Lion of Judah

3rd study in the series on the ‘Names of Christ’ 
adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 3 Aug 2007

9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. 11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: 12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk” (Genesis 49:9-12)

5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Revelation 5:5).

The Bible is full of name, titles and allusions to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is because the Bible is ultimately about Christ and His work of redemption. So it pleases the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to us in a great variety of ways that provoke us to think about Him and to remember His person and works through graphic imageries.

One very powerful imagery provided by a prophetic name of Christ is the name ‘Lion of Judah.’

1. Lion of Judah
in Context

This name, ‘Lion of Judah’ or ‘Lion of the Tribe of Judah’ is found in clear in Revelation 5:5. But it is first alluded to in the Old Testament.

I say alluded to because you will not find this name ‘Lion of Judah’ directly in the Old Testament. It is only hinted in Genesis 49:9—

9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

These words are part of the blessings that Jacob pronounced upon his sons just before he passed away.

Most of his pronouncements are quite cryptic; and his pronouncement for Judah is no different.

Judah is described as a lion’s whelp or a lion’s cub returning from the prey. This could refer to returning after a hunt or to feasting at the prey.

I think it refers to the latter… for lion cubs do not hunt.

You see, lions usually dwell together in a pride. Most times, it is the lionesses that hunt. Male lions do not hunt except for a brief period in their lives after they leave their parents and before they obtain a pride of lionesses. Once they obtain a pride of lionesses, they leave the hunting to the lionesses!

In any case, the picture is that of the young lions enjoying the feast that they did not labour for and then returning to rest beside the king of the pride, the ‘old’ Lion.

Notice how there is a switch in the personal pronoun in the text (v. 9). Judah is referred to as ‘thou’ and as a young lion, whereas the old lion is referred to as ‘he.’ Who is ‘he’? I believe he is none other than the Messiah.

Now we must not think of the old lion as a sickly aged lion. No, no, the picture is that of a lion in his prime who is the king of the pride. He is the one who gets to eat first when the lionesses return from their hunt. The prey belongs to him because the pride belongs to him.

Here the old lion is pictured as stooping or crouching as king over his pride after having had his fill. Without a fear in the world, he closes his eyes and takes a nap.

No one dares to wake him up. Lions are known as the king of the animal kingdom not without reason. He is a fearsome animal. When he roars, it can be heard for miles. But now he is a lion at rest. And the young lions are round about him in safety.

What does this mean?

I will put it to you that by the old lion, Jacob is, in fact, prophesying about Christ. We know that this must be the case because the verses following are clearly about Christ, the Messiah to come; for He it is to whom the scepter belongs.

When Jacob prophesied that Judah will be a lion’s whelp and the Messiah will be like an old lion at rest, he is like John speaking about the two aspects of the Lord’s ministry.

Christ our Lord is like an old lion at rest because he would be slain as a lamb for His people. For this reason His people, as represented by the lion’s whelp, can have rest and peace—peace with God and peace with one another.

But what is this to us? If Christ is the Lion of Judah, what shall we do?

2. Our Response to the 
Lion of Judah

How should we respond to the fact that Christ is the Lion of Judah? Our first response must be…

a. To fear: We shall fear.

The lion is known as the king of the jungle—though it does not really live in the jungle. It lives in savannah grasslands and semi-arid scrublands.

Nevertheless, the fact that the lion is king in the animal kingdom is undisputed. It is a great animal with a mighty roar and a fierce-some appearance.

It is an animal that engenders respect and fear. If you are out in the savannah at night, one of the things that would definitely chill your bones is to hear the roaring of the lion in the distance. On a still night, the roar of the lion can carry almost 10 kilometres. I read somewhere that if the lion is 30 metres from your car, you can actually feel the car vibrating.

Those of you who have heard the lion roar in the zoo would know what I mean. It sounds like it is electronically amplified when you are nearby; and long after you’ve passed the exhibit you can still hear it.

One of the things that must have frightened children in the middle of the night in the plains of the Promised Land, must be the distinctive roar of the lion.

The prophet Hosea alluded to this when he says in Hosea 11:10—

“They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.”

The Lion of Judah will roar and the children shall tremble. Earlier on the Lord had said: “I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away” (Hosea 5:14). There the Lion of Judah is on a rampage punishing sin.

But now He roars as the King. He roars against sin. But He roars also to call His children unto Himself. “They shall walk after the LORD.” They “shall tremble from the west.”

The West is Egypt. Egypt represents sin and bondage to Satan. They “shall tremble from the west.” “They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria” (v. 11). Who are these who will come trembling at the roar of the Lion of Judah?

God says through the Prophet Isaiah: “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isa 66:2). And Ezra speaks of those who gathered around him after the exile, as those who “trembled at the words of the God of Israel” (Ezr 9:4).

Those who tremble at the roar of the Lion are the elect remnant. “Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word” (Isa 66:5). The Lion roars, the elect trembles, but they come to Him knowing His love, like lion cubs coming unto their father.

The wicked hearing His roar will either flee, or they will call upon the mountains and the rocks to cover them; BUT the children of God comes to Him in humility and contrition of spirit.

So our first response to the name of Christ ‘Lion of Judah’ is to fear. But it is not a fear that should drive us away. It is a fear of love and respect that draws us to Him.

Christ is our elder brother. But He is also our king. The Lion of Judah has roared. He has roared against sin and the wicked imaginations of this world. Shall we not forsake sin and the world and draw nigh to Him in love to serve Him as loyal subjects?

But secondly, our response to the Lion of Judah must be…

b. Not to fear: We shall not fear.

Now, this seems like a contradiction: Our first response is to fear, but our second is not to fear. How does that work out?

Well, simply stated, we must fear the Lord, but we must not fear anything or anyone else.

The Psalmist says:

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps 27:1).

If Christ the Lion of Judah is on the throne, shall Judah fear?

This is why in the prophecy of Jacob, Judah is portrayed as the lion’s cub. The lion’s cubs are the most vulnerable members of the pride.

9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?

The lion does not need to hunt. And neither do the lion’s cub. The lion’s cub feasts on the prey, then he comes back and rests beside the lion king. He needs not fear any, for his father the king is on the throne.

Beloved brethren and children, if Christ is our king, why do we need to fear what our enemies,—whatever form they may take,—would do to us?

In lion country, it is a well-known fact that lion cubs can easily die due to predation; or due to a younger lion coming to conquer the pride. When that happens, the younger lion attacks the old lion and chases him out; and then he kills all the cubs and takes over the pride of lionesses.

But our King is the Lion of Judah. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. No one can separate us from His love, for He is greater than all.

The devil may be as a strange lion prowling about waiting to devour whom he may. But our king is on the throne. He will not allow those who are truly His to be devoured though they may be harassed.

Therefore we need not fear. We need not fear what man would do to us. We need not fear what the devil would do. The devil is active. He is most active when he thinks that the church or the individual is most likely to disrupt his attempts to discredit the name of Christ.

Beloved brethren and children, as the Lord blesses the church, so the devil will increase his attacks on the church. We must be prepared for that. But we need not fear for Christ is the Lion of Judah.


Christ is the Lion of Judah. Therefore, let us fear and love Him. Let us serve Him with gratitude for all that we have and enjoy comes from Him.

Christ is the Lion of Judah. Therefore, let us not fear come what may around us. Let us understand that with our King on the throne we can have peace today and forever. No one and nothing can separate us from His love. Amen.

—JJ Lim