The Lamb Upon the Throne

What is the main message of the book of Revelation?

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One of the most recognizable characteristics of the entire book of Revelation is this amazing imagery, but the central image of the book of Revelation appears to be the Lamb upon the throne, and not just any lamb, but a lamb with a great wound. And it's a marvelous symbol of Christ in his redemptive sufferings — the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. But now we see the Lamb upon the throne, a symbol of victory, authority, triumph, vindication. And so we have, in John's vision in the Revelation, a revelation of the way things really are, where the one who has been weak is now strong, the one who has been humiliated is now exalted. And this great reversal of fortunes is not only the narrative of the life of Christ in his descent and ascent, but it is a paradigm of the experience of believers as well. They, too, will experience a measure of suffering, as the first century readers well knew, but the message was that, in Christ, this will lead to victory for you as well. The hideousness of the images of evil in the book of Revelation are an acknowledgment that the opposition to the work of God and to the security of the believers is serious and considerable. But that notwithstanding, the Lamb triumphs in the end, so that the Christians can know that through Christ, greater is he that is in them than he that is in the world. And there's an image of the saints having their robes dipped in blood. Now, this is a symbol of, in a sense, their appropriation of the substitutionary forgiveness achieved through Christ. But maybe, just maybe, it is also a symbol of their willingness to participate in the paradigm of costly suffering, in order to one day wear the robes of heavenly senators, the vindicated triumphant ones who share in the glory of the wounded Lamb upon the throne.

Answer by Dr. Glen Scorgie

Dr. Glen Scorgie is Professor of Theology at Bethel Seminary in San Diego