Last week, we rightly adored Yeshua as the Passover Lamb. He came as the suffering Messiah. He led a perfect, unblemished life but went without protest like a lamb to slaughter, taking our curse upon Himself as He hanged on the tree. Sadly, before Passover even ended, we witnessed another synagogue murder. And judging from the lack of outcry against this hatred, I think many people believe Yeshua will return a second time as a docile sheep. But beware, the conquering Messiah is coming as a fierce and powerful predator, the king of all beasts—the lion.
Why a lion? The tribes of Israel were often referred to as lions in the Tanakh. King Solomon designed his throne to include twelve lions on either side of the six steps leading up to the throne’s seat (1 Kings 10:20). When the prophet Balaam looked out over the Israelites to curse them, the Spirit of the Lord caused him to speak these words instead: “God brought them out of Egypt…Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse them? May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!”(Num. 24:8-10 NIV).
If the Israelites were lions, it’s not surprising, then, that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob referred to Himself with leonine imagery. For example, in the writings of Ezekiel, Adonai poured out His sorrow over the princes of Israel by instructing the prophet to sing this dirge over them:
What a lioness was your mother among the lions! Crouching among the great beasts, she reared her cubs. She raised up one of her cubs…they dragged him off with hooks to the land of Egypt. When she saw herself frustrated, her hope defeated, she took another of her cubs and set him up as a great beast…With hooks he was put in a cage, they carried him off to the king of Babylon…(Ezk. 19:2-9).
The Lord spoke these ferocious words through Hosea to emphasize how He feels about sin: “When they grazed, they were sated; when they were sated, they grew haughty; And so they forgot Me. So I am become like a lion to them…I will devour them there like a lion…(Hos. 13:6-8)” and “No, I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great beast to the House of Judah; I, I will attack and stride away, carrying the prey that no one can rescue; And I will return to My abode—Till they realize their guilt. In their distress, they will seek Me and beg for My favor(Hos. 5:14-15).”
Does this mean the Lord has forsaken Israel and replaced her with the Church as some would have us believe? Is He finished with the Jewish people? Heaven forbid! The Lord is Holy. He cannot tolerate evil. He did not want Israel to suffer, but even a lioness can’t defend her cubs against their own actions if they choose to hang around with hyenas (a lesson for us all!). But He is also faithful to His people. He extends mercy instead of punishment.“Cast away all the transgressions by which you have offended, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit, that you may not die, O House of Israel. For it is not My desire that anyone shall die—declares the Lord GOD. Repent therefore, and live! (Ezk. 18: 31-32).”
The Lord’s heart for Israel and His desire to bless her is clear:
“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?...
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused…
For I am God, and not a man—
the Holy One among you.
I will not come against their cities.
They will follow the Lord;
he will roar like a lion.
When he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.
They will come from Egypt,
trembling like sparrows,
from Assyria, fluttering like doves.
I will settle them in their homes,”
declares the Lord. (Hos. 11:8-11)
What a beautiful picture of the Father gathering His first-born children. Can’t you see the cubs running back to the den at the sound of His roar? The Lord Himself provided a Defender and Redeemer for Israel as prophesied by Jacob:
You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his. (Gen. 49:9-10 NIV)
Church, if the King’s heart is for His people, shouldn’t ours be as well? These are our brethren in Yeshua. Balaam’s words are still true today. Bless Israel and be blessed, curse her and be cursed. “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy [demanding what is rightfully and uniquely mine], and I am jealous for her with great wrath [against her enemies]’” (Zech. 8:2 AMP).
We should worship Yeshua, the sacrificial Lamb. But let’s also reverently fear Him as the King of the Jews. Because Yeshua is the triumphant Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5 KJV), awesome in glory and power. And He’s coming soon. Let Him find us blessing His people.