Revelation 5
The Lion of Judah, The Lamb Who Was Slain

The Lamb of Judah
I am not good at memorizing exact verses, passages, and locations in scripture. I can usually tell you the book and general area something comes from, but Google helps.

I don’t think about scripture in terms of Chapter/Verse, I think about scripture in terms of stories, events, and imagery. 

Scripture is full of imagery that shows up over and over again -- references to itself, ideas from culture, descriptive word pictures -- all these images used to bring up ideas and emotional reactions to God and the world.

It’s a natural part of how humans communicate. Saying the worship team knocked it out of the part pulls up stronger feelings than saying they did a good job, but we only say that because baseball has been central to American culture for over 100 years.

One of my favorite images from Scripture is The Lion of Judah.​​ 

Genesis 49:8–10 (ESV) - Jacob’s blessing
“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

The First Bookend
There are two images in this prophecy, the ruler and the lion. These two images are tied together here, and used throughout scripture 

The Ruler’s scepter and the conquering king.
Numbers 24:17–19 (ESV)
17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.
18 Edom shall be dispossessed; Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed. Israel is doing valiantly.
19 And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion and destroy the survivors of cities!”

The Lion:
An Image of Royalty in Egypt and Mesopotamia

Isaiah 31:4 (ESV)
4 For thus the LORD said to me, “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey, and when a band of shepherds is called out against him he is not terrified by their shouting or daunted at their noise, so the LORD of hosts will come down to fight on Mount Zion and on its hill.

Proverbs 19:12 (ESV)
12 A king’s wrath is like the growling of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.

What is the Lion of Judah?

Simon bar Kokhba
A little under 2000 years ago, a Jewish Rabbi named Akiva wrote about a radical new leader within Israel. This was the Messiah, Akiva said, quoting that same passage from Numbers 24. This man was the star coming from Jacob and the Scepter of Israel. He was born to crush those who persecute Israel. This man claimed he was from God, saying he would free the Jewish people. Obviously, Rabbi Akiva was writing about Simon bar Kokhba. 

Bar Kokhba led a rebellion against Rome, and claimed God had sent him to remove the Roman occupation and refound the nation of Israel. Right up until the battle of Betar, where he was killed and the Romans crushed his rebellion.

This is not the Lion of Judah

The Other Bookend
Revelation 5:1–5 (ESV)
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Here we have the first, and final, description of the image of the Lion of Judah.

Revelation 5:6 (ESV)
6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain.

The Lion IS the Lamb. Christ does not exist as either Lion or Lamb, going back and forth. The Messiah is both the Lion of Judah and The Lamb Who Was Slain, now, forever, and always. The Lion of Judah conquered over even death itself Because He was the Lamb who was slain.

This concept so greatly goes against the world that Christ was rejected as the messiah. 
A Lion should not allow himself to be harmed
A Lion is to rip and tear, removing all who stands in its way.
    Every other person who claimed to be the messiah led a revolution
    Every other person who claimed to be the messiah failed

Even the disciples did not understand this reality
    In Luke 24 we see two disciples who met Jesus after the resurrection: 
“While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. 
    And Jesus replied:
“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ [the Messiah, the Annointed One] should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

They believed the Messiah had to be a conqueror who would overthrow Rome

Peter thought the same. In Matthew 16:
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Peter KNEW he was the Messiah -- the Lion of Judah
    His attitude was focused on the human idea of “Messiah as Conquerer”
    This idea is so against the reality of what Jesus came to do that it was against Jesus himself -- prompting Him to call Peter “Satan”

The Messiah had to be the Lamb, a perfect sacrifice

But, again, the reality of Christ as the Lamb does not mean he is not the Lion

There is an unbelievable amount of strength in the act Jesus carried out on the Cross.
He has all the power in the world.

All it would have taken was a single word, a single roar, and all who opposed the Lion of Judah would have been killed where they stood.

Yet, he did not.
The strength of the Lion is found in that Christ Allowed his crucifixion

He did not come to conquer Rome through Armies or Battles, through politics and power, through human might and human ways. No, he willingly climbed upon a cross and suffered the most excruciating death known to man.

And yet, the Empire of Caesar is something only read about in history books while the Kingdom of God is at hand.

What about me? Christ said to take up our Cross, and follow Him

Revelation 12:7–11 (ESV)
7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Two Examples
20th Century
    Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian. 
    Led a missionary expedition in Ecuador 
Ministering to the unreached Waodoni People
By flying overhead and lowering baskets, they developed a friendship
January 8th, 1956
    Landed to meet with the people, and were met by men armed with spears
    All five men were killed that day
    They had brought a revolver, it was fired into the sky
        They knew they were going to die, but they did not kill the people they were bringing the gospel.
Two years later, the mission was carried out by two of their wives
    The Gospel was shared because these men did not love their lives.

16th Century:
Zurich, Switzerland
    Rejected Infant Baptism
        Not here to debate baptism, whether you do it my way or the wrong way
    Called Anabaptists, or Rebaptisers
    The government in Zurich persecuted these rebaptisers
        Drowned in the river saying, “If they want water, let them have it”
        Preaching nonviolence, they did not fight back
    I’m not saying we need to go out and become Martyrs. I’m saying we need to check what we love.
    They wanted to follow Christ’s teachings more than they loved their own lives.
There’s another side to this story
    The anabaptists were not killed by pagans, atheists, or idol worshippers. 
They were killed by Catholics and Protestants alike.
In an effort to protect their power and in the name of protecting doctrine, Christians in Zurich used their influence and might and killed their own brothers and sisters.

There are two sides: Those who are willing to kill for their convictions, and those who are willing to die for them.

We as a Church need to be the second. We need to remember Christ’s words to Peter and set our minds on the things of God, not the things of man.

The world is not defeated with armies, rebellions, and political power

It is conquered by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, when we love not our own lives, even unto death.

Self Sacrificial Love takes the strength and determination of a Lion, and the willingness of a Lamb

So this is the image of the King of Kings, the great scepter who overthrows kingdoms, setting rulers beneath his feet. This is the image of the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, who has conquered so that he can open the scroll. Between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain.

Revelation 5:7–14 (ESV)
7 And the Lamb went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, 
        “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, 
        for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 
    10     and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, 
        “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, 
        to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might 
        and honor and glory and blessing!” 
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 
        “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb 
        be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”