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On the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, Part 8: The Lamb of God
Presenting our commentary on Revelation chapter 4 we had discussed Visions of the Throne of God, where in part we had compared John’s vision here with the similar earlier visions of both Isaiah and Ezekiel. In chapter 6 of Isaiah, the prophet had said rather explicitly that he saw “the Lord sitting upon a throne”, while in the opening chapter of his book Ezekiel only said that “upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it”, and described the man as having the appearance of fire. But towards the end of the chapter, Ezekiel said “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.” Then as he opened chapter 2, he described things which the man had said to him. While Ezekiel attested that what he saw was merely a vision, and used a word which means likeness quite often in its description, Isaiah did not use those terms. But what Isaiah saw also must have been only a vision, or the burning coal which the seraph creature had set upon his mouth would certainly have caused him harm.
Now here in Revelation chapter 5, John is still describing what he had seen and not only do we see a vision of a man upon the throne of Yahweh, whom from His Own words had professed to be Christ, but we also shall see a vision of a Lamb, and the Lamb also represents Christ. Many Roman Catholics and other Trinitarians may imagine that this supports their Trinity doctrine, but that is not true, as these are only visions and in a vision Yahweh God may represent Himself in any way and as many times as He desires. Leading the Israelites out of Egypt, He was the pillar of a Cloud in the day and He was also the pillar of Fire at night, however both images represented one and the same God. Furthermore, He was the Rock in the Desert at that same time, and that was still the same God. It was Paul of Tarsus who exclaimed that Christ was the rock in the desert, in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, but He never really said that Christ was a literal rock. Paul only referred to a Spiritual Rock, and writing that, he was equating Christ with Yahweh in that chapter. Yahweh God was the Burning in the bush, He was the Spirit in the Cloud, the Spirit in the Fire, and the Spiritual Rock, and Christ is also an aspect of Him – the substance of His person and the fullness of the Divinity bodily, as Paul also described Him in the opening verses of his epistle to the Hebrews and in Colossians chapter 2. The term bodily is what is meant by the word incarnate, which means in the flesh.
So this being a vision, John is not necessarily seeing two distinct persons at the throne of Yahweh. Rather, he is seeing the same God, who is otherwise invisible, represented in two different ways, as He is the Christ on the throne, and as He is also the Lamb. One object of the Revelation is to reveal that Yahshua Christ is Yahweh God incarnate, that has been a theme of this book since its opening verses, and it shall continue here as the language of this chapter and throughout the entire book continues to demonstrate the fact. So now we shall commence with Revelation chapter 5. The scene has not changed from chapter 4, and where the description progresses it becomes apparent that while the vision seems quite elaborate, it portrays some rather basic Christian truths. Perhaps that elaboration is meant to reflect the importance of those truths.
V 1 And I saw at the right hand of Him sitting upon the throne a scroll, written on the inside [א has “front”] and on the back [the MT has “outside”; in both cases our text follows A], having been sealed with seven seals.
The scroll is a roll of paper or papyrus. While the Greek word is βιβλίον, the diminutive form of βίβλος or book, as the King James Version has it here, is commonly translated as book, Liddell & Scott explain in their Greek-English Lexicon that βίβλος originally described the Egyptian papyrus and in the plural, stalks of papyrus. Of course βίβλος is also the Greek word from which we have our modern word bible. But in the context of John’s depiction it is clear that he was describing a rolled-up piece of papyrus. The seals were typically ribbons wrapped around the roll and sealed with a lump of wax or clay which was stamped with an imprint and assured the holder of the scroll that nobody had yet opened it to read it. But this scroll having had writing on both sides, at least some of the writing was visible to John before the scroll was opened. He noticed it, but as he continues, he does not describe having been able to read any of it.
2 And I saw a mighty messenger proclaiming with a great voice: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loosen its seven seals?”
Of course, only Yahweh God can reveal the events of history either past or future, but this vision which John is describing reveals to us the truth of the words of Paul of Tarsus, where he had written in the opening verses of the epistle to the Hebrews that “1 On many occasions and in many ways in past times Yahweh had spoken to the fathers by the prophets. 2 At the end of these days He speaks to us by a Son, whom He has appointed heir of all, through whom He also made the ages.” So this is why we believe that Yahshua Christ is the last prophet, using the term prophet in the sense of one who accurately foretells things which shall happen in the future as it is received from God. So Paul had made that assertion in Hebrews, and here we see it asserted once again through John as one significant aspect of this vision:
3 And no one was able in heaven nor upon the earth nor under the earth to open the scroll or to see it.
There are quite a few variations among the manuscripts in the text of several verses in this chapter, but in this verse and in verse 13 perhaps we have the only one which may seem to affect any important matter of Christian doctrine. The Codex Sinaiticus (א) wants the phrase “nor under the earth”, and it wants the similar phrase “and under the earth” in the latter verse, which we are inclined to follow. Its presence may indicate that there are those who are still in Hades in spite of what Peter had explained in his first epistle, that Christ had preached the gospel there and it was evidently accepted. So they should have been reconciled to God and freed from Hades. But perhaps in John’s vision here, it merely indicates that there has not yet been a resurrection. Even if the elders are seen occupying the thrones of heaven, that is also only a vision of the future, because twelve of those thrones having been promised to the apostles, John is one of those apostles yet he was not yet seated at the time of this vision.
That understanding helps to corroborate another assertion which we shall make here, that these visions cannot be interpreted in a strictly literal sense, but rather they represent truths which convey certain teachings. We must warn ourselves not to take it all too literally. A vision is meant to convey a prophetic message, and an absolutely literal interpretation of every minute detail would lead to endless contradictions, as if Yahweh had really wanted Peter to eat swine and other unclean foods in the vision of the sheet which is recorded in Acts chapter 10. Yahweh would certainly not want Peter to eat swine, to force him to transgress the law. The visions of the prophets are all full of allegories representing things which Yahweh God wants men to know or to learn, but they are not videos of news footage reporting actual events.
Now John portrays his response to the fact that no man was able to open the scroll:
4 And I wept much, because no one is found worthy to open the scroll or to see it.
The Codex Alexandrinus (A) wants this verse in its entirety, but the possibility of a scribal error in this one witness as well as the context supplied in the verse which follows both preclude us from leaving it out of our text. The verse is present in early translations and it is cited in early Christian writers. So even if from our modern perspective John seems to have had no reason to weep here, the vision must have been very powerful and it seemed very real to him, so we may imagine that he was indeed overcome by his emotions. The Codex Alexandrinus does have the words of the elder who admonished John not to weep in verse 5, which leads us to suspect that the omission here was scribal error:
5 And one from among the elders says to me: “Weep not! Behold! The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and [א inserts “to loosen”] its seven seals!”
In Genesis chapter 49 we read: “9 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Here in the Revelation, Yahshua Christ is described as both the Lion of the tribe of Judah and as the root of David. In later chapters of the Revelation, the Lamb is described as “Lord of lords, and King of kings.” Even in the resurrection, Christ will hold the scepter promised to His father, Judah, and held by a long line of His fathers, beginning with David. But how could a son ever be greater than his fathers? This can only be in the case of Yahshua Christ, who is both Son and Father.
This is a Christian paradox which has been misunderstood and argued since the time of Christ, and for which reason Christ Himself had asked the Pharisees, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 22: “41 Then upon the Pharisees’ gathering together, Yahshua questioned them, 42 saying: ‘What do you think concerning the Christ? Whose son is He?’ They say to Him ‘That of David!’ 43 He says to them: ‘Then how does David by the Spirit call Him ‘Master’, saying: 44 ‘Yahweh has said to my Master, sit at My right hand, until when I should place Your enemies beneath Your feet’? 45 So if David calls Him ‘Master’, how is He his son?’” There Christ had cited the 110th Psalm, which is attributed to David. But among the children of Israel, it was never fitting for a father to consider a son, or an even more remote descendant, to be a master, since according to the commandments of Yahweh it is the son who must honor both father and mother.
Therefore here in this vision we see one example explaining precisely what Christ had meant where He cited that Psalm, as He is professed to be the root of David and therefore He must be the same Yahweh who had created Adam. In another Messianic prophecy, in Isaiah chapter 11 we read in its opening verse: “1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” Then a little later in that chapter: “10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the [Nations] seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” Paul of Tarsus cited the latter passage in reference to Christ in Romans chapter 15. If Christ is a root of Jesse, He must have come before Jesse, and here He is also described as a root of David, the son of Jesse.
This is ascertained further where we read in words attributed to Christ Himself, in Revelation chapter 22: “16 I Yahshua have sent My messenger to attest these things to you for the assemblies. I am the root and the offspring of David; the bright morning star!” So in this light we shall cite another Messianic prophecy, from Zechariah chapter 3: “8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. 9 For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.” Joshua, who was the high priest of the time of Zerubbabel and the building of the second temple, was also a type for Christ Himself and for His ministry, and in many respects Zechariah was a prophet of the Revelation, as we hope to discuss in a later presentation in this commentary. Only Yahshua Christ had removed the iniquity of Israel in a day, and that day was the day of His crucifixion. The second temple of Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest merely set the stage upon which Yahweh had chosen to fulfill His Word.
Now in the very next verse of this chapter of Revelation, in verse 6, the Lamb is described as having “seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven Spirits of Yahweh”, and in Zechariah chapter 4 there is another mention of the seven eyes of Zechariah 3:9, where it says “10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” So it becomes evident that there certainly are parallels between Zechariah and the Revelation, to the point that the prophet foreshadowed many of the aspects of this vision and others recorded by John.
Yahshua Christ being the root of Jesse, and also a branch from his roots, He must also be Yahweh God Himself having come as one of His own sons through the line of Jesse and David, which is the only way that He could possibly be both the Root and the Offspring of David, as it is attested here, and in both Isaiah chapter 11 and Revelation chapter 22. So for that same reason, of all of the sons of Adam, only Yahshua Christ is worthy to open the seven seals, because only Yahshua is blameless and only Yahshua Christ is God. Only Yahweh God Himself can see the future, and He chooses whether, when, and to whom it may be revealed. On their own, men may sometimes guess the future, but they shall be wrong much more often than they succeed.
The scroll is an allegorical device, and it is about to be opened and described in these images which are then related to John, each image having been represented as one of its seals. The complete opening of the scroll is in stages. First there are six seals, and then a seventh which itself consists of seven trumpets. The seventh trumpet consists of the pouring of seven vials, so we have a picture of sevens which are nested in three levels. However an actual scroll cannot be opened at all until all of its seals are removed, and therefore it is also apparent that Yahshua Christ, the Lamb, had known all along what had been written on the scroll on the inside, because it is revealed even before the scroll could have been completely unrolled.
Christ is both Lion and Lamb
This is a digression to discuss a heresy with which our dear friend Clifton Emahiser had contended for many years. Among certain segments of Identity Christians, there have been a few profane commentators who would pervert Revelation 5:5 into saying something different, claiming that the epithet “lion of Judah” does not refer to Christ, and that it is somehow the object of a verb rather than a part of the subject. By that they pretend that the “lion of Judah” represents the enemies of Christ in Jewry. Yet all of the Greek manuscripts, without exception, have each relevant Greek article and noun in clause which reads “the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David” in the Nominative case, making the entire clause to be the subject of the verb, and no part of it could possibly be an object of the verb. The Root of David is not prevailing over the Lion to open the scroll, but rather, Yahshua Christ is both the Root of David and the Lion and only He can prevail to open the scroll at all. So the Lamb is also the Lion, and He is the Root of David.
The Hebrew language of the Old Testament employs parallelisms of various types quite often, and even Christ and the apostles had used them frequently. The parallelism is a grammatical device by which two consecutive phrases or sentences are meant to refer to the same entity. A modern equivalent would be a sentence such as “Today in the Big Apple, New York City, all of the airports were closed...” where we see that the phrase “Big Apple” is both a metaphorical synonym for and a reference to “New York City”. For that city, “big apple” is a fitting synonym, as anyone who eats of it falls from the grace of God. The simplest and most common parallelism, found thirteen times in the King James Version of the New Testament is the phrase “God the Father”, as each of those terms describes Yahweh. But on four other occasions Paul had used the phrase, “God and Father”, and each of those terms describes Yahweh. In one of those occurrences, in Ephesians chapter 6, Paul professed that there is “ 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Only someone with an agenda, rather than one seeking the truth, could read Revelation 5:5 any other way, and it is fully evident that the King James Version had translated this verse properly. A study of mistranslations in the Bible often reveals that they are frequently caused by the agendas, and not the plain errors, of the various translators who sought to promote some church doctrine. The translators that we refer to here had sought to pervert the meaning of Revelation 5:5 in an attempt to uphold the idea that the Christ had come from the tribe of Joseph, rather than the tribe of Judah. Paul of Tarsus in Hebrews chapter 7 had also attested that Christ was of the tribe of Judah, as do the genealogies which are presented in the Gospels. But this heresy seems to be derived at least in part from a Jewish rabbinical theory, found in the Talmud, that there were to be two Messiahs: a suffering Messiah from the tribe of Joseph, and a conquering Messiah from the tribe of Judah (Mas. Sukkah 52a). This conclusion is derived from a very perverted reading of certain Old Testament Scriptures. It is unfortunate that such Jewish fables can even enter into Christianity in spite of the many warnings of the apostles.
This leads us back to the point where we left off before our digression. If Yahweh God is the Father of the children of Israel, as He is often described, and if Adam is the son of God, as it is attested in Luke chapter 3, and if Yahweh having created Adam is that God, then Yahshua Christ must be one and the same as Yahweh, and not some separate Lord, Person, or God, because He professes for Himself to be the root of David. Furthermore, as Paul said in Ephesians chapter 6, there is “ 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” If Christ is not God, there must be two Gods and two Fathers, since He is the Root of David.
Now, having first been described here as both the lion of the tribe of Judah and the root of David, it also becomes evident that these references are also describing the Lamb, which is also a description of Yahshua Christ:
6 And I saw in the midst [A has “And behold! Also in the midst”] of the throne and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the elders a Lamb standing as if having been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven [A wants “seven”, as do the manuscripts of the Majority Text from Andreas of Caesareia, which the King James Version did not follow here; our text follows P24 and א] Spirits of Yahweh having been sent out into all the earth.
The lamb that appeared as if it had been slaughtered can only be Yahshua Christ, the Lamb of God, which is first mentioned where John the Baptist proclaims that Christ is that very thing, as he washed Him in the river in his baptism. Here the lamb is symbolic of Yahweh God incarnate as Christ, and this allegory also equates Christ to Yahweh in other ways, since He is depicted as being in possession of the seven spirits of Yahweh. Sitting upon the throne of God, Christ represents the Father, the Creator God who permeates the universe, while the Lamb represents His physical manifestation as a man. In that manner He is the root and also a branch of both Jesse and David.
From John chapter 1, as Christ was about to be baptized by John in water, we read “29 The next day he sees Yahshua coming to him and he says: “Look! The Lamb of Yahweh, He removing the error of Society.” Then a little further on in the chapter we read: “35 The next day Iohannes again stood, and two from among the students, 36 and looking at Yahshua walking about he says: ‘Look, the Lamb of Yahweh!’” Yahshua Christ was the Lamb of Yahweh as He was to sacrifice Himself on behalf of His people Israel. So the baptism of John fulfilled two prophecies. The first was to fulfill the law in reference to the sacrifice of a lamb in Leviticus chapter 1 where it says that the priest shall first wash the lamb in water, before it is placed on the altar. So Christ having been baptized before being offered had symbolically fulfilled that aspect of the law. Then in Malachi, where there is a prophecy of John the Baptist, we read that “he shall purify the sons of Levi,” and in Numbers chapter 8 we read that the priests themselves were to be cleansed before they make an offering of atonement for sin. So that aspect of the law was also symbolically fulfilled in these events in reference to Christ.
Now where it said in verse 5 that “the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and its seven seals”, speaking in reference to the Lamb, who is therefore also the Lion and the Root, it says of the scroll:
7 And He came and received it from the right hand of Him sitting upon the throne.
The ability to open the scroll by loosening each of the seven seals and proclaiming what each of those seals reveals also infers the ability to be able to foretell those things which were going to happen upon the earth. Only Yahshua Christ Himself – who is the Lamb, the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Root of David - was able to open the seven seals, and each time he opens one, we see that a pronouncement is made concerning things which are to happen upon the earth. The seventh seal itself contains seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet contains seven vials. The first seal is finally opened at the beginning of Revelation chapter 6. But we must also note that the imagery of Revelation chapter 5 hearkens to a challenge which Yahweh had made regarding the idols of the children of Israel in Isaiah chapter 41 (41:21-29), where we see that only Yahweh can tell us the past or the future, and therefore all other gods and the prophets who come in their names are all false. This passage in Isaiah is a direct challenge to all false religions and the devices of men:
From Isaiah chapter 41: “21 Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. 22 Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. 23 Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.” Then where we read here in Revelation chapter 5 in verses 3 and 4 that “no one is found worthy to open the scroll or to see it”, we see that no one but the Lamb is able to foretell the things which are to come upon the world. We know that this is the purpose of John’s vision, and therefore it is the function of the Lamb’s task in opening the scroll, because at the start of chapter 4 where the vision begins John was told to “Come up here, and I shall show to you the things which are necessary to happen.” So just as no man but Christ was able to open the scroll, a little further on in that same chapter of Isaiah, in reference to those same idols, we read: “28 For I beheld, and there was no man; even among them, and there was no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word. 29 Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.” Once again, only God Himself can tell the future, and as Paul had explained, in times past He revealed it through His prophets, but now He speaks to us Himself, in the form of His Son Yahshua Christ. Now John describes the scene of his vision wherein the Lamb has received the scroll:
8 And when He received the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb each having a lyre and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints,
The saints of the New Testament are the same saints as those of the Old Testament, the children of Israel. It can be demonstrated that the people whom Paul of Tarsus had addressed in all of his epistles were esteemed by him to have been descended from the ancient Israelites, and even if they were not yet Christians, he nevertheless addressed them as saints. A saint is someone who has been sanctified, and Yahweh had promised to sanctify the children of Israel alone, in Yahshua Christ, where He said in Ezekiel chapter 37, in another prophecy of Christ: “24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the heathen [nations] shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.”
Yahshua Christ is that sanctuary, the temple from heaven made without hands, and here His saints have an assurance that their prayers are not forgotten, but that they are kept by God, and the bowls of incense are symbols representing the fact that He remembers their prayers. So now the four living creatures and twenty-four elders respond:
9 and they sang a new song, saying “You are worthy to receive the scroll and to open its seven seals, because You have been slaughtered and You have purchased [א and the MT insert “us”; the text follows A] for Yahweh with Your blood out of each tribe and tongue and people and nation 10 and have made them a kingdom [the MT has “made them kings”, which the King James Versions follows; the text follows א and A] and priests [א has “a priesthood”] for our God [A wants the words “for our God”], and they shall [A and the traditional MT manuscripts want “shall”; the text follows א and the MT manuscripts from Andreas of Caesareia, which the King James Version follows here] rule over the earth!”
Here the living creatures and twenty-four elders are described as having sung a new song, because He purchased the people of His Kingdom from “each tribe and tongue and people and nation”. There is another mention of a new song in Isaiah chapter 42 where, in yet another Messianic prophecy, we read in part: “6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles [Nations]; 7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. 8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. 9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them. 10 Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. 11 Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. 12 Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.” Here it may be apparent that in Isaiah, as we see here in Revelation chapter 5, a new song, a song of praise is associated with the promises of salvation which Yahweh had announced to the children of Israel through the prophet.
A man who is purchased by another man is a slave, and can only properly be redeemed when he is purchased back from his slavery, or from some other situation, by one of his own. This is reflected in the Hebrew law of kinsman redemption, which is the purchase of one's brother from slavery. If one is not a kinsman to the redeemer, one has no part with Him in the first place, and the redeemer has no right to make a redemption. That would only be a sale to another master. We see this in the law in Leviticus chapter 25 where we read: “47 And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family: 48 After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: 49 Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.”
Scriptures relating to this law abound in both the Old and New Testaments, and the Old Testament passages we shall reference here all use a specific word which the King James Version usually translates as redeem, yet there is a much greater meaning in the underlying Hebrew word. The word is ga'al (Strong's # 1350), and in his Concordance, James Strong defines it thus: “... to redeem (according to the Oriental law of kinship), i.e. to be the next of kin (and as such to buy back a relative's property, marry his widow, etc.)...” As Strong defined the term, the King James Version had also translated the word to reflect all of these meanings in certain contexts in the Old Testament. So in Leviticus chapter 25 we read another law of kinsman redemption: “25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.”
In reference to the history of ancient Israel, as they had been redeemed from Egypt, we read in an appeal of Asaph in the 74th Psalm: “Remember thy congregation which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.” Likewise, in the 107th Psalm: “2 Let the redeemed of Yahweh say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” But in spite of that, the children of Israel had sold themselves into sin, and for that they were taken into captivity. So we read in Isaiah chapter 52: “3 For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.” The concept that Israel was sold into sin, and therefore Israel had to be redeemed, is also found in Isaiah chapter 50: “1 Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.” To be redeemed properly, according to the law, they would have to be redeemed by a kinsman. Paul of Tarsus acknowledged that Israel had sold themselves into sin where he professed in Romans chapter 7: “14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”
The Old Testament is an incomplete book. In it, Yahweh takes the children of Israel out of all the nations in the world, organizes them into a kingdom under His law, and makes many promises to them. He equated His relationship to the nation as a marriage, and professed that He hates divorce. Included are promises that they would become many nations, spread abroad, and inherit the earth. But they sinned continually and except for a small remnant, He sent them all into captivity. He divorced them but promised to betroth Himself to them forever. Then in spite of that captivity, in the words of the prophets we continue to find promises that they would fulfill everything He had said to them in the past, that they would become many nations and inherit the earth, and also that they would be reconciled to Him, married to Him and regathered in Him. But the Old Testament ends with that circumstance, except for that small remnant which builds the second temple, the fulfillment of all the other promises is never recorded.
However the New Testament is indeed the completion of the Old Testament, and it is the record of the fulfillment of all of those promises. It is also a record of what became of the children of Israel in their captivity. For example, in the epistles of Paul, none of the nations to which he took the Gospel of Christ had existed in the time of Abraham, nor were they known to Jacob or to Moses. Yet Paul professed to them all that they were indeed descended from the ancient captivities of Israel, and that is why they were not known to Abraham, Jacob or Moses, because they had later descended from them! So, for example, in chapter 10 of his first epistle to the Corinthians Paul had professed to them that they were the descendants of the Israelites of the Exodus, and admonished them not to repeat the mistakes of their father. But earlier in that epistle, he had also told them that “ye are bought with a price”, in both chapters 6 and 7, and “ye are not your own”.
Paul, having understood ancient history, saw in the Corinthians a fulfillment of a promise which Yahweh made in Isaiah chapter 43: “1 But now thus saith Yahweh that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” Then also in Isaiah chapter 62, which is speaking of the ancient children of Israel: “12 And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of Yahweh: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.” (the term sought out must be a reference to both the hunters of Jeremiah 16:16, and to the lost sheep of Ezekiel chapter 34.) Paul also saw such fulfillments in the Romans, Galatians and other nations of Europe.
Here in this verse of Revelation chapter 5, we translated the verb ἀγοράζω literally as purchased, where the King James Version has redeemed. While the word can describe the act of redemption, a more explicit word, which in the form of a noun is λύτρωσις, is redeemed in Luke chapter 1 where we read in an explanation of the purpose of Christ: “ 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people”. This word also appears in Luke chapter 24, as a verb, λυτρόω, where we read in the words of the men on the road to Emmaus: “21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.” Of course, He did redeem Israel but the men on the road to Emmaus did not know how that was accomplished. There is another word, a form of ἀγοράζω, is ἐξαγοράζω, which Strong appropriately defined as “to redeem … by payment of a price to recover from the power of another, to ransom, buy off”. That is the Hebrew act of kinsman redemption.
Therefore Paul, in Galatians chapter 4, gives the very reason why Christ came to die on the cross in the first place, giving His blood as the price for His redemption of this same Israel people. But first, he wrote in Galatians chapter 3 that: “13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, becoming a curse on our behalf, (for it is written, “Accursed is everyone who hangs upon a timber,”) 14 in order that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Nations at the hand of Christ Yahshua, that we should receive the promise of the Spirit through the faith.” That blessing and that promise are fulfilled by Christ according to the words in which they were made in the Old Testament. In Romans chapter 4, Paul explained that the nations to whom he brought the Gospel were indeed the same nations that had been promised to come from the loins, or seed, of Abraham. It can be demonstrated in ancient history that this is true, and that the Romans, Galatae, Dorians and Danaan Greeks and others to whom Paul had gone or whom he had mentioned were all descended from the ancient Israelites.
So for that same reason, in Galatians chapter 4 Paul had further explained: “4 And when the fulfillment of the time had come, Yahweh had dispatched His Son, having been born of a woman, having been subject to law, 5 in order that he would redeem those subject to law, that we would recover the position of sons.” Therefore only those who were once under the law are the redeemed of Christ, as Paul explained in both of these passages mentioning that redemption in Galatians chapters 3 and 4. This is exclusive of anyone whose ancestors were not Israelites, as only the children of Israel had ever been under the law.
These are the redeemed of the Kingdom of God, whom Yahweh had promised to take from out of “of each tribe and tongue and people and nation” in the words of His prophets. So we read in Jeremiah chapter 29, where it is addressing the children of Israel in captivity: “14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Likewise we read in Jeremiah chapter 31, in the same chapter where there is a promise of a new covenant for Judah and Israel: “10 Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. 11 For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.”
This is the promise of Yahweh God: to redeem the children of Israel, and only the children of Israel, who in their captivity had become many nations separated into many different tribes and tongues. We cannot imagine that Yahshua Christ, who is Yahweh God incarnate and who had professed to uphold the words of those same prophets, had any different purpose than what was promised in the prophets. Once this understanding is obtained, then once and for all the Old Testament and the New clearly converge as one and the same book telling a consistent story from cover to cover. Neither Testament is complete without the other.
Finally, where it is professed that the Lamb has taken those whom He had redeemed and has “made them a kingdom and priests for our God”, we see once again that the actions of the Lamb must be in accordance with the Word of Yahweh God in the Old Testament. This is in fulfillment of the Word which Yahweh had spoken to the children of Israel in Exodus chapter 19 where we read: “5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation…” So the apostle Peter also, in chapter 2 of his first epistle, which was written to the Christians of the provinces of western Anatolia, had told them, in part: “9 But you are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, so that you should proclaim the virtues for which from out of darkness you have been called into the wonder of His light…”
Notice that the Exodus as well as both Peter and this passage of the Revelation describe the promise concerning priests in a way that the people themselves are the priests. The people are a royal priesthood, a kingdom of priests and not a kingdom with priests. The concept of a “Christian priest” does not exist in the ante-Nicene writers, because all Christians should be priests in their own right, and there should be no professional Christian priesthood. Those who do the will of God are doing the service to God that He requires and therefore they are all priests to God. Christ only required His disciples to keep His law, the commandments of the Old Testament, and to love one another, their own brethren, and therefore by doing that they are serving as priests to God.
In spite of the propaganda of the professional priests themselves, there is nothing in Christianity which requires the performance of any special ritual. We are merely told to keep His commandments and to love our brethren – in action and not in speech only – and by doing those things we achieve the execution of the true Christian priesthood. This concept that each and every Israelite who does the will of Yahweh is a priest of Yahweh belongs to the Old Testament as well as the New, as we have just seen here from Exodus chapter 19 and the epistles of Peter.
But while Paul did not refer to this priesthood status of Christians explicitly, in his surviving epistles he often used the Greek word λειτουργία, and words related to it, in reference to the good deeds which common Christians are obliged to perform in fulfillment of their duty to God. Yet the meaning of this word λειτουργία, which Liddell & Scott define as a public duty or a service performed for a god, is usually hidden in translation. The professional priesthood has adopted the word λειτουργία for their own purposes, bringing it into the language of their organized churches as liturgy. In ancient Athens, the word was used to describe those services for which common men were either chosen by the citizens or for which they were elected to freely provide for the public, although it also described the services and ministry of the pagan priests. But when Christians provide good works for their brethren, that is their λειτουργία, or liturgy, and they are fulfilling their own Christian priesthood. So Peter told his readers just a few verses earlier in 1 Peter chapter 2: “5 ...and yourselves as living stones are built a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Yahweh through Yahshua Christ…” Those sacrifices would be in the good deeds which Christians are expected to do for one another.
Finally, in the opening chapter of the Revelation we read that Yahshua Christ “6 … has made us a kingdom, priests to Yahweh – even His Father – to Him is the honor and the sovereignty for the eternal ages, truly.” The children of Israel are destined to be a kingdom of priests, and not a kingdom with priests. All Christians who serve God by keeping His commandments and loving their brethren are acting in the role of the true priest, the role which He truly wants them all to fulfill.
11 And I looked, and heard [א and the traditional MT manuscripts insert “like”; the text follows A and the MT manuscripts from Andreas of Caesareia, which the King James Version also follows] a sound of many messengers around the throne, and of the living creatures and of the elders, and the number of them was ten thousands of ten thousands and thousands of thousands
Of course, the word which we translate literally as messengers is more popularly rendered as angels. The ten thousands of ten thousands must be a vision of the saints – or holy ones – of Yahweh, the redeemed of our race, which we shall see mentioned more often in the chapters which follow. Where the apostle Jude cites the writings of Enoch, when Yahshua returns He comes “with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14, 15). Below, in verse 13, we seem to have a profession from those very same people, who at one time had rejected Yahweh as their King, that He is sovereign and rightfully so, because only Yahweh God Himself can justly rule over His people.
12 saying with a great voice: “Worthy is the Lamb which had been slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and dignity and honor and praise!”
Later in the Revelation, in chapter 13 where the beast is the subject of the prophecy we read, from the King James Version: “ 8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” So although Christ is first referred to as the Lamb here in this chapter of the Revelation, and earlier in the Gospel of John, in that latter reference an additional revelation informs us that He was “slain from the foundation of the world.” Since the Greek word for world, which is κόσμος, more properly refers to the order of something and therefore it is better translated as society, it does not mean that Christ died before the planet was created by God, and He is the God who created the planet. Rather, it refers to the fact that Yahweh God must have known that there would be a need for Him to die as a man even before He organized the children of Israel into a society in the days of the Exodus, and of course, since He is God, He must have known that even before He created Adam, which was also the foundation of a new Adamic society, the society which was destroyed in the flood.
13 And every creature which is in heaven and upon the earth and under the earth and upon the sea and the things in them all heard, saying: “To Him sitting upon the throne and to the Lamb is the praise and the dignity and the honor and the sovereignty for the eternal ages!”
As it did with a similar phrase above in verse 3, here also the Codex Sinaiticus (א) wants the phrase “and under the earth”. But that manuscript reads the clause which follows to say “and upon the sea and all the things in them heard…” although the word order suggests the reading in the text. Later in the verse, where we read “To Him sitting upon the throne and to the Lamb is…”, the Codex Alexandrinus has “And to the Lamb sitting upon the throne is…”, wanting the conjunction. In Revelation chapter 22 the throne is described as “the throne of God and of the Lamb” on two occasions, which is also a paralellism. At the end of the verse, the Majority Text adds the exclamation, “Amen” or “Truly!”
14 And the four living creatures said “Truly!” [or “Amen!”] And the elders fell down and they worshipped.
As we have discussed earlier, citing Jude, the “ten thousands of ten thousands and thousands of thousands” seems to refer to the ancient saints, the children of Israel who had at one time rejected, or witnessed the rejection, of Yahweh as their King. In 1 Samuel chapter 8 we see that the children of Israel demanded an earthly king, thereby rejecting the Sovereignty of Yahweh their God. This deed was summarized in 1 Samuel chapter 10 where we read: “19 And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands.” The will of Yahweh is that He should rule over the children of Israel as their King. When they sought an earthly king, they were also at the same time rejecting Yahweh. So He is truly the “stone which the builders rejected”, and in Christ He shall once again become the chief cornerstone.
Therefore it is evident that Yahweh God was to manifest Himself as a Son of David, the Messiah of the prophets, and as the heir to David's throne, so that He would once again be the King of Israel in spite of their sins. So in the words of the prophets David also became a type for the Messiah, for example where we read in Hosea chapter 3, along with the warnings that Israel would be taken into captivity, “4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: 5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.”
This is Christ, who is the King of Israel, and once again, He is king of no other people. In that same captivity, in Isaiah chapter 63 the children of Israel are portrayed as saying: “17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance. 18 The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. 19 We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name.”
Yahweh did promise to return to His people, in Christ, where He would rule over them once again. Therefore in Hosea chapter 13 we read; “9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. 10 I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? 11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.” Where Yahweh says “I will be thy King”, that promise is fulfilled in Yahshua Christ.
So the fulfillment of that promised reunion of the children of Israel with Yahweh their God is described later in the Revelation, in another vision of John’s, as the marriage supper of the Lamb, where the returning Messiah is portrayed as a conquering King in Revelation chapter 19: “11 And I saw the heaven having been opened, and behold! A white horse, and He sitting upon it Faithful and True, and He judges in righteousness and makes war. 12 Now His eyes are as flames of fire, and upon His head are many diadems, having a name inscribed which no one knows except Him, 13 and He is cloaked with a garment dipped in blood, and His Name is called the Word of Yahweh. 14 And the armies in heaven follow Him upon white horses, clothed with clean white linen. 15 And a sharp sword comes out from of His mouth, in order that with it He may smite the Nations, and He shall shepherd them with an iron staff, and He shall trample the vat of the wine of the wrath of the anger of Yahweh Almighty, 16 and He has upon His garment and upon His thigh a name written: “King of Kings and Sovereign of Sovereigns.’”
Those “armies in heaven” who “follow Him upon white horses” must represent the “ten thousands of ten thousands and thousands of thousands” who recognize that only Christ could be their king, that only He can reveal the things which are to come, and they are depicted as celebrating those facts here in chapter 5 of the Revelation.
When we return with Revelation chapter 6, the Lamb opens the first of the seven seals, which we shall assert presaged the rise and fall of Rome, among other things.