The Lamb Who Breaks Open the Seals

Dreamy and strange, eternity stirs with such peculiar creatures, with everything revolving around a Lamb. A mighty angel asks a question involving a manuscript in the court liturgy of heaven. In an earlier vision, old man Ezekiel beheld a hand clutching a scroll. Likewise, this parchment displayed writings on both sides, containing lamentations, grieving, and woe (Ezekiel 2:9-10).

Is this scroll in Revelation the same text? Not sure, for nobody can crack open this document or its seven seals, unable to read its message. So, John’s words dip and sway in a sad solemnity over this melancholy scene.

Long ago, Prophet Daniel received a prophecy, which God instructed him to keep secret, to “seal the book until the end time” (Daniel 12:4). Privy to heaven during these last days, John discovers nobody worthy to unroll this scroll. So, he weeps.

An elder reassures him. “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, who conquered.” So, he’ll open the scroll, seven seals or not. Yet, John glances around for a Lion but only locates a Lamb.

Now, he remembers Isaiah from His Greek-language Old Testament, foretelling of a Davidic king on whom the sevenfold gift of the Spirit rests (Isaiah 11:1-10). These gifts are wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and godliness, and fear of God. Oh, those forbidding seals will bend and break as He wills.

The same elders next sing of Christ’s sacrifice, sacrificial blood empowering Him to release those seals. Yes, Jesus bore our grief and carried our sorrows, stricken, smitten, and afflicted on our behalf (Isaiah 53:4). So, unlike Ezekiel’s scroll, these sacred pages must stir with the wondrous deeds of what God did for us through His Son. So, everyone present falls before Him in reverence as bold praise breaks forth.

The last New Testament text brims with warning and encouragement, using intricate descriptions and imagery: a Lamb, four living creatures, and seven horns. Still, more hides within Revelation, beyond what our human minds can perceive. Ethereal and brash, philosophical and visceral, this book is mystical, its phrases blending with symbols and allegory, metaphors and hyperbole.

No wonder people may choose to view John’s apocalypse as science-fiction. Yet, his epistle is something else, for John portrays portraits of Jesus and His Church. Its symbolism isn’t only for today but tells of the current cosmos ending and Christ calling forth the new heaven and earth. So, whenever you read Revelation, recognize the life and words of your Redeemer, whether spoken through the tongues of angels, or in thunderous power or hushed whispers.

Consider the Lamb. “Worthy is the slaughtered Lamb.” The slain Lamb lives and, in His hand, rests the earth’s fate, for this Lamb is Jesus, “who takes away the world’s sin” (John 1:29). Yes, He’s worthy, but you and I aren’t—and neither can we create this worthiness.

Only Jesus lived the praiseworthy life, thriving under God’s Law, with no flaw, shame, or regret. Without baggage or hidden past, He comes with no wickedness, deceit, or wrongdoing. Of every human born of a mortal mother, only He, with nothing to conceal, need not shun or hide any of His earlier actions.

No person wants to admit such profound powerlessness, of not being able to change your state of being. Though you may succeed in many things, what does your fallenness expose in your accomplishments? Can’t you evoke moments when, selfless and giving, you helped another? Remember when you stood fast for a noble cause, refusing to slink away in silence? Often, you supplied helpful advice, directing somebody back on the right course. These must count or help—not in matters eternal!

Recognize that actions don’t make someone worthy. Beneath the surface of our being swirls an inherited corruption and depravity, distancing us from the perfect holiness of God. Each child is born with a sinful nature, “children of wrath, as is everyone else” (Ephesians 2:3). Consider your own life. Are you selfish, lustful, disobedient to authorities, bitter inside, covetous, neglectful of God’s Word and prayer, self-idolizing?

Here are a few examples. Did you take credit or imply as much for someone else’s work? Do you behave gentle and sweet but harbor the heart of a wolf? Don’t you prefer comfort over what challenges and stretches you in the Christian faith? Once angered, you stepped off the high and gracious route, traveling on the low road, lashing out with cutting comments or stony silence.

A fragment of those iniquities lurks in every person, which shows such malice spills over into your words and actions, making them diseased toward God. Suppose you did something extraordinary and noble as the world deems, curing cancer or giving millions away in scholarships. Such wondrous accomplishments still won’t make you valuable to a holy God! Why? Your unworthiness as a transgressor makes your endeavors worthless to Him. Inborn sinfulness contaminates your essence, infecting your best efforts. No one unworthy can turn himself worthy before God.

So, no one’s deeds cause someone to become deserving. No, it’s the other way. Only someone’s inherent goodness creates something worthy, explaining why his doings are the same: flawless, wholesome, and blameless. To God, a person’s worthiness makes his works worthwhile, including those small or mundane tasks such as buying groceries or mowing the lawn. From a pristine mountain spring, freshwater gushes. Wherever soil teems with life, flowers grow robust and alive. So, too, does a pure heart surge forth in upstanding deeds.

The Lord is untainted and perfect by nature. From birth, He alone is innocent and clean, living in righteousness, worthy of God according to His holy Law. Only because Jesus is deserving does He become the proper sacrifice for us rogues and reprobates.

Only He is the Lamb who perished on the cross to save sinners, offering His impeccable life. So, Jesus can pay the ransom for every sin and sinner. The Lamb in our epistle text is flourishing. Betrayed, abused, and slaughtered, is this Lamb, but not someone dead whose story ended as a mere corpse. No, He resurrected from the grave, killed but now alive!

With Jesus as worthy, so are His saving deeds, which means His death reverses the curse and purifies the sin-contaminated. So valuable, His crucifixion, He paid the cost for this world’s every wrongdoing. So wondrous, His resurrection, He ushers us into eternal life for our souls—and bodies! The righteous Son of God became man, virtuous in sacrifice, and so too are His words.

Now, this reality bleeds out and conquers the tomb, which He speaks upon you and me, proclaiming and making us worthy. Yes, His is a story of grace and lavish love, supplying a marvelous gift for the sinful unworthy. Though undeserving, the Lamb Himself bespeaks you worthy. Declared as someone spotless, He disregards the sin woven into the fabric of your being.

So, God transcends your nature, rendering your work righteous. Now, you live and move with your existence grounded in the forgiveness of sins. Yet God’s grace is nothing to abuse. An actress might be a worthy profession for a Christian, but doing a nude scene meant to foment lust is no part of her divine calling. Musical talent is a remarkable gift, but playing in a band, celebrating mayhem, murder, and sadism isn’t a God-pleasing use of those gifts. Don’t corrupt your neighbors, since God calls you to serve them. So, beloved, blessed be your labors.

Remember, Christ sets us free from the demanding works of the Law. Oh, not to sin, but to turn to another and focus on his or her needs. The Gospel ends our striving to please, to become acceptable or worthy. Secure in Jesus, we can abandon our self-concern and burst forth our bottled-up love toward others.

With God sanctifying you, He turns farming, nursing, teaching, banking, mopping floors, trash compacting, and changing messy diapers into spiritual and extraordinary feats. These acts turn into high and holy deeds, performed in faith by His given righteousness. Until God brings us home, we move in countercurrents, neither retreating from this world nor choosing to embrace its sin.

Your faithfulness involves ordinary living based on your specific circumstances of family, workplace, and society. The call of belief and devotion always resonates inside the space we occupy. Your higher Christian calling isn’t a summons to hide but embeds itself within home, neighborhood, and world.

The Lamb’s Word declares His blood cleanses and restores you, making you worthy because of His merits. For this reason, He doesn’t wish you to seclude yourself but sends you forth to be His agent of love. So, you are deserving, for the Holy Spirit Jesus sent transfers His praiseworthiness upon you.

Gospel freedom creates a changed reality, free to be and achieve what we are in Christ. Now you can become lost in loving concern for another as a new creation. So, what do you want to do since He did everything required for salvation? Rejoice and live out the worthiness of the Lamb.

Today, we gather with the multitudes of heaven who unite with us in praising this Lamb. Of course, our eyes don’t dazzle from their presence, nor do our ears tingle from their music. Yet those who died in saving faith join you and me in worship, with angels and archangels, blending their voices with ours to celebrate Christ. Soon, we will be with them, singing heaven’s song, which once sounded only as faint whispers. “To him be praise, honor, glory, and power always and forever!” Amen.

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