In the first chapter we find some striking characterizations of Christ. He is " the faithful witness " (cf. John 8: 14; 18: 37) ; He it is who " loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by His blood; " He is " the Alpha and the Omega; " He is the Son of man, whose " countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength; " and He is " the first and the last, and the Living One," who " became dead," but who now is " alive forevermore," and has " the keys of death and of Hades." Rev. 1: 5, 8, 1618. Note the contrast between the revelation of Jesus Christ in His humiliation in the Gospel of John, and the revelation of Jesus Christ in glory in the Revelation by the same author.
In the second and third chapters we find the same Person described in the first chapter, but now walking among the churches in all the power of grace and glory, warning and guiding His people through the troublous experiences awaiting them, and preparing those who receive the divine counsel and who conquer through His grace, for a place in the heavenly kingdom.
In the fourth chapter He is acclaimed by the four living creatures, who ascribe to Him absolute deity in these words: " Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come." Rev. 4: 8. A valuable comment upon this verse is found in the spirit of prophecy:
" The crowning glory of Christ's attributes is His holiness. The angels bow before Him in adoration, exclaiming, ' Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.' Rev. 4: 8."—" Counsels to Teachers," p.402.
The Slain Lamb
In the fifth chapter this same Person meets us under a name which is full of significance. To the seer, greatly troubled because no one could open the closely sealed book, there was given a view of " a lamb standing, as though it had been slain." Rev. 5: 6. And the words are then heard, " Thou west slain, and didst purchase unto God with Thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation." Rev. 5: 9. There can be no mistake. The slain lamb is the Christ of the cross. While here upon the earth He was pointed out by John the Baptist as " the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." John 1: 29. Later the apostle Peter wrote of being redeemed " with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ." 1 Peter 1: 19. Here is the crimson thread which runs through this whole book. The word " Lamb," when referring to Jesus of Nazareth, is used twenty-eight times, and in its first use here its meaning is clearly interpreted, and this meaning should be attached to it in every place. The slain Lamb is worthy to receive " the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing," and to Him is ascribed " the blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the dominion." Rev. 5: 12, 13.
In the sixth chapter the Lamb opened the sealed book, and unfolded the history of the church from the time of victory to the great day of " the wrath of the Lamb." Rev. 6: 16.
In the seventh chapter a great company is seen who say, " Salvation unto our God who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb." Rev. 7: 9, 10. Then there appear some in white robes who have " washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Verse 14. To them the assurance is given that "the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall be their Shepherd." Verse 17.
When " the accuser of our brethren " was cast down to the earth, we find that " they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony." Rev. 12: 11. This is the victory of the Cross.
When the beast makes war with the saints, all those worship him " whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Rev. 13: 8. It is thus clear that the cross was in the mind of God before man was created.
In the fourteenth chapter we find " the Lamb standing on the mount Zion, and with Him " are " they that follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth," who are " the first fruits unto God and unto the Lamb," while the worshipers of the beast receive their punishment " in the presence of the Lamb." Rev. 14:1, 4, 10.
In the fifteenth chapter the victors are seen, " and they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb." Rev. 15: 3.
In the seventeenth chapter we are told that the ten kings " shall war against the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings." Rev. 17: 14. When we compare this last statement with Deuteronomy 10: 17, the evident conclusion is that the Lamb of Revelation is none other than " Jehovah your God " who was manifested in the flesh.
In the nineteenth chapter we read of " the marriage of the Lamb," and of " the marriage supper of the Lamb." Rev. 19: 7, 9.
In the twenty-first chapter, which deals with the holy city, as " the bride, the wife of the Lamb," coming down from heaven as the dwelling place of God on the earth, and the entrance into it of those " that are written in the Lamb's book of life," we meet with the word " Lamb " five times, being more than in any other chapter.
The long-awaited triumph of the Lamb is disclosed to us in the twenty-second chapter where " the throne of God and of the Lamb " is twice mentioned, and the assurance is given that " His servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face; and His name shall be on their foreheads." Rev. 22: 3, 4.
The Book of the Cross
The book of Revelation is plainly the book of the slain Lamb, the book of the cross, the book of the conquering Christ, who partook of the same flesh and blood in which we are sharers, " that through death He might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Heb. 2:13, 15. When we read this book as an interpretation of the closing scenes in the age-long warfare between Christ and Satan, we can see the full justification for the statement which has already been quoted:
"The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary."—"Gospel Workers," p. 315.
Before taking up any more detailed examination of the gospel as found in the book of Revelation, it may be helpful to consider the real purpose of the work of Christ in the flesh on our behalf. This is well stated in the prophecy. of Zacharias: " To grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies should serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days." Luke 1: 74, 75. Deliverance from sin as the necessary preliminary to a life of holiness and righteousness, this is the heart of the good news. Jesus "loved righteousness, and hated iniquity." Heb. 1: 9. According to the prophecy of Daniel, He was " to bring in everlasting righteousness." Dan. 9: 24. His reason for requesting baptism was, " for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." Matt. 3: 15. In His sermon on the mount He urged the seeking of righteousness as the prime aim in life (Matt. 6: 33), and pronounced blessing upon those that " hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matt. 5: 6), but He also made it clear that the righteousness He meant did not consist in the outward forms of legalism (Matt. 5: 20), but involved a perfect conformity to the righteous will of the Father in heaven. Matt. 7:15-23. (Note especially verse 21.)
To make possible in our experience that righteousness which our Saviour loved and fulfilled and brought to us, and which is manifested in a life devoted to the will of God, the Son of God voluntarily took upon Himself to fulfill the prophecy of David who wrote of the Messiah: " Then said I, Lo, am come; in the roll of the book it is written of Me: I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart. I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great assembly." Ps. 40: 7-9. In proclaiming the glad tidings, the gospel, of righteousness, " He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross." Phil. 2: 8.
The death of " the Holy and Righteous One " (Acts 3: 14) paid the penalty of death incurred by the representative sin of the first Adam, His resurrection designated Him as the Son of God (Rom. 1: 4), and His ascension took Him to the throne of grace, from which as our High Priest He dispenses the blessings which He won for us. Chiefest among these blessings is the gift of His own life of righteousness and holiness which is both imputed and imparted to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Through His imputed righteousness our standing before God is changed and we are accounted righteous, and through His imparted righteousness our conduct is changed, and we become obedient to all the will of God as expressed in His holy law. This is the gospel of holiness and righteousness which had been proclaimed both by word of mouth and in writing for more than half a century before the book of Revelation was written. To the apostle John were granted such views of the future experiences of the church, and such interpretations and applications of the everlasting gospel to the special needs of the church from his own time to the last generation, as would both warn the followers of the Lamb of future dangers and pitfalls, and provide the needed grace to come off victorious and stand upon the sea of glass. When we consider that the essential feature of the gospel is righteousness and holiness, and that the great apostasy described both by Daniel and by John is a frightful perversion of both, we would naturally expect that in this last book of inspiration the original and pure gospel would be emphasized, and in this we shall not be disappointed. The final decree of judgment indicates the nature of the great controversy between the two opposing powers: " He that is unrighteous, let him do unrighteousness still: and he that is filthy, let him be made filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him do righteousness still: and he that is holy, let him be made holy still." Rev. 22: 11. As the result of the proclamation of the everlasting gospel in the threefold message to the lost generation, there will be raised up a people prepared for this decree, and of whom it can be said: " Here is the steadfastness of the saints, they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Rev. 14: 12.
A study of the gospel of the cross and its conquering power in the history of the church since the days of the seer of Patmos must be deferjed until the next article.
"Washington, D. C.