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To this caution, he subjoins the animating and powerful consideration suggested by the other parts of the address; the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, he assured him, had prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof. We cannot be at any loss to perceive of whom the elder speaks, as in other parts of Scripture these figurative expressions are applied to Christ.-He first styles him the Lion of the tribe of Juda. The language appears to be borrowed from the prophecy of Jacob, where the same figure is used. Gen. xlix. 9, 10. What the ancient prophet affirms of the tribe, must be understood as having a special and ultimate reference to Messiah, of whom all the princes of Juda were types and figures. It is descriptive of the dignity and the ability of the Saviour; he is clothed with majesty, and girt about with might; no adversary can strike terror into his undaunted bosom ; no work is so great and honourable that he is not worthy, in respect of dignity and of excellence, to undertake it, nor any so difficult that his abilities are not competent to perform it. In every possible light in which he can be contemplated, he is the Lion of the tribe.—The figure reminds us also of his extraction according to the flesh; he is not only of the royal tribe, but likewise of the royal family ; Messiah is of an honourable descent, being the seed of David according to the flesh.
He next styles him the Root of David. This title is borrowed from Isaiah xi. 1: There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The word rendered stem, signifies either a branch or a root ; and, in a subsequent chapter of this book, he is called both the root and the offspring of David, xxii. 15. With respect to his divine nature, he is the root, and with respect to his human, he is the offspring, of David: he is both the Son and Lord of David. His person is wonderfully constituted, being bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and at the same time the true and supreme God. There is a constitutional fitness in his person for the work of mediation.
The great source of consolation which the elder opened to John, consisted in an assurance, that He whom he had described under the figure of a Lion, and of a Root, had prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. The word rendered prevailed signifies to overcome, not by argument or persuasion, but by force of arms; it suggests the idea of obstacles which could not be removed but in the way of warfare. The honour of the law, and the rights of truth and justice, were in the way; unless the law had been obeyed, and the truth and justice of God had been satisfied, no gracious purpose could have been disclosed, nor any gracious work performed, in behalf of the children of men. But the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed. By his obedience unto the death he hath magnified the law, and made it honourable ; and by the same obediential sufferings, he hath vindicated the truth, holiness, justice, and all the other features of the moral character of God; and having removed every legal obstacle out of the way, he has manifested himself worthy to be intrusted with the revelation and execution of all the gracious purposes of God respecting the church. Than this no saying could have been more consolatory; as John could not but weep, when he apprehended that the contents of this volume would never be unfolded, so he could not but feel a holy gladness and satisfaction at the sayings of this elder.
From this cursory view of the verses, it appears, 1st, That the plan of the Divine government is settled and adjusted with as much certainty and precision as if it had been put upon record, or written in a book.
2d, That the work of Messiah is a great and glorious undertaking. When proclamation was made in heaven, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof, He only was found worthy and competent for the task.
3d, That there is a mixture of good and evil in the temper and conduct of the best of men. John wept when he had no proper occasion for sorrow. In so far as his grief sprung from inattention to Christ it was criminal; but in so far as it manifested his public spirit, and sprung from a fear lest the church
might be destitute of any branch of knowledge that might be advantageous for her, it was truly generous and patriotic, and, therefore, much to be commended.
4th, That there is a constitutional fitness in the person of Christ for the work of mediation. He is both the root and the offspring of David; he is nearly related to the parties that were at variance ; he is a days-man who can lay his hand upon both, and make up the breach between them ;-and as there is no other medium of friendly intercourse with God, it nearly concerns us to be savingly acquainted with him, as the way,
the truth, and the life. No man that cometh to the Father through him will be rejected : and in vain do we expect to find acceptance in any other way. No man,' saith he, cometh to the Father but by me,' John xiv. 6.
Rev. v. 6–10. 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. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him
the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and
twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take
the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kind
red, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests : and we
shall reign on the earth.
A PROPER view of the undertaking and work of Christ never fails to cheer the hearts of his people. However much they may be dejected, their mourning will be turned into rejoicing the moment that they see the Lord. This was remarkably the case with John; he had been grieved to the heart, and wept much, because no created being was found worthy or qualified to open the book of God's designs with respect to the church; but his attention was no sooner fixed upon Christ, than he was filled with the greatest exultation of spirit; his joy was so abundant that he could not suppress his emotions ; and, therefore, he speaks of his privilege in language of holy rapture and praise. I beheld, says he, and, lo, in the midst of the throne stood a Lamb as it had been slain.
The object which now attracted the notice of the prophet was a Lamb. He had been told that the book was to be opened by the Lion of the Tribe of Juda; but instead of a Lion, he saw the figure or appearance of a Lamb. The immediate design of the vision was, to instruct and comfort the prophet, by a view of the mediatorial character of the Son of God; and no emblem could have been better fitted, as there was none with which he was more familiar than a Lamb. None of the writers of sacred Scripture have introduced this figure with greater frequency, in their illustrations of the character and work of Christ, than John. But the word which he has invariably used in this book of the Revelation, is a very different term from the one which he has employed in his history of the life of Christ. In his Gospel, he was writing an account of the administration of the humbled estate of Christ, and, therefore, he makes use of a word which properly signifies a Lamb without strength. The period of that administration was the days of Messiah's flesh, when he was compassed with the sinless infirmities which cleave to humanity. But in the book of Revelation, he is writing the prospective history of the administration of Messiah in his glorified estate, when all the infirmities of the flesh are laid aside; and, therefore, he makes use of a term which properly signifies a Lamb that is distinguished by its strength and vigour.
When John saw this Lamb, it appeared as if it had been slain. It was then alive and standing before the throne; but it carried such marks as plainly indicated, that it had once been in a state of death ; it bore the scar of a deep and mortal wound. The word rendered slain, signifies to kill by cutting the neek or throat ; it signifies also, to kill in sacrifice, Acts vii. 42. From this term is derived the Greek word, which properly signifies a feast or public entertainment. And in the character and work of Christ, we find a beautiful accordance with this part of the representation.-He was actually slain. Of this John was an eye-witness; he stood at the foot of the cross, and saw the last scenes of the abasement of the Saviour.