Worship the Lamb

Worship the Lamb

Thank you worship team. You may not have thought of that last song as an Easter song, but actually that's one of my favorite Easter songs. And I wonder if you caught the image, the dominant image at the center of that song Worthy is the Lamb. Worthy is the lamb who is slain holy, holy, is he. The dominant image of that song, an Easter song, the dominant image, as I think today of the risen Lord Jesus Christ is a lamb, even though that may not be intuitively what we think about. We worship today the risen Lord Jesus Christ as a lamb. Now, where do we draw this from? This is not drawn from our culture, this is, of course, drawn from how we see him revealed in scripture. And Dan, just read some of this, but we are introduced to this picture, first of all, in Revelation chapter four John the Apostle is given a vision of heaven. He says, I was in the spirit on the Lord's day. And that means that God is revealing to him something that human beings cannot normally see. And he says there before me in this vision is a throne in heaven with one seated on the throne. It goes on in verse three to say the one who is sitting on the throne has an appearance like jasper stone, like sardius in appearance. And there's around this throne a rainbow like an emerald type of appearance.

What John is trying to do here is he's trying to put in human language something that no human being has seen. He's trying to describe the indescribable. He is describing how he how he attempts to see with human eyes the glory and the majesty and the splendor of God. But then the vision continues on into Chapter five and here John's attention now in this vision is narrowed down. His focus is drawn to a center point in this vision. We see it in chapter five verse six. Then I saw a lamb, a lamb looking like it had been slain standing in the center of the throne. This is the very focal point of this vision. In the center of the throne is one who bears the appearance of a lamb. And the next few verses describe how all the heavenly beings around the throne, they they prostate straight themselves, they throw themselves down on their faces before the lamb and worship. And then the scene widens out over the next few verses and we read in verse 11, then I looked and I heard the voice of many angels numbering thousands upon thousands and ten thousands upon ten thousands. And what is it that all these heavenly beings and all these angels are saying? In a loud voice they sang Worthy is the Lamb. Worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power and wisdom and wealth and strength and honor and glory and praise.

The scene widens even even more broadly now in verse 13, then John hears the voice, he says, of every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them. And what is it that again now every voice is proclaiming to him who sits on the throne and to the lamb be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever. And that is, of course, a picture not only of what is going on in heaven now, but what one day will be reality, that every living being, everyone who has ever lived, everyone who lives will proclaim the lamb to be the king, to be the Lord, will proclaim the risen Lord Jesus Christ, to be Lord and King. But I want to take you back to the center of that vision again that we see in verse six standing in the center of the throne. In other words, the focal point, the most prominent place of this vision, the center of this worship is the worship of a lamb. That is not something I would intuitively think about when I think about the glory, the worship that is going on in heaven. I would think more. Something like what Dan read earlier, Dan read from Revelation one, where Jesus, as he manifests himself among his churches, he appears in a white robe and a golden sash, and he has eyes like flames of fire and and hair that is so white that it glows.

That's the image I would think of. But that's not the image here. The risen Christ in all of his heavenly glory at the center of heavenly worship reveals himself as a lamb. Why? I mean, my mind will not let me go of that that question, why is it that at the center of how the risen Lord Jesus Christ is to be worshipped, he appears as a lamb, a lamb that we might think of lambs in our human associations as humble, as as gentle as dependent. But actually the lamb is one of the images that is most prominent about the Lord Jesus Christ. We read through scripture and we see scripture speak of the lamb slain, the lamb overcoming, the lamb conquering. We read how scripture speaks about the song of the lamb. The Wedding Feast of the Lamb, the Lamb's Book of Life, the followers of the Lamb. And notice, this is not just a lamb, but it is a lamb looking as if it had been slain, it bears the marks of having been killed. Although it's standing, it is not dead. It is standing. It is very much alive, but it bears the marks of its crucifixion there. Even at the center of worship, the risen Lord Jesus Christ still bears the signs of his crucifixion.

Why? Why would the Risen Christ choose this image, the image of a lamb bearing the marks of crucifixion as the image to be at the center of worship? Why would he take this picture of what we call in theology, his humiliation, his crucifixion, his suffering, his death, and make that the image that we are called to worship him by? Because the image of a crucified lamb is the image of an atoning sacrifice, and that is the center of the gospel. And so when Jesus appears in heaven for us to worship him, how does he want us to focus on him? He wants us to focus upon him as the gospel bears out that he is an atoning sacrifice offered for us. And all of scripture points us forward to this image, points us forward to what he has done for us on the cross as an atoning sacrifice. We can trace back in scripture, which I want to do briefly in these next few minutes, we can trace back in Scripture and see how God has prepared us to see this image of the lamb who is slain at the center of our worship. We see a lamb slain from the very first sacrifice going all the way back to the beginning. In Genesis Chapter four, we see that that Abel, the son of Adam and Eve Abel, offered to God the best of his firstborn lambs from his flock.

He offers a sacrifice to God of a lamb. And the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews Chapter 11 that God found that sacrifice of Abel of the Lamb to be acceptable. It satisfied, God, it created a right relationship between he and Abel. Why? Because it was offered in faith. So from the very beginning, when we were first introduced to the concept of sacrifice, we see that a sacrifice is offered in faith. What does it mean to offer a sacrifice of a lamb in faith? It means, first of all, to believe that a sacrifice is required, first of all, to believe that God's law has been broken, that as a human being, that I, that we have tried to live life our own way apart from God. And secondly, it means to believe that because of that, we have made ourselves enemies of God. The animosity has been created between God and us, and therefore we need some way to cover that. And it means to believe that God has provided that way through what we call atonement, the ability to offer an innocent life in the place of us. And of course, no human being is innocent. But a lamb is innocent, a lamb commits no willful sin, and so God provided that a lamb could be offered in the place for for Abel, for his sin, his rebellion against God, and that offered in faith God would accept that is covering his sin.

Well, the lamb is seen not only in Abel's sacrifice, but by moving a little further forward in the Old Testament, in Genesis we see a lamb at the center of the sacrifice that Abraham offered. You may know the story in Genesis 22 that God called Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, the son of promise, the son that God had said all of the nation of Israel will come from you. And now God is telling Abraham in Genesis 22, I want you to take the life of your only son, your precious son and Abraham not understanding perhaps what God is doing goes to Mount Moriah, takes Isaac. And along the way, Isaac asks the question, you know, I see that we have the wood for the sacrifice and I see we have the fire. But Father, where's the lamb? Isaac even has an understanding that a sacrifice calls for a lamb. And what is it that Abraham says in faith to his son, Isaac, God will provide for himself a lamb for the burnt offering? And that is exactly what we see happen on Mount Moriah, by the way, the same the same hill that the temple was eventually built upon the same hill, the same part of the hill that Christ was ultimately sacrificed at Calvary upon. We see God provide a lamb in the thicket, a ram that that Abraham is then instructed to sacrifice instead of his son.

And while some have seen Isaac as kind of a type of Christ pointing to Christ there, it's actually this promise of a lamb. It's that the God provides a lamb as a substitute for the life of Isaac. And in there there's a picture for you and me. Already there is a picture of God providing a substitute, God providing a lamb, the lamb Jesus Christ as a substitute for us so that by faith in him, we would not have to die as Isaac did not have to die. Well, the lamb as we go on in the Old Testament becomes the prominent image of the exodus and in exodus, Chapter 12, when when God is rescuing the the Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt, he does it through a succession of plagues and the last plague is going to be in every house in Egypt. He will kill the firstborn son by a great plague, but he provides a way for the Israelites, the Hebrews, to escape. And it's through the Passover lamb. Sacrifice, slaughter, a lamb. And take the blood of that lamb and paint it on your doorframe. And when God's angel of judgment passes over all the homes in Egypt, the homes upon which he sees the blood of the Passover lamb, he will pass over, he will not bring judgment and wrath, although he will do so for every other house in Egypt.

And it's through that provision of the Passover lamb that God passes over in judgment and brings Israel out of their slavery in Egypt. Well, just as the blood of the Passover lamb protected the Hebrews from God's judgment and wrath, so the blood of Jesus shed on the cross is our protection. God covers over our sin because of the blood of the perfectly righteous lamb, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And again, as we work our way forward to the Old Testament, we see that even in the Old Testament temple system, in the daily sacrifice is what's at the center of the daily sacrifices, the way that men and women can maintain a right relationship with God. It's a lamb. Exodus 29 tells us that two lambs are to be offered every day, one in the morning and one in the twilight. And it's through these sacrifices that men and women, it makes it possible for sinful men and women like you and I to approach a holy God, a holy righteous God, and to be made right before him through this sacrifice. Again, here is a picture of how all these sacrifices are made day after day, week after week, year after year. Think of how many animals were slaughtered in this temple system on just a yearly basis. And yet it was never enough, more had to be sacrificed and more had to be sacrificed.

But what was this all pointing to? What are we told in Hebrews? All of this points to the ultimate sacrifice, the final sacrifice Jesus offered himself once for all as the final, as the complete, as the perfect sacrifice. We see the lamb again in the sin offering the sin offering is a way that is provided in Leviticus Chapter four, when a man or woman becomes conscious that they have broken God's law, that they, whether intentionally or unintentionally, they have gone their own way. They have departed from what God said, this is the way that I want you to live. They can bring a sacrifice offering. They can bring a lamb as a sacrifice offering, as a sin offering, to cover their sin. And notice the particular detail here in bringing a lamb as a sin offering, the offer is to lay his hand on its head before he slaughters the animal. And what does that symbolize? That symbolizes that the guilty offerers are bringing that sin offering. He is transferring. He is conveying his guilt upon that innocent animal so that when that innocent animal is slaughtered the guilt of the offerer dies with the lamb. The guilt is conveyed to that lamb who is the perfect sacrifice. And again, this points to Jesus, the ultimate lamb. So Jesus, we're told in the New Testament, bore our sins in his own body on the cross.

They are by faith, conveyed on to him, transferred to him if we look to him as savior and Lord. All of these sacrifices and ones I haven't even had time to touch on this morning, all of these sacrifices of a lamb, all these sacrificial lambs, what do they do? They point us. They point us forward to the ultimate sacrificial lamb, the one whom John the Baptist identified when he pointed to Jesus and said, behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. William Bacon Stevens said it this way, all these sacrifices that were offered by God's command, all these bloody sacrifices of lambs all through the Old Testament, they derive their value only as they typified and they illustrated this one great sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary. In other words, all of these sacrifices that I've just briefly taken you through, all these sacrificial lambs they were effective only as the ones offering them looked forward in faith to the promised messiah that God said he would send, to the ultimate lamb, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Let me ask you this morning, as you contemplate this sacrificial lamb that all these sacrifices point forward to: Do you like an offerer offering a sacrificial lamb in faith? Do you recognize your guilt before God? Do you understand even that you need a sacrifice? I had to come to that place in my life of acknowledging that I was trying to live life my own way apart from God.

Have you come to that place? A sacrifice is only efficacious if first of all, we recognize we need that sacrifice. Have you come to the place where you understand that apart from a perfect sinless sacrifice, you stand under the condemnation and the judgment of God that you will bear the penalty for your rebellion against God? And do you understand the value of offering a perfect sacrifice that God in his mercy and his grace has said if you offer a sacrifice, a perfect sacrifice in place of you, I will impute your sin to that sacrifice. I will impute the innocence of that sacrifice to you. Here is the promise of Easter morning that you and I, we can be redeemed, we can be saved from our guilt by trusting in the precious blood of Christ, a lamb, a lamb without defect or blemish. The only perfect one. The only spotless one. The only sinless one. The only guiltless one. And that is why when we worship the risen glorified Christ today, we worship him as a lamb, we worship him as he is in heaven now as a lamb, looking as if he had been slain, standing in the center of the throne of God in heaven. And as the lamb slain, he is the object.

He is the object now, and he will be the object forever of heavenly worship. Why? Because by his blood, by being slain, by being that perfect sacrifice, he has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. Do you notice it's not just for some groups, it's not just for some races or some ethnicities or some nations in the world that the lamb has died, the Jesus Christ has offered him as the perfect sacrifice for every race and every ethnicity and every nation that all colors and all ethnicities and all nationalities will be part of this great crowd around the throne worshipping the lamb because he has ransomed them by his blood. And it's not only that. That image of a lamb continues in heaven, in fact, in the strange mixing of metaphors, we're actually told that this lamb will become our shepherd. Chapter seven, verse 17 for the lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd and he will lead them the springs of living water. He is not only the lamb that sacrifices himself for us, he is the lamb that shepherds us. That leads us to where there is life in its fullest, that cares for us and loves us and leads us. And not only that, this image of a lamb as being powerless, as being dependent, as being somehow too humble to really be something that is effective.

I haven't shown you the text here this morning, but this is now a horned lamb. He has seven horns, which as you read in Daniel and other places in Scripture is actually not only a symbol of power, but there being seven horns, it is perfect power. It is ultimate power. And so this is a lamb now that is being worshipped revealing his ultimate power. And though we're told in revelation that there will be those who oppose him, that there will be those who try and defy his reign, we read in Chapter 17 that there will even be those who make war against the lamb, but the lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of Lords and king of kings. So however you were brought here this morning to worship with us on Resurrection Sunday. I hope you've been brought to the foot of the cross. And as you look up, you see the risen lamb, you see the lamb who was slain standing at the center of the throne. And as you look at that image, as you contemplate that this is how the risen Lord Jesus Christ would call you to worship him at the center of heaven, I need to ask you, have you turned in faith to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world? Do you worship this lamb, do you recognize his reign? Do you recognize him as the one who sits on the throne? Do you cry out with all of the voices of heaven with all of the heavenly beings, do you join them in singing to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever? When we say he is risen, we worship the lamb, the lamb who was slain standing at the center of God's throne, let's pray.

This is an awesome image, Lord God, that you've given us in your word. Jesus, we want to see you more clearly, like how you reveal yourself. And I am so thankful that that the image that you choose as the central image at the throne is the one of you sacrificing yourself for us. Your offer of yourself for our sin is at the center of heavenly worship. And Lord, as we worship you today, as we worship you as the resurrected one, that's what we want to keep coming back to, we needed you as a sacrifice. Lord Jesus, we worship you as a sacrifice our Lord Jesus. And so even as we conclude today, Lord, as we sing these next couple of songs, may we do so as an offering of worship? May we like these heavenly voices around the throne? May we sing? You are worthy. You are deserving of all of our worship. You are worthy and deserving of all our praise, our honor, our love, our devotion, our surrender. Worthy is the lamb who is slain. Amen.

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