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The Lion of Judah

The Lion of Judah



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Published by pcastellina
The Biblcal Imagery of Christ as a Lion
The Biblcal Imagery of Christ as a Lion

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Published by: pcastellina on Sep 01, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Lion
 The lion has been an icon forhumanity for thousands of years,appearing in cultures across Europe,Asia, and Africa. Despite incidents of attacks on humans, lions haveenjoyed
a positive depiction
inculture as
strong but noble
. Acommon depiction is theirrepresentation as "
king of the jungle
" or "king of the beasts";hence, the lion has been a popularsymbol of 
royalty and stateliness
,as well as a symbol of 
; it isfeatured in several fables of the sixthcentury BC Greek storyteller Aesop."Lion" was the nickname of medievalwarrior rulers with a reputation forbravery, such as Richard I of England,known as
Richard the Lionhear
t.Lions are frequently depicted oncoats of arms, either as a device onshields themselves, or as supporters. The
Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea
has a lion in its coat of arms, from which it was taken as thecrest of Chelsea Footbal Club. Theborough of Chelsea was granted acoat of arms by the College of Armsin 1903. The motto was
Nisi dominusfrustra
or "
Unless God be with usall will be in vain
".  The use
in C. S. Lewis's Chroniclesof Narnia of a lion named Aslanas a messianic figure
may be apotential reference to this section of Revelation, or simply more generallyas an allegorical representation of  Jesus. "Aslan" or "Arslan (OttomanArslān and aṣlān) is the Turkish andMongolian word for "lion".
The Lion of Judah
 The Lion of Judahhas its origins in theBook of Genesis,where the Israelitetribe of Judah hadthe lion as itssymbol.Within Judaism, theBiblical Judah (inHebrew: Yehuda) isthe original name of the Tribe of  Judah - traditionally symbolized by alion. In Genesis, the patriarch Jacobrefers to his son Judah as a Gur Aryeh
, a "Young Lion"(Genesis 49:9) when blessing him.
“Then Jacob called his sons and said, "Gather yourselves together,that I may tell you what shallhappen to you in days to come."Assemble and listen, O sons of  Jacob, listen to Israel your father."Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and  preeminent in power. Unstable as
water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went upto your father's bed; then youdefiled it--he went up to my couch!"Simeon and Levi are brothers;weapons of violence are their swords. Let my soul come not intotheir council; O my glory, be not  joined to their company. For in their anger they killed men, and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.Cursed be their anger, for it isfierce, and their wrath, for it iscruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel. "Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shallbow down before you.
 Judah is alion'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?
(Genesis 49;1-9).From ancient times to the present,the "Lion of Judah" has been
one of the most popular symbols of the Jewish people
. The Bible mentionsthe lions that roamed the deserts andmountains of the regions more than150 times by six different names.Both the tribes of Dan and Judah arecompared to lions, although it is Judah whose name ultimatelybecame inextricably linked with thissymbol (
David, a descendant of  Judah, is identified with the lion,as is the Davidic monarchy andthe Messiah who will spring fromthis royal house
). The writings of the Jewish Sages often drawmoralistic analogies between the lionand the righteous individuals.The lion motif was common in theancient Middle Eastern civilizationsas:
a battling, fighting andattacking force
. In the Bible, thelion is portrayed as both capable of 
destroying and punishing, and of saving and protecting
. In ancient Jewish art we find the lions in thisprotective role, guarding the Holy Arkor at the entrances to the chapel, asin the sculpture of the ancientsynagogues at Sardis (in Asia Minor),Horazin and Bar'am (in Palestine),and in many mosaics dating from theearly Byzantine periodScholars speak of the influence of themedieval European heraldic lionsdecorating either side of the crests of the nobility, symbolizing balance, justice, order or guardianship.In medieval Jewish art, we find thelion pair commonly leaning up oneither side of the Tree of Life, next tothe crown; thus is the heraldic shieldreplaced by a symbol of God, and thelions are seen as serving the King of all Kings. During the last twocenturies, lions on Jewish ceremonialart are generally portrayed carryingthe Tablets, a continuation of thesame idea.
Lion of Judah inChristianity
In Christian tradition,
the lion isoften assumed to represent Jesus
. Many Christian organizationsand ministries use the lion of Judah astheir emblem or even their name. The phrase appears in the New Testament Book of Revelation.
"Then I saw in the right hand of himwho was seated on the throne ascroll written within and on theback, sealed with seven seals. And Isaw a strong angel proclaiming witha loud voice, "Who is worthy toopen the scroll and break its seals?" And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to openthe scroll or to look into it, and Ibegan to weep loudly because noone was found worthy to open thescroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me,
'Weep nomore; behold, the Lion of thetribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and itsseven seals
(Revelation 5:1-5). The Apostle John has been given thevision of a scroll (we would say todaya book) which contains God’srevelation concerning His end-time judgments. We could widen this asincluding the meaning of all things,past, present and future, the mysteryof God and the mystery of our ownnature; including the way to salvationfrom all the problems that we sufferin this world or we are threatened tosuffer in the next. Humanity has triedmany times to open this book, but invain. Prophets of all kinds, fortune-tellers, scientific investigations etc.have proved deceitful and useless, inspite of their claims. This is really a desperate andfrustrating attempt! The apostle John, nevertheless, wascomforted and encouraged that whatis impossible to people is possible inChrist. The only one whom Godentrusted with revelation is the Lord Jesus Christ- Jesus is here referred to as
“The Lionof the Tribe of Judah”,
a meaningfultitle for those who know the Bible,who know God as He speaks to usthrough the Bible.
This appellation is not givenelsewhere
to the Messiah, but it isnot difficult to see its propriety asused in this place. The lion is the kingof beasts, the monarch of the forest,and thus becomes an emblem of oneof kingly authority and of power.Christ. Christ Himself said:
“Allauthority in heaven and on earth hasbeen given to me” 
(Matthew 28:18).Everything is under His control. He isthe only one who has authority toopen the secrets of the universe. Jesus here is not a vague universalprinciple, but he is clearly identifiablewith historical events in a definitegeographical location. He springsfrom the spiritual roots of Abraham.Isaac, Jacob, and David.
1. He is the Revelator.
 Jesus’identity is linked with Jacob’sprophecy (Genesis 49:10), actuallywith all Bible prophecies. According tohuman nature Jesus belongs to the Jewish people and everything itrepresents.
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,concerning his Son, who wasdescended from David according tothe flesh and was declared to bethe Son of God in power accordingto the Spirit of holiness by hisresurrection from the dead, JesusChrist our Lord” 
(Romans 1:1-4). Jesus is the link between God andman. He who bears the office of Mediator between God and man
, isfit and worthy to open andexecute all the counsels of Godtowards men

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