Yeshua (Jesus) is described as the lion of the tribe of Judah. The image of the lion is one of strength and victory. It is the image of Messiah as a conquering king.
Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has overcome to open the scroll and its seven seals. – Revelation 5:5
The image of the lion also connects Yeshua to His lineage from Judah and David. David is the arch-type of the victorious conquering king. Yeshua was a descendant of David, who in turn was a descendant of Judah. Yeshua carries the authority of king on earth through God’s covenants with Judah and David.
The description of Messiah as a lion from Judah in Revelation is a reference to the blessing of Judah in Genesis.
Judah is a lion’s cub… he lies down like a lion… The scepter will not depart from Judah and the lawmaker from between his feet until Shiloh comes, and to him is the obedience of the peoples. – Genesis 49:9-10
The figure of the Messiah coming from Judah as a conquering king is prophesied in the first book of the Bible and the last. It is a theme that runs from the beginning to end. The theme of the Jewish “Lion King” gives consistency to the entire biblical narrative.
The word for “obedience” in verse 10 is קהת or “Kohath” from the same root as the name of Kohath, the son of Levy and the grandfather of Moses. So even the family name of the priesthood reminds us of King Messiah ruling the peoples of the earth.
The “obedience of the peoples” is a prophetic hint at the future spread of the gospel to bring the “all the nations to the obedience of the faith” (Romans 1:5;15:18). The fact that in the blessing to Judah all the way back in Genesis there is a reference to the “peoples” obeying God and His king is an astonishing witness to the predestined plan of God.
At one and the same time, Yeshua is eternally described not only as a roaring lion but a lamb led to the slaughter (Rev. 5:6). This dual picture of the Messiah, both suffering servant and conquering, is repeated throughout the Scriptures. Yeshua is both the son of God and the seed of David (Romans 1:3-4). He is the king of Israel and the head of the Church (John 12:13; Ephesians 1:23).
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, January 28, 2016.