In Revelation 5, John presents a description of Jesus that is significant: “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David,” (v. 5, ESV). This is a reference to Genesis 49:9, describing the blessing over the tribe of Judah, and how like a lion he “goes up from his prey” and no one should dare to “rouse him,” (ESV).
Often, Jesus is thought of as simply meek and mild, yet there is a fierceness to him that cannot be ignored. However, it needs to be noted the difference between what John just heard (The Lion of the tribe of Judah) and what he ends up seeing. Verse 6 notes that what John sees is quite different than a lion, but it is a Lamb that appears to have been slain. Putting these two ideas together is that Jesus is this mighty lion who is ready for the battle, but he wins the battle with his own blood.
Following this in chapter 7, it is revealed that Jesus, the Lamb has an army, and this army is taking a census: “‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’ And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel,” (vv. 3, 4, ESV). Hearing the number of those who are sealed is proceeded by the number from each tribe. Again, it is important to remember that this is what John hears because immediately after he notes what he sees. “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (vv. 9, 10, ESV).
Just as John heard of the Lion, yet saw the Lamb, here John heard of the army of Israel, yet saw an army of those “from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages,” (v. 9, ESV) (see Eph 2:11-22). What makes this army confusing? Is it that their weapon of choice is palm branches? Of course, because they are worshiping the Lamb!Looking back to chapter 5, Jesus is a Lamb that was slain-meaning that through his death and resurrection as the sacrificial Lamb, he has already won the battle. Furthermore, the Lamb’s army has become partakers in Jesus’ victory as they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (v. 14).
What a beautiful image, that through Jesus’ blood, people from every nation are redeemed from their sin, sharing in the Lamb’s victory. This vision that was given to John, reveals God’s overwhelming heart to dwell with people of all nations, and thus we should pray that it is our heart as well.
I want to end with reflecting on the conclusion to chapter 7, as it details the future hope we have through our redemption and victory in Jesus.
So, please take some time to read and re-read this passage, and ponder the future hope that we have through Jesus:
“‘Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes,’” (vv. 15-17, ESV).
Brett Carey – Worship Pastor