Jesus Christ: The Lamb of God versus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah

Many amateur Bible students and cult-like groups have seized on the title of Jesus Christ as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah to justify their angry, aggressive, warlike doctrine and behavior. This is the opposite of the truth. I have been meditating on this subject for several years and have finally decided it is time to write this post. Please pray for me to be careful to let the Holy Spirit guide me to be accurate. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to understand this concept.

This is the only passage in the entire Bible that specifically refers to Jesus Christ as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and even here, Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God.

Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it.
Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me,  “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory.  He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
 Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing  between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. (Revelation 5:1-8)

It’s only natural to want to be on the winning team, and we are. It’s only natural to want to be on the most powerful team, and we are. It’s only natural to want our king to be the most powerful king of the jungle, and he is. But, Jesus Christ did not defeat Satan and conquer sin and death to restore our relationship with him by fighting a bloody epic battle. Jesus Christ won by humbly submitting himself to the will of the father and dying the sinner’s death on the cross as the lamb of God. He wants us to follow suit.

Jesus Christ is the couching lion enjoying the satisfaction of success not the battling raging rampant lion

All Bible scholars and commentators point back to the prophecy given by Jacob on his deathbed to his sons. Some believe that the lion was the animal on the standard of the tribe of Judah, but that seems highly unlikely given the Old Testament prohibition of making idols from any likeness of what is in heaven above or earth beneath or in the water under the earth. (Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 5:8; Deuteronomy 27:15)

Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.  Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?  The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. (Genesis 49:8-12)

Genesis 49:9. []Judah is a lion’s whelp,[/su_highlight] &c. — The lion is the king of beasts, the terror of the forest when he roars; when he seizeth his prey, none can resist him; when he  goes up from the prey,  none dares pursue him to revenge it. By this it was foretold that the tribe of Judah should become very formidable, and should not only obtain great victories, but should peaceably enjoy what was gotten by those victories. Judah is compared, not to a lion  rampant,  always raging, but to a lion  couching,  enjoying the satisfaction of his success, without creating vexation to others. –Benson Commentary

49:8-12  Judah’s name signifies praise.  God was praised for him, chap. 29:35, praised by him, and praised in him; therefore his brethren shall praise him. Judah should be a strong and courageous tribe.  Judah is compared, not to a lion raging and ranging, but to a lion enjoying the satisfaction of his power and success, without creating vexation to others; this is to be truly great.  Judah should be the royal tribe, the tribe from which Messiah the Prince should come. Shiloh, that promised Seed in whom the earth should be blessed, that peaceable and prosperous One, or Saviour, he shall come of Judah. Thus dying Jacob at a great distance saw Christ’s day, and it was his comfort and support on his death-bed. Till Christ’s coming, Judah possessed authority, but after his crucifixion this was shortened, and according to what Christ foretold, Jerusalem was destroyed, and all the poor harassed remnant of Jews were confounded together. Much which is here said concerning Judah, is to be applied to our Lord Jesus. In him there is plenty of all which is nourishing and refreshing to the soul, and which maintains and cheers the Divine life in it. He is the true Vine; wine is the appointed symbol of his blood, which is drink indeed, as shed for sinners, and applied in faith; and all the blessings of his gospel are wine and milk, without money and without price, to which every thirsty soul is welcome. Isa 55:1. –Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God slain before the world began

So if you call God your Father, live your time as temporary residents on earth in fear. He is the God who judges all people by what they have done, and he doesn’t play favorites. Realize that you weren’t set free from the worthless life handed down to you from your ancestors by a payment of silver or gold which can be destroyed.  Rather, the payment that freed you was the precious blood of Christ, the lamb with no defects or imperfections. He is the lamb who was known long ago before the world existed,  but for your good he became publicly known in the last period of time. Through him you believe in God who brought Christ back to life and gave him glory. So your faith and confidence are in God. (1 Peter 1:17-21 GWT)

So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
 “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering,  my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together. (Genesis 22:6-8 NLT)

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth;  Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,  So He did not open His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

John saw Jesus coming toward him the next day and said, “Look! This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29 GWT)

1:29-36 John saw Jesus coming to him, and pointed him out as the Lamb of God. The paschal lamb, in the shedding and sprinkling of its blood, the roasting and eating of its flesh, and all the other circumstances of the ordinance, represented the salvation of sinners by faith in Christ. And the lambs sacrificed every morning and evening, can only refer to Christ slain as a sacrifice to redeem us to God by his blood. John came as a preacher of repentance, yet he told his followers that they were to look for the pardon of their sins to Jesus only, and to his death. It agrees with God’s glory to pardon all who depend on the atoning sacrifice of Christ. He takes away the sin of the world; purchases pardon for all that repent and believe the gospel. This encourages our faith; if Christ takes away the sin of the world, then why not my sin? He bore sin for us, and so bears it from us. God could have taken away sin, by taking away the sinner, as he took away the sin of the old world; but here is a way of doing away sin, yet sparing the sinner, by making his Son sin, that is, a sin-offering, for us. See Jesus taking away sin, and let that cause hatred of sin, and resolutions against it. Let us not hold that fast, which the Lamb of God came to take away. To confirm his testimony concerning Christ, John declares the appearance at his baptism, in which God himself bore witness to him. He saw and bare record that he is the Son of God. This is the end and object of John’s testimony, that Jesus was the promised Messiah. John took every opportunity that offered to lead people to Christ. –Matthew Henry Commentary

The Gospel of the Lamb of God

An angel from the Lord said to Philip, “Get up, and take the desert road that goes south from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So Philip went. An Ethiopian man who had come to Jerusalem to worship was on his way home. The man was a eunuch, a high-ranking official in charge of all the treasures of Queen Candace of Ethiopia. As the official rode along in his carriage, he was reading the prophet Isaiah out loud. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go to that carriage, and stay close to it.” Philip ran to the carriage and could hear the official reading the prophet Isaiah out loud. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” The official answered, “How can I understand unless someone guides me?” So he invited Philip to sit with him in his carriage.
 This was the part of the Scriptures that the official was reading: “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. He was like a sheep that is silent when its wool is cut off. He didn’t open his mouth.  When he humbled himself, he was not judged fairly. Who from his generation will talk about his life on earth being cut short?”
The official said to Philip, “I would like to know who the prophet is talking about. Is he talking about himself or someone else?”  Then Philip spoke. Starting with that passage, Philip told the official the Good News about Jesus.  As they were going along the road, they came to some water. The official said to Philip, “Look, there’s some water. What can keep me from being baptized?” The official ordered the carriage to stop. He and Philip stepped into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they had stepped out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away. The official joyfully continued on his way and didn’t see Philip again. Philip found himself in the city of Azotus.  He traveled through all the cities and spread the Good News until he came to the city of Caesarea.  (Acts 8:26-40)

Are you following the Lamb of God?

The idea of trying to follow Jesus Christ as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is a horrible corruption of the scriptures. Please do not fall into that trap, it leads to confusion and every evil work (James 3:16). Jesus Christ has fought the battle, he has won the victory, he has given us peace. Now, we can walk in his peace.

When the other ten apostles heard about this, they were irritated with the two brothers. Jesus called the apostles and said, “You know that the rulers of nations have absolute power over people and their officials have absolute authority over people. But that’s not the way it’s going to be among you. Whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant.  Whoever wants to be most important among you will be your slave. It’s the same way with the Son of Man. He didn’t come so that others could serve him. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many people.”  (Matthew 20:24-28)

 Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality.  Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant, by becoming like other humans, by having a human appearance. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, death on a cross.  This is why God has given him an exceptional honor- the name honored above all other names- so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will kneel and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

So those of us who have a strong [faith] must be patient with the weaknesses of those whose [faith] is not so strong. We must not think only of ourselves.  We should all be concerned about our neighbor and the good things that will build his faith. Christ did not think only of himself. Rather, as Scripture says, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”       Everything written long ago was written to teach us so that we would have confidence through the endurance and encouragement which the Scriptures give us.  May God, who gives you this endurance and encouragement, allow you to live in harmony with each other by following the example of Christ Jesus.  Then, having the same goal, you will praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:1-6 GWT)

The awful ironic truth is Satan (that great deceiver) is the roaring lion

 I appeal to your spiritual leaders.  I make this appeal as a spiritual leader who also witnessed Christ’s sufferings and will share in the glory that will be revealed. Be shepherds over the flock God has entrusted to you. Watch over it as God does: Don’t do this because you have to, but because you want to. Don’t do it out of greed, but out of a desire to serve.  Don’t be rulers over the people entrusted to you, but be examples for the flock to follow.  Then, when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
     Young people, in a similar way, place yourselves under the authority of spiritual leaders. Furthermore, all of you must serve each other with humility, because God opposes the arrogant but favors the humble.
      Be humbled by God’s power so that when the right time comes he will honor you.  Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you. Keep your mind clear, and be alert.  Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.  Be firm in the faith and resist him, knowing that other believers throughout the world are going through the same kind of suffering.
      God, who shows you his kindness and who has called you through Christ Jesus to his eternal glory, will restore you, strengthen you, make you strong, and support you  as you suffer for a little while. Power belongs to him forever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:1-11 GWT)

Which one are you following: the Lamb of God or the roaring lion devil?

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3 Replies to “Jesus Christ: The Lamb of God versus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah”

  1. You portray as though Christ will not return as a “conquering destroyer” as the lion of Judah represents…you forget “vengeance is mine I will repay says the lord” and at Jesus’ 2nd coming his “robe was dipped in blood” and “blood flowed to the horse’s bridle.” I’m only saying that yes you have aptly described Jesus’ saving ministry of a sacrificial lamb, but he came once IN submission, he will come again FOR submission….and it won’t be pretty.

    • Greetings Allen,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. This is an amazing account. He shall be called “Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war.” (Rev 19:11) And, we are going to be among the armies of heaven accompanying him (Rev 17:14) when he releases the fierce wrath of God (Rev 19:15).

      But, we need to be careful when we summarize, paraphrase, reword, or simplify God’s word, because we run the risk of damaging it (Heb 4:12) and being guilty of adding/subtracting to it (Rev 22:18). That’s why we try to quote scripture whenever possible instead of writing lots of explanation. We trust God to do the explaining (1 Cor 2:14). I believe this is especially true when we try to characterize God because his ways are higher than our ways his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isa 55:9).

      Therefore, I hesitate to apply the name/label/title of “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” to his triumph and judgement of Revelation 19:11-20:15 without clear indication in the text itself. In this text, the Apostle John seems to be referring to Jesus as The Word of God, who already existed before the beginning (John 1:1) . He will return as the avenging judge and warrior stained in blood. This is different from the word picture in Genesis 49 of the lion enjoying the satisfaction of his power and success.

      I agree with you, the most important point is that Jesus Christ is the avenging judge. Vengeance is his (Deut 32:35). So, we are not to take these matters into our own hands. It is a dangerous false doctrine (approaching the seriousness of the Judaizers in Galatians) to teach that Christians are supposed to be aggressive and warlike with each other or unbelievers, here and now on the Earth.

      With unstoppable love and prayers,

  2. I don’t think this belief is correct according to scripture. You must be cautious in thinking that Jesus’ death was the action he needed to be a God. It was the Only way to have people to Believe. Through people’s own fault they would never have believed him unless he has died and proved the hypocrites wrong. He was the Lion of Judah who came out of Egypt and because of people’s lack of appreaction for him had to become The Lion who had to be Treated like a doomed Lion to the slaughter. Have you seen Jesus Christ Superstar? Jesus portrayal in this movie showed how Jesus retaliated temprorarily to paganistic idolatry from the Roman to the Pharisee. First he had to be baptised so people knew he had to live with the realm of knowledge from the prophets.

    You must be cautious of Any book after the Gospels. We know that the Paul was before Saul. The Acts and most letters from Paul seem like he is exploiting Jesus for credability. For most people in the Bible starting from Exodus was even said that Moses wrote that book himself. That is the true power of God. Not just short letters on criticizing people.

    The reason I would be cautious about Saul of Tarsus is because during the Old Testament times there was also a Saul in the book of Kings, that was chosen by God but decides to rebuke God, Just like Satan is known for.

    When you mentioned that Jesus was the lion of Judah you were right. In Revelation Jesus and the lamb with 7 eyes were different. Jesus died who was royal as a Lion was diminished to a fate of a sheep is the reason to acknowledge him as The Lion. The number 7 represents truth. Thats why the 7 angels opening the 7 seals that were disasterous and proved to be about war. The 7 eyed lamb did not do anything right. The angels that opened the seals noticed that the 7 eyed Lamb was the Beast with the mark on his head. The lamb was the anti christ. Who scholars believe that John was pointing to Nero Ceasar Julius Ceasar’s son according to hebrew tetrarchy. You must be cautious. That is in the very beginning of Revelation is to take out any scripture from there or add on to it is a great sin. Fyi Jesus Christ has the same initials as Julius Ceasar. Doesn’t that add more suspicion?