Lion and lamb (Part 1)

There are two images of the Messiah throughout the Law and the Prophets. One is a suffering servant; the other is conquering king. The Rabbis called these two figures messiah son of Joseph and messiah son of David. The idea was that Joseph suffered at the hands of his brothers in an Egyptian jail. The figure of David was a king ruling in the height of power.

However, that distinction is incorrect in the fact that both Joseph and David suffered, and both Joseph and David ruled. (On the other hand, there is a correct hidden meaning in that comparison, in which Joseph rules among the Gentiles, and David ruled within Israel. The Messiah must rule as both head of the international Church and as king of Judah/Israel.)

How did the Rabbis try to solve this paradox of the Messiah as suffering servant or conquering king? Some considered this to be two different messiahs. Some considered this as two options. (If the people were righteous, Messiah would come as conqueror; if the people were sinful, Messiah would come to suffer.)

We find the solution in the Gospels: The Messiah has to come first to suffer and die; and then He will come later to conquer and rule. That pattern of suffering first and then ruling can be found in many different places through the Law and Prophets.

He is Both

David suffered at the hands of Saul; then ruled in Jerusalem.  Joseph suffered at the hands of his brothers and in jail, and then ruled in Egypt. Many of the righteous just suffered; others ruled. But the image of both suffering and conquering is repeated.

In Zechariah 9:9, the Messiah is pictured as coming to Jerusalem riding a donkey in humility. In Daniel 7:13-14, we can see him coming in the clouds of heaven before the ancient of days. The picture of the righteous suffering can be symbolized by a slain lamb; the conquering king symbolized by a roaring lion. Yeshua is both:

Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, the root of David, to open the scroll and its seven seals. I saw between the throne and the four creatures and among the elders, stood a lamb as if he was slain… Revelation 5:5-6

In Part 2 we will go deeper into Yeshua being both Lion and Lamb, geography and how His attributes need to be applied in our lives.

This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, September 4, 2019, and reposted with permission.