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The Lion and the Lamb

• Greg Boyd

Many people see Jesus as coming back to this Earth as a roaring lion that will seek its vengeance upon our enemies. However, in this sermon, Greg shows us how God’s power is best expressed by a sacrificial lamb, and it will continue to be expressed that way in the future.

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There are times throughout history where we see an apocalyptic fever that runs amok. This seems to be one of those times. Our culture is fixated on things that might end our existence. Hollywood has many movies depicting disasters, viruses, and other ways that the world might end. The word Apocalypse comes from apocalyptic literature, but over time, the meaning of apocalypse has changed and come to meant more about the end of the world than a revealing.

In order to understand the book of Revelation, we need to understand the letter and who it was written to. This book wasn’t written to a future church, but was written to the Christians of the first century and still has application for us today. To understand this application, we need to understand what was going on. One of the most important things going on in Revelation was showing how God’s power works.

People want God to be a roaring lion that devours our enemies. This expression of God goes back to the Old Testament, where the Israelites wanted their Messiah to defeat the nations that had conquered them and restore Israel. This expression continues today, as people see in Revelation a Jesus who will come back with the sword and spread his vengeance.

But the book of Revelation shares that God’s power is expressed in a slain lamb and not a roaring lion. It shows that only one has the character to show God’s power in its true form, and it is the slain lamb. Not a God who exacts vengeance with a sword. Not a roaring lion that devours its enemies. In fact, the power of God is best expressed by a slain lamb on Calvary.

Therefore, the message of Revelation is not only to believe in this revelation of a lamb-like God but to follow that lamb regardless of the cost. The message is that we should, in all times, refuse to conform to our Babylon. We must trust in the power of the lamb and not the lion.

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Topics: Conflict, End Times, Power

Sermon Series: Rescuing Revelation


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Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 5:1-10

    5 Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; 2 and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. 4 And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

    6 Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. 8 When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 They sing a new song:

    “You are worthy to take the scroll

    and to open its seals,

    for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God

    saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;

    10 you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,

    and they will reign on earth.”

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21 thoughts on “The Lion and the Lamb

    M85 says: Tuesday March 11, 2014 at 3:21 am

    Wonderful teaching. Thanks.

    Reply
    peter whan says: Tuesday March 11, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Awesome. Like you I struggled to read Revelation for years, always seeing miss-speculation and Jesus so contradictory to the Jesus of the gospels. It was only several years ago that I started to read Revelation in more 1st century, local terms that I began to understand the images and through them rediscover the Jesus of the gospels. This way of reading Revelation freed me from a lot of fear; so I am grateful that you are sharing these insight, even if unpopular, with others.

    Reply
    allenr says: Tuesday March 11, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Thank you for teaching about the misconception on the rapture. My father felt the same way. There are too many Christians that have been mislead on this subject and many more.

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Thursday March 13, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Peter W,

    I think you’re so right about the fear thing. For me, I have always been fascinated but yet, a little frightened by the “Four Living Creatures” – the “Hayyoth” in chapters 4 & 5 that are described as being around the throne. These same creatures or very similar ones, pop up in Ezekiel’s, as well as Isaiah’s visions with slight variations. Some theologians consider them to be Seraphim or Cherubim, others see them as “tesserae” or “tetramorphs” representing the four evangelists of the Gospels. Either way, it’s led to a frightening milieu artistic representations over the years.

    It would seem that in centuries past, earlier depictions of them were a bit more subtle and tame, but now most contemporary images have them being more nightmarish and phantasmagorical. Compare Masaccio’s “Expulsion from the Garden of Eden” fresco cira: 1425, with recent Cherubim paintings online. I think this kind of imagery and unbridled artistic license feeds into a hunger for “End-Times” sensationalism where beasts and devils supposedly rip and rampage during the Tribulation period.

    It’s a massively important and foreboding vision, however it’s also vital to remember that it’s physical parallel on earth was represented by the “Mercy Seat” that was atop the Ark of the Covenant where the blood was sprinkled by the priest as a substitutionary animal sacrifice – i.e. lamb or bull for the forgiveness of sins. Christ is of course, our substitute and that’s why it says in Hebrews 9:12 –

    “But by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

    That’s why the blood soaked Lamb is the only one worthy to open those seals on The Scroll. It seems that those judgments can’t be poured out unless he’s first been victorious for us. Which might imply that as one reads further, it contains the names of those martyred and eternally forgiven on it – Rev 5: 9 & 10 (?)

    Also, the angel with the flaming sword blocking mans entrance back into “Eden” is also considered to be a Cherubim by some scholars.

    Either way, the ferocious imagery employed in describing those creatures considered to be either literal or allegorical manifestations, is intimidating and a very clear warning not to attempt to approach the “Throne of Grace” by any other means except through the blood of Jesus.

    Reply
    SimonOliver says: Thursday March 13, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Glo- Ry!

    Reply
    Kathy D. says: Saturday March 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Thank you, Greg, of course me here, the forever animal welfarists, and I’m always grateful (elated even, and love the passion in which you deliver these types of messages) when you draw animals into the message and into God’s Word and our theology, into our sight as that for which we also need to be daily mindful of!!! THANK YOU!!! And, thanks also for answering to Rev 11:18. God bless your day, may His hand be upon you; WHC, you and all the leadership are in my prayers daily.

    Reply
    Kevin says: Monday March 17, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Adam and Eve had the perfect garden and were vegans. After the flood things were obviously different; why else would God have told Noah to eat meat? What do you say about Genesis 9:3? “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.”

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Thursday March 20, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Kevin,

    For me two sections of scripture come to mind whenever this subject pops up – Acts 10:9-16 and Romans 14:1-6

    Acts 10:9-16 –
    9 It was about noon the next day. The men were on their journey and were approaching the city. Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry. He wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared, Peter had a vision. 11 He saw heaven open up. There he saw something that looked like a large sheet. It was being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It had all kinds of four-footed animals in it. It also had reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “No, Lord! I will not!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything that is not pure and ‘clean.’” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time. “Do not say anything is not pure that God has made ‘clean,’” it said.
    16 This happened three times. Right away the sheet was taken back up to heaven.

    Romans 14:1-6
    “1 Accept those whose faith is weak. Don’t judge them where you have differences of opinion. 2 The faith of some people allows them to eat anything. But others eat only vegetables because their faith is weak. 3 People who eat everything must not look down on those who do not. And people who don’t eat everything must not judge those who do. God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servants? Whether they are faithful or not is their own master’s concern. They will be faithful, because the Lord has the power to make them faithful. 5 Some people consider one day to be more holy than another. Others think all days are the same. Each person should be absolutely sure in his own mind. 6 Those who think one day is special do it to honor the Lord. Those who eat meat do it to honor the Lord. They give thanks to God. Those who don’t eat meat do it to honor the Lord. They also give thanks to God.

    Now, in quoting these passages I’m not suggesting that anyone is “weak” or that “anything goes” that squirms or moves – some things are just plain disgusting to considering eating like “Svio”- boiled sheep’s head or “Ukha”- fish head soup – Ha! I personally find eating something like a “Dolphin” for example, a pretty mean thing to do, but for many Japanese, it’s quite a normal delicacy. But as we all know though, some people really get into eating these kind of things and I suppose the heart of the matter is simply cultural and what’s available at the time. And if one becomes hungry enough, well unfortunately almost anything goes!

    Reply
    M85 says: Thursday March 20, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    “In other words, Genesis 9:3 is not unlike God’s reluctant concessions of divorce (Matt 19:8), or the establishment of monarchy in Israel (1Sam 8). Though these are all reluctantly permitted and tolerated by God (an extension of God’s gracious condescension to a fallen world), none represents God’s ultimate desire for his creatures. Because Christians are not simply called to live according to the external precepts of “the law”, but are called to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, who’s sanctifying work draws us closer to God’s ideals, we therefore have every reason to move beyond the Pharisaical tendency to simply seize upon the opportunities afforded our fallen nature by a legalistic interpretation of Genesis 9:3, and to follow the Spirit as it leads towards the fulfillment of God’s eschatological promise according to which “the wolf will lie down with the lamb” and “the lion will eat straw like the ox” (Isa 11:6,7).” from LAMPPOST FARMS: SLAUGHTER AS GOD INTENDED?: «Theological Animal».

    Reply
    Kathy D says: Thursday March 20, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    On a practical note: There is always going to be a debate in this area I think…as much as I wish it weren’t so at times and the peaceable kingdom were already here…for the sake of those who are tortured, not for mine. For those who want to use the scripture as justification to eat meat (I agree with M85, some things are most likely “an extension of God’s gracious condescension to a fallen world”), visit a factory farm, tune into an animal welfare organization such as Farm Sanctuary, read one of Andrew Linzey’s books (theologian, founder and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics), watch an undercover video of what is happening in our world to food animals and animals produced for clothing or fur.

    More than ever today, we urgently need to look at the times we live in to determine whether something is right for us to do or not, especially when it comes to food and consumerism in general. Farming is no longer done in a fashion that is merciful. Scripture tells us again and again that we are to be merciful and kind to animals, it is everywhere in scripture. The Sabbath includes animals, and every 7 years the land is supposed to rest!! Take a moment and look into the eyes of the animals you are eating, look at how they are being *raised.* Paul McCartney said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarian.” CAFO’s should have glass walls, we’d be vegetarian before they made it to slaughter….. Paul tells us to “put on love above all else.” Col 3:14.

    Now, none of this is being said in any way shape or form to be argumentative or judgmental. It is a plea that we, as those who profess to love the Savior, as the body of Christ, would look at what He has made with new eyes, to “see what He sees” and to have our hearts broken for what breaks His…. We live in a world today where most everything we ‘consume’ has been brought to us by someone else. We don’t see what goes on behind the scenes. We just show up at the shop or the grocers and buy it. But God does see all that is going on, and as one who has also seen but a very small glimpse of what He sees every moment in the lives of animals, it most definitely breaks the Saviors heart. As persons of faith, responsible for the welfare of the planet, each other and all living things on it, as those made in the Image of God, more than ever today, it is urgent that we know where what we buy comes from, or we end up partaking in evils we most likely would not partake in if we saw it for ourselves, and we inadvertently violate the principles of love that the gospel message is all about. We cannot further the kingdom this way!

    For a good read about Christ and consumerism (there are several contributors to this literary work, of which Craig Bartholomew, Thorsten Moritz, Gordon Wenham are three, and I find this work in keeping with Greg’s theology):

    http://www.reformationalpublishingproject.com/pdf_books/Scanned_Books_PDF/ChristandConsumerism.pdf

    I believe more than ever, we are being called to wake up to what is happening all around us in our world today, to be aware of the origins of what we are buying, how it is made, produced, etc. More and more in the western culture and indeed in the world over, our core values are being derived from consumption rather than consumption from the core values of Christ. We put the gospel message in jeopardy when we do not understand consumerism.

    You see, it is not about whether we get to eat animals or not! It is a much bigger subject than that, it is all about our character in handling what the Lord has made and in presenting Christ to the world in all we do, including in our food choices!

    Again, not passing any judgment, I’ve just begun to learn about consumerism and the more I do learn about it, the more urgent I sense the topic is for all of us to understand! We are all in this together!

    Reply
    Kathy D says: Thursday March 20, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    …would like to add one tiny little thing about food choices. You know Paul taught that he did not want people to get all hooked up over and in arguments about food. Back then, the way food was raised was totally different than today. But even in spite of that, I think what Paul was trying to get at is that we should make the ethical and loving choices, choices that honor each other as to not “trip up your brother.” “Let’s not argue about these things but do what it takes so that your brother feels loved by you.” Today, making the ethical and loving choices may look much different than it did then in regards to the same subject matter, because today, food for example is not raised or delivered in the same way it was then, and most certainly is not done in an ethical or loving way.

    I guess what I’m trying to get at is that what Paul was saying all along in these pages was really about doing what is loving and ethical. It wasn’t really about food. It’s always about our behavior and whether what we do or what we are partaking in looks like Christ or not.

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Thursday March 20, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Kathy D,

    What are your thoughts on Luke 24:41-43? Do think that in The Resurrection i.e. New Heavens/New Earth or Millennial Kingdom, we will eat meat of any kind?

    Reply
    Kathy D. says: Thursday March 20, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Hi Dave, no, I don’t think we will. Killing is an act of violence. When Jesus came to earth as fully man/fully God, he entered our created world order; it makes sense He would eat what is being eaten during the culture at that time in order to survive. There are those circles that believe Jesus was a vegetarian despite what we read in scripture; there are those that believe what was meant by “meat” in scripture was a word for “food” “or sustenance” not meaning animal flesh. I guess I’ve come to land on believing it really doesn’t matter if He was or wasn’t vegetarian (though I believe He very well could have been). A pre-fall state of non-violence and perfect harmony between us and creation is what God intended, and what He intends to return us to one day. In praying ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ means we are to live now in as much as is within our power in ways that reflect that peaceable kingdom when all will be restored to perfect shalom again. Not that we get legalistic. We should let love, mercy, kindness be the principles we live by toward each other and the animal kingdom. God’s covenant is will all flesh.

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Friday March 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Kathy,

    And your take on John 21:1-14 where Jesus after the Resurrection makes breakfast for Peter & John and other disciples. He/They cook up some of the fish they’ve just miraculously caught. Jesus prepares the coals and they sup together.

    Reply
    Kathy D. says: Monday March 24, 2014 at 10:31 am

    The area in which Jesus lived was apparently very heavily dependent upon the eating of fish and most of the people could hardly have survived without it. We don’t know whether Jesus ate the fish Himself on that occasion, but we are told that He did eat fish with His disciples after the Resurrection in order to confirm that He had risen in the flesh. But this doesn’t necessarily mean we should eat fish (or any other invertebrate given they are raised/treated in an un-biblical manner) in today’s world. What Jesus actually did in that situation is irrelevant when we understand His divinity and purpose; when we realise what happened at the Fall and the dreadful effect this had upon the whole creation. I think, as the sermon says (Greg’s message in this sermon about this subject is excellent, and there is great need for more leadership like this in our Christian circles), we have a choice and we should question whether we are showing mercy, kindness or justice (Micah 6:8) by what we eat in today’s world; and whether by doing so, we are promoting God’s Peaceable Kingdom.

    Psm 24:1, ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.’ We should take care of it, not exploit it, not cause harm or fear, pain or suffering to His creation.

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Thursday March 27, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Kathy,

    I’m so glad that we can discuss this topic. I am in complete agreement with you that so much of the meatpacking & processing industry today and in the past, is saturated with grotesque and horrific practices. Just Google the infamous – “Hatchery Horrors: Video Shows No Mercy for Baby Chicks…” and we can see what they’re doing! There are dozens of other even more vile examples of man’s abuse of the “created order” at the touch of a button.

    “What Jesus actually did in that situation is irrelevant when we understand His divinity and purpose; when we realise what happened at the Fall and the dreadful effect this had upon the whole creation.”

    I’m not sure though that anything our Lord did should be considered “irrelevant” regardless of the zeitgeist in that particular culture. He chose the multiplication and consumption of fish to illustrate certain spiritual truths – if he had wanted to point out the unfortunate spiritual collapse of man in his current sinful laden condition characterized by a lust for animal flesh, then he might have intentionally fed the five thousand with just bread or more potently and symbolically eaten just grapes or fruit in front of his disciples instead as an object lesson, but he didn’t.

    Just as you have stated that – “when we realise what happened at the Fall and the dreadful effect this had upon the whole creation.”

    I can also confidently reiterate Matthew 15:11 – “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

    I do support organizations such as the RSPCA and others. I believe in what they’re doing. When it comes to meat, I do my level best to eat as little red meat as possible and go “Free-Range” and “Grass-fed” whenever I have the choice. The scriptural references I cited above – Acts 10:9-16, Romans 14:1-16, Luke 24:41-43 & John 21:1-14 were not thrown together to be mockish or challenging to your passionate and strong convictions about the abuse and hyper-commodification animals in todays world. So many of my friends and colleagues are Vegans and they have my love and respect as well!

    Reply
    Kathy D. says: Thursday March 27, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Dave, I am glad we can discuss it too, thank you! Yes, there are numerous grotesque and horrific practices, like you say. At the touch of a button one can find them. As an animal welfarist, I’ve seen my fair share; I can no longer watch the videos, but I do stay informed as to what is happening in the world of animals through various sources like “Farm Sanctuary,” “Mercy For Animals” and others. Myself and another Christian animal welfarist started a blog in hopes of bringing the message of Christ to animal welfare, as well as the message of animal welfare to the faith community. We would love your prayer, if you feel the Lord lead you to such for us, thanks.

    Reply

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    Jason Wolfe says: Wednesday August 6, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    For anyone who cares the quote from “Well-Known Pastor Guy” is the pastor of Mars Hill Seattle Calvinist Mega-Church, Mark Driscoll, from an article from the August 28, 2007 edition of Relevant Magazine. Here’s a link:

    http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/features/1344-from-the-mag-7-big-questions

    Furthermore, as a friendly rebuke, the apostle Paul wasn’t afraid to call out by name the false teachers of his day. One example: 2 Timothy 2:17-18,

    17 And their word will eat as doth a canker; of whom is Hymanaeus and Philetus;
    18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

    I’m just wondering why it is that Pastor Boyd, a bible believing Christian, won’t call out the false teachers of his day by name as did the apostle Paul?

    Reply
    Heather says: Thursday August 14, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    I heard once that God is the perfect balance of love and justice, and that people tend to err one direction or the other. I think that people who lean more toward justice are more likely to believe the “traditional” rapture and end times scenario, and people who lean more toward love are going to find this “modern” (for lack of better words to describe it, don’t take offense at my choice of wording) interpretation that Greg has presented here. Personally, I fall between the two. I am very aware that Revelation has symbolic meaning and I do not look to the book in an effort to connect it to modern events/conspiracy theories. I do, however, believe that God will punish those who have chosen to reject Him at the time of His return. I haven’t forgotten that God is the same yesterday, today & tomorrow (forever), and I do not view it as a contradiction of character for God to punish sin as He is holy. I remember how God interacted with His people in the Old Testament and the methods with which He chastised the disobedient or idolatrous. I am also aware that the finished work of the cross changed the way the Lord interacts with us since we now have a Savior Who intercedes for us. In order for God to be just and holy, He has to give punishment where punishment is due. Christ took that punishment for those who place their faith in Him, and those who chose not to trust Christ are without excuse (Romans 1). I think Greg’s interpretation that God will not actively punish unbelievers, but will more or less let the “natural consequences” of their choices catch up to them is interesting but raises red-flags in my gut. I will continue to watch his series on Revelation and pray for discernment. I am okay with agreeing to disagree on the interpretation of Revelation.

    Reply
    John Rockett says: Monday July 6, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Hi

    Can someone help me. Some years ago I had a very vivid techni-colour dream (?) of a procession. I can recall looking at the procession as there was a light blue banner being held. I looked and saw a lion and looked again and saw a sheep (not a lamb but a more so a ram). The procession seemed to be in the sky, in the clouds. I am not at that time a Christian, I was nothing so to speak. Now these days I am coming closer to Christianity. And more so the memory of this dream comes to my mind. What can this mean, It is driving me crazy.

    Reply

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