Advent reading 10: Jesus is the Lion of Judah

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  -Isaiah 11:6-9 NIV

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.  -Revelation 5:5-6 NIV

Lions can be found in Africa and in Northwest India.  They are known for their fierceness and strength.  Throughout the Bible, the lion is seen as a symbol of strength and Israel’s enemies.  Peter even calls the devil a roaring lion looking for whom he can devour.  Even though lions are sometimes seen as a symbol of evil, they are also a symbol of God’s people.  Jacob prayed a blessing over his 12 sons, when it came time to bless Judah, he compared him to a lion- thus the phrase “Lion of Judah.”

In the Hebrew Scriptures, God is depicted as a lion who roars in judgement against faithless people and nations.  He also is seen as a lion who fights on behalf of His people.  When Jesus returns to take us home, He will come as the Lion but calm as a Lamb.  The lion and the lamb will be in peace.  There will be no more arguments, no more church splits, no more wars, crime, terrorist attacks, hatred, and strife.  There will be perfect peace.  Jesus will bring peace as well as fierce, loving protection.

William Watley, a preacher, says this about the experiences of Jesus as the Lion and the Lamb…

“Jesus as Lion and Lamb means that He has more than one way of approaching us and addressing our situation.  When we have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, we don’t need a lion of condemnation and judgement attacking us and raving our spirit.  When we are already feeling like a nobody, we don’t need a stern lion beating up and making us feel worse.  We need a gentle word from the Lord.  We need a word of comfort and encouragement.  We need the Lamb to speak tenderly and tell us, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).  Justice says that we deserve a lion to slay us, but mercy says, “I’m going to send a lamb and let you know that you have another chance.”

But when we get comfortable with being miserable; when we start feeling so sorry for ourselves and are tempted to stay down; when we’ve been down so long that getting up doesn’t even cross our minds (or if it does, it seems like an impossibility), then we don’t need a lamb comforting us in our misery.  We need the Lion with power to pull us up…

As Lion and Lamb, Jesus understands our weaknesses but relates to our strength, and He loves us with all our contradictions.”


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For further study:

Genesis 49:8-10; Amos 3:6-8; Joel 3:16; Hosea 11:9-11; Isaiah 31:4-5



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