And I beheld, and, see, in the middle of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the middle of the elders…
I. The vision is set before us to remind us of THE METHOD OF ATONEMENT; it is by the blood of Jesus, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Amid all the error abounding in this world there are few so infatuated as to maintain that they have not committed sin. Hew is this sin to be forgiven? By our repentance and reformation, may possibly be the reply. But till there is a work of grace upon the heart there can be no genuine repentance, no godly reformation. There may be feelings of remorse and regret; but these are not penitence. But granting, for the sake of argument, that man could of himself wring out a true repentance, still it can be shown that there is nothing in that repentance to make atonement for past sin. In no case can it make any amends to the insulted justice of God. Perhaps you now say that you trust in the mercy of God. You trust, you say, in the mercy of God; but how is this mercy to be exercised? Mercy is not the sole perfection of God. Holiness and justice — these are as essential to His nature as benevolence. How, then, can God be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly? Human reason can give no intelligent, no satisfactory answer to this question. The mind feels that it has nothing to rest on; no truth on which the understanding can settle and the heart repose, till such time as it sees "a Lamb as it had been slain, in the very midst of the throne of God."
II. The vision is set before us to remind us of THE CHARACTER OF JESUS, of His meekness and gentleness, so fitted to win the human heart. The question under the last head was, How is God to be reconciled to man? The Question under this head is, How is man to be reconciled to God? How is his confidence to be won and his heart engaged?
1. I remark that in order to the gaining of the feelings of the heart it is needful that the conscience be pacified. A troubled conscience always leads the mind to avoid, as if instinctively, the remembrance of the party offended. There cannot be true and filial love in a mind in which conscience has not been appeased, nor can there be any of those allied graces, such as faith and confidence, hope and joy, which ought to fill and animate the soul. Not only so, but in order to gain the heart there must be a free, a full, and an instant forgiveness. It must be free; for it cannot be purchased or earned by us. It mast be full; for if anything were left unforgiven the conscience would still reproach. Observe how all this is secured in the very view here presented to our fatten. The Lamb, the image of gentleness, in the midst of the throne, shows that God is pacified, and the blood that flows from it proves that this has been done in strict accordance with justice. The conscience, the law in the heart, is satisfied, for God Himself, the law-giver, is satisfied. The believer, as he looks to the object set up, can say, "It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?"
2. But secondly, in order to gain the heart there must be a lovely object presented to it. Such an object is presented in Jesus, a Lamb as it had been slain. The character of our Lord, set forth as an object on which the faith and affection of mankind may rest, has in itself everything that is grand and attractive. Just as fleece is a beauty in shape and colour that pleases the eye, and a sweetness of sound that delights the ear, so there is a moral loveliness that should draw towards it the affections of the soul. But here, in the character of God set forth in the face of His Son, we have all kinds of beauty meeting and harmoniously blending. In the Mediator the Divine and human natures are united in such a manner that the one does not destroy or overpower the other, but each retains its own properties, while the whole is a unity. The brightness of the Father's glory, without being shorn of a single ray, is seen in Christ under a milder lustre. Coldness and indifference are dispelled when we think that in drawing near to Jesus it is man coming to man. Unbelief vanishes when we realise that we have a brother's heart beating for us on the throne of glory. While our hearts are naturally drawn by sentiments and sympathies towards every brother man, there are certain men of classes of men towards whom we are attracted with greater force; as, for instance, towards all whose sensibilities are quick and whose feelings are tender. And if the persons have themselves been in trouble, if their heart has been melted and softened by fiery trial, our hearts go towards them in yet fuller assurance. Disposed at all times to love such, we are especially drawn towards them when we ourselves are in trouble. It is by this attracting power that believers are drawn so closely to their Saviour. The brotherliness of His human nature, as well as the holy love of His Divine nature, are brought out before us in almost every incident of His life. The forsaken lift up their head and are comforted in communion with Him who was Himself forsaken. Every one acquainted with man's nature knows that if his heart is gained it must be gained by love. It must be by presenting a loving object. Such is the loving object set before us — a Lamb as it had been slain.
III. The vision is set before us to remind us that JESUS IS THE GRAND SOURCE OF JOY TO THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN. As it was the view of Christ crucified that first gained the heart of the sinner, so it is a view of the same object seen in the visions of faith that continues to keep and fix his regards. The faith that saves does not consist of a single glance; "looking unto Jesus" is the habitual attitude of the believer's soul. Led to love the Lamb of God when on earth, trained by the Spirit of God and by all the dispensations of God to love Him more and more, he finds when he has crossed the dark valley of the shadow of death that the first object that meets his eye, and the most conspicuous, is a Lamb as it had been slain. But we cannot utter that which is unutterable, or describe that which is indescribable; and so we cannot picture or so much as conceive of that joy unspeakable and full of glory which the believer feels on his first entering into the presence of his Saviour, and which he is to enjoy for ever. True, there will be enjoyments not flowing so directly, though still proceeding indirectly from Him. There will be joys springing from the holy affections of confidence and love, which Christ by His Spirit plants in the breasts of His people. These graces, flowing, overflowing, and ever increasing, will be a source of great and ever-deepening happiness throughout eternity. Again, there will be joys springing from the glorious society of heaven, from the company of saints and angels. The question has often been asked, Where is heaven? We may not be able to answer it geographically, but we can answer it truly. It is where Jesus is. "Where I am, there ye shall be also."
1. A man must be born again before he can enter the kingdom of God.
2. Oh, that I had but lived in the days when Jesus sojourned on the earth! is the wish that will sometimes rise up in our breasts. Oh, that I had but seen His sacred person i Oh, that I had but heard His gracious words! These wishes, if proceeding from a sincere and sanctified heart, may yet be gratified, lie who was dead is alive, and behold He liveth for evermore. As He was on earth, so is He now in heaven.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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 as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
WEB: I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.