8. From a Word to Lamb
There is just something in God that gets a real kick out of defeating the accuser by His Word alone, revealed through weakness in many. Do you see how the Great Story of God just ties everything together? The book of Revelation could not possibly be known any other way. It is an essential element in a seamless whole; it is the capstone, the climax of the story.
8. From a Word to a Lamb
The Bible is like the human body. It is complex, with many differing parts great and small. Sometimes it's hard to tell how those differing parts are even part of the same thing. Yet in the end, just as the body is one, so the Bible is one seamless whole. However, just like the blind men of Hindustan, each trying to define the whole by the little part he stumbled upon, so most read the Bible.
The blind men of Hindustan never connected with the reality that the elephant is a living animal, thus all the parts can be known only in reference to that living animal. In the same way, most who read the Bible do not know that they are reading the Lord Jesus Christ and He revealed in us, His body. They do not know that the whole point of everything is the Word become a Lamb and living in us.
The whole point of everything, including the presence of the accuser, is the glory of the word God speaks, the Always-Speaking of God. The Word God is always speaking has a name, we call Him Jesus.
Now, in most people's minds, “glorifying Jesus” has a different meaning that that held in God's mind. Most people imagine a solitary image, high above all, before whom we peons bow. You can see that this image is Lucifer's image of himself. But most Christians know also that Jesus is something other than that image, yet they cannot lose the image, so they mix the Jesus they know with the self-image of a deluded angel.
Therefore, when John writes about the Lamb in his gospel, most see the Jesus we know, living in our hearts. But when John writes about the Lamb in his vision, most see the other thing, the exalted solitary image, high above all. Thus everything related to that image in Revelation, especially the “two witnesses,” must be of similar “deified” exaltation, high above us mere fleshy mortals.
They read the Word just like the blind men of Hindustan, as a series of chopped up and unrelated things. They do not have the key that unlocks to them the body of God.
I want to give, here, a series of verses, or even short statements, found through the Bible. I want you to consider them carefully, including the order in which they appear, as they are a seamless whole.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good. Genesis 1 – the beginning of everything through the Speaking of God.
“Did God indeed say?” Genesis 3 – the entrance of the accuser.
The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear. Deuteronomy 18 – Moses, the only command the Old Covenant requires, the only word that counts.
You have magnified Your word above all Your name. Psalm 138 – The singing of David
Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? . . .She cries out by the gates. . . “To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men. . . Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates. . . For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 8 – the wisdom of Solomon
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55 – the seeing of Isaiah
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger. Luke 2 – the Word entering His creation in weakness.
The seed is the word of God. Luke 8 – Jesus, explaining one nature of the Word.
When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? Luke 18 – Jesus, asking the greatest question in God's heart.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory – Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1 – John, showing us the Word from the beginning becoming the Lamb, a second nature of the Word.
Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. John 12 – Jesus, giving us the most staggering reality of the Word, that One becomes many, the Word itself births the faith that receives it.
I spoke openly to the world. – You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice. John 18 – Jesus, before His accusers.
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.Acts 1 – Jesus, becoming the Word in many.
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 1 Corinthians 12 – Paul, giving another picture of the Word becoming many.
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son. Hebrews 1 – the one Word of the Old, through which all the Old must pass.
And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne. . . stood a Lamb as though it had been slain. . . thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5 – John, seeing the same Lamb exalted.
And I will give to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. Revelation 11 – the Word that forms Christ in the many and that sets creation free.
And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Revelation 12 – the many having become one, birthed before the accuser.
These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. Revelation 14 – The many together as one.
These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.Revelation 17 – the whole point of everything, the singularity, the triumph of Almighty God.
There is just something in God that gets a real kick out of defeating the accuser by His Word alone, revealed through weakness in many.
Do you see how the Great Story of God just ties everything together? The book of Revelation could not possibly be known any other way. It is an essential element in a seamless whole; it is the capstone, the climax of the story.
Now, the Word of Christ which we speak is this same Word woven through every one of these verses. You can see, then, the incredible importance to the entire purpose of God that is our speaking of Christ.
And I (the Word God speaks from the beginning having become the Lamb) give (that's everything, nothing in God or in the universe is withheld) to My two witnesses (that's us, the Word having become many), and they shall prophesy (that's us, birthing the new heavens and earth, setting creation free).
I have made this statement many times: The whole point of everything is the Word God speaks, a woman in travail, and the face of the serpent. Here is another way of saying that same thing: The whole point of everything is the Word God speaks, declared as many in weakness, defeating all opposition.
This is what God has always had up His sleeve.
Now, look at what John saw in Revelation 5. Remember that this is a vision, which is the symbolic language of God. Thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb.”This is a symbol of the most valuable thing to God in all creation except the Word that He speaks. Look at the phrase: “a woman in travail in the face of the serpent.” Look at the phrase: “declared as many in weakness defeating all opposition.”
There is one word in the Bible that these things define – faith.
The exaltation of the Lamb is the audacity of faith against all opposition. When John saw the Lamb exalted above all, he was seeing you and I, in utter weakness, in utter inability and impossibility, speaking Christ our only life with all confidence and joy.
There is no greater honor of the Lamb who fills our hearts than that.
Those who “honor” the Lamb by putting Him high above on a pedestal, do not honor Him at all, because they do not believe all that He speaks. They do not make Christ, the Word God is always speaking, personal in them.
When you and I make the Word God speaks, Christ, our very and only life, Christ as us, by the declaration of our mouth (witness) against all opposition, we ARE the firstfruits, we are the thousands, we are the body of Christ.
We are God revealed. We are human.
The Word is that which births; the Lamb is that which carries. The Word births Christ inside of us; the Lamb carries us through all things to the Father. By the Word, we are transformed into the image of Christ, by the Lamb, we no longer worry (unbelief) about “measuring up” or “getting it right.”
You know, I have seen this over and over in my own experience. The very thought of obligation or “making it” or “falling short” of God and “missing out,” produces only one thing in me; it causes me to pull back from confidence in God, to withdraw my heart from singing inside of Him. In complete contrast, my continual, utter sinking into the Lamb carrying me, Christ as me, has the opposite effect. As I live rejoicing in the expression of the Lord Jesus that I find myself to be, giving thanks for all things God allows against my way, the joy of His word transforming me billows up in continual expectation.
Notice that it is the Lamb who conquers the Beast, and that He does so through our testimony.
Now, I say that obligation produces “only one thing in me.” That's just me. Most people are quite zealous about obligation producing more than their heart drawing away from confidence in God. Most people insist on doing something about their “problem.”
ALL desire to “measure up” comes from a testimony as well, a witness, a claim. That claim is that the one who needs to “measure up” in fact does not. We must understand that claim and its true source. The idea that I, as I find myself to be right now, am not sufficient, do not “measure up,” have some lack, something wrong, some contrary propensity, that idea comes from ME. It is the rebellion of Adam, the cry of self. “I deserve better than what I am in my makeup, God. I don't like the way You made me.”
Here is an absolute law. I do not find my true self, as Jesus said, by getting rid of my false self. That approach is self-evidently false. The very act of “getting rid of a false self” establishes me as the prevailing self in my life. In complete contrast, as I sink utterly (surrender, repent) into the Lamb carrying all that I am, as I rejoice in the way God made me as I find myself to be right now, that I am simply an expression of Christ Himself, then I know my true self. And in knowing my true self, the false self just fades into oblivion, sort of like what happens to darkness when you flip on the light switch.
Now, I'm going back and forth in my own mind between two verses. Let me bring them in here.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:3-4
Revelation 12:11 is the most important verse in Revelation; by understanding it, we expand it to include in itself everything else in John's vision. In my last letter I called Romans 10:3-4 the most important negative verse in the Bible.
But I also want to bring in a little blip by Fred Pruitt that came into my in-box yesterday, before I continue drawing my thoughts together.
So – Evil is the absence of God? By Fred Pruitt
What I had trouble with from the beginning reading that, was the "absence of God." I could not fathom it.
And yet the more I let it sit there, it began to occur to me that even though there can really never be, anywhere, anytime, any place, an absence of God, yet to a creature, in its own perception, there may be an absence of God by the will of the creature. Of course by creature I am meaning angels or human beings.
If I had to make such a definition, I would be more specific and say that evil is a denial of God, a refusal of God, and is involved in will. I mean really that the only place evil can occur is in the will of the creature that denies God by breaking off its will from God in order to have and assert that it has its "own will." THAT is evil. And from the state of that creature, God appears to be absent, and ultimately is absent to that will that continues in denial, even though we know He is All in all -- this creature that has broken itself off from Him cannot know it, however, because it is consumed with itself.
One could also say that “evil” that creates this false thing called “self” is the desire to improve on whatever the creature finds itself to be. To connect fully with God, to know Christ living as me, I must be joyfully content with the way I find myself to be. The primary reason both humans and angels pull their mind and will away from God is the birthing of an inherent dissatisfaction with self (sin), “God, You made me wrong.”
Now, being utterly content with self is 100% compatible with a deep thirst for an increased knowledge and revelation of God. In contrast, being dissatisfied with self squelches any thirst to know God more fully.
“For they being ignorant of God's righteousness.” What a statement! These are the Pharisees Paul is speaking of, and Paul knew the Pharisees, he had been one of the best. These people knew the law of Moses inside and out. They could quote it in its entirety. They knew every particle of what it meant and how it was to be applied to every aspect of life. And some of them, including the pre-Christ Paul, came pretty close to keeping that law to perfection.
So how does Paul claim that they are IGNORANT, that is they do not KNOW, God's righteousness.
I walked for many years with a people who held a mighty vision before their eyes of the victory of God over sin and death in our present lives. But because of the King James Bible and Augustine's prejudice, they determined that the enemy, the thing that can prevent an individual from experiencing full victory over both sin and death, was the human flesh, that is this human “nature” that carries in itself the propensity always to be stumbling and falling, always to be sleeping when it should be praying or crying out in fear when it should be sleeping.
Now, we were a Spirit-filled people; we knew the demonstration of God's power. We were not legalistic.
I know the full meaning of “seeking to establish their own righteousness” as it works itself out in many different personalities, good and Christ-loving all.
We KNEW that our human makeup was the “problem,” the thing keeping us from being part of the fulfillment of the great vision we carried. And thus our whole effort was getting God to help us fix our problem, this deficiency in our construction.
What we did not know was that this way of seeing was an interesting mixture of atheism and rebellion against God, both at the same time. Atheism says “God, You are absent,” rebellion says, “I should be better than what I am.”
Now, I know individual people who responded differently to this dilemma than I did. As I said, my belief that I was falling short of the vision caused me to draw back in discouragement. That reaction IS the only godly reaction; it is Romans 7. But I know very well a number of individuals who “took themselves in hand” to make their human self subject to the vision, subject to a God who yet remains separate from them in their own minds.
Every effort of the human to “make it” or “get right with God” or “get your flesh into submission” or even “hear and obey” results in one thing alone. It results in a religious ego, an iron barrier, that prevents that person from ever surrendering to Christ as their only life. Now, Jesus remains the Lamb, and He carries them. Thus these are good, kind, godly, and anointed people. Yet they count union with Christ to be the greatest evil (flesh cannot be okay, let alone filled with Christ) and the exaltation of the self they have produced to be what God desires.
Hatred of self is the greatest love of self that exists. For the hatred is coming from a self who is convinced he has been wronged by his Creator and, in fact, should be far superior to what he finds himself to be. Hatred of self is the fall of Lucifer; it is the sin of Adam. It is the supreme love and exaltation of self.
You see, when Jesus said, “the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” the Christian mind says, “Oh, that's my fault. If I were just a better person, my flesh would not be weak.” NO!!! Jesus was talking about the way God, in His incredible wisdom, designed us to be as His image and likeness.
Jesus spoke to two kinds of people: those who let their flesh run wild through all the lusts of this world and those who put their flesh under subjection to the clear requirements of a holy God. Of these two groups of people, which ones heard Him gladly, which ones received Him with all their hearts? And even those who had trained their hearts to “get their flesh underfoot” who did receive Christ as Savior, became Paul's nemesis, following him around, always speaking against Christ as our very and only life.
Here is the incredible thing. And it is exactly what Jesus said. When we no longer love ourselves, we discover with all joy that we love ourselves, precious and holy, our own personal expression of Christ Himself.
The tree of knowledge gives two options: let your flesh feed on all the lusts of the world OR get your flesh under control.
The tree of life gives only one option, an option that is not related to either option from the tree of knowledge: surrender your “self” utterly into the Lamb and allow Him to be your flesh. Be utterly content with the way God made you. Be complete in Christ.
In so doing you begin to delight in yourself as you find yourself to be, but also, when you remember how you once viewed “self,” you see with horror the power of self-love that sat behind your former “self-hatred.” But as we delight in ourselves as we find ourselves to be, we also discover the knowledge of God flowing out of our surrender into union with Christ and the expectation of God increases without end.
God made us the way we find ourselves to be BECAUSE that's how He wants His image to be. God cannot reveal Himself through us unless we delight in His workmanship.
Let's look more closely at Revelation 12:11. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
Let's start with a grammar lesson. A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. It is an absolute law of human language that you cannot use a pronoun without first introducing the noun. For example: The dog barked; he barked at the cat. The pronoun “he” is clear, because it takes the place of the noun “dog.” We know exactly what the pronoun “he” refers to. In this sentence, the noun “dog” is called the antecedent of the pronoun “he.” “He” clearly refers to its antecedent, “dog.”
Descriptive (not prescriptive) grammar is vital to us in understanding any sentence. The verb always rules both sentence and meaning. Action verbs are always superior to linking verbs in conveying meaning and interest. The action of this sentence is “overcame.” Thus “overcome” rules both the sentence and all the meaning it conveys.
Notice the progression from “Let there be light” to “Did God indeed say.” What word stands between those two? “Subdue the earth.” The reality of overcoming came into the human understanding before any accusation against God appeared.
But the moment we know the action taking place, we must also know who is doing the action, that is, subject/verb.
“They.” Who are they? You see, this is wrong grammar. Now, in full contrast, the direct object, that is, the object receiving the full impact of the action, is “him.” “Him” has a clear antecedent in preceding verses, that is, the dragon, the original serpent, the accuser. But “they” has no antecedent. Three times, in Revelation only, the pronoun “they” is used with no antecedent. God simply does not say who “they” are.
I believe God uses incorrect grammar here in order to underline the reality of life, that it is by invitation only. “Of all the trees of the garden (including the tree of life) you may freely eat.” “Whosoever will may come and drink.” “If any man thirsts.”
It's easy to tell who “they” are. Consider these words: “Look at me, God. I belong to You. Let every Word you speak be fulfilled in my life in all of its fullness.” To “they,” these words are a continual joy and expectation, as normal as breathing. To “not they,” these words don't mean a thing.
“They” are those who say, “I AM one of 'them.'”
“They overcame him.”
We must understand this God who fills us full. He is bizarre, to put it mildly. He is meek and lowly of heart; He reveals Himself through weakness; when He shows up in the earth, He stoops to serve. But He sure does like to “kick butt,” I guess, is the only real way of saying it. Why is that? Why does God set this whole thing up as a really good, knock-down, drag-out, no-holds-barred fight?
Yes. When we have the answer to that question, we get to go to the head of the class!
Remember that “overcome the accuser” came into the picture BEFORE any human sin.
God created all things good, first. Then He placed the operative word into the mix, the action verb – conquer, overcome, subdue. Then, He brought the accuser into the picture, third. “They overcame him.” You see, those three words are the gist of Genesis 1 through Genesis 3:1. Everything from Genesis 3:2 until this present moment is the unfolding of the three prepositional phrases, the three “by's.” But the stage is set fully with “They (Christ revealed in weakness through many) overcame him.”
I do not want to go any further into “him,” in this letter except to say that the word “him” includes more than the serpent, it includes all of his expression among men, including human government, the Beast. And it especially includes all serpent-word spoken in Christianity.
“Overcome,” then, is the action of the human experience, the verb that gives meaning to everything, the tension that creates the Great Story of God.
Now, the rest of the sentence is really bad grammar as well. It should read “by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by not loving their lives to the death.” It should be three equal “by's.” Oh well.
Look carefully at those three prepositional phrases. They are all three adverbs, that is, they speak of the verb, “overcame,” answering the question, “how.” Jesus said, “To those who overcome, I give to eat of the tree of life.” So, yes, every serious Christian asks the simple and very, very large question, “HOW?”
These three prepositional phrases answering the critical question “How? How, Lord, do we overcome,” are NOT three steps. We do not begin with the first, proceed to the second, and finally, arrive at the third. That concept does work in other things God speaks such as our walk through the Tabernacle of God, but it does not work here. Rather, those three phrases are one thing carried between two.
Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, My burden is light.” We always thought that was a yoke and a weight we must bear. Not at all. It is the yoke He bears, the burden He carries. While writing the last couple of pages, I have had this image pressing upon my heart. Let's picture it together and see where it takes us.
Jesus carries the yoke.
A yoke is a wooden bar carved out to fit around the neck and across the shoulders. The bar is carved wide to fit the exact shape of the shoulders in order to spread the weight. From each end of that wooden bar hangs a rope and a hook to which a bucket is attached. I have many years of experience in wilderness community carrying full buckets of fresh water in and full buckets of used water out (every kind of used water). I believe I used a real yoke only once, early on at Graham River Farm. It is easier to carry two full buckets with a yoke than one full bucket with one hand, always off-balance. A yoke allows you to walk upright and comfortably. No yoke makes you twisted and out of joint. No yoke creates bad backs.
Now, picture Jesus, carrying the yoke, all the weight in perfect balance, striding forward lightly and easily. It's sort of like the cross, arms outstretched. In fact, it's easier when you place your hands out onto the bar of the yoke to balance it. Now, let's take the thought that we are looking upside down and inside out. Let's invert that picture.
What you have now is the picture of Much-Afraid. (If you have not read Hind's Feet on High Places, you really must.) There she is, stumbling along, hands out-stretched, reaching for her companions, Sorrow on one side and Suffering on the other, faithful and true. All the way along, it seems to her that it is they who lift her up, who dust her off, who carry her, step by stumbling step, all the way to the High Places. Remember what they said to her after they became Peace and Joy? I quoted them in “The Mercy Seat”; let me quote them again here.
“Since you brought us here with you, we are turned into Joy and Peace.”
“Brought you here!” gasped Grace and Glory (Much-Afraid transformed). “What an extraordinary way to express it! Why, from the first to last you dragged me here.”
Again they shook their heads and smiled as they answered, “No, we could never have come here alone, Grace and Glory. Suffering and Sorrow may not enter the Kingdom of Love, but each time you accepted us and put your hands in ours we began to change. Had you turned back or rejected us, we never could have come here.”
Remember what Isaiah said, that in a very real sense, Jesus cannot return to the Father, having completed all He was sent to do, except He find faith. As incredible as it sounds, in the end, it will be the Lord Jesus who says to us, “Thank you, My dear ones, you carried Me home. I could never have returned to My Father except you put your hands in Mine.”
Let's look at Suffering and Sorrow, one on each side of us. On the one hand, lifting us up and carrying us every step of the way is “the blood of the Lamb.” The Lamb always carries us, and when we stumble and fall, weak and hurting, all we can see is Blood. We never consider our mistakes ever again. On the other hand, lifting us up and carrying us every step of the way is “not loving their lives to the death.” The Cross always carries us; we have no self but Jesus. Christ Jesus is our only self. We are He living as us in this world. And thus we are utterly content in ourselves, in what we find ourselves to be, our true selves.
In between these two absolutes, then, is the task given by our Father to us.
“The word of their testimony.”
We never speak Christ “in order to.” We always speak Christ “because of.”
This is our task; this is our glory. And in the end, the Lord Jesus will say to us, “Thank you for bringing Me Home. I never could have set creation free if you had not put your hands in Mine.”
The prophetic word of Christ comes out ONLY from a very particular place. It is a place of intimacy and tears, of giving thanks for sorrow and for Joy, for suffering and for Peace.
It is a place of having abandoned all concern for sin and all concern for the sinner, the first utterly into the Lamb's Blood, the second utterly into the Lamb-Slain. And there, carried by the Lamb in all ways, we speak Christ our only life.
Speaking Christ is not saying things about Jesus; it is speaking Christ, the victorious Conqueror, revealed personally in all ways as me.
And in the end, the Lamb will conquer the serpent/beast BECAUSE those who are with Him are called and chosen and filled with faith.
Yes, I am saying that the day will come when the Lord Jesus will say to us before all the universe, “Thank you so much, it was your faith that carried Me home. Every time you spoke Me, all that I am, as your only life in the midst of all your weakness, in the face of all opposition, casting all of yourself utterly into Me, it was you who enabled Me to accomplish what the Father sent Me to do, to set all creation free. I could never have done it without you.”
And we will stand there in wonder feeling like wounded Frodo and bumbling Sam and left-behind Merry and silly Pippin as Lords and Kings and the great ones of the earth and of all the realms of heaven bow upon their knees in wonder and adoration before the One who fills our heart.
And thus we will discover that Revelation 4 & 5 were all about us. We are His glory.
I have shed many tears in writing this; I know it's the word the Lord Jesus wants to fill your heart with right now.
It begins as a Word and then the accuser. Then comes the Word in weakness, then comes the accuser again. Then comes the Lamb in sorrow, then the Word in many, the accuser's last gasp, and the Lamb again, in Glory.
That's God's story. That's the Bible. That's the book of Revelation, the apocalypse of Jesus Christ.
It's all about God finding faith.