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Lion or Lamb: Which Do You Need?

September 12, 2016

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Tim Lane

Revelation for Encouragement?

Have you ever considered reading the book of Revelation when you needed some encouragement? Most people avoid this book altogether due to the rich but confusing symbols. I confess, the symbolism can be confusing but once understood, Revelation becomes a very practical comfort in the midst of daily life.

The Lion

One of the reasons John wrote Revelation was to comfort and encourage Christians throughout the ages that were undergoing hardship. Particularly, John had in mind his contemporaries who were experiencing persecution for claiming to be Christians. The book is relevant for all, both corporately and individually. I once had the opportunity to preach on Revelation 4-5. The minister of the congregation matched this quote from Jonathan Edwards to compliment my sermon that morning.

If you…come to Christ, he will appear as a Lion, in his glorious power and dominion, to defend you. All those excellencies of his, in which he appears as a lion, shall be yours, and shall be employed for you in your defense, for your safety, and to promote your glory; he will be as a lion to fight against your enemies. He that touches you, or offends you, will provoke his wrath, as he that stirs up a lion. Unless your enemies can conquer this Lion, they shall not be able to destroy or hurt you. Unless they are stronger than he, they shall not be able to hinder your happiness.

Now this is encouraging! You can locate the image of a Lion in Revelation 4-5. As you begin reading chapter 4, John passes through a door into the very throne room where God is seated. The One sitting on the throne defies description because He is so awesome. You begin to get more detail as you read chapter 5, especially 5:5-7.

5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.

At first, John weeps because there is no one worthy to open the scroll. At this point, one of the elders tells him there is One who is worthy. It is the Lion upon the throne who can open the scroll because He has the moral purity and right to do so. The scroll that John sees represents all of human history. Unless the scroll can be opened, the events of human history will not unfold with God’s plan to send a Savior.

The Lamb

Then John’s eyes shift back to the throne, but it isn’t a lion that he sees.

6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne…..7 He came and took the scroll…

So which is it? Is the One on the throne a Lion or a Lamb? Thankfully for us, He is both. The Lion became a Lamb to sacrifice His life for sinners and sufferers so that they might be rescued from themselves and ultimately from every bad thing in the universe.

The Lion is for you, but only if you bow before Him as the Lamb of God who takes away your sins. If you admit your need of His saving mercies, you get both Lamb and Lion—the One who loves you and protects you even through death.

Join the Conversation

Have you previously considered Revelation as a letter of spiritual counsel and encouragement in the midst of suffering? How can this view of Revelation impact your life and ministry?