The Redeemer Who Died
In Christ God
was reconciling the world to himself, not counting
by Steve Clark
The main section of the Book of Revelation begins with a vision. John sees an open door in heaven and is summoned by a heavenly voice to come and see “what must take place after this” (Revelation 4:1). No sooner had the voice spoken than he found himself in heaven. God was seated on his throne, presiding over his court. God, in other words, appeared to John as the ruler of the universe, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. He was in the process of determining what would happen to human history.
In God’s right hand John sees a scroll, which contains the divine decrees for the future. Once the scroll would be opened, God’s purpose would be achieved, evil would be destroyed, and the great and blessed consummation would arrive. John’s vision, however, comes at a dramatic and somewhat distressing moment. The time is at hand for the concluding act to begin, but something is missing. The angel calls out the great summons: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and open its seals? Let him stand forth and be the blessed instrument of the consummation.” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth comes forward as worthy to open the scroll.
John begins to weep. He fears that human history will not achieve the purpose for which God created it, that the present evils will continue. Then one of the rulers in heaven speaks to John. “Weep not,” he says. Someone has just conquered, the one who was prophesied as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:9–10) and as the Root or Branch of David (Isaiah 11:1,10) – the messianic King of Israel. Because he has conquered, he can open the scroll. As it turns out, John is present when the one who is worthy arrives in heaven – he who died on the cross, was raised from the dead, and was ready to receive “dominion and glory and kingdom” (Daniel 7:14) from the eternal Lord of the universe, the Lord God Almighty.
The one who stands forth is an extraordinary personage, a lion who is a lamb. This is symbolic language that shows the paradox of a man of great and regal power, a king and high priest, standing before the throne of God – yet appearing at the same time as a sacrificial victim. Moreover, although he is a human figure, John can see in him divine power and divine omniscience as expressed in the symbols of the seven horns and seven eyes.
Only one was found worthy, our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the one who could open the scroll. He is the one who can bring human history to its decreed consummation, who can establish the kingdom of God, and who can bring to earth the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God, filled with God’s glory and blessing (Revelation 21–22).
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