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The Vision of St. John the Divine (Part 2): The Lamb in Heaven Who Is Not Jesus

I write on diverse religious issues, often analysing perspectives from the Abrahamic faiths (Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Bahá’í).

The Lamb is described as "the Lion of the tribe of Juda" (Revelation 5:5-6).

The Lamb is described as "the Lion of the tribe of Juda" (Revelation 5:5-6).

God and the Lamb

In the first of this four-part series (accessible at https://hubpages.com/@kobby95), we encountered a Being on a throne in heaven, described by St John in his Apocalypse (the Book of Revelation) as LORD God Almighty. It turns out, however, that the One John had seen is not the Omnipresent God of the Universe we know and worship but a representation of the Christ of the end-times. In other words, the “God” of John’s vision is actually the Christ who is destined to appear on earth at the end times.

But it was not only the godlike Figure on the throne that John encountered in heaven. There was another Entity referred to simply as “the Lamb”. This second part aims to know more about the Lamb (in hope of later unravelling his true identity).

(Note: All biblical references in this article are from the King James Bible)

The Lamb

We first encounter the Lamb thus:

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb…. (Revelation 5:6)

While the One on the throne has much glory, the Lamb is not without glory either:

And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. (Revelation 5:13)

Indeed, the two Beings are so awesome that the denizens of the earth cannot withstand their glory:

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb…. (Revelation 6:15-16)

Who then is this holy and exalted Being known in John’s Revelation as "the Lamb"? Let’s begin by learning about the concept of the lamb from elsewhere in the Bible.

Jesus as the Lamb

The impression one gets on encountering the One on the throne in John’s narrative is that he is God the Father (Creator of heaven and earth). The initial sense one also gets is that the Lamb is Jesus the Christ (the Son of God). And this is because Jesus (who lived in the first century CE) is symbolised in the Gospel as a lamb—and that is on account of that great act of atonement associated with his crucifixion.

Twice John the Baptist had referred to him as “the Lamb of God”:

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Again the next day after John stood… and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! (John 1:29, 35-36)

Moreover, Jesus has been compared in the Epistles, the Acts, and in Old Testament prophecy to a lamb:

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things… but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot…. (I Peter 1:18-19)

He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth…. (Acts 8:32; cf. Isaiah 53:1-9)

A lamb without blemish and without spot

A lamb without blemish and without spot

Some Attributes of John’s Lamb

We have already determined that the One on the throne in the Apocalypse is the end-time Christ. We also know that Jesus of Nazareth was the Lamb in his Day. But given that the Apocalypse is not about the Christ of the first century but of the end times, who might the Lamb of John be?

To help us unravel this mystery, let’s attempt to find the roles, attributes, and accomplishments of the Lamb as can be gleaned from the Apocalypse.

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The Lamb and His Bride

Just as Jesus, “the bridegroom” of the Gospel, had “the bride” (John 3:29; cf. Matthew 9:15), so the Lamb in John’s vision also has “the bride,” or “wife”. This is how it is announced in the Book:

And there came unto me one of the seven angels… and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. (Revelation 21:9)

If this bride had been the one associated with Jesus of Nazareth, John should have known (given that he was an Apostle of Jesus). And in that case, there would have been no need for the Lamb’s bride to be introduced to him.

This presupposes then that the bride John was shown was not the bride associated with Jesus during his earthly ministry, which must in turn imply that the Lamb of the Apocalypse is not Jesus.

The Concept of the Bride

But who or what is “the bride” in the first place?

The Bride Is Not the Church

Christians often confuse the bride of Jesus with the Church or with the Christian faithful. The first thing to acknowledge is that both the bridegroom and bride come from the same source, from God. Hence, the bride cannot be any less holy than the bridegroom (the Christ) himself, nor can she be easily debased by the whims, caprices, and idiosyncrasies of ordinary worshippers.

With the Church divided into some 40,000 denominations (according to some estimates) and taking into account the numerous scandals attributed by the media to many of these denominations, the idea that the bride is the Church cannot be further away from the truth. And even if it was, which of the denominations could claim to be the true bride of Jesus?

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (I Corinthians 14:33)

The bride is neither a church building nor the worshippers within it.

The bride is neither a church building nor the worshippers within it.

The Bride Is the Word of God

Let it be known that the bride of Jesus is none other than the Word of God, the Message of Christ, the Gospel, the New Testament Bible, the scriptures associated with Jesus—holy, inseparable from the Christ, and which binds all Christian worshippers, denominations, and branches together irrespective of theological differences.

It is the union (marriage) between the bridegroom and the bride that gave birth to the Christian faith—a marriage that was consummated when “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

The Church then is the offspring and child of the union, and not the bride of Jesus. As for the individual members of the Church, the Christian flock, they are what Jesus refers to as “the children of the bridechamber” (Matthew 9:15).

The Holy Bible is the bride of Jesus.

The Holy Bible is the bride of Jesus.

The Marriage of the Lamb

So, we can conclude from the above argument that the Lamb of the Apocalypse is associated with a holy book (his bride). In that connection, it is interesting to note that Jesus had characterised the Parousia (Second Coming) as the coming of “the bridegroom” (Matthew 25:1-13), as “the marriage” (Matthew 25:10), and “the wedding” (Luke 12:36).

And it is much the same sense that characterises the role of John's Lamb, as in the following:

…the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready…. Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7-9)

…Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. (Revelation 21:9)

And this begs the question: The Lamb seems to have all the attributes of the end-time Christ, so if he is not that Christ and not Jesus, who then is he?

The Lamb and the Book of Life

The book of life is reference to an imaginary scroll on which the names of those who are “called and chosen” are inscribed. The book of life is thus associated with a Mediator of God and defines those of his followers whose faith and deeds have earned them the crown of acceptance.

Thus, we find a reference to the book of life in relation to the Christian faithful when Paul writes:

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:3)

Yet in two verses of the Book of Revelation, the Lamb is associated with the “book of life”:

And there shall in no wise enter into it [the great city] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:27; cf. Revelation 13:8)

The book of life is an aspect of the bride. There can be no book of life without the bride, and no bride without the book of life. And having a book of life reinforces the Messianic role of the Lamb. And so, the same intriguing question: Who is he?

The Lamb as Redeemer

From other descriptions of the Lamb, we come to see that he very much conforms to the image of the lamb as represented by Jesus Christ. As Jesus was killed (crucified) to redeem man of his sins (according to Christian belief), so the killing of this Lamb has been associated with the redemption of mankind.

Christians believe Jesus was crucified to redeem man of his sins.

Christians believe Jesus was crucified to redeem man of his sins.

The Lamb Is Slain

The fact that the Lamb had been “slain” is mentioned by John on a number of occasions:

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne… stood a Lamb as it had been slain…. (Revelation 5:6)

In a song in praise of the Lamb by those about the throne, John heard the following:

…thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God…. (Revelation 5:9)

John also heard “the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders,” saying:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (Revelation 5:12)

Moreover, John's narrative makes reference to:

…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)

The Blood of the Lamb

The redemptive power of the Lamb’s blood is recognized by those around the throne who point to the Lamb as having:

…redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation…. (Revelation 5:9)

Those who come out of “great tribulation” in spiritual triumph are described as:

...they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)

And devotees are able to overcome the devil and his evil cohorts:

…by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony…. (Revelation 12:11)

Jesus and the Lamb

Christians will have no difficulty seeing the Lamb’s role in the same light as the role played by Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed, at the beginning of the Apocalypse itself, just such a role of Jesus is highlighted:

And from Jesus Christ…. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood…. (Revelation 1:5)

Except that the Lamb cannot be Jesus of Nazareth—because everything John sees is in the future. As it says in a previous quote above, those about the throne:

…sung a new song, saying… thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation…. (Revelation 5:9)

The song being “new” is an indication that the events are revolving around a new epiphany. For the moment, let’s acknowledge that the Lamb has Messianic credentials and closely resembles Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

The Lamb as the King of Kings

But there is more to come. The mystery keeps deepening because even though the Lamb is not the end-time Christ, his Messianic credentials seem more than obvious.

In the following verse, the Lamb is facing opposition. (No surprise there, how could he be slain otherwise? Opposition has always been the lot of the Mediators of God.) John observes those opposing in these words::

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:14)

Here, the Lamb becomes not only “Lord of lords” but also “King of kings” (even though he is not the One on the throne). And the ones around him are the “chosen” ones of the Day, “the elect” of the end times.

Are two Messianic figures being promised for the end times then?

The Interrelationship of God and the Lamb

What makes the story of the Lamb so intriguing is the fact that the One on the throne in heaven is not God the Sustainer of the Universe but the end-time Christ (as we learned in the first part of this series). Who then is the Lamb?

This is what we have gleaned and deduced about the Lamb from John’s vision:

  • The Lamb and the One on the throne are closely tied but are two separate holy Entities.
  • The Lamb is awesome.
  • He has a lot of glory.
  • He has “the bride”.
  • He has a “book of life”.
  • He is “Lord of lords, and King of kings”.
  • He is slain.
  • His blood becomes the means of purifying and redeeming the masses of mankind.
  • Those around him are “called, and chosen, and faithful,” or in effect the “elect” of the end times.
  • He has Messianic credentials.
  • He so resembles Jesus Christ of Nazareth and yet is different.
  • His role is in the future, not the past.

Who is the Lamb, and what is the nature of his relationship to the One on the throne? What could his role in the unfoldment of the Parousia be if he is not the promised end-time Christ?

These questions will be explored in the third of this four-part series.

Unlike Jesus of Nazareth, the Lamb's role is in the future.

Unlike Jesus of Nazareth, the Lamb's role is in the future.

© 2022 Kobina Amissah-Fynn

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