Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
(Psalm 119:105)


Volume 02, Number 44

Published by
Mt. Baker
church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker HWY

Mailing Address:

       P.O. Box 30821
  Bellingham, WA 98228
       (360) 752-2692

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Worship..10:30AM; 6:00PM

Bible Classes.........7:00 PM

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Editor......John Bass


In this issue:

Danny Linden

In Revelation 5:1-7, John sees a vision of God upon His throne holding a scroll in His hand. Scrolls were usually written on one side for ease of reading while being unrolled, but this one was filled with writing on both sides. This scroll is marked with seven seals to indicate God’s authority and ownership of what is written on it. Whatever the scroll reads, it must represent God’s will and plan for all things.

Who is worthy? John must have been curious what was contained in the scroll, but it could not be read while it remained sealed. Suddenly a mighty angel cried out, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” Only one who is able to carry out God’s will in its fullness could open the scroll. Even the mighty angel did not step forward to do so himself! Even though that angel must have been particularly powerful to be distinguished in that way, he still falls short of what is needed. Perfect power and holiness are required to open the scroll.

The mighty angel has called for anyone to step forward, but still there is no one—none of the cherubim, seraphim, angels, living creatures, elders, or any man or woman on earth, alive or dead. John can only weep bitterly that the scroll could not be opened.

The Lion-Lamb. One of the elders tells John that he has no reason to weep. There is someone who is worthy—a conqueror named the Lion of Judah! He is the Root of David and He alone is worthy to open the scroll.

The “Lion of Judah” is a reference to Genesis 49:9-10, a prophetic promise given to Jacob’s son Judah. The tribe of Judah would have power and rule “until Shiloh comes” (NKJV). This prophecy was understood by the Jews to be messianic in nature. Shiloh is difficult to translate but likely means “he for whom it is laid up” as in the LXX or “whose it is” as in the Syriac OT. This interpretation is reinforced by later quotations of Genesis 49:10 in Ezekiel 21:27 (“until he comes, the one to whom judgment belongs”) and Galatians 3:19 (“until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made”). In any case, the idea behind the “Lion of Judah” reference in Revelation 5 is to identify Jesus as the one who takes over the eternal scepter and rule from the tribe of Judah, which is then extended to the kingdom of God throughout the world (Isaiah 2:2-4).

The ”Root of David” is another Old Testament reference from Isaiah 11. The first verse of that chapter shows that the Messiah would be a descendent of David’s family, but the tenth verse follows that up with a description of Jesus as the source of David’s family. How can the Messiah be both? This is a similar point to the one Peter made in Acts 2:25-35. The physical lineage of Jesus can be traced to David, but Jesus also predates David because He is without beginning. This affirms the duality of Jesus as God and man.

However, when John turns to look at the Lion of Judah, he actually sees a Lamb as though it had been slain. That is a very different image than what was previously described to him! Lambs are not powerful creatures, yet He is the only one capable of breaking the seals? These mixed metaphors help us to appreciate the complex nature of Jesus. He is Conqueror, but also the sacrifice. He is King, but also the one who was rejected and killed.

Upon closer inspection, the Lamb was not a typical Lamb after all. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes. Horns are a symbol of strength and authority in Scripture, and Jesus has them sevenfold! The seven eyes are explained in the text as the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. This is an illustration used several times in Revelation up to this point.

The plan of God is fulfilled in Jesus. Only the Lion-Lamb is able to step forward to take the scroll from the Father. The implication for us is profound. Everything that the Father has planned from before the beginning culminates in the work of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. The blood of Jesus atones for our sins, His intercession mediates on our behalf, and His grace fills us and changes us as we serve Him. The Holy Spirit goes forth at Jesus’ word to seal us and instruct us in the word. And of course, Jesus will defeat the forces of sin and death in the end. When no one else could save us and reconcile us with God, the Lion of Judah and Sacrificial Lamb won us a great victory.


Danny Linden

In the beginning of the book of Revelation, we can find each member of the Godhead described. Revelation is a book of signs and symbols so we must be careful with our interpretation but there are important truths revealed here.

The Father. “Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come…” (Revelation 1:4). This is a description that technically applies to the Father, Son, and Spirit alike. One of the defining characteristics of deity is being without beginning or end. However, another key to understanding Revelation is to respect its near-constant quotations of and allusions to the Old Testament. To read Revelation without a working knowledge of the Old Testament is an exercise in futility!

In this case, there are several passages in the Old Testament that this passage is making reference to. When Moses asked God who he should tell Israel sent him to them, God said, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). Also compare Isaiah 57:15 where God is called the One who “inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy”.

The Spirit. “Grace to you and peace… from the seven spirits who are before his throne” (Revelation 1:4). “Seven spirits” sounds incredibly mystical, but remember that numbers in Revelation are almost never quantitative. Revelation is apocalyptic literature, so it uses numbers to represent ideas different than what we are used to. These symbols would not have been unheard for the original audience, however. So in this passage, we should not imagine seven Holy Spirits but a perfect and complete Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit is often ignored and minimized due to our lack of understanding of His work, but He embodies perfection all the same. Jesus emphasized the sufficiency of the Spirit as the One who would reveal all truth, which connects well with the revelation that is being given to John (John 15:26; 16:13).

The Son. “…and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:5-8).

Jesus is the “faithful witness”. The prophets of old bore witness to a message from God. Jesus did the same when He came to the earth to preach the new kingdom that was fast approaching and the opportunity for true salvation (cf. John 1:18, among others).

“Firstborn from the dead” might give us pause. Jesus was not the first person to ever be raised from the dead—He even resurrected several people while He was on the earth! However, what makes Jesus different is that He was the first one to rise and never die again. Every other person who had been resurrected would eventually succumb to death once more, but not Jesus. In this way, He is the firstborn of the final resurrection (cf. Colossians 1;18; 1 Corinthians 15:20; Acts 13:34; Romans 6:9). This status as firstborn from the dead was an important part of Jesus’ work as our high priest (cf. Hebrews 9:23-28; 10:19-22).

Jesus’ authority is ultimate, here reflected in the phrase “ruler of kings on earth”. It is by His power and authority that He freed us from our sins, made us a kingdom of priests, and will one day return to judge those who reject Him.

Finally, the same definition of deity that was applied to the Father in verse 4 is applied to Jesus here. Jesus is the beginning and the end. He is no created being—not even the greatest of God’s creation. He is God Himself.

Conclusion. The book of Revelation features some of the most powerful works of Satan and his servants, and these accounts terrify people to this day. Yet, if we carefully read, we see the hand of the Godhead on the very first page of the book, revealing His ultimate power and presence. The promises that come in the rest of the book can be believed if we have faith in Him.


Created by John Bass, last updated.  11/01/2023

The Mount Baker Beacon is a weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA.
Send all questions, comments to the editor, John Bass at (360) 325-5149 or