by Mike Ratliff
4 Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; 5 and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:4-8 (NASB)
What is referred to as “the Church” and “Christianity” in our time sometimes makes me very angry. Why? It is all about something or someone other than our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever religion they are about, it isn’t Biblical Christianity. They don’t even seem to know who Jesus is or what His Advent, ministry, Death on the Cross, and Resurrection were all about. Instead, they have come up with all forms of religiosity (idolatry) and have even made it about social issues like social justice. No, sorry, none of that is why my Lord Jesus Christ is who is and why He did what did and will come again to make everything right.
The passage at the top of this post is Revelation 5:4-8. It speaks of a person who is referred to as the “Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals” in v5. Later that same person is referred to as “a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.” Let us look at the word “Lamb” first. In v6 and in v8 the word Lamb translates the Greek noun ἀρνίον (arnion). Later ἀρνίον became synonymous with ἀμνός (amnos), which means a young sheep, frequently one year old, used for sacrifice. This passage is not the only reference of our Lord Jesus Christ being called a Lamb. Here is John 1:29.
29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 (NASB)
29 Τῇ ἐπαύριον βλέπει τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει· ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου. John 1:29 (NA28)
John the Baptist not only called our Lord a Lamb he said “ὁ αἴρων”, which means “The Lamb” and John was making reference to our Lord Jesus Christ being that sacrificial Lamb provided by God. Luke pictures Christ as the submissive lamb before shearers in Acts 8:32, and Peter declares that Jesus is the “lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). Amnos is also used in the Septuagint for a sacrificial lamb (Exodus 29:38ff).
Interestingly, however, while John uses amnos only twice, he adopts arnion later in his gospel (21:15) and then throughout the entire book of Revelation (29 times). Why the difference in terms? Some experts suggest, “Amnos tou theou [the Lamb of God] denotes God’s offering , Christ, whom he destined to bear the sin of the world, while arnion emphasizes the fact that He who is eternal Lord is also Christ crucified for us. In other words, arnion pictures Christ as both Redeemer and Ruler.
Jesus Christ is also referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. What a contrast! Our English word lion actually comes from the Greek λέων (leōn), which is found in writings all the way back to the time of Homer. Not only does it refer to the literal animal, but it also carries a figurative sense, such as the constellation or a brave or violent man. Of all animals, the lion is seen most often in ancient fables, usually as a symbol of power and courage.
The lion is mentioned some 150 times in the Septuagint, usually in a comparative way. Ezekiel 1:10, for example, writes to Timothy about being “delivered out of the mouth of the lion” (2 Timothy 4:17), that is, mortal danger, an allusion to Daniel’s ordeal in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:22). The same reference to Daniel occurs in Hebrews 11:33.
In Revelation 4:7 we again see the cherubim of Ezekiel 1 and then see images using the figure of a lion (9:8, 17; 10:3; 13:2).
The greatest image of all, however, is in Revelation 5:5, where we read, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” Looking back to Genesis 49:8-10, one of the “elders” before the heavenly throne refers to the chief member of the tribe of Judah, the Lord Jesus Himself, who is of the “Root of David,” this is, He who fulfills God’s covenant with David (Isaiah 11:1, 10). He is also pictured there as holding a scepter, as He will become the King of Israel, and will rule the world.
Before the King comes to rule, however, He must judge. The image pictured here occurs just before the judgments of the Tribulation begin in chapter 6 and continue through chapter 18. While Christ came the first time as a Lamb to the slaughter, He will come the second time as a Lion to devour!
Come soon Lord Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloria!