Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Lion and Lamb

Today we will be looking at two striking names that Jesus is given in the New Testament: the Lion and the Lamb.

In the Old Testament, lions usually symbolise awesome authority and majesty, whereas lambs usually symbolise humility, innocence and sacrifice.  Two passages are particularly of note.
  • Gen 49:9-10: [Jacob said:] "You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son.  Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness — who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his."
  • Isaiah 53:7: He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
In the first passage, Jacob prophecies over his son Judah, and predicts that one of Judah's decendants would be a powerful ruler like a lion.  In the second, the prophet Isaiah predicts that an innocent servant of God will be put to death.

Now consider the following passage in the New Testament book of Revelation:
  • Rev 5:4-7: I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 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 center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders... He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
This passage is remarkable.  The Apostle John looks up, expecting to see the prophesied lion, but instead sees a little lamb (Greek arnion) that seems to have been killed.  That is to say, Jesus is the lion and the lamb simultaneously.  He is majestic and powerful, yet He was humble and gentle enough to allow people to crucify Him.

The book of Revelation states that Jesus will be revealed to all humanity as the Lamb of God in the last days.  This revelation causes very different reactions in the saved and the unsaved.  The saved cry out in joyful worship:
  • Revelation 5:13: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
The unsaved, on the other hand, flee from Him in terror:
  • Rev 6:15-17: Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.  They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
Before that terrible time comes, however, Jesus mercifully urges everyone to come to Him and be saved:
  • Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


  1. I love that Jesus is the Lion and the Lamb... truth and mercy. Judge and Savior.

    Have you ever done a study on when the "last days" is referring to? I John 2:18 & 19; I Peter 1:20; I Peter 4:7; Hebrews 1:1 & 2; Acts 2:16-18 ---

  2. Hello again "truthseeker"!

    Yes, I've studied eschatology quite a bit in the past. The view that makes most sense to me is pre-millenialism with a pre-tribulation rapture or partial rapture, but I am not dogmatic and I am open to other views.

    Having said that, there is one view that I oppose. Some people (especially in the United States) believe in a form of post-millenialism in which Christians are supposed to seize political power and establish the Kingdom of God by their own efforts, before the Second Coming. This strikes me as dangerous, and I don't see how it fits with sayings of Jesus such as: "My kingdom is not of this world", "He who lives by the sword will die by the sword" and "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the Earth?".

    God bless,