, and God’s work will be carried out despite its suffering and hardships.
If I think about it I can see how the themes and message of Revelation 5 were brought out in detail in the dream I had. God sees us where we are and cares about it. He died in the past for us, but He is also actively involved in the church here and now. There are times that I have to remind myself that Christ sees what I am going through and that He is leading me through it. This is a hard pill to swallow when you are having a hard time seeing the reality of God in your life. I know this well. But Jesus is actively viewing us right now, just like He looked into me in my dream. Anyone who looks to a leader in any aspect wants one who leads well with wisdom and can see the needs of his people. This is Jesus. It’s spelled out for us in Revelation 5. He is trustworthy; He knows what you are going through, and He will bring what He promised to completion. You…and the church as a whole.