THE SLAIN LAMB
By Milburn Cockrell
„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” (Rev. 5:6).
John wept because no man in Heaven could open the book of redemption and loose its seals (Rev. 5:1-4). Then one of the twenty-four elders said to him: „Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Rev. 5:4-5).
John looked for a lion and saw a lamb. These are symbols of the same person–Jesus Christ. He is the lion in His mighty power; the Lamb in His gentleness of atoning sacrifice. By His sacrifice as a Lamb He became a Lion. He is One mighty to save and to claim the inheritance of the saints.
HIS FORM–„A LAMB”
There are symbols in the Book of Revelation. Chapter 1, verse 1, says: „The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” Note the words „signified it.” Two errors are made in studying the book. The first is to deny that it contains some symbols, for it surely does as Revelation 1:1 declares. The second is to make it so symbolic that the book is robbed of all truth.
„Lamb” is a symbol of Christ in the Book of Revelation. The word for „Lamb” in Revelation is (arnion–little or young lamb) differs from the word „Lamb” (amnos–sacrificial lamb) in the Gospel of John (John 1:29, 36) and in Peter’s epistle (I Pet. 1:19). Christ is called „Lamb” 28 times in the Book of Revelation.
In the eternal purpose of God Christ was „the lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). In the decree of God Christ was appointed to redeem the elect by His blood. The Bible teaches blood redemption by Jesus Christ, God’s Lamb.
A lamb was used in the legal sacrifices of the Old Testament. The first sacrifice ever offered by a man was a lamb: „And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering” (Gen. 4:4). God accepted the sacrifice of Abel because it was typical of the future sacrifice of Christ. A lamb was used in the Passover: „Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house” (Ex. 12:3). The pascal lamb was typical of the death of Christ as the Lamb of God. „For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7; cf. I Pet. 1:19). A lamb was used in the daily sacrifice of the tabernacle (Ex. 29:38-39) and other sacrifices (Num. 28:3, 9, 13).
Christ was called a Lamb in Old Testament prophecy. Speaking some 700 years before the birth of the Savior, the Prophet Isaiah said: „He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isa. 53:7; cf. Jer. 11:19). The New Testament commentary on this verse is found in Acts 8. „The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth” (Acts 8:32). When the eunuch asked Philip of whom the prophet spoke Acts 8:35 reads: „Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”
John the Baptist, the son of a priest, called our Lord a sacrificial Lamb: „The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). „And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). John had seen other lambs furnished by men, but this One was provided by God. The words of Abraham were true when he said to Isaac: „My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:8). Jesus Christ told the Jews of His day: „Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).
Hence we must not marvel that when John had a vision of Christ he saw „a lamb.” This lamb is in contrast to all the wild beasts elsewhere mentioned in the Book of Revelation. When on earth Christ was as innocent and pure as a lamb; He was as inoffensive and harmless as a lamb. The Greek word of „lamb” in Revelation (arnion) means „a young lamb” or „little lamb” (Lev. 9:3). Such creatures were cherished by the Israelites and kept in the house as much loved pets (II Sam. 12:3-4). In a manner of speaking, men murdered the young pet Lamb of the family of God at Golgotha.
HIS MARKS–„AS IT HAD BEEN SLAIN”
Who were the murderers of this Lamb of God? A first degree murder charge was laid at the feet of the Jewish leaders in the first century. On the day of Pentecost Peter said: „Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:22-23). Peter renewed this charge later: „But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; wherof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14-15). It is little wonder that the high priest said, „Did we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us” (Acts 5:28). Hear Peter still once more in Acts 10:39: „And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree.” The death of Christ was by wicked hands, but it was the fulfillment of what God’s „hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 2:23; 4:28), and what the prophets had foretold (Acts 3:18).
According to Old Testament law, the sacrificial lamb had to be slain. This is why Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God „became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). This is why our Savior „endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2). There is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22). Our Lord „put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26).
Greek scholars tell me in Revelation 5:6 it literally reads „as having been slain.” It might possibly be translated „with its throat cut.” The knife-wound was familiar to all who stood at an Israelitish altar and had seen a lamb die. In the vision John sees Christ in Heaven with the evidences that He had come by the way of the altar of sacrifice, had been dead and become alive by resurrection. This once slain Lamb, by whose blood the elect’s inheritance had been purchased, is seen with power to take and open the seven-sealed book.
This Lamb John saw in Heaven was covered with blood and had wounds upon it. Here we see Christ in Heaven with His atoning blood. He stands in the presence of His Father with His blood: „Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12). This event was typified by the living bird who flew away to Heaven with the blood of the slain bird upon its wings (Lev. 14:51-53).
In the post-resurrection appearances Christ bore the marks of His death: „And when he had thus spoken, he shows them his hands and his feet” (Luke 24:40). „And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20). Our Lord told Thomas: „Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing” (John 20:27). Today Christ, as He sits at the right hand of His Father in Heaven, still bears the marks of His death. When He returns to the Mount of Olives the remnant of Israel shall look on Him as the slain Lamb. „They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him” (Zech. 12:10; cf. 1:7).
Many preachers of this generation ridicule and make fun of the idea that Christ took His blood to Heaven–that He bears in His body for eternity His wounds–that He is the slain Lamb up in Heaven. According to them, John merely thought he saw a Lamb as it had been slain in Heaven. These people throw the typology of the Old Testament to the wind. They seem to have a problem with a memorial of the cross abiding in Heaven, and of it being owned and felt throughout eternity. I have no such problem.
Unlike them, I believe Christ is in Heaven bearing the marks and scars of His slaughter. I believe we need a constant sight of the slain Lamb. Christ in His sacrificial character is the most prominent object in the heavenly world. This should be the most prominent thing in our preaching on earth: „For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2). God’s people in Heaven sing of the slain Lamb: „And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rev. 5:9). The elect on earth should sing of the slain Lamb. Revelation 5 concludes with all Heaven worshipping Christ because of redemption: „Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).
Some Greek scholars point out that in Revelation 5:6 the slain Lamb means „newly” or „lately slain” (See Chadwick and Gill). This declares the perpetual freshness of the offering of Jesus Christ before the throne of God. Here is the continual efficacy of the blood of Jesus to cleanse from all sin. I John 1:7 says: „And the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin.” „Cleanseth” is in a continuous tense. The efficacy of His precious blood is perpetually available to cleanse from every sin past, present and future. William Cowper saw this truth and crystallized it in that line of his hymn–
Dear dying Lamb
Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved to sin no more.
After the ascension of Christ our Lord is often said to be sitting down. „So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). „. . .when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). But in Revelation 5:6 Christ is not seen sitting down. He is not merely seen slaughtered and dead, but raised again with sacrificial marks upon Him. He stands before the throne of the Father in all the vigor of His eternal life. The resurrection of Christ is not a fiction, but a fact. At present He sits with the Father upon the Father’s throne (Rev. 3:21) and at His Father’s right hand (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 8:1). In the vision John sees that Christ has vacated the throne and the right hand, and He stands ready to take His great power and act. Standing indicates a readiness for action.
We believe not in a dead Christ only. Our faith does not terminate at the garden tomb. We believe in a resurrected Redeemer, standing in Heaven full of energy. John sees Christ as He stands to take to Himself His rights, purchased by His death on the cross, about to usher in His reign. Christ is about to rid the world of its usurpers and to put down all false authority. „And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne” (Rev. 5:7). His purpose in taking the seven-sealed book is to open it and to reveal its contents. The book contains the foreordained process by which our Lord will claim our inheritance for us. This is the revelation proper and covers the things from here to the end of the Book of Revelation.
HIS PLACE– „IN THE MIDST”
Christ stands in the midst of the company around the throne. This means in the middle or center. The center of attraction in Heaven is Jesus bleeding and dying in our room and stead. Christ is the center of heavenly worship. He is worshipped by men and angels as the slain Lamb. The memories of Calvary are treasured in Heaven.
The Holy Spirit seems to always put Jesus in the center place. In the before-time covenant He is in the bosom of the Father as the center of Divine affection (Prov. 8:30). At the age of 12 we find Him „in the temple, setting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking questions” (Luke 2:46). Speaking to His church Christ said: „For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). After the institution of the memorial supper we see Christ „in the midst of the church” (Heb. 2:12) singing a hymn. On the cross, a malefactor on each side, we see „Jesus in the midst” (John 19:18). Prior to His ascension into Heaven, „Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36; cf. John 20:19, 26).
Some believe that Christ stood between the elders and the Father who sat on the throne. Here is the mediatorial work of our Lord. As the God man, He mediates between God and redeemed men. He is our go-between. „For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5; cf. Heb. 9:24; I John 2:1). The slain Lamb is a „daysman betwixt us” and God (Job 9:33).
The text concludes with the words: „. . .having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” In the Bible horns are a symbol of power. Daniel 7:24 declares: „And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise. . .” Kings are people with power. The little horn (Antichrist) in Daniel is seen to have great power (Dan. 7:24-25). In Daniel 8:20-21 Alexander the Great is symbolized by „the great horn.” The beast out of the sea (the Antichrist) has ten horns, and he has power over the nations on earth (Rev. 13:7). The power of Christ to save us in Luke 1:69 is called „an horn of salvation for us.” The seven horns on the Lamb are symbolic of power, and joined with the number seven it means complete and perfect power.
This can only be said of God, and Jesus Christ is God. Psalm 62:11 says: „God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.” There is no power in the entire universe save what God delegates. The slain Lamb did not acquire this power. Rather it belongs to Him inherently. His complete and perfect power is self-existent and self-sustained. No man nor angel can add to as much as a shadow of increase to the power of Jesus Christ.
The „seven eyes” are symbolic of omniscience. The language of Revelation 5:6 is reminiscent of Zechariah 4:10 which speaks of „the eyes of the LORD (Jehovah) which run to and fro through the whole earth.” In II Chronicles 16:9 it is written: „for the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” Proverbs 15:3 says: „the eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” In Revelation 5:6 omniscience is ascribed to Christ, showing Jesus is Jehovah and qualified to take the book of future events and explain it.
Liberals and cultists deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. They make the slain Lamb a mere man for the homage of the redeemed and the adoration of the angels. In contradiction of the prophets and apostles and Jesus Himself, they deny the Lamb was God in the flesh. But in Revelation 5:6 the slain Lamb is seen as Jehovah God.
1. The center of heavenly worship is the slain Lamb who is Jehovah-Jesus. Men and women on earth may doubt the divinity of Jesus Christ. They may preach against it and write books against it. But Heaven is not such a place of doubtful questions. The angels in Heaven and redeemed saints are certain the slain Lamb is Omnipotent and omniscient. The departed who are of the contrary mind are not seen in Heaven; they are in Hell!
2. A lamb is an approachable being. No one should fear to come to the Lamb of God who died for sinners. Have you come to Christ, weak and heavy laden with sin, for spiritual rest and refreshment? Have you received Him as your Savior?
3. One has so well written:
If you from sin are longing to be free,
Look to the Lamb of God;
He, to redeem you, died on Calvary,
Look to the Lamb of God.