Revelation 4 & 5: Old Testament Connections | June 15, 2023
Cloud. Tweet. Catfish. Ping. Viral. Troll.
How many of us remember when these words meant something entirely different than they do today, long before the internet? Language changes meaning over time.
Ever tried to tell a young person to “push the pound sign” on the phone? To them, it’s a hashtag.
We must come to the ancient Scriptures with a similar awareness and understanding. To better understand Revelation, we must know our Old Testament and the cultural context of its original first-century audience and setting in order to recognize much of John’s bizarre imagery and symbolism borrowed from Old Testament passages.
“John sees everything in terms of the fulfillment of the Old Testament. He has over 250 specific echoes of or allusions to the Old Testament so that every significant moment in his “story” is imaged almost exclusively in Old Testament language.”1
How do the following Old Testament passages enlighten Revelation 4 & 5? Consider the similarities. Click here to reread Revelation 4-5. What might John be trying to emphasize by referencing these particular Old Testament passages?
Isaiah 6:1-4 ESV (compare with Rev. 4)
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Isaiah 29:11-12 ESV (compare with Rev. 5:1-4)
11 And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12 And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”
Genesis 49:8-12 ESV (compare with the Lion of the Tribe of Judah in Rev. 5:5)
“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
your father's sons shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion's cub;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
11 Binding his foal to the vine
and his donkey's colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
and his vesture in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth whiter than milk.
Isaiah 11:1-11 ESV (compare with the Root of David in Revelation 5:5)
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.
1 Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible Book by Book, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 429.