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Worthy is the Lamb

Every Easter you can find lambs in the shops—cute chocolate lambs or stuffed animals. They bear no resemblance whatsoever to the Lamb described in today’s chapter. The Lamb that John saw was not cute but scarred. It looked as if it had been slain. It also had seven horns and seven eyes. In the books of Daniel and Revelation, horns represent kingly power. The lamb’s seven eyes may be a symbol of omniscience. The fact that the Lamb is the only one worthy to open the seal and is worshiped by the twenty-four elders makes it clear that this must be Jesus Christ.

The elders worship Him while holding harps and golden bowls full of incense. Interestingly, verse 8 doesn’t say that the incense represents the prayers of the saints but rather that it is their prayers. What a beautiful picture of how Christ must view our prayers—not as whining or nagging but like a pleasing aroma.

As the elders worship the Lamb, an innumerable company of angels adds their voices, and they are joined by “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them” (v. 13). Worship has a surprising trajectory. It moves from heaven to earth, not the other way around. This worship begins with God. His presence evokes it. This worship is also contagious. Its resonating quality enables others to join in. This heavenly worship is Christ-centered. It focuses on the Lamb who was slain.

The worship described in these verses invites us. When we worship, we do not imitate heavenly worship. We join worship already under way, adding our voices to that of the living creatures, elders, angels, and the rest of creation. God receives our prayers like sweet incense, and Jesus is glorified.

Apply the Word

Everyone struggles with worship at times. We may not like the music, or the sermon is boring. We might be distracted with other worries or concerns. The next time you feel this way, remember what is really going on. You have the opportunity to join with heaven and earth in praising the Lord, and God receives your prayers as a sweet offering.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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