Lion of Judah

At session 3 we talked about the significance of Jesus portrayed as a Lamb. What is the significance of Him being portrayed as a lion? Besides in Jeremiah is this the image of the risen Christ? We see the Lion in our media and hear of him in our music.

The "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" is the Messianic title applied to Christ to symbolize strength, majestic power, and victory. The lion itself is the emblem of dignity and courage. Afraid of no other animal, it has the ability to dominate all other species. With its great power, agility, and strength, it truly is the king of all beasts and a brilliant symbol of the King of kings. The origin of this title is seen in Genesis 49 as Jacob gathers his sons: the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. Once around him, he delivers his blessing, a blessing which becomes the initial prophecy of the future Kingdom of God on earth as it foretells the supremacy of the tribe of Judah, which finds its ultimate fulfillment in the "Root of David", Jesus Christ. Jacob praises Judah describing him in the image of a young lion, Gur Aryeh. "Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: He stooped down, he crouched as a lion, And as a lioness; who shall rouse him up?" (Gen 49:9) This blessing, of great importance, is intensified by the fact that it did not go to the first born son, but rather to the young lion who patiently crouched in the shadows as his brothers before him eagerly pounced on worldly temptations without repentance. Judah was no stranger himself to the snares of temptation and sin, but unlike his brothers his heart was transformed by the suffering of his sin. This conversion led to the ultimate reward being bestowed upon him in Gen 49:10. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet." Taken literally, one pictures Judah going to his grave holding a scepter in his tightly closed fist, but in view of the customs and colloquialism during the time of Jacob, the meaning of this idiom is understood as, there shall always be a king from the lineage of Judah. This prophecy looks forward not only to an earthly dynasty, but also to the royal dynasty of the Messiah as it continues, "until Shiloh comes: And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be."

The Jews from the time of Jacob understood this blessing to mean that the Messiah would come from the line of Judah. Their belief, rooted in the covenant God first made with Noah's family and then with Abraham's tribe, held that the messiah would come like a lion with great religious zeal, strength, and military power and defeat the enemies of the Jewish nation. This military victory would usher in a time of justice and peace and yield Israel the most powerful and indestructible kingdom. The original audience of book of Revelation would have recognized the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" as the Messiah and would have received much encouragement in learning. "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed, enabling him to open the scroll with seven seals." (Rev 5:5) They would have seen this passage as the fulfillment of prophecy and understood that the redemptive victory had been won for them by Jesus Christ, who fulfills the title "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" and is the ultimate King of kings!

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