saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12)
These last few days, the Spirit has continually quickened this simple phrase within me: ‘Glory to the Lamb.’ It has prompted me to dig deeper into the Word in an effort to understand the message behind it. What I found as I researched the topic was that many regard this a ‘destination’ – a place of worship in which we will share, rather than something that is an integral part of our lives. It reminded me so clearly that we should be a part of the heavenly refrain in every single moment of our lives.
Giving glory to the Lamb is an integral part of the work of salvation in us. It is for here and now, not simply something that awaits us in heaven.
One of the most common motifs on the Internet for any search that includes ‘Lamb of God’ is that of the lion and the lamb, usually laying down together, with the generally accepted understanding that giving glory to the Lamb is part of the prophetic millenial age of peace and prosperty. While it is absolutely true that Jesus is both the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah, and it’s therefore correct to portray these two sides of His character together – perfect sacrifice and conquering king – the millenial interpretation actually has no basis in Scripture.
The truth is that nowhere in the Bible does it state that ‘the lion will lie down with the lamb.’ The closest verses are these: The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” Says the LORD. (Isaiah 65:25) and Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, A wolf of the deserts shall destroy them; A leopard will watch over their cities. Everyone who goes out from there shall be torn in pieces, Because their transgressions are many; Their backslidings have increased. (Jeremiah 5:6) Both of these have relevance to the principle of giving glory to the Lamb.
The verse from Jeremiah clearly refers metaphorically to the enemies of God’s people. The message is plain – because of their backslding and transgressions, His people will be destroyed by their enemies. Obviously, there is no reference here to the millenial peace. Isaiah’s verse thus gains context. It is referring not to the millenium of peace and prospertiy but the new covenant provided in Christ. It refers to the people of God ‘feeding together’ with their traditional enemies. It is a spiritual metaphor of the time when Israel feeds on the Word of God alongside their traditional enemies – the Gentiles. It is this time, the New Testament, where our relationship with God is essentially messianic. It is the time when all believers are to give glory to the Lamb.
This very prevalent misconception the lion and the lamb spills over into the book of Revelation. Today’s verse presents a powerful image of giving glory to the Lamb. Yes, we shall spend eternity doing just that, because He alone is worthy. But we lose sight f the spiritual truth that our purpose here on earth is to begin what will be completed and perfected in heaven. We can happily accept that the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God are one and the same. But Revelation is no different to any other book of the Bible in that it provides not only details of the future for believers but also for the here-and-now living of believers.
The principle behind the phrase ‘glory to the Lamb’ is incredibly simple. In essence, we are to live our lives ‘practising’ for worship in heaven. Jesus came first as the Lamb, and will return as the Lion, the conquering King. His victory was as the Lamb, the perfect sacrifice. He defeated Satan and the powers of darkness as the suffering servant, and while we can look forward to Jesus the King coming to effect the final defeat and judgement, we currently look to Jesus the Lamb as our saviour, our promised Messiah. While we have to obviously be careful not to assume any kind of ‘Jewish identity’ in using the term ‘messiah,’ the principle of the messiah – one who saves the people from their sins – is an integral principle of our Christian faith.
‘Glory to the Lamb’ is a daily, moment-by-moment principle every believer should live. It is the recognition of the sacrifice of Christ, and that without it, we are nothing and can never presume to approach God. We can go about saying ‘glory to the Lamb’ all day, but that is empty worship. Real worship is the emulation of Christ, the laying down of self just as the Lion of Judah laid Himself down as the Lamb of God. It is the ongoing thanksgiving of a surrendered heart which looks to the Lamb.
We need to move past the assumption that worship in heaven is going to be different to real worship on earth. God requires us to live our salvation, to live as citizens of heaven while we are here on earth. He requires that, through our relationship with Him and the leading and teaching of His Spirit, that we be transformed from glory to glory – to be transformed into the image of His Son. To receive the full blessings and benefits that Jesus purchased for us on the cross, we must fully identify with Him and live this out as the living sacrifices we are called to be. We give glory to the Lamb when we recognise that, outside of Him and His sacrifice, we are and can do nothing.
Giving glory to the Lamb in the here-and-now is not some complicated spiritual concept we could never hope to understand or do. It has nothing to do with the songs we sing or the good works we do, or even with praying in faith. It has to do with the little details, in living Christ in everything we do. Does what we do, say, or think in this moment give glory to the Lamb? The greatest compliment we can pay to another is to emulate them. Do we truly emulate Jesus in our lives, or are there still parts of us from which we exlude Him and live for ourselves?
I personally believe, looking at the ‘signs’ in the world and the falling away of many as recorded in Scripture, that ‘worship in heaven’ is not as far off as we may like to believe. The day is rapidly approaching when we will indeed fall at the throne of God and give glory to the Lamb along with the saints and angels. From a purely practical persepective – and God is always very practical – we need to start living that now. If we don’t, we’re all going to experience an enormous culture shock in the age to come.
The fact of the matter is that we owe our salvation to the Lamb of God, not the Lion of Judah. It is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and for us, that’s the crux of the matter. I don’t deny that it’s a wonderful consolation to look forward to the coming of the King, to hold fast to the sure and certain knowledge that He will return to deal with all the issues we face and put an end to the works of Satan for eternity. But we are already citizens of heaven and ought to live like we are. That is God’s purpose for keeping us here – to bring glory to the Lamb by revealing Him in every aspect of our lives.
We all too often overlook the small details which make up a life of worship. Giving thanks at mealtimes, for that desperately needed parking space, for being late or early and so missing that awful accident on the freeway. These are all the mundane things that make up our ‘ordinary’ lives. Yet God intends for us to live ‘extraordinary’ lives. We are meant to live in Him, and He is always extraordinary. When we see thing from His perspective, we become ‘peculiar’ – outside the ordinary. This is the simple, practical, day-to-day giving glory to the Lamb. Where we are right now is due to the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God. What we have, where we live, what we eat…all these practical details are worked out in our lives because of Him.
This, I believe, is the challenge inherent in the little phrase that has been repeated so consistently over the last few days. It’s a challenge for every believer: Do I live to bring glory to the Lamb?
Lord, forgive us if we have misunderstood or allowed our perceptions to be distracted by wrong understanding. Help us to fix our eyes on the cross and to emulate Jesus in all we do. Help us to live lives that bring glory to the Lamb, so that the world may see Him in us, and witness the extraordinary life that He purchased for us with His blood.