“Hear this now,” Praislan said, his eyes flaring brightly and his mane waving slowly, like wheat fields of gold in a summer breeze. “In this manner, he shall be: He will have the heart of a lion, but the ways of a lamb. He is to redeem the world of men at his weakest, not at his strongest…” from the book ‘The Coming’
The images of the lion and the lamb are well known in the bible. These two creatures are used to illustrate something about the nature of Jesus Christ. Genesis 49:9 uses the analogy of a lion’s cub. The passage declares that out of the twelve tribe’s of Israel the one to receive authority would be from the tribe of Judah. Even though in ancient times the right of authority fell to the eldest son; according to this prophetic declaration a ‘cub’, or a younger son would be given this right among his brothers. This authority would find it’s fulfillment in the greatest king the nations of Israel ever produced: King David, who was of the tribe of Judah. Not only did the power to rule fall to a younger son of all the twelve tribal brothers, but the youngest of Jesse’s seven sons, David, the shepherd boy was to one day be anointed king, ascend the throne, and rule over all the twelve tribes. The prophecy in Genesis tells us that the scepter shall not depart from Judah, thereby announcing the tribe of Judah as the leader of all the tribes of Israel.
“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? 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.” Genesis 49:9 esv
From the tribe of Judah would come Jesus in whom the scepter of rule would not depart. And he would not just be a ruler to the nation of Israel but he would carry the authority to rule all the nations of the earth. Therefore, the image of Judah as a lion finds its greatest expression in the person of Jesus.
The item of interest is in the way the lion is spoken of in scripture. It is as one who exercises power and authority. One of the ways is through it’s voice, or as the prophet Hosea describes- by its roar.
“They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.” Hosea 11:10 kjv
The power of God, as depicted as a lion, is when it roars it causes all to tremble. The lion’s roar is so powerful that all it needs to do is raise it’s voice and those who hear the sound are struck with fear and trembling. It is the roar or voice of the lion that causes all creatures to submit to his power. Nothing more is needed for anyone to understand his fearsome power than when one hears the roar of a lion. This picture fits perfectly with Jesus, being the Lion from the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).
When Jesus the Lion speaks, his voice alone is commanding and powerful causing all in his presence to submit to his power.
I am reminded of the scene in the story The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where the witch pressed a bit too hard on Aslan to uphold the covenant of death on the boy Edmond. Aslan gave a roar and that was all that was needed for the witch and everyone else to know that he was a power to be respected and obeyed.
The voice of Jesus is likened to a lion’s roar. When he speaks it is authoritative and to be obeyed. Because he has all power and authority we would expect to see this lion-like characteristic demonstrated in the Son of God-and we do. We see Jesus, by his roar or word alone, command sickness to be driven out of the afflicted. By his roar blind eyes were opened and dead people raised to life. By his roar he commanded the peril of the wind and waves to stop, and demons to surrender to his authority. And he used no force except his word to throw back his arresting soldiers.
He is the Word of God, the logos, the voice, the roar of a lion who when he speaks commands all things in heaven and earth to submit to his ruling power. This is what the apostle John witnessed in his revelatory vision when a suitable authority was sought to open the scrolls of judgment upon the earth:
Revelation 5:1-5 esv
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
The scriptures also speak of Jesus as a lamb. So while the lion motif speaks of Jesus’ authority and power, the image of a lamb conjures up in our minds a creature that, unlike the lion, is comparatively weak and powerless to even fend for it’s own life.
So what characteristics does a lamb and Jesus have in common?
To anyone familiar with the scriptures the most obvious connection is that of the passover lamb (Exodus 12:1-13). On the eve of the Exodus, God instructed Moses to inform the Hebrew households to kill a lamb and brush the blood on the doorframe. The angel of death would passover these homes, not taking the life of the firstborn in their families. A lamb was sacrificed in order to spare the life of another. Later, when the temple sacrifices were instituted the lamb was one of the required sacrifices (Leviticus 4:32). The offering of an unblemished lamb was designated for a sin offering. The lamb therefore, became the icon for Jesus as John the Baptist would announce “…the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 esv
The designation of this particular animal, over the other prescribed animals for sacrifice are of special interest. While the other animals like the ram, bull or birds would show some resistance, sensing the danger of being killed, a lamb would innocently show no resistance as it is led away to be sacrificed. In this way, it appears willing. In like manner, Isaiah comments on the docile and willing nature of the Messianic lamb:
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7 esv
A lamb shows no resistance and does not cry out when led to the slaughter. Isaiah tells us that the Messianic lamb, like the offertory animal, makes no sound as it faces being slain.
And so we read in scripture that as the Lamb of God, Jesus stood before his persecutors, he knew what awaited at the cross, but like a lamb he remained silent:
And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Mark 14:60, 61 esv
God’s sacrificial lamb was silent before his accusers.
In the book of Revelation we see these two images, the lion and the lamb, come together in the person of Jesus Christ. We see the image of the lamb that was slain, only this slain lamb was not lying dead, but was standing.
Revelation 5:6 esv
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
The book of Revelation is literally the revelation or the revealing of Jesus, the Son of God. And among others, two very strong images of Jesus are on display. One as the Lion in whom rests all authority and power by the roar of his word, and the other as a lamb who was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.
copyright © Steve Covarrubias October 2014