The Throne, The Book, And The Lamb
By Bill Britton
A glorious unveiling of the nature of Jesus Christ is given to us in the 4th and 5th chapters of the book of Revelation. If you want to make a real Bible study of this marvelous truth, I suggest you stop here and read these two chapters in your Bible before continuing with this booklet. But in case that is not possible, I will give a brief review of the content of these chapters.
In the 4th chapter, John in caught up in the Spirit and began to see a number of spiritual symbols, rainbow, sardine stone, throne, elders in white raiment, lamps of fire, four beasts, etc., etc. We can not take time to examine all these symbols and to discover their true meaning at this time, but let me say here that they are not to be taken in a natural or carnal sense, but to be spiritually understood. The proponents of the “escape-rapture” theory have twisted this chapter to try to make it imply that all the saints were caught away to heaven before the tribulation. Such a theory needs a strong imagination, as there is no indication in the scripture that this is so.
Our investigation today will have to be limited to one point … the identity of Him that sat upon the Throne. This is most important. There can be no true understanding of the nature of Sonship and the w something purpose of God in the Church His Body unless we know about Him. No son can know the extent of his inheritance, unless he knows the identity of his Father, and knows something of His position and possessions.
HE THAT SAT UPON THE THRONE
The first and most important thing that John saw is in verse 2:
“And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” As we read on in the chapter we get a good description of Him that sat on the throne. In verse 4 he speaks of the twenty four elders, and in verse 6 and 7 we see the four beasts or living creatures. In verse 8 through the rest of the chapter our attention is turned back to the One who sat on the throne. Let us take note of what it says about Him: “And they rest not day and night, saying Holy, holy, holy, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, WHICH WAS, AND IS, AND IS TO COME. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, WHO LIVETH FOR EVER AND EVER. The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and WORSHIP HIM THAT LIVETH FOR EVER AND EVER, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power: FOR THOU HAST CREATED ALL THINGS, AND FOR THY PLEASURE THEY ARE AND WERE CREATED.
Notice that I have capitalized the words dealing with His description. A basic principle of correct Bible interpretation is to compare scripture with scripture, rather than just let our imagination run wild. So let us compare this chapter with other scriptures to find out who it is that fits this description as the one ca the throne.
LORD GOD ALMIGHTY
They called him “LORD.” Look at Ephesians 4:5 … There is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Since there is but one Lord, who is it? Acts 2:36 tells us: “God hath made that same JESUS, whom ye have crucified, both LORD and Christ.” Philippians 2:11 is very emphatic: “And that every tongue should confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father.” And finally, in the first chapter of Revelation we see Jesus speaking to John these words: “I am ALPHA and OMEGA, the beginning and the ending, saith the LORD, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the ALMIGHTY.”
Is Jesus the Alpha and Omega? Four times in Revelation He is called this, and in chapter 22, verses 13 and 16 He is clearly identified by name! “JESUS,” as being the Alpha and Omega. So Jesus is LORD. It is undeniable. There are many more scriptures, but this should be enough to establish this one point.
“GOD.” Is Jesus God? Is He the Almighty? Look at the Bible We have already quoted Revelation 1:8 in which Jesus declares Himself as “the Lord … the Almighty.” Now go to Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and HIS NAME shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, THE MIGHTY GOD, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” It is clearly evident here that the prophet can be speaking about none other than Jesus our Lord. He is the MIGHTY GOD!
Turn to Revelation 15:3 and hear them singing “the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” Who is this King of saints? Jesus, of course. And in Revelation 21:7 we hear the words of Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, as he says: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his GOD, and he shall be my son.” Who is the God of the overcomer? Jesus our Lord! Who is the Son? The Overcomer! But Jesus Himself is also the Son of God, isn’t He? Yes! And He also identifies Himself as an Overcomer in Revelation 3 – 21. This is the other part of the mystery concerning the nature and character and identity of our Lord Jesus. Praise His Name!
Many are the scriptures that bear out this great truth, but the witness of two or three are all that are needed to establish it. So we see that the One on the Throne is “LORD GOD ALMIGHTY,” and we find that this description fits Jesus Christ and Him alone. There is only one Lord, and there is only one God. Isaiah 43:10 says “Ye are my witnesses saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he, before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” Never was, and never will be but one God. And His Name is Jesus! Hebrews 1:8 calls Him God, and says that he laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning (verse 10). The prophet called Him God, and He said himself that He was the Lord, the Almighty, the God of the overcomer.
WHICH WAS, AND IS, AND IS TO COME
Here is another of the descriptions of Him that sat upon the throne. Now turn back to Revelation 1:8 and see that Jesus Christ is speaking. This is plain to see from the context of verses 5 through 7. Jesus says: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, WHICH IS, AND WHICH WAS, AND WHICH IS TO COME, the Almighty.” The exact wording of Revelation 4:8 concerning Him that sat on the throne. This same wording is given in Revelation 11:17 concerning our Lord. It is also used in Revelation 1:4 in the introduction of the book and the greeting from our Lord Jesus!
WHO LIVETH FOR EVER AND EVER
One of the things said about the One on the throne is that He lives for ever and ever. In Revelation 1:18 we find Jesus speaking to John and saying: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” Hebrews 7:25 says that Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for us. Revelation 10:6 says “him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are …” In other words, this One who lives for ever and ever is the one who created all things. This can be none other than Jesus!
THOU HAST CREATED ALL THINGS
Here is conclusive proof of His identity. Notice the exact wording of their praise as they cast their crowns before the throne: “Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Now get that settled: ALL THINGS WERE CREATED BY HIM AND FOR HIM THAT SAT ON THE THRONE. Who does this description fit? Look in the Gospel of John, chapter 1:1-14.
In the beginning was the Word, that Word was God, and that Word was made FLESH and dwelt among us. Who was made flesh? Who was that Word that dwelt among us? Jesus Christ, of course. There can be no doubt about this. Verse three tells us that “ALL THINGS WERE MADE BY HIM, AND WITHOUT HIM WAS NOT ANYTHING MADE THAT WAS MADE.” Did Jesus Christ, that living Word of the Father, really create all things? Turn to Colossians 1:16. The context tells us that we have redemption through His blood, and that He is the image of the invisible God. This can only be referring to Jesus our Lord. Then in verse 16 we read: “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities, or powers: ALL THINGS WERE CREATED BY HIM, AND FOR HIM.” There it is, the exact statement of Revelation 4, concerning Him that sat on the throne. Now, let us get one more witness of this before going on. Turn to Hebrews 2:9-10. “But we see Jesus . . . crowned with glory and honour … For it became him, FOR WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, AND BY WHOM ARE ALL THINGS, in bringing many sons unto glory . . . ”
JESUS CHRIST ON THE THRONE
Now, by all honest rules of Bible interpretation, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the one who is sitting on the throne in Revelation 4 is Jesus Christ, the one who shed His blood on Calvary. There is no other person or identity that fits all the description given here, not the Holy Ghost, not the Father. Just Jesus. Now if you wonder why I am making such a strong case of this, let me tell you that we are about to hit a snag as far as the carnal mind is concerned. For now we turn to chapter 5.
A BOOK IN HIS RIGHT HAND
The first four verses of chapter 5 of Revelation tells of the book in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne (Jesus Christ). This book must be opened, and the seals loosed. This is imperative and necessary for the salvation of humanity, for the restoration of Adam’s race.
We see Jesus Christ the Lord, in His creative deity and majestic Godhood, sitting on the throne with the book in his right hand. But the Word indicates that this book must be opened, not by God, but by man. And they could not find a man worthy to open the book. And John, representing the human race here, wept much because there was no one worthy to open the book. But in verse 5 the glad tidings go forth: “Weep not.” They had found someone who prevailed, to open the book. Good news for the human race! This one who had prevailed, who was worthy, came and took the book out of the hand of him that sat on the throne. But who is this man that takes the book from Jesus Christ, the Lord God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH
“The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” Now who can this be? There is only one in the Bible who fits this description. Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Turn to Revelation 22:16 . . . “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I AM THE ROOT AND THE OFFSPRING OF DAVID, and the bright and the morning star.”
John looked for the lion of the tribe of Juda who had prevailed, and he saw “in the midst of the elders stood a IAMB as it had been slain.” In John 1:29 we hear John the Baptist saying of Jesus: “Behold the LAMB OF GOD, who taketh away the sin of the world.” In Revelation 4:9 they sung a new song to the Lamb, saying, I ‘Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: FOR THOU WAST SLAIN, and HAST REDEEMED US TO GOD BY THY BLOOD out of every kindred, and tongue and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God KINGS AND PRIESTS.”
Now for the identity of this Lamb, let us turn to Colossians 1:14 again where we find that it is Jesus, the Son of God, who redeems us to God by His blood. This of course would not have to be proved here. Many scriptures verify this truth. Then in Revelation 1:5-6 we read that “Jesus Christ … hath made us KINGS AND PRIESTS unto God and His Father.” There is absolutely no one else in heaven or earth who can fulfill this description of the Lamb who took the book, except Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. Glory to God!
DOWN FROM HIS GLORY
Now we come to the strange part of this whole story in these two chapters. We found that the scriptures teach and reveal to us without doubt that the One who sat on the throne with a book in His right hand is Jesus Christ. But we also found that according to scripture, the one who came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat on the throne was also Jesus Christ. How can this possibly be? Is this a mistake ? Is it utter confusion? No! There is a beautiful and glorious truth hidden here, but only to be revealed by the Spirit of God to those with ears to hear and hearts to receive.
Here it is …. We see the picture of Jesus, in His creative deity, sitting on the throne. All the description of him here represents Deity, Almighty God. He has the book, and He has the ability. But this book has to be opened by man, so that man can partake of that which is in the book, the creative life of God. If God, in His powers of Deity, opened the Book, then man in his low estate would still not be able to benefit from it. And after much searching, it is evident that there is no man able to open the book. The race of Adam has utterly failed to produce a saviour. They have not produced ONE single man that is worthy. God said in Ezekiel 22:30 “I sought for a man … but I found none.”
Since the race of Adam has failed to open the book, God brings into existence a new creation. And in Revelation 3:14 we find that Jesus Christ is “the beginning of the creation of God.” A NEW MAN is being created in Christ Jesus, holy and righteous. (Ephesians 4 : 24) . In order to do this, He had to give up His deity estate, be made like unto us, take on the seed of Abraham, and overcome all that was facing the human race. Had He failed in just one point, the new creation would have been doomed. But thanks be to God, He did not fail! The new creation was proved to be worthy to take the book. In Philippians 2:5-9 we read that Jesus “emptied himself,” and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. But after his glorious victory on this earth realm, God hath highly exalted him, and given to this worthy man who had prevailed, that which had before only been in the hand of Deity.
And in 2 Corinthians 8:9 we read: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, THOUGH HE WAS RICH, yet for your sakes HE BECAME POOR, that YE through his poverty might be rich.” Here we see the emptying of him that was rich. He that had the likeness of God, taking on the likeness of man, that through this he might lift man into the likeness of God. Praise His dear Name! What a price He paid for our redemption. And beloved, it was a very REAL price. It was not just theoretical. He actually came down from Deity to Humanity. Yet He came not from Adam’s race, nor of the seed of men, but he was born of the seed of God. That which had become human was, in its basic substance, the very Word of God.
BOTH LORD AND CHRIST
Acts 2:36 tells us that this same Jesus is now both LORD and CHRIST! As Lord He sits upon the throne in His creative Deity, Almighty God, the everlasting Father, the God of the Overcomer. This shows us His relationship to God the Father. He is One. As Christ (meaning “the anointed man”) we see Him in his relationship to His Body, the Son of man, the chief cornerstone of the temple, the firstborn of “many brethren.” As Lord, He is bringing many “sons” to glory, and as Christ He is not ashamed to call us “brethren.” (Hebrews 2:10-11). As LORD, He is one with the Father. One God. But as CHRIST, He is one with us. One Body. Colossians 2:9 says that in Him dwelleth ALL the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And in Ephesians 1:23 it says that the Church His Body is the fulness of Him.
When you sum it up, Jesus Christ our Lord is the hub of all wisdom. He is our wisdom, and righteousness, and redemption. Now let us go back to Revelation chapter 5 to see what happened in this drama that took place before those heavenly witnesses. Let me make a little diagram to show how Jesus fits into this situation:
HE THAT SAT UPON THE THRONE – THE ONE WHO WAS WORTHY TO OPEN THE BOOK:
[Compare corresponding verses for each attribute to see the Deity of Jesus Christ clearly delineated.]
- Is LORD(Rev. 4:8)
- Is LORD(Rev. 1:8, Acts 2:36, Phil 2:11)
- Is GOD(Rev. 4:8)
- Is GOD(Isa. 9:6, Rev. 15:3, Rev. 21:7, John 20:28)
- Is ALMIGHTY(Rev. 4:8)
- Is ALMIGHTY(Rev. 1:8, Rev. 15:3)
- Is HE “Which was, and is, and is to come” (Rev. 4:8)
- Is He “which was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev. 1:4, 8)
- Is “He that liveth forever and ever” (Rev. 4:9-10)
- Is “He that liveth forever and ever” (Rev. 1:18, Rev. 10:6, Heb. 7:25)
- All things created by Him and for his pleasure(Rev. 4:11)
- All things created by Him and for Him(John 1:1-14, Col 1:16, Heb 2:9-10)
THE TRANSFER OF LIFE
Now we see the life of God transferred from the realm of deity to the realm of humanity. Now we see God’s kingdom brought to earth. And here is the nature and character of God being made available to those who were once members of Adam’s race, but now born anew into a new creation, into the likeness of Him who is worthy.
All this was done through the intervention of Him who was willing to step down from His glory and become flesh, human flesh. All that had once been in the right hand of Almighty God on the throne now passes into the hands of the man who has passed through death and conquered all enemies. All authority that once belonged only to the invisible God, now is available to mankind through the person of the Son of God. So the glory He once had before the world was, while in the form of God (as Deity) , is now regained while in the form of man (as humanity). Jesus bridged the gap between God and man. He brought the very life and nature of God to this earth in a visible human body. And He took this human flesh, glorified it, and took it back to heaven into the very presence of Almighty God.
What does this mean to us? It means that as His Body, we are destined to be with him, in whatever state He is. “As He is, so are well. No longer is the book of Life, the nature of God, and His glory available only on a plane of deity where it is unattainable to us. But Jesus has prevailed to bring it to us! Bless His Name! Thus the blessings of Heaven and Life are brought to earth through Jesus Christ, and our association with Him. We are associated with Him IN HIS DEITY, as “SONS OF GOD,” into which He can pour His own divine nature, and through which He can manifest Himself to all the world. We are associated with Him IN HIS HUMANITY, as “BRETHREN,” “joint-heirs with Christ,” with whom He can have fellowship and share His glorious inheritance.
His humanity was never destroyed, but He has taken that blood, or “life of the flesh” back to the Father eternally! Just as the blood of the goat on the day of Atonement was taken beyond the Veil into the Holy of Holies and placed on the Mercy-seat in the very presence of God, just so the robe of flesh that Jesus wore on this earth was resurrected and taken into the very presence of Deity. Some would say that His body no longer exists, and that we shall never see Him again in that body. But the Bible declares that we shall see Him, and that He shall make our present bodies like unto the body He now has in glory. Praise His Name!
Let us worship and praise Him who is worthy, who has prevailed to open the book! Three is the number of Deity (as well as being the complete number), while seven is the number signifying perfection Notice in Revelation 4:11 they said “Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive GLORY and HONOUR and POWER.” Three things ascribed to deity. But in Revelation 5:12 “Worthy is THE LAMB that was slain to receive POWER, and RICHES, and WISDOM, and STRENGTH, and HONOUR, and GLORY, and BLESSING.” Seven attributes (including the three given to deity) now ascribed to the perfect Lamb who was worthy. All the blessings of deity (plus four, the blessings of earth) given now to this new creation.
A new heaven, a new earth! Yes, a new creation. And Jesus Christ Himself, tho He has been exalted above every name that is named and is one with the Father, yet He will always be the federal head of this new creation man. For He is, and always shall be, one with His Body. And through this Body He shall rule and reign forever and ever. One thing to remember, humanity will always be in subjection to deity. As I Corinthians 15:27-28 points out, when God in His deity has put ALL things in subjection under the feet of Christ in His Body, it is manifest that deity is not under the feet of humanity. So that the Son in his humanity, the entire Body of Christ, shall always be subject to Jesus Christ the Lord in His deity, that God may be all in all. Hallelujah! What a mighty God we have! What a glorious plan He has for us! Eye has not seen, nor ear heard what God hath prepared for them that love Him!
Truly we can say with the Apostle, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” And “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”