The phrase “Lion of Judah” has become familiar among Christians. We know it describes Jesus, so let’s look at when it originated and where it appears in the Bible.
Genesis 49 records Jacob’s last words to his sons. The scripture says he called together all twelve of them and said the following;
Gather around me, and I will tell you what will happen to each of you in the days to come. Come and listen, you sons of Jacob; listen to Israel, your father. Genesis 49:1-2
Then, he spoke individually to each of them with an appropriate message. Interestingly enough, out of the twelve, he only spoke directly in the first person to two of them.
He began by speaking directly to Ruben, his firstborn, with a very encouraging statement.
Reuben, you are my firstborn, my strength, the child of my vigorous youth. You are first in rank and first in power. Genesis 49:3
But then his words quickly changed as Jacob pointed out how his eldest son had become unruly and immoral. He also spoke directly to Judah but first a comment about the other nine.
Jacob spoke their names but didn’t directly address them. Of those nine, four received negative comments from their father.
Judah, however, not only received praises from his father, but Jacob prophetically laid some groundwork for the coming Messiah. He began with the following;
Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will grasp your enemies by the neck. All your relatives will bow before you. Genesis 49:8
Jacob introduced for the first time the idea of Judah becoming like a lion.
Judah, my son, is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? Genesis 49:9
Satan Tries to Copy God
Let’s take a moment to point out that Satan tries to duplicate everything he can about the Lord. Peter mentioned one of the things he does regularly.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Satan believes he, too, can act like a lion to seek and intimidate God’s people. He, however, is no match for Jesus, the real Lion from the tribe of Judah.
After describing Judah as a lion, Jacob’s prophecy continued to span through time. It included the dynasty of David and the Lordship of Jesus.
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor. Genesis 49:10
Even though God chose Abraham’s seed as His chosen people, they often stirred up His anger. The prophet Hosea wrote about one time when that happened.
I will be like a lion to Israel, like a strong young lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces! And I will carry them off, and no one will be left to rescue them. Hosea 5:14
He continued by saying that God would leave them in that condition until they admit their guilt and turn to Him. Then, a few chapters later, Hosea speaks about God’s love for His people.
For someday the people will follow me. I, the Lord, will roar like a lion. And when I roar, my people will return trembling from the west. Hosea 11:10
The Lion of Judah in the End Times
The Book of Revelation speaks of Jesus taking on two opposite roles. One as the King of kings, represented by the Lion. And the other as Lord of lords portrayed by the Lamb.
In chapter 5, John the Revelator wept because he thought no one could open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders told him;
“Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5
Immediately, the Lord’s appearance of the Lion of Judah changed to the Lamb who was slain. Then the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down and sang this song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10
I’m sure Jacob, the second generation from Abraham, had no idea of the ramifications of his words that day.
Neither did he realize that an heir of his son Judah would become a lion for all eternity. When he finished speaking to his sons, the next verse says;
These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said as he told his sons good-bye. He blessed each one with an appropriate message. Genesis 49:28
Lord, you have revealed your plans to us through your word. Even though we don’t understand it all, we believe and trust you as we get closer to eternity.
Check out these other related posts about Jacob
- How To Trust God When You’ve Had More Than Enough
- How Easily We Get Stuck In A Detour In Life
- Isaac Blessed Jacob Instead Of Esau
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