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.”

Sunday 6 February 2011


In this post, I address a topic that many people would prefer not to think about: the fact that Jesus is going to judge the living and the dead.

To begin, I want to point out that the idea of God punishing sin and rewarding the righteous can be found throughout the Old Testament.  Here are just a few of the relevant verses from the Old Testament:
  • Deut 8:19: If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.
  • Deut 30:19: This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
  • 1 Sam 2:9-10: He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness. It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the LORD will be shattered. He will thunder against them from heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.
  • 1 Chron 16:32-33: Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
  • Psalm 11:4-7: The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD is on His heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; His eyes examine them. The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence His soul hates. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.
  • Psalm 98:9: Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
  • Ecc 12:13-14: Here is the end of the matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
  • Jer 17:10: I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.
  • Dan 12:2: Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
Some people suggest that the idea of judgement is purely an Old Testament concept, and that the New Testament contradicts it.  They couldn't be more wrong.  Consider the following words uttered by Jesus Himself:
  • Matt 16:27: “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”
  • Matt 25:31-46: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.... and the wicked will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
  • John 5:25-29: “I assure you, the time is coming - and is now at hand - when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live. For as the Father has life in Himself so, too, He has given the Son to have life in Himself. And He has given Him full authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Don't be amazed at this. For the time is coming when everyone in the graves will hear His voice. And they will come out. Those who have done good will rise again to live, but those who have done evil will rise again to be judged.”
These verses make it clear that Jesus Himself is the one who will judge humanity.  This is confirmed in the rest of the New Testament.  For example:
  • Acts 17:30-31: In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
  • Rom 2:6-8: God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”  To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
  • 2 Cor 5:10: We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
  • 2 Tim 4:1: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead...
  • Hebrews 4:10-13: The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
  • Jude 14-15: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
  • Rev 20:12-15: The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
If we were left only with a message of judgement, it would be terrifying.  The wonderful news of the Gospel however is that, no matter what we have done, we can escape the just punishment for our sins.  All we have to do is confess our sins, ask for forgiveness, and receive the free gift of salvation that has been purchased for us by the death of Jesus on the cross:
  • 1 John 1:5-8: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.