The Song of The Lamb #1 Visions, symbols and suggested meanings

The Song of The Lamb                            Revelation 5, 14 & 15                             Bible Songs

Revelation is a very difficult book to read and interpret.

It is going to be necessary to fill some brief context of these songs – and in a book that, as you know, due to its very figurative language, is not straight forward, there being also a number of views on its interpretation.

Breakdown by Revelation, by chapter to give the context of our thoughts this evening.

1: 1-8 Introduction
1: 9-20 Vision of man among lamp stands
2:1 – 3:22 Seven Letters
4:1 – 5:14 Vision of the throne in heaven and the Lamb
6:1 –17 Six Seals
7:1 – 8:5 Vision of multitude no man can number
8:6 – 9:21 Six trumpets
10: 1-11 Vision of the rain-bowed angel
11:1-14 Two Witnesses
11: 15-19 The seventh seal
12: 1-17 The Woman and her child
13: 1-18 The Beast
14: 1-20 Vision of the redeemed with the Lamb on Mount Zion
15: 1-8 Vision of the final judgements
16: 1-21 Seven plagues
17:1 – 18:24 Judgement of the great Babylon Harlot
19:1-10 Vision of the Lamb’s Bride
19:11-21 Victory over the Beast
20: 1-15 Subduing of the nations
21:1 – 22:21 Vision of the new heaven and the new earth

Revelation has been rightly described as different to any of the books in the New Testament and also different to most of the books in the Old Testament. The style of the book is more comparable to that of the prophecies of Daniel and Zechariah.

It is primarily a book about visions. The Apostle John describes what he saw, what was revealed to him while he was imprisoned on the island of Patmos, but did not always describe what the vision means. The Greek word for this book is Apocalypse and we can see from the summary that is contains visions of angels, beasts, living creatures, horsemen, armies, rainbows, stars, thunders, lightning and great earthquakes.

The Angel Appears to John. The book of Revelat...
The Angel Appears to John. The book of Revelation. 13th century manuscript. British Library, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is uncertain when the book was written, John was exciled on Patmos for his faith –this implies must have been a period of persecution. In John’s lifetime there were two periods of extreme persecution in the reigns of Nero (AD54-68) and Domitan (AD81-96).

If the early date – then some of the prophecies could have had an immediate fulfilment in the overthrow of Jerusalem in AD70 by Rome.

The start of the book opens with the words:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants – things which must shortly take place.  And he sent and signified it by his anger to his servant John.

Therefore everything that written, as far as John was concerned, was to be fulfilled in the future. He was shown the development of God’s purpose from his own times, right through to the times when Jesus was to return to establish God’s kingdom, and beyond.

Some symbols and suggested meanings

Lampstand Congregation of believers
Two-edged sword Word of God
White robes Righteousness
Burnished brass Man’s nature perfected
Heaven Government
Sea All nations
Living creatures Saints
Elders Saints
Lion of Judah Jesus as King
Lamb Jesus as Saviour
Horse Military power
Altar Jesus’ sacrifice
Earthquake Political upheaval
Sun King or emperor
Moon Religious powers, priesthood
Stars Princes, rulers
Trumpets Judgements to come
Censers Prayers
Rainbow God’s glorious covenant
Temple Jesus and his faithful disciples
Court Those who claim to be Christ’s
Bottomless pit Out of bounds
Woman Religious community

Throughout the book of Revelation there is an extensive use of symbolic language. The keys to their interpretation can be found either in Revelation or elsewhere is scripture. Another important principle about the is that they tend to be in pairs. They represent something that can develop either in a Godly way or a worldly way. The symbol of the woman for example can either be faith and become the bride of Christ – but also can be shown to be a fallen woman, a prostitute which represents those people who do not remain faithful to Jesus, corrupt and perverting his teaching.

The symbols therefore are often “clashing”. Though they start in the same way, they develop in different directions until they are directly in opposition to each other.

Steven Robinson

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To be Continued: The Song of The Lamb #2 Sevens

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Also of interest:

Revelation 1:8 – Who is Speaking?

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  • Why the Modern View of the Book of Revelation may be Flawed. (adw.org)
    it bespeaks the end of, and passing qualities of all things of this world.It is also a book of glory, depicting the ultimate victory of our Lord Jesus Christ, after a great period of conflict between the doomed kingdom of this world, and the victorious Kingdom of Christ. In this context the Book of Revelation is not a mere tour guide to the last days, but is a book of glory reminding us that Christ has the total victory already wrapped up.
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    The Majority of modern scholars place the date of the composition of the Book of Revelation between 90-110 AD. There are good reasons for this, not the least of which is the testimony of several Fathers of the Church. Irenaeus places the work at 96 AD. Victorinus places the writing in the context of the persecution of Domitian, and indicates it was thus that John was imprisoned on Patmos. Jerome and Eusebius say the same. This date of composition (90-110) also flows well with modern theories of biblical dating which tend to favor later dates as a general rule.
  • BONUS: An Introduction to Revelation (kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com)
    They avoid Revelation out of fear, confusion, or intimidation.  Some so neglect the book they don’t even realize the book is called Revelation (singular), not Revelations (plural).
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    There is too many stylistic and theological differences to suggest these were all written by the same author.  Many scholars are content to simple say this is a different John, maybe “John the Revelator,” writing from exile on the island of Patmos just off the coast of Asia Minor near Ephesus.
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    John was speaking in symbols and by nature symbolism is much more timeless and malleable to situation.  We press the images too far when we come up with singular, specific, time-bound fulfillments.  John is speaking of evil in its many faces and forms, all throughout time.  Thus, John is talking about Rome but also our world today and the Middle Ages and the age to come.
  • “The Secret Revealed”; scripture and questions for Nov. 4 (plymouthspirit.wordpress.com)
    Today apocalypse conjures images of disaster and the end of the world but the writer of Revelation meant and act of apocalypse is an act of disclosure. In that vein, what is the secret to be revealed from the Book of Revelations?
  • “I Saw New Jerusalem” (newjerusalem12.wordpress.com)
    Revelation 1:2 tells us that the apostle John “testified the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, even all that he saw.” In our understanding, much of what is described in Revelation is in the future but this verse says that John “saw”—past tense.
  • Revelation 4-8 (westminsterreads.org)
    You will find an introduction and outline of Revelation, here. > Revelation, Introduction and Outline
    For modern Western readers, Revelation can be a difficult book to read. It is an apocalypse, a type of literature we do not typically read. Revelation does not lend itself to the fact and information oriented method of reading that most of us use when we read. Reading Revelation takes some effort on our part. It is not an “easy read”.
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    Apocalyptic literature uses a standard set of symbols that include numerology, catastrophes of cosmic proportions and odd and amazing animals. The purpose of apocalyptic literature was to encourage the faithful to hold firm in their beliefs, to endure, to assure the reader
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    Human history has a goal, ultimately suffering will end and God’s rule will be established. The wicked will be judged.
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    5:1-14 There is a search for someone worthy to open the scroll. No one, except the Messiah (Lion of the tribe of Judah Gen. 49:9, the Root of David Isaiah 11:1,10) is able.  John does not see a lion but a Lamb (v6).
  • Messianic Prophecy Number 18: Exo 12.5 – An Unblemished Lamb (theoldtestamentandthenewtestament.com)
    While all the sacrifices in some way typified the sacrifice of Christ, the New Testament focuses upon Christ being the sacrificial lamb.
  • Sermon – All Saints’ Sunday Revelation 7:9-17 (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
    the saints in heaven know.  They shout “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”  They are looking at the lamb who was slain, who died like the Passover lamb so that His blood might paint the doors of our houses (Exodus 14); they see the Lamb who makes atonement by His death for our desecration of God’s Holy Name, and Whose blood cleanses us (Leviticus 14: 10, 13-14) from the leprosy and uncleanness of our flesh so that we may come near to God.  His blood which was poured out on the altar (Leviticus 8:30) is also taken from the altar of God and sprinkled on us so that our robes are white and we may enter God’s presence as priests.  The saints in heaven see the reality.  What we ask for when we say “Hosanna!”—the saints in heaven see clearly what the crowd in Jerusalem did not see, and what we see only darkly.  They see that “save us, forgive us,” means, “shed your blood for us”.   And they see the Lamb who was slain, and can say not “save us!” but “He who sits on the throne and the lamb who was slain have saved us.”
  • Jesus as the Judge of All the Earth in Revelation (the-scarlet-thread.com)
    The images of the end of the age are awesome, with horrible judgments poured out on the earth, and a vision of God on His throne so terrible, it says the earth and heaven fled away, and there was no place for them. (Rev. 20:11) People will be so terrified, they will prefer to hide in caves and ask the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. “For the day of His wrath has come, and who can stand?” Rev.6:14-17
  • Revelation 13-15 (mybiblereadingplan.wordpress.com)
    all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
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    And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
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