A Lion. A Lamb.
Strong, fierce, bold. Meek, gentle, sacrificial.
The Lion and the Lamb have long been paired in literature and history. The juxtaposition of the powerful majesty of the King of Beasts and the gentle helplessness of the lamb create a longing, an almost mythical dream and hope for the two to live in harmony, and in so doing, bring peace to the world.
But who or what do they really represent?
I became fascinated with the idea of the Lion and the Lamb when the Lord spoke to me about 2015. Every year He gives me a word that will help guide and shape my life and ministry. You might know that last year’s word was TRUST. This year, He gave me BOLD and the image of a lion filled my mind. I was seeing Aslan, the MGM Lion, the constellation Leo the Lion and other magnificent lions in literature. But most of all, I envisioned the great Lion of God, the Lion of Judah, the Savior of the world, Jesus the Messiah. I pictured the Lion who graces the flag of Jerusalem.
I was excited. Bold! Like a lion. God’s lion! What better way to start the year?
But before I could embark on the great, bold adventure of 2015, I needed to remember: Before we know Jesus as a Lion, we need to know Him as the Lamb.
The Lamb of God Revealed
The Lamb was born a gentle, helpless baby in Bethlehem, greeted by shepherds and angels. Thirty years later He was publicly acknowledged by John the Baptist who declared, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
The mystery of the Lamb turned Lion was foretold and rehearsed centuries before that day when God ordained seven feasts to be celebrated by the Jewish people. The book of Leviticus doesn’t seem like a likely place to find a deep mystery, but there it is: And the Lord spoke to Moses: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts’” (Leviticus 23:1-2).
Then the Lord gave Moses a list of seven feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. All the feasts hold the mystery of the Lion and the Lamb, the mystery of our future, and the story of the world’s redemption.
The first four Spring Feasts celebrate the Lamb and are about forgiveness, deliverance, and healing.
Jesus came the first time as the Lamb of God. His entire mission culminated with His final journey to Jerusalem on Passover, where the sacrifice would take place.
His triumphant entry on Palm Sunday coincided with Nisan 10 on the Hebrew calendar, the day the Passover lamb was chosen. Whose job was it to “seize” a lamb for Passover? The priests. Who came to seize Jesus from the Garden of Gethsemane? The local priests.
The chosen lamb was inspected; Jesus was also tested, put on trial. They found no deceit. He was pure and spotless, without blemish. He qualified.
He was falsely accused and “treated harshly and afflicted, but He did not even open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not even open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). He was led to the altar (the Cross), pierced and slain, His blood poured out for the sins of the world.
Jesus was crucified on Passover; He was buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread; He resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits, and fifty days later, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the first believers on the Feast of Pentecost. Now the story of healing, redemption, and reconciliation with God is revealed to the world.
The Lamb of God fulfilled His mission. While we, His followers, take the message to the world, we wait for the final act of the mystery, foretold in the Fall Feasts: The Lord’s return.
The Revelation of the Lion
Jesus came as a Lamb, but He will return as a Lion! The entire theme of the Fall Feasts is the revelation of the Lion.
The Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur (Atonement), and Tabernacles, known as “Days of Awe,” unveil the majesty of God and the coming of His Kingdom.
The Feast of Trumpets proclaims the crowning of the King, heralded by trumpets. The Feast of Atonement brings us before the Lord with confession and repentance. Tabernacles rejoices that God will dwell with His beloved Creation in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Bible tells us that in the last days men will be “lovers of themselves…lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (2 Timothy 3; Matthew 24:12). The Lamb came to make peace and sacrifice for those sins. But the Lion brings divine judgment (see Revelation 9:8). The Lion is bold and powerful, and ready to right the wrongs of the world.
Two things struck me as I began to appreciate the wonder of God giving me BOLD for my word of the year.
First, in the Scriptures and in the story of the Feasts, the Lord gives us a specific location for the return of the Messiah. Jerusalem!
Writing of that day, Zechariah prophesied, “In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem…I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced” (Zechariah 12: 8-10).
God never said He was finished with Israel. When the disciples asked Him, “Will you at this time restore your kingdom to Israel?” He didn’t say there would be no Israel. He said, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons” (Acts 1:6-7).
There needs to be a Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecy. Which is why He brought about the restoration of Israel in 1948 and of Jerusalem in 1967 in the miraculous Six-Day War (both Sabbath or “Shemitah” years, which you can read about HERE).
Second, we are to live as the children of the Lion. Bold, not self–centered, arrogant, or self-righteous. Think of the deep sorrow in the heart of the apostle John. During His revelation of Heaven He “wept and wept” because no one was worthy to open the scrolls that would bring judgment and the Kingdom. No one—until he was told, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
The Lion of Judah had come. But the next line completes the picture: “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain” (Revelation 5: 1-6). The Lion and the Lamb, fulfilled in the Messiah Jesus to bring hope and redemption to the world.
I contemplated what this means to us personally. How do we live this truth? I thought of the apostles. They were new to all of this. They were untrained and under constant threat from authorities. But look at what happened after they spoke to a gathering of people, priests, rulers, elders, and scribes: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”
As they faced opposition, they learned that their strength would always come from “being with Jesus” through His Spirit: “’Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word’…After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (see Acts chapter 4).
We will be discouraged. We will sometimes face threats and fear. The enemy wants to silence us, intimidate us, tell us not to make waves.
But Jesus showed us the way. A sacrificial Lamb and a triumphant Lion.
God has orchestrated a wonderful plan for His beloved Creation. He has told a story of sacrifice and forgiveness, of right overcoming wrong, of love triumphing. He has shown us we can lay down our lives like the Lamb. And we can walk in the victory and power of the Lion. A story we can step into—with boldness!