This morning we had an all-age family service at church. These are my favourites, normally, and this morning was a good one. We’re looking at the book of the Revelation, and this morning we looked at the passage that talks about the Lamb sitting on the throne.
The pastor explained that this referred to Jesus, but didn’t give a reason why the image was used. And because he used a visual aid of a large stuffed sheep on a golden chair, the picture will stick. So, my middle daughter was left wondering why heaven is so weird (she’s not keen on wearing robes, either).
This is a small point, and yet it’s quite a big one too. It’s about learning how to read and understand the Bible. And it should start as early as possible in a young Christian’s life. So, it would have been so easy this morning to simply explain that at the time the book of the Revelation was written it was dangerous to be a Christian – life threatening, in fact. So, Christians spoke to each other in coded language, especially when writing to one another. They wrote and spoke of things they all understood – great truths about the world and kingdom that Jesus had promised – but they used coded language to ensure that if the letters were intercepted, they would make little sense to the authorities.
So, a wounded lamb symbolised Jesus. There will be no Lamb on the throne in heaven. Jesus won’t look like a lamb. A lamb has nothing to do with it. It was just a symbol. And, actually, it’s an unnecessary symbol for us today – at least those of us who live in countries where it’s safe to be a Christian.
This morning was a missed opportunity. There are now a whole lot of kids who have a confused notion about sheeply kings in heaven, when they could just as easily have had a cool insight into the world of undercover Christians and a better insight into how to read God’s Word properly.
As I said, this is a small issue. The sermon was actually pretty good. But it’s a big issue, because a lifetime of these small errors in interpreting and understanding Scripture add up to some of the abuses of the Bible that plague evangelicals.