The New Exodus in

the Risen Lamb

Revelation 1:4-8

Scott Sanborn

Brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, our God has given us the blessings of his kingdom through the resurrection of our Savior. And he will come again to judge his enemies and bring us to glory. To him be glory and dominion for ever.

In the past Israel was in bondage in Egypt. But God set his love upon Israel. Thus he appeared to Moses in the burning bush as "I Am." Then God freed the firstborn of Israel from death through the Passover lamb. After this he guided them through the Red Sea by a cloud. But he destroyed the Egyptians by the cloud and the sea. Then God brought Israel to Mt. Sinai where he called them to be a kingdom of priests. There he gave them his law. That law was later placed in the tabernacle as a continual witness to his grace.

Still Israel did not worship their God but gave themselves over to a golden calf. And even in the land of promise, Israel turned aside to worship other gods. They didn't trust in God's power to save them from their enemies. Instead, they scrambled for other ways to find security. So God sent them back into bondage in Babylon. All appeared to be lost. They fell into despair mourning the loss of their land.

But there was one hope. God had said of David in the 89th Psalm, "I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth . . . his seed . . . shall be established forever . . . as a faithful witness in heaven." This promise God has fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For John calls Christ "the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth" (Rev. 1:5).

Christ has brought a new exodus, and in it he has been exalted as the firstborn king. Jesus says in Revelation 22:16, "I am the root and offspring of David."

For Solomon, although he came after David, was not the promised seed.

                     For he died and decayed;
                     Others divided his kingdom;
                     And the Babylonian captivity destroyed it.

But Christ rose from the dead.

                    He has established his kingdom forever.
                    And he has freed you from bondage.
                    You will never be held captive again!

To him be praise forever and ever.

Christ assures us that he has freed us forever by the imagery of our text. For it is the imagery of the exodus. In verses 4 and 8 God is called "the one who is and who was and who is coming." This reminds us of the divine name "I Am" which God used with Moses. Verse 6, where we are made a kingdom and priests, is a clear reference to Exodus 19:6 where God called Israel to be a kingdom of priests.

In light of these clear references to the exodus, other allusions fit in with these exodus themes:

In verse 5, Christ is the firstborn from the dead just as all the first- born of Israel were saved from death by the blood of the Passover Lamb;

In verse 5 again, Christ has loved us and freed us from our sins just as God set his love upon Israel and freed her from bondage in Egypt; We too have been loved and freed from bondage;

At the end of verse 5, we are freed by his blood just as Israel was freed by the blood of the Lamb;

Finally in verse 8, Christ will destroy his enemies with a cloud of judg- ment just as God destroyed Israel's enemies with the cloud that accompanied them.

The New Exodus Surpasses the Old Exodus


But the new exodus in Christ surpasses the old exodus in three distinct ways. To see this we must first look at the structure of our text, which is divided into three distinct sections.

These three sections are bracketed by verses 4 and 8 with the name of God, "the one who is, and who was, and who is to come." These words serve as a frame to our text, coming at the beginning and end. They assure us that God has freed his people (the one who was), is present with his people in their suffering witness (the one who is), and will come again to deliver us (the one who is coming).

The first of the three sections is composed of verse 4 and the first half of verse 5. There God blesses us in Christ. He says in verse 4, "Grace and peace to you," a blessing which extends to the middle of verse 5.

The second of the three sections begins in the middle of verse 5 with the words "unto him" and concludes at the end of verse 6. In the middle of verse 5 we respond to God's blessing with joyful worship: "Unto him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood." The first words "unto him" clearly identify this as worship. This clause begins the same way the song of worship in Revelation 5:13 begins: "Unto him who sits on the throne," that is, "unto him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." The second section of our text in chapter 1, verse 6 even ends in the same way: "to him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever," and then adds "Amen."

The third of the three sections is composed of verses 7 and 8. There Christ will come again to judge his enemies and deliver his people.

Thus, in the first and last sections we have the work of God, and in the middle we have the response of his people in worship. In the first section Christ assures us of his past work of redemption and his present blessing. In the last section he guarantees his future return. John enfolds us in the work of Christ. He surrounds us with the already and the not yet. He begins with the already—what God has already done for his people. He ends with the not yet—the future return of Christ that has not yet come.

And in the middle we respond in worship. We praise him for his great and mighty works in Christ. Praise God! We have been emancipated! We praise him in the midst of our suffering witness, for in it we have the presence of the heavenly sanctuary. Yes, in it we now possess the indestructible life of the risen Lamb. By his presence he assures us that we have resurrection life to come; yea, no more suffering. We are surrounded by the new exodus in the final Lamb of God.

As we said, this new exodus surpasses the old one. And it does this in three specific ways based on the structure of our text.

1) The new exodus in Christ brings the eternal blessings of the kingdom of God. God blesses us forever because his Son has been raised as king forever.

2) The new exodus in Christ has made us eternal priests who worship Christ forever. We are eternal worshippers because we have been freed from bondage forever by Christ's blood.

3) And finally, the new exodus in Christ will destroy all of God's enemies forever. Christ's second coming will be universal and final. In it the Lamb will deliver you from suffering, persecution, and death because he will destroy all of your enemies forever.

Let us look at each of these in turn.

The New Exodus Brings the Eternal Kingdom of God

First, the new exodus in Christ brings the eternal blessings of the kingdom of God. The theme of the kingdom is clearly evident. In the first section we see God's throne (vs. 4). And Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth (vs. 5). In the second section we are called a kingdom (vs. 6), and God's dominion is praised.

You will notice the movement of our text from the first to the second section. The blessing of God's throne and Christ's rule in the first section is transferred to us in the second. We become a kingdom. We participate in the blessed arena of God's throne where Christ is exalted as king, and thus, we are a kingdom. We become kings in Christ our King.

But, you might object, "aren't the saints in heaven worshipping God because he is different from them?" "Aren't they worshipping God because he has glory and dominion while they don't?" Certainly, God has a unique glory that he can never give to us because we are creatures. And he has displayed it most fully in the new exodus. For this we must worship and adore him. At the same time he has shared this glory with us insofar as we are able to receive it as creatures. This is sometimes referred to as God's communicable attributes. God gave his people these attributes under the first exodus. But now, under the new exodus, he has given them to us in greater abundance by making us participate more fully in the heavenly life. Out of the abundance of the new exodus, God has allowed us to participate in his heavenly life and glory. In this way we are brought into intimate communion with him. His heart is filled with love for you (Rev. 1:5). Oh, to think that Christ would lavish such love on us. He longs to have intimate fellowship with you. This indeed is true piety, to commune with such rich and eternal love. And this is true worship, to realize that we commune with God Almighty himself, who is uniquely glorious. He has exerted his unique dominion now in the new exodus. Praise him. For he has been glorified through the resurrection of the Lamb. God is now exalted as king forever.

And he is so exalted because Christ is raised from the dead forever. Our Messiah is not like Solomon, who died and decayed. Since Christ is king forever, our blessings in him are eternal.

The kings of Israel fell from glory. Their true dignity and glory as kings was their identity with God himself. But they sought earthly power and glory instead, so God brought the curse of Babylon upon them. He destroyed their kingdom and gave their glory to another.

But God shed the blood of the final Lamb to remove our curse forever. He has taken us out of bondage. He has made us a kingdom forever, eternally protected from all our enemies. Unlike Israel of old we can never be destroyed, even by the greatest persecution and suffering. For we have been given an indestructible, eternal dignity and glory in the risen Lamb!

The world may be against you, but you have triumphed over the world in Christ. Therefore, don't think that the world can crush you in its grip. Though suffering may seem to overwhelm you, take heart. For it cannot overcome you. No nothing, not even death, can defeat you, for you are kings in Christ. And our kingly dignity in the midst of suffering witnesses to the world that Christ is king. Christ is our king, not the world. For he has triumphed over the world. This new exodus has established his kingdom forever and has brought you into the eternal blessings of the kingdom of God.

The New Exodus Brings Eternal Priesthood

Now we come to the second way in which the new exodus in Christ surpasses the old.

The new exodus in Christ has made us eternal priests who worship Christ forever. We are eternal worshippers because we have been freed from bondage forever by Christ's blood. God freed Israel from bondage by the blood of the Passover Lamb, not the fullness of his own blood. But Christ has loved you and freed you from bondage by his own blood. He is the final Lamb of God; so your freedom can never be reversed.

In the old exodus God loved Israel and commanded Pharaoh saying, "Let my people go that they may serve me" (Ex. 10:3). And he gave them the tabernacle in the wilderness to worship before him. Then he built and blessed the temple through Solomon with the sacrifice of lambs and oxen (I Kgs. 8:5, 10- 25). There Israel worshipped the Lord.

But the old exodus and its kingdom did not give them an enduring place of worship. For Israel became consumed with the things of the world. Such a mind-set will steal true worship from your soul. You know what I am talking about! God's response was terrifying. He judged Israel with the curses of the covenant. Babylon destroyed the temple and carried Israel away into captivity.

But your heavenly tabernacle can never be destroyed, and you can never be taken into bondage again. For the eschatological Lamb has removed the curse from you forever. You will always be free to worship the risen Lamb, even in the midst of your greatest suffering and persecution. No, neither suffering, nor persecution, nor even death can take this from you, because you have been set free forever by the blood of the last and final Lamb. And your heavenly place of worship is indestructible.

Through your confident worship in the midst of suffering, persecution, and death you witness to the reality of your heavenly and indestructible temple. You witness to the eternal glory of the risen Lamb. When you continue to worship God in your sufferings, you show the world that your temple is not of this world. It is eternal in the heavens.

As priests in an eternal tabernacle, the world can not invade your temple and pull you from its altar, as Babylon did to Israel of old (2 Chron. 36:17). Instead, this temple itself will destroy all those who curse it and who persecute you, its worshipping saints. Your suffering and worshipping witness will be victorious!

The New Exodus Brings Eternal and Universal Judgment

Finally, we come to the last way in which the new exodus surpasses the old. The new exodus in Christ will destroy all of God's enemies.

In the first exodus God judged the Egyptians and the Canaanites, but not the Babylonians. They would arise several hundred years later and take away Israel's freedom. But when God comes again in judgment, all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him. God will judge all his enemies forever. And no one will be left to persecute or tempt God's faithful witnesses, not even Babylon the Great.

Christ is coming soon to judge his enemies—those who curse his name. He is coming with clouds of almighty terror. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him, because the day of his wrath will bring eternal despair.

But we are blessed as kings in Christ. We are enfolded by his almighty hand. We have been delivered in the new exodus. We are secure, free from God's wrath. With confidence we look forward to his coming. For Christ is our security. His word is secure. He testified that he would triumph over suffering and death. He confirmed this in his resurrection. He is the faithful witness to you. "Blessed are those who wash their robes," says the Lord Jesus Christ. You who are in Christ are blessed, not cursed. Yes, you will have "the right to the tree of life" (Rev. 22:14). And he has provided his Amen to this promise. He is the Amen, for he has defeated death. He has exalted himself as the mighty King in his resurrection.

He has delivered us from death to life—from a lake of fire and utter peril to a glassy sea of eternal peace—and from eternal despair and mourning to the utter depths of joy found in worshipping Christ Jesus.

San Diego, California