THE LION OF JUDAH - Revelation 5:5

The biblical germ of the concept of Jesus as the ‘Lion of Judah’ is found in Genesis 49:8-11 where Jacob described his son, Judah, as ‘a lion’s cub’. He also said of Judah:

‘The sceptre will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs
and the obedience of the nations is his.
… he will wash his garments in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.’

This Genesis text draws our attention to a number of truths about Jesus: his human descent from Judah; the fact that he is a ruler and that the rule belongs to him - it is his by right; the worldwide obedience that is due to him; his blood-stained clothing.

There are several other facts we can identify in Jacob’s words to Judah that are particularly applicable to Jesus Christ:

His hand will be on the neck of his enemies [verse 8]: he is victorious; his enemies are totally beaten.

His father’s sons bow down to him [verse 8]. Everything in heaven and on earth bows down to Jesus Christ.

He returns from the prey [verse 9]: the ‘prey’ does not devour him, rather he is victorious over the prey.

He is held in awe [verse 9], no one would dare to interfere with him.

As God indicates in Jeremiah 49:19-21 and 50:44-46, just as no prey can withstand the attack of a lion, so the one chosen by God will be victorious over the enemies of God. Such will be their defeat, such will be his victory, that the whole earth will tremble.

Is it any wonder that one of the twenty-four elders said to John ‘Do not weep …!’  The Lion of Judah is victorious. He has conquered. He could not be otherwise.

Isaiah 11 tracks the human ancestry of Jesus Christ through Jesse, a descendant of Judah and the father of David. Here Jesus, the Lion of Judah, is ‘a shoot’ from ‘the stump of Jesse’, ‘a Branch’ coming up from his roots, and ‘the Root of Jesse’.

About him Isaiah teaches us:

The Spirit of the LORD rests upon him – a Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge and the fear of the LORD [verse 2].

He delights in the fear of the LORD [verse 3].

He judges with righteousness and establishes justice on the earth [verses 3, 4].

He strikes the earth with the rod of his mouth, and slays the wicked with the breath of his lips [verse 4].

He is characterised by righteousness and faithfulness [verse 5].

He ushers in universal peace [verses 6-9], a peace that is grounded in worldwide knowledge of God.

All peoples rally to him and his rest [verse 10,12].

Is it any wonder that one of the twenty-four elders said to John ‘Do not weep …!’  The Lion of Judah has conquered! Not only is he victorious, but he also establishes the purpose of God.

In Jeremiah 23 and 33 the Lord introduces yet another aspect of the victorious work of the descendant of Judah. Here he refers to him as ‘a righteous Branch’ [23:5; 33:15]. Here the context of the battle is human corruption and human corruption of God’s truth. But even here the Lion of Judah is victorious:

He reigns wisely and justly [23:5; 33:15].
His people live in safety [23:6; 33:16].
He himself is their righteousness – he is called ‘the LORD our Righteousness’ [23:6; 33:16].

By these few words Jeremiah refers to that amazing work of the Servant of God described in Isaiah 53. Here he associates with the descendant of Judah that provision of spiritual victory, of spiritual rescue, that is normally associated with a sacrificial lamb, not with the Lion. But there it is. He is our righteousness – our acquittal.

Is it any wonder that one of the elders said to John ‘Do not weep …!’  The Lion of Judah is victorious … even over our sin and guilt. For the Lion of Judah is the Lamb, with the marks of slaughter upon him.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2015