Reading: Exodus 12:1-11.
"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..." (Rev. 5:2).
"The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall be
their shepherd, and shall guide them unto fountains of waters of life: and God
shall wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Rev. 7:17).
"The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne...." That
designation of the Lord Jesus is a very frequently occurring one in the book
of the Revelation, as we know. It occurs some twenty-eight times. I think it
might be helpful by way of laying a foundation if we hurriedly passed our eye
over the book in that connection.
In chapter 5 it occurs four times. Here we have the Lord Jesus as the Lamb
slain, in exaltation in the midst of the throne; then as the centre of
worship; and then as the One who is worthy to judge. There is a book sealed,
and no one is found, not even in heaven, worthy to take the book and open it.
Something more than the very purity of angels and archangels is required; some
features, some elements, which an archangel does not possess are necessary for
this, and there is weeping that no one is found worthy to unseal the book. The
Lamb is introduced as possessing the qualities which give Him the right to
open the book and the seals thereof. It is the book of judgments, the judgment
of the world, and only the Lamb has the right, by reason of qualification, to
undertake the judgment of the world. That is the first thing here.
In chapter 6 the title occurs twice. The book is opened and
the judgment begins and here the wrath of the Lamb is referred to.
In chapter 7 we have the word four times again, in
connection with the great multitude which no man can number who have come up
out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white
in the Blood of the Lamb, and they are before the throne of the Lamb.
Then we have to go right to chapter 12 for the next
reference, a very familiar one. The title is only once mentioned here, in
connection with the overcomer company who are said to overcome the dragon
because of the Blood of the Lamb.
In chapter 13 it occurs once more. Here all worship the
beast except those whose names are written in the book of life of the Lamb.
Then the sixth occurrence is in chapter 14, which contains
the title four times. The Lamb appears on Mount Zion, and with Him a hundred
and forty and four thousand.
In chapter 15 mention is made once more of those who are
victorious from the beast, and they sing the song of Moses, the servant of
God, and of the Lamb.
In chapter 17 ten kings give their power and authority to
the beast and make war against the Lamb.
In chapter 19 we have the title twice used, with reference
to the marriage of the Lamb.
In chapter 21 it occurs five times: firstly, we have the
Lamb's wife; secondly, the twelve apostles of the Lamb; thirdly, the Lamb is
the temple; fourthly, the Lamb is the light of the city; and fifthly, the
Lamb's book of life.
Then finally, in chapter 22 there are two mentions of the
Lamb. The river of water of life proceeds from the throne of God and of the
Lamb, and then the definite phrase, "the throne of God and of the Lamb".
The Significance of the Title
Now, that is something more than a summary of Scripture
references. That gives a foundation, as I have said, for tremendously
significant reflection and leads us at once to ask, What is the significance
of this designation, the Lamb?
The simplest contemplation would surely lead us to feel how
strange it all is, how peculiar. All these tremendous things, the greatest
things of which we can conceive, covering a vast range and reaching from the
centre to the circumference of God's universe, all focussed in One who is
given the title of "the Lamb"?
Well, what is the significance of this term? As I see it, there are two
outstanding characteristics of the Lamb which is chosen by God. One is purity
and the other is unquestioning yieldedness to God's will. That sounds very
simple, but it goes to the heart of everything. Purity and unquestioning
yieldedness to God's will. These are really one thing in essence. The
yieldedness indicates the absence of every element of self-will, of
self-direction, of self-determination, of self-reasoning, of self-mindedness,
or self-interest; and I understand that to be the meaning of "a lamb without
spot or blemish". The spots and blemishes, what are they? Well, they would
constitute some aspect of a self-life, some element of selfhood, and this Lamb
is without any such elements or features. God, who sees to the inward parts in
His Lamb, sees no trace of the principle of self, that self-principle which
arose through Satan's interference in Adam, the utter destruction of which,
and the riddance of which, is essential to secure that primal state of
absolute pleasure to God. Yieldedness, unquestioning yieldedness to God's
will, is the utter ruling out of all self-elements. Spotlessness and being
without blemish is that, and that too is purity. That purity of heart which
sees God is singleness of eye to the will of God. The pure in heart shall see
God. What is it to be pure in heart? It is to have no other interest in the
universe and in life but the will of God, a single eye to the glory of God;
that is purity of heart. The Lamb is to be without blemish, the blemish of a
will that cuts across the will of God, and therefore the Lamb is marked by
utter yieldedness to that will - "As a lamb that is led to the slaughter...".
You know, and already your minds are drawing upon the scriptures which bear
this out. If Isaac is a type of the Lamb; if, in connection with the offering
of Isaac his father says, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb", then
Isaac is the embodiment of this unquestioning yieldedness to the will of the
Father: and so you find it throughout the Word.
The Blood of the Lamb - the Essential Life-energy of
Now, the Blood of the Lamb, the very life energy of this
Lamb, is this incorruptible nature, this nature which, under no provocation or
trial or temptation, can be brought to project a self-interest as in the place
of the Father's will. The whole life of the Lord Jesus is gathered up in that
one thing. From the day when He was introduced publicly as the Lamb of God,
there was an almost immediate conspiracy of hell to blemish that Lamb, and it
was all along this one line of seeking to bring up some self-interest,
self-preservation, self-consideration, self-sympathy, self-pity,
self-ambition, self-realization, all the thousand ways in which self can work.
Right to the end and in the dire hour of His final anguish, the temptation
still goes on. "Come down and we will believe!" Behind that suggestion, with
all the fierceness of the fire, is again the endeavour to introduce some
action of a "self" character for self-deliverance. But no! "I come to do thy
will"; and the will of God, and the will of man, of the flesh, can never go
hand in hand. The Blood of the Lamb is the essential life-energy of
incorruptibility. It cannot be corrupted. Hell has exhausted its last evil
resource to corrupt the Lamb, and has failed. The Lamb is triumphant, the Lamb
has overcome, the Lamb is in the midst of the throne.
The Book of Revelation in the Light of the Lamb
You see how this throws light upon everything in the book
of Revelation. Everything is taken up in relation to the Lamb, and you have to
see everything, therefore, in that book, as everywhere else, in the light of
this nature, this incorruptible nature, or in the light of this One whose
nature this is.
(a) The Judgment of this World
Chapter 5 then must be seen in the light of the Lamb. Who
has a right to pass judgment, who has the right to bring judgment upon
another, or upon a world? Only He whose moral quality is above reproach, only
He who through every testing, has proved Himself more than a match for the
effort to corrupt Him. The judgment is in the hands of One who is
uncorruptible and incorruptible, and it is His moral value, not His official
appointment, which gives Him the throne. "Thou art worthy"; that is the point.
"Thou art worthy"; not because Thou art the Son of God, but because Thou art
the Lamb of God. "Thou art worthy to take the book." Beloved, all judgment is
upon that foundation, that basis of judgment, and that is the blessedness of
the truth that those who, by faith, have taken sides with the Lamb,
have come and appropriated all the virtues of His precious Blood by faith,
those who are joined to the Lamb, have their judgment already passed; their
judgment is past, their sins have gone to judgment beforehand. There is no
judgment because there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.
The judgment of the world is in view in chapter 5. The pouring forth of the
vials of judgment, five terrible judgments, and then the sixth which is worse
than all the five which have preceded; all is on the ground of this, that
there is a righteousness which has been available to men by which they could
escape judgment, but having rejected which, there is no escape. Well, it is
according to the Lamb.
(b) The Justified
Then we have the great multitude which no man can number standing before
the throne of God and the Lamb, having come up out of great tribulation and
having washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb. It
simply means this, that they, both as to position and as to state, have by
faith been united with the Lamb. Position? Yes; but they have also washed
their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb. What have they done?
They have accepted Him as their righteousness, as their holiness, as their
"spirit's spotless heavenly dress". But they also have repudiated a self-life,
a life of self-interest, self-realization, self-direction, and in great
tribulation, having refused to seek their own salvation, have stood with the
Lamb against themselves and their own interests. They serve Him day and night
in His temple.
(c) The Overcomer
The overcomer: he too wins through to this position because
of the Blood of the Lamb. Oh yes, you and I have to learn much more and ever
more about this mighty power of His Blood as the energy, the vital energy, of
Christ against that ground which Satan works upon to get us actuated by the
flesh interests, the self-interests, the old creation considerations; and
beloved, the test for the overcomer will always be on this one point. Will
you, under any kind of pressure, testing, trial, suffering, adversity, will
you forsake the way of the Lamb, the will of God, the selfless abandonment to
God's glory, in consideration for your own skin? You see, the two sides are
perfectly clear. Their own lives - the way of the Lamb: and the way of the overcomer is the way of the Lamb, the way of the Blood of the Lamb, the energy
of Christ against the energy of self. Of course, that can be enlarged
upon very greatly, but it is a principle indicated.
(d) The Beast
The beast: and when you have said all that you can say
about the beast, what does it amount to? Whether he is a political beast or a
religious beast or whatever he is in prophecy, that is of secondary
consideration. The primary thing is, what is he morally? The beast, in that
sense, is simply the personification and the embodiment of all that is
contrary to the Lamb, and he makes war with the Lamb; and remember, it is the
Lamb still. It does not say that he makes war with the Son of God. He does
not, in the language of the Scriptures, make war with Jesus Christ. He makes
war with the Lamb. Keep the Lamb features in view and you have the key to
What is this Lamb's significance? It is this purity, it is
the absence, the total absence, of all flesh, self-interest, in utter
abandonment that God's will and God's glory should be realized, and the beast
is the sum total of all that is contrary to that Lamb, and the beast opposes
the Lamb principle; and we know it. We need not begin to look abroad
somewhere in Russia for the beast. He is not far from any one of us. Of course
I know this means more than that; but what is the beast here? Only the
accumulation, the aggregate, of what you are. It is the coming out in full
force and manifestation, in embodiment, of this thing that is in the old
creation, that is opposed to the will of God, opposed to that utter purity of
selfless abandonment to God. The beast is the corrupt, the impure, the evil.
He makes war upon the Lamb. Blessed be God, the Lamb overcomes, and there are
those who are with the Lamb who also overcome with Him, and they sing the song
of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb. They have escaped the beast - a
great reflection upon the spiritual thought of God concerning Israel. We will
see more about that again.
(e) The Marriage of the Lamb
The marriage of the Lamb. What
a contemplation! Here if anywhere we need adjustment of our thoughts. The
Lamb, being what He is, will never marry anyone not after His own kind. The
Lamb will only have a wife like Himself. There is another woman here, a mother
of harlots. He will not marry her. He is marrying a wife, and this wife has
made herself ready. "He that hath this hope (John is but expressing it in
other words) in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure". The marriage of
the Lamb means that there is a company conformed to His image who can be
brought into this relationship with Him. It is a union of those who are one in
every respect. There never was a marriage like this, so truly one. It is the
marriage between the Lamb and those who have followed the Lamb whithersoever
He goeth; that is, those who have gone the Lamb way, the way of selfless,
unquestioning yieldedness to the will of God. That is the marriage, that is
the wife of the Lamb. Similarly, we have to see these other things in the same
(f) The Throne of the Lamb
There is the throne of the Lamb. The Lamb is
exalted and elevated and given the high place because of what He is, and that
throws a light back on words which have gone before - "Shall sit with me in my
throne". Yes, the throne is the throne of the Lamb. How shall we come to
exaltation with Him, to reign with Him, to share the throne with Him? What is
the foundation of reigning life? What is the very essence of throne life?
Unquestioning yieldedness, unreserved selflessness. That is not the way in which the
great of this world have got their place of power. Their way is by
self-assertiveness, every form of self. It is what we are seeing today. But
their thrones and crowns will perish. This throne is forever and ever! It is
the moral quality of this throne which gives it its endurance.
(g) The Temple and Light of the City
The Lamb is the
temple. What is a temple for? The temple is a place where you have
fellowship with God, where God meets with you and speaks with you. The temple
is the place of access to God, the place of an open heaven, the place of
fellowship with the Lord. What is it that constitutes the temple, what is it
that constitutes this fellowship with God, this open heaven, this meeting with
God, this speaking of God? What is it? It is the Lamb. It is a certain kind
of nature, disposition. It is not a place, it is a state, an attitude, a
condition of heart. "To this man will I look...." That is the temple.
ornate building can secure that, and no miserable dungeon can exclude that.
If we are one with the Lamb, we are in the temple of God. The Lamb is the
temple, and the Lamb too is the light of the city.
(h) The River of Water of Life and the Lamb's Book of
The river of water of life proceeds from the throne of the
Lamb. The river, then, has its spring in what the Lamb is; and so also the
Lamb's book of life. What is it to have our names written in the Lamb's book
of life? It is not to have something inscribed. God does not have to do that
sort of thing in heaven. If He were doing that, He would have to keep a good
many angelic scribes very busy! That is not the way. There is something
spiritually inscribed, inscribed in moral and spiritual terms, something
settled, something established of relationship with God in the Lamb. If we
have ever known what it is in a very little way to have our vitality sapped,
drawn out of us, we do not forget it. That cost us something, and we ever
remember that the securing of that cost something of our very life; our blood,
we say, went out into that. It cost us life. When the Lord Jesus imparts His
life to a believing heart, when the faith of a believer in all need and
desperation draws that precious virtue from Him, it is a part of Himself going out. He has given
something of Himself, and that to which He gives Himself is one with Himself,
part of Himself. It possesses His very life, as of His very Blood. That is not
forgotten. To eternity, that is not forgotten. That is inscribed in spiritual
terms in an unforgettable way. The very life of the Lamb has gone out. The
Lamb's book of life is something like that. It is a book of life; not a book
of paper, but a book of life. You cannot describe a book of life. It is a
volume of life in which we have a part, inscribed because we have the life.
All who have that life are inscribed in that book. They have received their
registration there. Well, you see, it is all in terms of the Lamb. In every
connection, the significance of this term "the Lamb" has to be seen.
The Security of the Eternal Purpose is a Lamb
Again, in a word, all these things mean that God's end is
reached, God's purpose is accomplished, God's ways are taken, on the basis of
this Lamb-like nature, which, on one side, is purity, and, on the other side,
is unquestioning yieldedness to the will of God; and that is said to be the
mightiest thing of which men know. The cry in response to the weeping was, "Weep not; behold, the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah... hath overcome to
open the book". And I turned to see this mighty, mighty king of beasts, this
triumphant monarch, the Lion of the tribe of Judah - and, behold, "a Lamb... as
though it had been slain". God speaks to our hearts of might, of power, of
exaltation, of overcoming, in terms of purity of heart, and purity of heart,
from God's standpoint, is singleness of eye to His glory, which, in other
words, is the absence of self with all that we know that to mean in the old
race of Adam. This is but the foundation. We are going to stop there for the
But I do trust that this is going to give some fresh meaning and value to
everything in our relationship with the Lord, that it is going to provoke in
us something deeper when we say, "Worthy is the Lamb!". It is going to make
far more glorious and wonderful to us the foundation of our faith. How utterly
other we are! This Lamb is not so. We are not this Lamb by nature and
disposition. There is everything in us, if only it is provoked, which is the
opposite of the Lamb; and yet, beloved, the place that the Lamb occupies can be occupied by us, even the throne!
All that the Lamb means can be made good in us: the river, the light, the
temple, and even the bride, and all through faith in the Blood of the Lamb.
The Lamb has overcome, prevailed; His Blood has triumphed, and you and I, by
faith in that Blood, can overcome, can triumph, can prevail, and can come and
abide forever in the immediate presence of God who cannot look upon iniquity.
We contemplate ourselves with the utmost loathing, and yet, because of the
Blood of the Lamb, we can be where He is on the same terms; that is, abiding in the eternal burnings before the eyes of One who
cannot behold iniquity, who cannot look upon sin. We will only overcome as we
grasp that, as we believe, as we stand there. Remember we have to take the
place of the Lamb. In other words, we have to come to the Cross, and
self-strength, self-will, self-reason, and all that is of self has to be
broken at the Cross. The glory of God has to be enthroned in our hearts as the
one supreme object of a single-eyed yieldedness. He must reign in His will, if
we would reign in His glory. Well, may this spur us to worship of the Lamb!