Thanks to Peter's powerful warning about Satan's strategies, when we think of the lion in the Bible we often think of the Devil. And this was undoubtedly part of God's intention, as it is a very effective wake up call for when we are spiritually ignorant, lazy, or careless.
However, in the Book of the Revelation, where the loose ends of history are tied down and no lingering injustices get past the last chapter, the lion imagery makes its final appearance with an interesting twist.
The first and only mention of it is in 5:5, where the title is applied to Jesus, the Root of David. The statement is given as a matter of simple fact. He alone is worthy to be identified with the majesty and authority of the Lion. On the other hand, Satan's character is forever linked to the evil and vicious image of the serpent.
But in the very next verse John completely switches imageries. Never again does He refer to our Savior as the Lion. This should really be a surprise as it goes against what we would normally expect. On a human platform, it would be expected that victory and mastery be associated with strong and imposing physiques, like those of powerful cats. Lions, tigers, cougars, or panthers, would be prime candidates for the occasion.
But in twenty-three references, the center of attention is on the Lamb that had been sacrificed.
Among the strong implications are at least these three. First, He wants to be identified with the meekness and humility of this tender, innocent animal. Once and for all, He will establish the fact that these characteristics are not signs of weakness but of eternal righteousness and truth.
Secondly, far from being dead, the Lamb is very much alive. He is not tied to the tomb. He is free!
Thirdly, He was at the same time the almighty, all knowing, totally-in-control God. John was going to prove this very convincingly...
This Lamb is lovingly worshipped by millions of followers, but the world's VIPs cry out in terror for the mountains and the rocks to crush them from His sight. Paradoxically, this Lamb is also the Shepherd who gently and generously provides living water for his dear flock. This Lamb is the Conqueror of every evil force and the Subject of the huge choir of the redeemed. Finally, this Lamb ushers in the ultimate phase of His redemption plan with the most magnificent banquet of all time.
Yes, He enters the stage as the Lion. But as He walks across the final page of human history on earth, the thunderous applause of every living being goes to the Lamb.
He is the Messiah who will eternally bear the marks of crucifixion, the scars of man's salvation. His claims will always be visible.
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!
Dear Father, there was a Saturday long ago in which your children felt lonely, sad, vulnerable, and humiliated. But then came Sunday morning, and now we all look forward to seeing your Son, the living Lamb of God, and worshipping forever. Amen.