In a loud voice they sang:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
Revelation 5:12 | NIV (1984) | Other Versions | Context
I’ve been intentionally avoiding the study of any verses from the book of Revelation so far, even to the extent whereby I’ve made very few references to the book. It’s not exactly by choice or by preference, but really a matter of my sheer incompetence. This is an exception – the verse that contains the 7 exaltations of which the Lamb is worthy, which inspired many hymns and which the well-known oratorio by Handel, Messiah, ends with. In today’s study, we will skip pass the context of this verse – that alone will require a discussion that I am yet incapable of – and simply focus on the 7 exaltations to the Lamb, why the Lamb is worthy of such exaltations and hence this ‘Lamb’ is worth all our praise and worship.
The very first thing to point out is the identity of the ‘Lamb’. Kind of obvious, through the previous verses of this chapter, that this ‘Lamb’ is Christ. Even if you didn’t read the context, this verse itself contains enough clue to hint at the identity of the Lamb. Worthy is the lamb, who was slain –
|Exaltation||Christ is Worthy||Christ Characteristic|
|Power||by sacrificing, not usurping||The One who Creates|
|Wealth||gave and became poor||The One who Blesses|
|Wisdom||salvation through the cross||The One who Saves|
|Strength||bore the pain of crucifixion||The One who is Omnipotent|
|Honor||died and rose again||The One who is Holy|
|Glory||wears the crown of thorns||The One who is Eternal|
|Praise||though cursed, he still blesses||The One who is the Highest|
I apologise for my lack of literary prowess, but this table shows the exaltation, the related characteristic of Christ, and why he is worthy of that particular exaltation in a nutshell.
Christ’s power was not snatched or usurped – he did not gain authority by force, he did not force his standing at the right hand side of God. Instead, he gave up, he sacrificed himself, and thereafter rose to the highest. It is a very different story from the way we gain power today. He is worthy of being exalted for his power. What is his power? God’s power starts from Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth [Article] – he creates. How did God create? By power. He spoke, and there it was created. Power belongs to the Creator.
When we talk about Christ’s wealth, we are not talking about monetary wealth but the spiritual prosperity. By giving, he became poor, he became humble, and yet, he became rich in spirit. Where was Christ Jesus born? In a manger. Paul said, for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich [2 Cor 8:9]. Everything belongs to the Lord, and we are but just his stewards, who are mightily blessed by him.
And why is Christ worthy of the exaltation of wisdom? Again, quoting from Paul – For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God [1 Cor 1:18|Article]. The salvation through the cross was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles [1 Cor 1:24], yet it is the wisdom of God, and with his wisdom God governs, God creates. With his wisdom he gives mercy and salvation. The wisdom of God is so great that it is often beyond our capacity to comprehend – a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began [1 Cor 2:6-7], and therefore, worthy of every exaltation.
The crucifixion of Christ also showed us the strength of God, revealed by Christ who suffered through the pain of the crucifixion. He is the Lord God Almighty, the omnipotent God. Nothing is impossible with him [Luke 1:37]. He can do all things, and none of his purposes can be thwarted [Job 42:2].
He is honorable, he is holy, he died on the cross, and was lifted up.
He is glorious, for he is eternal, he is great, he is forever victorious and the eternal Lord. He wears the crown of thorns – a very signficant symbol of glory in the book of Revelation, but lets not go into that.
And most importantly, he is worthy of praise and worship, he is praised because he is worthy to be praised. He is praised about him being praised because such is the extent of his power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor and glory. Though he was cursed, he still blessed his enemies. Though he was suffering, he saved. He is worthy, and he deserves our praise – he is of the highest. This is in essence what this entire passage is about – nobody is worthy of opening the scroll except for him. Why is he worthy? Because of these 7 exaltations – nobody can claim to be worthier, nobody can claim to be higher, nobody can claim such praise except for him.
Worthy is the Lamb.
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