The Eternal Lamb
Revelation 13:7-8 (ESV) — Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
We often associate the book of Revelation with the end of the story. In many ways, that is correct. Much of John’s revelation focuses on events that would happen within the lifetimes of the first-century readers who received it, but a lot of it is future oriented to the Day when Jesus will return to defeat Satan, judge the world in righteousness, and make all things new. But our passage today carries us into the past—eternity past—to the time before the world, or anything in it, existed. God dwelled in eternity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit lived in perfect love, harmony, and unity with one another, with a singular divine will to create a universe that displayed the glory of God.
In our passage today, John warns about a beast who wages war against the world, particularly the Church. The beast makes war on the saints and conquers them. Everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain will worship the beast. Listen to that again. As the beast makes war in the last days, all will worship him, all except those whose names were written by God from the foundation of the world (meaning before the world’s formation). God wrote these names in a book entitled “the life of the Lamb who was slain.” He named the book after Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. This predates the world’s existence. It’s before sin even occurred. And those who resist worshipping the beast came solely from the inerasable certainty of their names in that book.
This is a mystery we can never scale the heights of. We don’t have to unravel the mystery in order to stand in awe of it. This passage assures us that the plan of redemption was not reactive to humanity’s sin. Before people existed, and before Adam and Eve sinned, the Triune God determined to display His glory in the Son becoming a man and dying for sinners on the cross. The Lamb slain was not a Plan B option, but the plan of God from the foundation of the world. Jesus is the Eternal Lamb of God.
Questions for Reflection:
- Why are some things in the Bible considered a mystery? Why do we as Christians have to be content with the limitations of our understanding?
- What kind of comfort does it give you as a Christian to know your name was written in the book of the life of the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world?
- What confidence does this passage give you today about God’s plan to save us and about His strength to sustain us through trials and temptations?