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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: Section Two: The Remedy

Chapter 10

The Baptism

The death of Christ is spoken of in the Scriptures in many different pictures; each one bringing a new facet of the event into clearer view. Passages sometimes arrest our attention simply because they use symbols which come ‘out of the blue’; without warning or expectation. One of these must surely be the idea of Christ’s death as a baptism.

Chronologically, the first time He did this is recorded in Luke’s gospel; [i] "I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!”1 [/i] It comes in the context of a passage where He has spoken of the need to be vigilant and prepared for His return, and His thoughts have turned to future judgments. It seems that His thoughts connected this picture of a fiery judgment with a future experience of His own. I often thought it a great pity that the translators did not use slightly different language here. The last phrase might well have been translated ‘it is finished’ and would have given us an immediate link with the moment of this ‘baptism’; [i]So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.2 [/i] This eliminates all possible of confusion; this baptism is the moment of His death. It is ‘the hour’ and the moment of ‘propitiation’.

He describes the experience as ‘a baptism to be baptized with’; which seems tautological to Western ears. The Hebrew language has a particular way of emphasizing something; it repeats the idea. This is the background of phrases like ‘The Holy of Holies’, ‘The King of Kings’, ‘The Song of Songs’, and many more. When James, in his letter, wanted to speak of intense prayer our English translations speak of ‘fervent prayer’, but James’ own language speaks of ‘praying with prayer’; [i] Elijah was a man like affected as we, and with prayer he did pray--not to rain, and it did not rain upon the land three years and six months;3 [/i] The phrase then, as used by Christ, is not a pointless repetition but a way of indicating the intensity of the event. This, we might say, is the ‘baptism of all baptisms’.

As we read the words of Christ it is clear that this ‘baptism of all baptisms’ is a event which must be achieved before other events can transpire. The New King James version says He was ‘distressed’, but the word really means ‘held fast’. He was unable to unlock the future until this work was finished. All that He has come to do lies on the other side of this ‘baptism’; there is no access to it without this ‘baptism’. It is the focus of all history.

The same picture is captured in the book of Revelation. Mankind’s history lies closed and sealed and John is overwhelmed with the distress of such an impasse. [i] So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals." And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.4 [/i] Not until the Lamb had taken His place in the Throne could the future be released, and the Lamb is a lamb that has passed through death; [i]as though it had been slain[/i]. The ‘baptism’ has unlocked the future.

The second incident in which Christ referred to His death as a ‘baptism’ in recorded in both Matthew and Mark.5 This time the context is dispute among the disciples as to who would get the highest status places in the coming Kingdom. Christ’s response is powerful rebuke but in surprising language. [i] But Jesus said to them, [i]"You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"6 [/i] Again we see this intense expression; [i]a baptism to be baptised with.[/i] This time however it is associated with another symbol; the Cup. It was His destiny to ‘take the cup’; to consciously embrace all that His Father’s will included. The Cup is uppermost in His mind in the sufferings of Gethsemane; [i]And He said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will."7 [/i] The imagery is very powerful. In our mind’s eye we see the Father offering the cup, and Christ’s phrase ‘this cup’; it is no longer distant but at hand.

We see too His instinctive expression of Sonship in the word ‘Abba’, used only here in the gospels. His mission was not forced upon Him, but offered by the Father’s outstretched hand. The word ‘Abba’ is an expression of nearest intimacy. Mark’s gospel records that en route to the journey to the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane Christ had quoted a piece of scripture from the prophet Zechariah;[i] Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’…”8 [/i] It is an amazing piece pf scripture and one which explains the horror of Gethsemane. Its impact will be seen if we identify just who is speaking in the quotation; who is the ‘I’ of ‘I will strike the Shepherd?

The prophet Zechariah lived over 500 years before Christ. How could he have said something which struck such horror in the heart of Christ? It is a passage of scripture which sends a shiver down the spine. Without trying to explain the context let us just quote the words as we find them in Zechariah’s prophecy; [i] And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.9 [/i] The words appear suddenly in Zechariah’s prophecy without explanation; [i]what are these wounds in thine hands?[/i] These words point to the nature of what awaits Him in the next few hours, but it is not the nature of the wounds that breaks His heart, but their source. The one who speaks is God Himself; Jehovah of Hosts. Their horror is to be seen in the words [i]awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow… smite the shepherd[/i]

For centuries God had instructed the people of the Old Covenant that He was ‘One God’. [i]That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting That there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.10 [/i] But in other parts of the scripture we have strange hints that the full story is more complex than this simple statement. It is not that the statement is not true, but that there is more truth to be added to it. In the book of the Proverbs, for example, the writer personifies Wisdom, and suddenly finds that Wisdom11 speaks back to him. The word ‘Wisdom’ is very close to what John meant by ‘the Word’ in the first chapter of his gospel. Wisdom testifies to an existence that pre-dates the whole of creation, and to a wonderful intimacy with God; [i]I was by Him.1 [/i] It continues in a wonderful picture of an eternal fellowship of delight and laughter in ‘heaven’ before anything was made. This ‘perfect fellowship of eternal co-equals’ theologians have called Trinity. No shadow ever dimmed this fellowship; all was in perfect harmony… until the day God said ‘awake, o sword, against the man that is my fellow’.

There is a little Bible cameo of Father and Son in perfect accord in the story of Abraham and Isaac. On two occasions in that account there is a simple phrase ‘and they went both of them together’13 ; Father and Son journeying ‘together’ to the place of sacrifice. Abraham and Isaac went beyond the sight of those who travelled with them, and at Calvary Father and Son went beyond all human observation. Where no one could witness Abraham took the knife in his hand and began the downward strike, when an angel intervened and stopped him mid-strike. At Calvary there was no angel. It was not the wounded hands that broke Christ’s heart, but the knowledge that His Father held the sword. Another prophet had seen it even before Zechariah; [i] He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.14 [/i]

Gethsemane was Calvary seen in prospect. A great Victorian preacher once said “The debt is discharged to the utmost farthing; the account is cleared; the balance is struck; the scales of justice turn in our favor; God's sword is sheathed for ever, and the blood of Christ has sealed it in its scabbard.15 ” It was as though the Father had unsheathed the sword of His righteous indignation against all sin, and sheathed it once and forever in the body of His Son. But the pain of separation in that ‘eternal moment’ is conveyed in just a few words when Christ cried ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me’. The eternal consciousness of ‘Abba, Father’ was gone, and in its place there remained the determination to drain the cup to its bitterest drops. When the Greeks described the utter overwhelming of stricken ship they would use the word ‘baptism’. This was His cup and His baptism.

There is an interesting question that Paul asked the disciples in Ephesus; [i] And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism."16 [/i] I wonder how we would answer the question if we asked it of Christ’s Baptism; ‘into what was He baptised?’ John Baptist baptised his converts in water, and later Christ would baptise His sons in Spirit and Fire, but what was the element into which He Himself was ‘baptized’? The term ‘baptize’ was used in many ways, including Greek cookery recipes. It had the idea of a thorough soaking through which the flavours of the marinade passed into the vegetables or meat. In that sense something which is baptised shares the nature of the element that it is baptised into. We can see this in the letter to the Romans where Paul speaks of a union which is produced by baptism; [i]Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,17 [/i] It was used to describe how a piece of white cloth ‘baptised’ into a purple die would become united with the dye to produce purple cloth.

So we repeat our question; into what was Christ baptised? There is another clue half-hidden in a language. In Hebrew one word for sin is ‘chataah’, however, the word for ‘sin-offering’ is also ‘chataah’. There is such an identity of the ‘sin’ with its ‘sin-offering’ that one word covers both. The consequence of this is that Bible translators have to look at the context to decide whether to translate the word as ‘sin’ or ‘sin offering’. In one sense, just making the decision, interrupts the identity. For the Hebrew mind-set it would have been impossible to consider the one without the other. The simple answer to our question is that He was thoroughly united with humanity, not just its outward appearance, but with all that it had become. He was born as man in order to be completely identified with man; one with him. But the identification was made complete in the overwhelming tide of Calvary when He became baptised into all that mankind had become. Is this an extreme statement? [i]For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.18 [/i] Some Bible students have said ‘but this really means a sin-offering rather than sin’; in the heart of God and in the mind-set of the Hebrew there was complete identity between both. The judgment of the ‘sin offering’ was the judgment of the ‘sin’. This is representation, identification and substitution; He was made sin. When the priest placed his hands upon the goat he said ‘this for us, this is us, this is instead of us’.

There is a story which often comes to my mind when I think these thoughts. It is the story of the final conflict between an Otter, Tarka; and an Otterhound, Deadlock; in Devonshire. The Otterhound had been the curse of Tarka’s family for generations; father, mother, mate and children had all fallen victim to Deadlock cruel jaws. Finally Deadlock chases Tarka into the coastal waters…
[i] Deadlock saw the small brown head, and bayed in triumph as he jumped down the bank. He bit into the head, lifted the otter high, flung him about and fell into the water with him. They saw the broken head look up beside Deadlock, heard the cry of "Ic-yang" as Tarka bit into his throat, and the hound was sinking; with the otter into the deep water.

Oak-leaves black and rotting in the mud of the unseen bed, arose and swirled and sank again. And the tide slowed still. and began to move back, and they waited and watched, until the body of Deadlock arose, drowned and heavy, and floated away amidst the froth on the waters.

They pulled the body out of the river and carried it to the bank, laying it on the grass, and looking down at the dead hound is sad wonder. And while they stood there silently, a great bubble rose out of the depths. and broke, and as they watched, another bubble shook to the surface, and broke; and there was a third bubble in the sea going waters, and nothing more.19 [/i]

Tarka had taken his ancient enemy down into death with himself. So our wonderful Saviour took down into death, with Himself, all that mankind had become. Our old man was co-crucified with Him20 . By death He rendered powerless him that had the power of death21 . His great, bloody, baptism had brought all the consequences of Sin and Death in the human race to an end, in Himself. It was… all …finished.

1. Luke 12:49,50 NKJV
2. John 19:30 NKJV
3. Jam 5:17 Young’s Literal Translation
4. Revelation 5:4-7 NKJV
5. Matt 20:2-28; Mark 10:35-40
6. Matt 20:22; Mark 10:38
7. Mark 14:36 NKJV
8. Zechariah 13:7
9. Zechariah 13:6,7 KJV
10. Isaiah 45:6 NKJV
11. Proverbs 8
12. Proverbs 8:30
13 Genesis 22:6, 8.
14. Isaiah 53:3,4
15. Charles Spurgeon: “Death and Life in Christ” preached on Sunday Morning, April 5th, 1863
16 Act 19:3 NASB
17. Romans 6:4,5.
18. 2 Corinthians 5:21
19. Tarka the Otter: Henry Williamson
20. Romans 6:6
21. Hebrews 2:14

Ron Bailey

 2005/1/21 5:32Profile

Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: Section II: The Remedy

Chapter 11

The Throne

The original governor of Pennsylvania wrote a book called ‘No Cross, No Crown’. It is a fascinating glimpse into the deep spiritual experience of the early Quakers. William Penn’s intention was primarily to expound this truth in the experience of the believer, but in the earthly history of Son of God the title is even more true; His voluntary humanity was not a temporary experiment, but a permanent fact. The incarnation made God, man. Paul, the apostle, later opened out this truth [i] Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 1[/i]

Crucifixion was not only the death penalty but the ultimate humiliation and judgment of the worth of an individual; it was the final rejection of a member of society who died in disgrace. [i]When the Romans adopted crucifixion they reserved it for criminals convicted of murder, rebellion or armed robbery, provided that they were also slaves, foreigners, or other non-persons 2.[/i] The coming of Jesus as the Son of God in flesh was a condescension beyond our imagination, but to die [i]even the death on a cross[/i] was a scandal. The distance from the Throne of heaven to the Cross at Calvary is the longest journey in all history. But there could be no shortcuts; this is why He came.

The normal and logical destination for the bodies of the crucified was the city dump just outside Jerusalem. There in the continual burning of the valley of Hinnom the rejects were finally erased from history. One of his more influential disciples made a special formal request to be allowed to take away the corpse for ‘burial’. His bruised and battered body was laid in the quietness of a rock tomb, and his followers wandered off nursing their broken hearts and shattered dreams. The pain is witnessed later in the gospel according to Luke; [i]…Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel… 3 [/i] Is anything more poignant than the phrase ‘but we were hoping…’? The enthusiasm of the earlier years was gone now; their world is in ruins.

To understand the special ignominy of these events we should dip into the gospel according to Matthew. Matthew introduces the subject of his account using two key phrases; [i]The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 4 [/i] These are two glorious titles; Son of David, Son of Abraham. They tell us the whole purpose of Matthew’s gospel. This is the gospel of the King, the gospel of the Promised Seed. Matthew’s gospel is conspicuous for its use of phrases like; [i]that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying…5 [/i] It is the gospel, which more than any other, reveals Christ as the fulfilment of ancient prophecy and promise; prophecies which have their clearest expression in promises given to Abraham, and prophecies which promised a ‘new’ David. I can’t think of better words to excite the imagination and hope of the ancient Israelite. We hear them again in the words of Philip spoken to Nathaniel at the very beginning of John’s gospel; [i] Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 6 [/i] After 2000 years we can still hear the excitement; [i]we have found him![/i] And we see Nathaniel’s understanding of such words; [i]‘Rabbi, Thou are the Son of God; thou are the king of Israel.’ 7 [/i]

But if it not been Joseph of Arimathaea’s successful request the body of their promised Messiah and King would have been smouldering to oblivion in the valley of Hinnom. If the journey from Heaven’s Throne to Calvary’s Hill was beyond our understanding, what shall we say of the return journey? Sometimes we need to set history’s events into a wider context to see their real significance. How about this for a summary of Christ’s Mission? [i] And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 8 [/i] In that single sentence the scripture captures the whole picture. It covers the ‘round trip’; incarnation and enthronement. In between the two mountain peaks of this revelation there lies a hidden valley; Calvary and a rock tomb.

For the vast majority of the human race Calvary was the last sight they had of Jesus. His followers interned His body; the guard sealed the stone against interference. It was all over. It would never have touched even the footnotes of history but for one thing. [i] "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know-- this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. "But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. 9 [/i] The testimony of the witnesses of course is vital and God took care to ensure that their number was large10 , although Peter explained to Cornelius that is was a select group11 . There was an event, however, which was much more public which occurred some 50 days after the crucifixion and interment.

For forty days Christ appeared and disappeared. The appearances are recorded in the gospel and this time was a vital part of the preparation for the future. During this time the disciples hopeless disappointment was transformed into glorious hope. During this time Christ ‘breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit’12 . Again, this was to all the people but seems to have been a unique authorising of those who would continue His work. Back in Old Testament times God had taken the ‘spirit’ that marked Moses unique authority and ‘put’ it upon 70 elders of Israel13 . The focus in Numbers is not so much of the personality of the Spirit but of His unique equipping ministry. Jesus breathed ‘Holy Spirit’ on them. Luke records this same resurrection appearance but does not mention this specific detail. Luke concentrates on other aspects of that same visit to the upper room; [i] Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. 14 [/i] I would have loved to have been at that Bible study! He interpreted the Old Testament15 in the dawning light of the New, and one of His key themes was the Kingdom of God16 .

He also instructed them to ‘remain in Jerusalem until a further event took place’17 . They were not to begin their ‘witness’ until this event. The King James version has the phrase ‘tarry ye in Jerusalem’; the word is ‘sit down’. They were not to enter into their labours prior to this event; they must ‘sit and wait’. Let’s not be coy any longer, He called the coming event ‘the sending of My Father’s promise’. They had needed and received a work of the Holy Spirit which ‘opened their understanding’ but they were still commanded to wait until He had fulfilled His promise to them. Everything would be coming together in their understanding now. When they had protested at the thought of His absence He had encouraged them with this promise; [i] "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 18 [/i] More profitable to have the Spirit than to have the Son? So He said! The word behind ‘Helper’ is a multi-faceted word which means supporter, advocate, encourager, strengthener; one called alongside to help another, and a legal representative. The ‘coming One’ would be all that they could possibly need.

He also tied in His leaving with the Spirit’s coming; this was cause and effect. Without the ‘leaving’ there could be no ‘coming’. No doubt they was much he taught them during those 40 days; [i] The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 19 [/i] It was through the enabling and empowering of the Holy Spirit that those 40 days were filled with increasing revelation and expectation, but they were still to await His personal arrival.

Calvary + 40 and Christ’s work on earth was done. He assembled the believers together on the Mount of Olives20 and as He was blessing them He parted from them and was carried up beyond their mortal vision. What a thrilling picture it is? Christ with hands uplifted in blessing leaving the scene of His passion and triumph. He is the conquering hero, going home to receive the honour due to Him. No Roman ‘triumph’ was ever like this one; [i]when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive. 21 [/i] The believers lingered to catch their last glimpse and two angels appeared to assure them that He would return. 22

The believers returned to Jerusalem… to wait. Their days were spent either in the upper room in prayer or in the Temple courts. What a transformation of despair to hope; [i] And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. 23 [/i] They spent their days in growing excitement and anticipation. Did they know how long they must wait? Almost certainly; the is the feeling of a countdown in the opening verse of Acts 2; [i]when the Day of Pentecost was fully come…[/i] 24 Why wait until the Day of Pentecost? We must leave that until the next chapter.

He had gone; but where had He gone? They had known that His atoning work was complete by the fact that He was raised from the dead, but now He had gone from their sight; how could they know what was happening? That little verse in Revelation with its great sweep of history will put it all into context for us; [i] And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 25 [/i] He had come from the Throne over 30 years earlier; now He was returning. The culmination of the account of Christ’s manhood is not reached until He who left the Throne as God, had returned to it as both God and Man. Of course, eternity is a mystery and we can never really get our heads around it, but in straight-line time something happened in heaven that had never happened in the whole of eternity past; something happened at the level of the Throne. There is something that we can now say about the Throne that we could not say before His ascension; it has a new name, the Throne of God and of the Lamb. The old psalmist had written; [i] Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting. 26 [/i] The ancient Israelites had been schooled with the truth that God was Eternal and Immutable; never beginning, never ending and never changing. But something happened in the Throne which has changed things. It is captured in a little phrase scattered through the writings of Paul; ‘but now’.

Let’s see how John expresses this truth. The Throne is the central reference point of the book of the Revelation. The list of prepositions used in connection with the Throne is almost endless; things are ‘in’ or ‘around’ or ‘above’ or ‘before’ or ‘on’ or ‘out of’ the Throne. For John, in his vision, it was the ultimate fact of life. It is not hard to see the significance for the man who recorded the vision. His world was in ruins. The religious system in which he had grown up had been swept away by the Roman legions and the symbols of that religion were all gone; the city, the temple, the priesthood… all gone. He had witnessed the new beginnings of the Church but by the time of his writing of the Revelation he is an old man, and the churches are under various attacks from within and without. It seemed as though they were in danger of being swept away too. Now, to make matters worse, he had been exiled to a penal colony on Patmos. Everything was running out of control… or was it? In the midst of John’s personal experience of traumatic change and decay he is given a vision of the Throne. The overriding message of the book of the Revelation is that history is not in the hands of the conquerors, but in the hands of God. His vision begins with the Throne; his message proper begins [i]John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne; 27 [/i]

After this starting point to the vision the Throne is not mentioned until John relays the message to the church in Laodicea; [i] Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 28 [/i] The first verse of this couplet is well known but the second is very significant. It tells us that Christ was able to take up His place again in the Throne because He had overcome or prevailed. He had accomplished His mission and had ascended the Throne. You can read the ‘Coronation’ hymn in Psalm 24. He is the victorious, warrior, Son who has accomplished His Father’s will and returned to the place of His inherent glory.

This truth of Christ’s accession to the throne is now relived in John’s vision. He is lifted up in the Spirit and sees a Throne. 29 He sees the Throne before he sees the One who sits upon it; the title of this part of the vision should be The Throne; there are 17 references to the Throne in these next two chapters. He sees that the Throne is occupied. That must have been a great comfort to John’s own circumstances; however things seemed from the earthly elevation, the heavenly vision showed that God was still on the Throne. It seems that John is watching a heavenly tableau. It culminates in the song of creation; [i] and the four living creatures, having each one of them six wings, are full of eyes round about and within: and they have no rest day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come. And when the living creatures shall give glory and honor and thanks to him that sitteth on the throne, to him that liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders shall fall down before him that sitteth on the throne, and shall worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and shall cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power: for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were created. 30 [/i]

But in the midst of all this celebration John sees an unopened scroll in the right hand of the One who sits on the throne. It is protected with seven unbroken seals. John hears an angel asking ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals? 31 It seems that a ‘man’ must open this scroll, and there is no-one who qualifies to do so. Heaven, earth and the regions beneath the earth are quickly scanned but the search is fruitless; [i] no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon, 32 [/i] and John is heartbroken. It seems that ‘history’ is locked and God’s purposes blocked too. 33

One of the heavenly elders comforts John; there is a qualifier! [i] Weep not; behold, the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath overcome to open the book and the seven seals thereof. 34 The elder uses the word ‘overcome’ or ‘prevail’ that was used in the original promise of Christ to the church at Laodicea; I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. John will now see this truth in his vision. [i] And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. 35 [/i] It is not incidental that we have a reference here which identifies someone as being from the tribe of Judah and as a ‘root of David; this is great David’s greater son; this is the promised king.

The usual word for ‘lamb’ is ‘arēn’ but this word is ‘arnion’; the diminutive form. In many languages affection is expressed by using a diminutive form of the name. The same is true here; this is a ‘dear Lamb’. But this dear Lamb has been ‘butchered’; that is not said for dramatic effect but is the real meaning of the Greek word used here. But then again this ‘butchered’ Lamb is standing; it has passed through bloody brutal death into triumphant life, and look where it is standing… in the midst of the Throne. Calvary’s despised victim has become king over all. The book of the Revelation is full of symbols, and this ‘dear Lamb’ has seven horns and seven eyes. What can this symbolise? In the Bible’s symbolic language the horn is a symbol of strength, and the eyes are the symbol of knowledge. This ‘dear Lamb’ has seven of each. We are not intended to paint the portrait of this vision; such a Lamb would be grotesque. Seven is symbolic of completion and fullness. The symbols of John’s ‘heavenly Lamb’ signify that this Lamb has all power and all knowledge. That is a powerful combination. If he had all power but was without all knowledge, He would be able to do all things, but some things always remain beyond his knowledge, and consequently would go untouched. If he had all knowledge, He would be able to know all things, but unable to affect all things. In order to rule in completeness the Lamb must have seven horns and seven eyes, or as the theologians might say He must have omnipotence and omniscience.

We must leave the consequences of this to the next chapter. The Throne of God has become the Throne of God and of the Lamb, and that has changed the basis for all of God’s dealings in the entire cosmos. Towards the end of the Revelation we have a clear statement; [i] And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 36 [/i] It is only ‘the one who sits upon the Throne’ that can say ‘Behold, I make all things new’. The limitations of His earthly experience are ended. He has passed through the heavens to the Throne of God. From this place He can begin His new creation, and from this place, the Throne of God and of the Lamb, will pour ‘a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal’37.

1. Phi 2:5-8 NASB
2. John Stott “The Cross of Christ”
3. Luk 24:19-21 NASB
4. Mat 1:1 KJV
5. Matt 1:22
6. Joh 1:45 KJV
7. John 1:49
8. Rev 12:5 KJV
9. Act 2:22-24 NASB
10. 1 Cor 15:4-8
11. Act 10:40-42
12. John 20:22
13. Numbers 11
14. Luk 24:45-48 KJV
15. the phrase ‘the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms’ is a way of referring to the whole of the Old Testament by referring to its three main ‘sections’.
16. Acts 1:3
17. Luke 24:49
18. Joh 16:7 NASB
19. Act 1:1-2 NASB
20. Acts 1:12
21. Ephesians 4:8
22. Acts 1:11
23. Luk 24:52-53 KJV
24. Acts 2:1
25. Rev 12:5 KJV
26. Psa 93:2 KJV
27. Rev 1:4 KJV
28. Rev 3:20-21 KJV
29. Rev 4:2
30. Rev 4:8-11 ASV
31. Rev 5:3
32. Rev 5:4
33. cf Luke 12:50
34. Rev 5:5
35. Rev 5:6 ASV
36. Rev 21:5-6 KJV
37. Rev 22:1

Ron Bailey

 2005/1/29 4:08Profile

Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri


The distance from the Throne of heaven to the Cross at Calvary is the longest journey in all history.

What a comforting statement.

Thanks Bro. Ron for another well presented entry into this series. It is a real blessing indeed!

God Bless,


Robert Wurtz II

 2005/1/31 21:06Profile

Joined: 2005/2/16
Posts: 239
Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

 Re: Ready for Section III

I am looking forward to the completion of this series.

Keep up the good work!

(edit: spelling errors!)

Daniel van de Laar

 2005/3/15 13:52Profile

Joined: 2005/4/22
Posts: 257
Seattle, Washington, USA

 Re: Invite to Visit

Thought you might enjoy the articles section of our site. There are quite a few resources for you to refer to. Here's the link: [url=]Bible Believers Church[/url]

 2005/4/22 14:52Profile

Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK


Did you know that you were not supposed to scatter your website around SI?

Ron Bailey

 2005/4/22 16:37Profile

Joined: 2003/12/8
Posts: 65
Manitoba, Canada

 Re: I was wondering

Has anything further developed on this book Ron? I was just going through my materials at home and found the first few chapters which I printed off. Just wondering if this book got stuck half way through or is more forthcoming?


 2005/10/27 19:17Profile

Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK


There is the rest coming... sometime! I have several projects running just now and am struggling to get the priorities right. I would value your prayer.

Ron Bailey

 2005/10/27 20:51Profile

Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri


Strange how this was just brought up again. I had planned this morning to bring it up again myself. :-)

Robert Wurtz II

 2005/10/28 7:54Profile

Joined: 2005/7/26
Posts: 524
Tennessee, USA


Wow. This is very insightful. I think I am more excited about reading chapter 12 than I was to see the making of Star Wars Episode III.

Thank you, and may God continue to bless you in this.


Blake Kidney

 2005/10/28 11:27Profile

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