Have you ever felt confused while reading a passage that was meant to be comforting? You are not alone! This is often the case with the book of Revelation.
In Revelation 4-5, there are two challenges that emerge. The first potentially confusing piece is who is on the throne. In chapter 4, it is clearly God who is seated on the throne. Yet in chapter 5, the Lamb is on the throne. So which is it? It is both and this can only mean one thing. The Lamb is God.
A second challenge in the passage is that the Lamb is in the center of the throne and in the midst of the elders. Again, he is fully identified with both because he is both God and man! He has come as a man to defeat sin, evil, and the beast through his own suffering and death so that he might lead his people through the cherubim into the presence of God. So why does this matter? Here are two comforting truths that begin to emerge.
The Lamb is Sovereign
The Lamb is in absolute control (vv. 4:2, 5:1), yet his control is unique. It is not the control of a detached, dispassionate deity. Christians are not Deists who view God as an impersonal clockmaker that winds the clock and leaves it to run on its own. This is exactly the opposite of what the passage teaches. The Lamb is on the throne as both God and human. He understands our plight because he has experienced it. Take comfort in this! The God of Scripture is not an impersonal, detached force that mechanically governs your life. He is a God of love who is with you in the midst of your struggles.
The Lamb has Suffered
As if identifying himself was not enough, it gets even better in verses 6, 9 and 12. Each of these verses describes a Lamb who was slain. One of the primal screams of humanity has to do with the existence of suffering and evil in the world. “Why doesn’t God do something?” Revelation 5 informs us he has! We see a mighty Lion who became a lamb. One who at his own expense, came to do battle with evil and suffering. You find nothing like this in other world religions - a God who suffers! Because of this, we do not suffer alone, nor do we suffer without hope because we know that one day it will be over. Isaiah 53 says, “…he was despised and rejected and acquainted with suffering.” Our suffering is swallowed up and made bearable in his suffering and his promised healing.
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise” (5:12)