November 2011 • Volume XIII, Issue 19
The Lamb Takes the Book (2)
In the last News, we saw Jesus Christ take the book and so
execute the eternal decree of God with respect to all things (Rev.
5). Christ the Lamb is spoken of as a mighty "Lion" to assure John
of His victory (5). Lions have a loud, terrifying roar (cf. 10:3;
Amos 3:8). Lions have long, sharp teeth to seize and rend their prey
(their bark is not worse than their bite!). Their jaws are strong
and their hold is firm. The power of lions is proverbial (Prov.
30:30; Judg. 14:18). Lions know their strength and so we speak of
someone being as "bold as a lion" (Prov. 28:1). David argued that he
could take on Goliath because he had slain a lion (I Sam. 17:34-37).
Lions are kingly (they not only roar and rend, but they also
reign!). Is not the lion the king of the beasts? King Solomon had
twelve lions on the steps to his throne (I Kings 10:20). Jesus is
the descendent of kings. He came from Israel’s royal tribe as "the
Lion of the tribe of Juda" (Rev. 5:5). When He was prophesied as a
king from Judah (Gen. 49:10), Judah was described in terms of a lion
(9). Christ came from Israel’s greatest royal figure: "David" (Rev.
5:5). David was the first king from Judah, a great conquering king
and the head of a dynasty lasting over 400 years. Christ is an
eternal, victorious king.
Christ is the "root" of Jerusalem’s kings, as prophesied in Isaiah
11:10. Christ is not only the descendent or off-spring of David; He
is "the Root of David" (Rev. 5:5; 22:16). Christ, not Jesse, is the
origin and source of King David. Christ’s Spirit was in David making
him like Christ. Christ’s power brought David to the throne and
wrought his victories. Thus, David is a type and picture of Christ’s
kingship. As David was enthroned by God and executed His will in
protecting and governing His people and destroying His enemies, so
the Lord Jesus perfectly rules in the kingdom of God.
Christ’s lion-like power and royalty are required for His taking the
book. Only a king is fit for these environs, for, in Revelation 5,
God is seated on His throne as the universal ruler and even the 24
elders are royal figures with crowns and thrones. Only a king is fit
for the task. The task involves a royal commission from Him who sits
on the throne. The task involves sitting on a royal throne (cf.
22:1). The task involves exercising royal dominion over the whole
universe in executing God’s all-encompassing, sovereign decree.
Christ appears here as a slain Lamb for as such He obtained His
victory on the cross. Notice that the elder speaks of a Lion (5:5)
and, behold, instead of a roaring, rending, royal lion, we see ... a
Lamb (6)! A lamb is a small, white, woolly creature. A lamb is
helpless and weak (Luke 10:3). Moreover, this is a little
lamb. Only a "slain" lamb has less strength than a little lamb (Rev.
5:6). A lamb is a stark contrast to a lion. All fear lions; none
fear lambs. Lions are wild carnivores; lambs are domesticated
herbivores. Lambs feed on grass; lions feed on lambs.
Christ, however, is not just any Lamb. He is the Lamb pictured in
the Old Testament. He is the Passover Lamb whose blood stayed the
sword of the avenging angel. He is the Lamb of Isaiah 53:7 who
receives a portion as the great One (12). He is, in short, the
sinless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
As the Lamb "slain," He is the sacrificial Lamb. God appointed Him
as such before the world’s foundation (Rev. 13:8). God imputed to
Christ all the sins of His people and He bore God’s wrath against
our iniquities by dying in our place and redeeming us by His blood
(5:9). The cross was the Lamb’s historical, decisive, irrevocable
victory. There Christ purchased the elect, defeated Satan and the
world, and made glad the heart of the Triune God! He is now the
exalted Lamb. The slain Lamb lives, through His resurrection from
the dead. The Lamb slain on earth stands in heaven in the midst of
the throne, the beasts and the elders, through His ascension.
Christ must be both Lion and Lamb to open the book. The exalted,
kingly Lion must first be the humble, priestly Lamb. The victorious
Lion’s power comes through the victim Lamb’s weakness. The silence
of the Lamb breaks forth in the roar of the Lion. Christ is worthy
to take the book since, as the Lion, He has the power, and, as the
Lamb, who shed His blood for us, He has the right. No wonder no one
else could open the book!
The lowly, weak Lamb has royal characteristics. The Lamb has "seven
horns"—omnipotence (6). The Lamb has "seven eyes"—omniscience (6).
The Lamb has received the Holy Spirit in all His covenant fullness
(6). The Lamb comes and takes the book and rules the universe (7)!
All in heaven worship the only One worthy to open the book (8-14)!
This Word of God gives us a glorious vision to help us when
persecuted and distressed. Revelation was originally written to a
people oppressed by the typical Roman Empire. Today, the final
Anti-Christian kingdom is not yet here in its full form (Rev. 13),
yet we too feel its tug. We are tempted to put money, pleasure and
material comfort above the kingdom of God. We are pressured to water
down Christ’s truth for false ecumenism and syncretism. We are
persecuted in various forms for the Word of God.
Behind all things, heaven rules. Often we look only on the earthly
events, but we must look up and keep looking up at the vistas of the
better world. The book is the source of all that happens. Men and
earthly calamities are only means. The ultimate cause of all things
is the eternal plan of the Triune God. The victorious Lamb is on the
throne; our Saviour executes God’s decree! As the priestly Lamb, He
is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. The same Lamb,
whose love led Him to shed His blood for us, still loves us. He who
died for us will keep us. We may and will lose individual battles,
personally and corporately, but we share in the final and universal
triumph of the Lamb. The "wrath of the Lamb" (6:16) will destroy
those who attack His blood-bought church.
If we do not believe this, we will "weep much" in defeat (cf.
5:4-5). We will have no heart for the fight. We will be easily
overcome by our trials. Christ has conquered on the cross and reigns
over all: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and
riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and
blessing" (12)! Rev. Stewart
Are All Infants Dying in Infancy Saved?
In the last News, I began a discussion of several texts
quoted by a reader that are claimed as biblical proof that all
children who die in infancy are saved. The text I treated was Ezekiel
I wrote the last article, however, under a misconception. I have since
learned that the reader’s question is not: Are all the children of
believing parents who die in infancy saved? The question is much
broader: Are all the children of believers and unbelievers
who die in infancy saved? There are those, chiefly though not
exclusively, to be found among Baptists who hold to this position. As
a matter of fact, Zwingli, the Swiss Reformer, who himself held to the
baptism of the children of believers, also held that all infants who
die in infancy are saved. I briefly alluded to this idea in my last
article, but failed to realize that this was the main question at
And so we must consider if the texts appealed to prove that all
infants of believing and unbelieving parents who die in infancy are
saved. Presumably, this also includes all aborted babies, both those
destroyed by spontaneous abortion and those slain by human
interruption of the pregnancy.
The next text is Jeremiah 32:18-19: "Thou shewest lovingkindness unto
thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom
of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of
hosts, is his name, great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine
eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give
every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his
The point in quoting this text is, it seems, this: verses 18 and 19
might appear to contradict each other. How should we understand these
verses to avoid this? The seeming contradiction is apparently in the
fact that verse 18 speaks of God recompensing the iniquity of the
fathers into the bosom of their children, while verse 19 speaks of the
fact that Jehovah sees all that men do and gives to every man
according to his doings. Presumably, the statement that God gives
every man according to his doings is interpreted to mean the reward of
grace, of which the New Testament speaks repeatedly. So, if I
understand the argument correctly, the apparent contradiction lies in
the children suffering for the iniquity of their fathers and yet being
rewarded with the reward of grace. And so, the conclusion is that the
children to whom the iniquity of the fathers is recompensed do not
include infants, because verse 19 promises them a great reward. Hence
infants are saved. Now, that is a rather convoluted explanation of the
text and the reasoning here seems specious. (I hope I am not
misinterpreting what the questioner means; if I am, he must feel free
to correct me.)
The context of this powerful text is this: Jerusalem was about to be
destroyed, yet Jeremiah was told to purchase a parcel of land. How
utterly foolish to buy land when Judah is overrun with Chaldeans. But
Jeremiah was instructed to buy land as a sure guarantee that God would
bring His people back again to the promised land, which also He did
after seventy years. In response to this seemingly impossible promise
of a return, Jeremiah prays. It is a wonderful prayer, but it also
suggests that Jeremiah does not understand how that will be possible,
for the Chaldeans have devastated the land and Jerusalem is about to
be captured. It all seemed to be hopeless.
The fact that God recompenses the iniquity of the fathers into the
bosom of their children is something I explained in the last News,
and I will not repeat what I said. We ought to notice, however, that
Jeremiah is admitting in his prayer to God that Jerusalem’s and
Judah’s woes are brought upon them justly. And this is the point of
verse nineteen. God is just in all His ways. God gives to every one of
the sons of men according to the fruit of their doings. This is not a
reference to the reward of grace; it is a reference to what God in His
justice is doing to Judah for its sins.
Jeremiah wonders how it is possible for Judah ever to return. Read
verses 24-25. But what is the Lord’s answer? "Behold, I am the Lord,
the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?" (27). Now
read the rest of the chapter. It is profoundly moving. Yes, Jerusalem
shall be chastised for her sins. But, behold, I will gather them out
of all countries ... And they shall be my people, and I will be their
God ... But read for yourself the whole chapter—and marvel at the
greatness of the mercy and power of Almighty God. His covenant is
The next text is Deuteronomy 1:39: "Moreover your little ones, which
ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no
knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto
them will I give it, and they shall possess it."
The argument here for the salvation of all infants dying in infancy
is: "The people of Israel were kept out of the promised land because
of their unbelief, but Deuteronomy 1:39 tells us that the little ones
and the children, who were too young either to believe the ten bad
spies or not to believe the two good spies, would go in." The argument
is, I presume, that Canaan is a picture of heaven, and just as the
children of those who perished in the wilderness, though they did not
either believe or refuse to believe the ten wicked spies, went into
Canaan, so children who die in infancy go to heaven.
It is immediately obvious that there is something seriously wrong with
the argument. The children who entered Canaan were not children who
died in infancy, but were children who had grown up and become men and
women. Deuteronomy is talking about what happened years before the
nation heard Moses give the laws of Deuteronomy while Israel was in
the plains of Moab and near the Jordan. The text itself says this, for
it is talking about what happened "in that day."
Deuteronomy 2:14 tells us that Israel left Kadesh-barnea (whence the
spies were sent out to Canaan) thirty-eight years before they crossed
the brook Zered and entered Moab, soon to conquer the promised land.
Thus the youngest children who were alive at Kadesh would have been
thirty-eight when they entered Canaan. It all seems so obvious that I
may be missing the point. If so, the reader may write it again.
If you would like to receive the Covenant Reformed News
free by e-mail each month (and/or by post, if you are in the UK),
please contact Rev. Stewart and
we will gladly send it to you