The New Testament records the ascension of Jesus Christ and his return to his rightful glory where he  sat down at the right hand of God the Father.

What the rest of the New Testament teaches in plain language Revelation 5 teaches by the symbols of the conquering Lion of Judah, and slaughtered Lamb standing 'in the centre of the throne' [verse 6] and taking the 'scroll' from the hand of God.

The Lamb is surrounded by the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders. These are the beings who gave constant praise to God in Revelation 4:8-11. But now, when the Lamb takes the scroll, they focus their praise on the Lamb. He alone is worthy to take the scroll from the hand of God. By his incarnation, death and resurrection he has accomplished the eternal purpose of God that was planned before time began. That this is the case is obvious from the content of the praise of the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders.

So exalted is the Lamb that he is given the worship that is due to God alone. Previously the elders and the four living creatures repeatedly affirmed the unique holiness of God – a holiness that excluded the worship of any other. But here they worship the Lamb – they fall in worship before him, just as the elders had previously fallen in worship before God. By this worship they affirm the deity of Jesus Christ, for such homage is due only to God.

The song of worship which they sing had never been sung before, neither on earth nor in heaven. It is a 'new song'. It was not possible for it to be sung before because its content, prior to the triumph of the Lamb, existed only in the eternal purpose of God. But now that purpose has been accomplished. What God planned before the creation of the world, before the beginning of time [1Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:4; 2Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1Peter 1:20], has now become a reality in time and space. The price for human redemption has been paid.

Now that the Lamb has triumphed in his work of human redemption the new song is being sung [the Greek is present tense].

The Lamb is worthy because he was slain. Here is the power and the glory of his death. His death was not accidental. His death was not something out of his control. Rather his death was a death by choice, a death he deliberately and purposefully accomplished in obedience to the Father [Matthew 26:52-54; Luke 9:51; John 10:18; 18:11; Hebrews 10:9,10].

The Lamb is worthy because with his blood he has purchased people out of every tribe and language and people group and nation for God. Here is the key trans-national redemptive impact of his death: the Lamb purchased people for God. The blood of the Lamb is the ransom – the purchase price necessary to set us free from our bondage to sin, death and Satan and restore us to God, our rightful owner [1Peter 1:18,19].

The Lamb is worthy because he has made these people, those who believe in him, ‘a kingdom’ and ‘priests to serve … God’ [see also 1Peter 2:9]. This was the eternal purpose of God, this trans-national kingdom in which both Jew and Gentile are heirs together under the headship of Jesus Christ [Ephesians 3:6] and this trans-national priesthood in which Jew and Gentile share a common identity and a common access to the common Father whom they serve [Ephesians 2:11-22].

The Lamb is worthy because he has enabled the restoration of human dominion over the earth.  For biblical reference to this human role of dominion over the earth see Genesis 1:26,28. But this role was impacted by sin [Genesis 3:14-24], and the whole of creation is currently in anguish, waiting for its final liberation at the second coming of Christ, when humans again occupy their intended role [Romans 8:18-25].

Just as in Revelation 4 the four living creatures and twenty-four elders never stopped their praise of the one who sits on the throne, even so here in Revelation 5 those same living creatures and elders are continually singing their praise to the Lamb.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2015