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11 July 2019

Lion or Lamb?


Jesus the Good Shepherd
Some church leaders claim that Jesus is moving today as the roaring “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” The meek “lamb of God” who sacrificed his life for the world is a thing of the past and he is looking for some serious payback.
A verse from the book of Revelation is cited to validate this interpretation. But its proponents misrepresent the passage and theology of Revelation. One brief phrase is read out of context: “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book and to open its seven seals” (Revelation 5:5).
This time Jesus is taking no prisoners. He has become a sword-wielding warrior determined to mete out justice to all who oppose him or oppress his people, and these “leaders” do not just mean when the Son of Man arrives in glory at the end of the age. And this “lion” roars with an exceptional American accent.
A new move is coming that will be dominated by the miraculous; great displays of power by anointed apostles and prophets. Millions of souls will submit to the gospel in response to the awesome miracles wrought by this spiritually elite company. At last, the “seven mountains” of society will be subjugated by the church.
The voice that the Apostle John heard in his vision did allude to words from a messianic prophecy - “Judah is a lion’s…the scepter will not depart from Judah or a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Revelation 5:5, Genesis 49:9-10, Numbers 24:9). But that same voice transformed this militaristic image into one of a sacrificial Lamb.
John HEARD “Lion of the tribe of Judah” but SAW a freshly slain Lamb; what he saw interpreted what he heard. Jesus is the Lion of Judah but fulfills that messianic role as the sacrificial Lamb. He conquers in ways contrary to human wisdom and expectations, not by slaying his enemies but by allowing them to slay him.
This understanding is confirmed by a myriad of voices that declare the Lamb “worthy” to take and open the scroll, because “you were slain and purchased for God with your blood men out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and made them for our God a kingdom and priests, and they reign upon earth.”
This is the first and last time Jesus is called “lion” in the book. From this point, “lamb” becomes his main designation. He is called ‘Christ’ seven times, ‘Jesus’ fourteen times, but ‘lamb’ twenty-eight times. He is never called “lion” again.
It is the Lamb who immediately approaches the throne to take the sealed scroll; it is the Lamb who begins to break open its seven seals, not the lion (Revelation 6:1-8:1).
John saw an innumerable multitude exiting the Great Tribulation that stood before the Lamb, not the lion (7:9). The saints overcame the Dragon by “the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death.
Redeemed men and women stand with the Lamb on Zion and have his Father’s name written on their foreheads, and they follow the Lamb wherever he goes. In contrast, the “inhabitants of the earth” take the Beast’s mark and render homage to its image (Revelation 12:11, 13:5-18, 14:1-4).
The kings of the earth conspire to make war against the Lamb, but he overcomes them for he is “Lord of lords, and King of kings; and so also they that are with him, called and chosen and faithful.”  When the heavenly rider ventures forth against the kings of the earth, his only weapon is the sword that proceeds out of his mouth, the word of God. His robe is sprinkled with blood BEFORE he “slays” his foes; it can only be his own (17:14, 19:11-15).
In his vision of New Jerusalem, John saw no temple for “the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb are its temple.” No longer will there be light from the sun and moon; God’s glory will illuminate the city and the Lamb will be its lamp. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life enter the city; the roar of the “lion” is not heard within its walls (21:22-27).
Jesus is the “faithful witness and the firstborn of the dead,” references to his death and resurrection. Because of his obedience unto death, he is the “ruler of the kings of the earth.” This is the messiah who “loosed us from our sins by his own blood,” not by the roar of the predatory lion.
Because of his sacrificial death, Jesus possesses the “keys of death and Hades”. As their all-powerful king, he encourages, corrects, and praises his churches. The Lamb calls his followers to “overcome,” not by seizing political power, but by emulating him. Saints reign with him on his Father’s throne, “just as I also overcame and sat down with my Father in his throne.” Believers “overcome” in the same way as the Lamb (Revelation 3:21).
Overcoming believers reign as priests, not warriors (1:4-6, 5:9-10). The call to overcome is a summons to persevere through tribulations while bearing witness. To suffer for the kingdom is what it means to follow the Lamb. John is a surrogate for the suffering churches of Asia when he describes himself as a “fellow-participant in the tribulation, and kingdom and perseverance of Jesus Christ” (1:8-9).
Perseverance, witness and faithfulness, even in the face of martyrdom, are how the church triumphs over the Dragon, the Beast, Babylon, and the False Prophet. If believers fail to take up the cross and follow the Lamb, the Dragon will overcome them.
The worldly triumphalism that is promoted within the Charismatic Movement is “another gospel” with a radically “different messiah,” something alien from the crucified messiah found on the pages of the New Testament.
Paul declared that the message of “Christ crucified” was scandalous to Jews and folly to Greeks, and so it remains today. Nevertheless, the crucified messiah is God’s power and God’s wisdom. There is no true knowledge of God or genuine spirituality apart from the Cross.

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