Christ in the Midst
“And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts (living creatures), and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. And when He had taken the book, the four beasts (living creatures) and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:6-10).
I had not before noticed what is here quite obvious: that the Lamb not only is in the midst in this heavenly scene, but that He is at once in the midst of three circles. He is in the midst of the throne. He is in the midst of the four living creatures. He is in the midst of the twenty-four elders.
If the twenty-four elders speak of the redeemed of all ages and peoples, as evidently they do, for their new song is to their Redeemer, then it has always been His delight to be in their midst. In Proverbs 8, where He speaks as Wisdom personified, He declares, “My delights were with the sons of men.” Indeed, it would appear that that delight was the motive for creation: that He might enjoy the companionship of His creature, man.
When Moses, leading the children of Israel through the wilderness, went up into the mount of God, Sinai, the Lord said: “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). And when sin and departure from God abounded on every hand, where here and there was found a solitary individual with a heart for Him and His ways, He would still make His abode with such an one. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth Eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15). Centuries later when our Lord Jesus Christ was instructing His disciples, He said: “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
Certainly He was ever in the midst of the government of God over the earth, (represented by these four living creatures) although unseen, for “all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3); and that includes, “thrones., dominions, principalities and powers” (Colossians 1:16). Moreover, not only is He the One by whom the worlds were made, but He has ever upheld all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).
Again, His place was ever in the midst of the throne. Referring once more to Proverbs 8 where He speaks as Wisdom personified, we read: “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths. I was brought forth when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth: When He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep: When He gave to the sea His decree, that the water should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him (8:22-30). Turning back again to John, we see Him as “the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father.”
Yes, He had a place before in the centre of the throne, of government and of His earthly people. But all that He laid aside. Out of the ivory palaces He came. “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8) Ever God’s delight, yet for our sakes He became the One who must cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
The One who upheld all things by the word of His power; the Lord of whom Proverbs 21:1 says: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water. He turneth it whithersoever He will;” the Most High who ruled in the kingdom of men and gave it to whomsoever He would, as Nebuchadnezzar learned. That One became the song of the drunkards, the One over whose cross they set up in derision this accusation: “This Is Jesus The King Of The Jews.” That One was mocked and taunted: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.”
The One who delighted to be in the midst of His people is the One who was betrayed by a trusted follower and forsaken by the other disciples. He is the One of whom it was written: “He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” He is the One for whom the psalmist speaks when he cries, “I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” His heart yearned over Jerusalem, and Jerusalem cried out: “Away with Him! Crucify Him!” “Shall I crucify your King?” asked Pilate. “We have no king but Caesar,” the people answered. This was the One before whom the crowd had cried a few days earlier: “Hosanna: blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord!” And now they take Him, bearing His cross, outside Jerusalem, that He might suffer and die outside the gate. The One who was in the midst of the throne is crucified between two thieves: on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
But now the suffering is over, the work He came to do is finished. He commends His spirit into His Father’s hands and expires. He is buried. The third day He rises from the dead and thereafter is carried up into Heaven. And now through John’s eyes we see Him, who was rejected, forsaken, and cast out of the earth by man, in the centre of the twenty-four elders; Him, whom men crucified as King of the Jews, in the centre of the four living creatures; and Him, who was forsaken of His God, in the midst of the throne.
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in Earth, and things under the Earth; and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).
As to the first circle, the throne, “When He had by Himself purged our sins (He) sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” He “is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;” After He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever sat down on the right hand of God;” and “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2).
The Living Creatures
As to the second, the living creatures, it is God’s revealed purpose “that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on Earth” (Eph. 1:10). After His resurrection and before His ascension He met with His disciples in a mountain in Galilee, and there He told them: “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in Earth” (Matt. 28:18). Paul tells the Corinthians that “He shall put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet” (1 Cor. 15: 24-25 ) .
The Four and Twenty Elders
As to the third circle, in the midst of the twenty four elders, “He is the head of the Body, the Church” (Col. 1:18), He is the One who “loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church… holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27), He is our Shepherd, our Teacher, our Advocate, our High Priest. And He it is who says, “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren: in the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto Thee” (Heb. 2:12, cited from Psalm 22:22).
The Three Circles
We see Him at once in all three circles in Ephesians 1:20-23, which tells us of the exceeding greatness of God’s power toward us who believe, being the power by which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places (first centre), far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet (second centre), and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church, which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all (third centre).”
“Throughout the universe of bliss,
The centre Thou, and Sun,
The eternal theme of praise is this,
To Heaven’s beloved One.
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,
That every knee to Thee should bow!”