None of Pastor John’s messages are more anticipated for me than his annual message at the Passion Conference in early January. This year, in Atlanta he preached on Revelation 13 in a message titled “The Beast, the Book, and the Beauty of the Lamb.” It’s worth listening to the entire thing, but here’s a clip. From Revelation 13:8, he explains that the slaying of the Lamb of God was planned before the universe existed. Mind boggling. Here’s John Piper to explain.
In verse 8 we have now arrived at our first point on the journey and our roadmap. We see it in the phrase, “Before the foundation of the world.” What happened there? “All who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:8).
There is a book before the foundation of the world. And the book has a name. And the name of the book is “the book of the life of the Lamb who was slain,” which means that, in the mind of the author of this book, the Lamb is slain. It is as good as done. And the author of this book is God. The slaying of the Lamb of God was the plan of God before the universe. Are you with me? Is that in the verse? The slaying of the Lamb of God was the plan before the universe existed. The slaying of the Lamb of God was the plan before history existed. The slaying of the Lamb of God was the plan before sin existed.
If Satan, together with Adam and Eve, thought when he brought sin into the world that he was wrecking God’s plan, he is a fool. He didn’t wreck it. He set it up. Because it was the plan that there be a slain Lamb before the foundation of the world.
Now we are going to go back to verse 8. There is lots more there. But we are taking our first tour first. And now we are going to go to the end of history into eternity future. We are going to go to Revelation 5:9–10 to see what they are singing about there. It is all over. History is over. This little footnote called Passion is over. And now we are going to listen to the song of heaven. “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll.’” Now why? Why? Why would they say he is worthy? “‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain.’” That is why we are going to sing. That is what we are going to say about the worth of the Lamb forever. “‘You were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’” That is what we are going to sing. We are going to sing bloody songs forever. God is the center of everything. The central song of the universe is the slain Lamb. It was the plan from eternity. It is the song for eternity, yes it is.
Here’s Revelation 5:12: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing,” because he was slain. Or Revelation 17:10: great multitudes without number saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” So the slain Lamb is the song of the universe forever. That is what Revelation shows us in all of its strangeness. So in eternity past, the plan: A Lamb will be slain. In eternity future, a song: He was slain and he is infinitely worthy because of it.