Musings from my notes on the book of Revelation:
“When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb” (Rev. 5:8).
At the center of all things—worshiped by countless angels, the elders, the living creatures, by all the great dignitaries of heaven—is a slaughtered lamb. ALL fall down before Him. The weak, the trampled, the passed over one; the one who took the form of a slave, who was executed as a criminal—to Him every knee bows and every tongue confesses His supremacy (Php. 2:5-11). The willingness to part with one’s life is the greatest power in the universe. This is God, for God is love, and we know what love is because He laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16, 4:16). John’s revelation is of God’s Lamb, the uncovering of the face of God in Jesus Christ the crucified.
Those who come out of the great tribulation are those who win by losing, who enter life through death, who defeat the predator by being prey. “They washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14). They are those who participate in the Crucified, who share His sufferings, who know the power of His resurrection because they have been made like Him in His death.
“Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw One like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders (Rev. 5:5).
Throughout the book of Revelation, death is the victory. The Lamb’s slaughter was His victory. We conquer by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and because we do not love our lives in the face of death (Rev. 12:11). In chapters 2 and 3, things are promised to those who are victorious: the right to eat from the tree of life (2:7); the crown of life (2:10); the hidden manna and the white stone with a new name inscribed on it (2:17); authority and the morning star (2:26); white clothes and enrollment in the book of life (3:5); being made a pillar in God’s sanctuary inscribed with God’s name, Jesus’s new name, and the name New Jerusalem (3:12); the right to sit with Christ on His throne as He was victorious and sat with His Father on the throne (3:21). All of these things are pictures of resurrection—the spoils of the victory gained through death.
The seven churches faced persecution. Satan (the dragon) was rising up against them through human systems (the beast) (Rev. 13:4). This unholy alliance was what led to Jesus’s death on the cross. Jesus defeated the dragon and the beast through His death. Whatever monsters we face, Revelation promises that being overcome by them IS the victory. We need not fear the horrible strength that is marshaled against us. The strength of the dragon and the beast is their undoing. Weakness and slaughter is our triumph.