K I N G o f K I N G S S Y M B O L I S M
The LION of JUDAH
The painting is an allegorical representation and offers the viewer an invitation to explore its visual overlapping contrasts and paradoxes. Spend some time before it in contemplation and self-reflection. There is no power in the image, only in the Truth of what it represents.
LION: Historically, around the world, the lion has been described as the "King of the Beasts." He is universally a symbol of royalty, strength, majesty, courage, invincibility, watchfulness, protective power. In this painting, he is depicted as a white lion, majestically perched on a high place, in control, victorious, watchful, and protective. Extremely rare in nature, the white lion has been worshipped in South African cultures for centuries as a messenger or angel sent from heaven to set their people free from bondage; a symbol of purity, holiness, deity. C.S. Lewis, in his widely acclaimed creative work, The Chronicles of Narnia, depicts Christ symbolically as Aslan, the lion. Throughout the Old Testament of the Hebrew Bible, the lion symbol was used to identify the ancient Israelite tribe of Judah, the tribe from which all of the Israelite kings emerged. In Christian tradition, the Lion of Judah has historically referred to Christ, the coming King as well as righteous Judge.
Genesis 49:9 Revelation 5:5
EYES OF THE LION: The lion's eyes are piercing and intense, but not frightening; a gaze that sees through to the heart of the viewer. It does not matter where the viewer is standing before the painting; the lion's eyes appear to follow. You cannot escape his sight.
I Samuel 16:7 Psalm 33:18-19 Psalm 51 Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24
HALO & TRANSPARENCY: The brilliance of the light and the halo symbolize holiness, The Deity, and subtly hint at the form of the cross. In ancient Christian art, the halo traditionally was represented by three radiating, points symbolizing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The halo, rainbow, and slight transparency near the back of the lion suggest emergence from another dimension. This is not a natural lion, but a spiritual lion transitioning into a fully physical form, possessing a new body given after his resurrection.
Luke 24:33-43 John 20:19-20, 26-30 Revelation 1:12-17
RAINBOW: The rainbow described in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, was given to represent a promise from God to mankind never again to destroy the earth with a flood. The ancient scriptural promises and prophesies in the Old Testament about the Messiah, the coming King, pointed to Christ, the Savior for all of mankind sent to free us from the bondage of sin and death. In this image the rainbow represents the Holy Spirit and God the Father. In nature, the rainbow is spirit-like and ephemeral. It appears only as a result of sunlight, which reveals all the colors of the spectrum and qualities of light that our eyes normally cannot perceive. Here the rainbow represents all the colors, qualities, and personages of God; the Father, and Holy Spirit, not seen with human eyes, yet clearly revealed in the physical appearance of His Son, Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, Anointed One, LION OF JUDAH.
Genesis 9:12-17 Ezekiel 1:26-28 Revelation 4:1-3 Revelation 10:1-5
LAMB: The lamb, like the lion, is also representative of Christ. There are prophetic references to the coming of Jesus as the Lamb of God scattered throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus is frequently referred to as the Lamb of God, the One who comes to "take away the sins of the world." What a contrast of images! Christ, the coming King of heaven and earth, to rule in majesty and power, but also Christ, the vulnerable man, the "sacrificial lamb," destined to die like a criminal on a Roman cross as a sacrifice to redeem the sins of mankind. The lamb is presented here in a relaxed and unthreatened position. He and the lion are together and comfortable; overlapping symbols. They are One. The lion represents who Christ is, the majestic King, crowned with the holiness of God. The lamb, representing what Christ did; his sacrificial work on the cross. His mission is finished. His resurrection and victory over death has been accomplished once and for all. He now rests at the right hand of the Father.
Genesis 22:1-13 Psalm 22:1-19 Isaiah 53 John 1: 29-34 Revelation 5 & 6
SKULL: The skull is symbolic of the rocky hill where Jesus was crucified. In the scriptures it was called "Golgotha" by the people who were familiar with it; "the place of the skull." The Romans crucified criminals and political tyrants at this location. It is represented on the verge of crumbling, ready to fall apart, a result of the earthquake that shook the landscape when Christ died. It is physically below and behind the LION OF JUDAH, evoking the sense of his victory over death; a mission successfully fulfilled.
Matthew 27:33 Mark 15:22 Luke 23:33 John 19:17
TREE: The tree in the painting is an evil and cruel tree, having serpentine qualities. It represents the cross Christ was crucified on at Golgotha. Satan is symbolically referred to in Genesis and elsewhere in the Scriptures as a cunning serpent. Satan was present at the Tree of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, and at the tree on Golgotha. It was Satan who manipulated men's hearts to have Christ crucified. But Satan was deceived, and what he thought was his victory with Jesus' death on the cross, proved to be his defeat when God raised Christ up in victory from the dead three days later. The tree, like the skull, is now physically behind the LION OF JUDAH and the LAMB. It appears lifeless, petrified. It is a dead remnant but a significant and historic reminder of the huge price paid for man's sin; a victorious mission accomplished.
Genesis 2:15-17 & 3:1-15 Galatians 3:13-14
THORNS: The thorns are symbolic of the crown of thorns made by the Roman guards that were pressed down over Christ's head when he was being beaten and mocked as "KING OF THE JEWS." It was a part of the abuse he obediently endured for the sins of mankind.
Matthew 27:28 Mark 15:17-18 Luke 22:63-65 John 19:2
FLOWERS & NEW GROWTH: Red flowers cascade down the rocks below the Lion. These represent the blood drops that flowed down from the brow of Christ. There are actual thorny plants with bright red flowers that grow in various arid parts of the world called Crown of Thorns. The red flowers on the thorns also suggest the resurrected Christ and the new, beautiful life and color that emerge in a believer's life as a result of the sacrifice of Christ at Golgotha. New growth sprouts from the rocks, a manifestation of new life springing up from a dry, hard, and arid place because of the presence of the KING OF KINGS.
John 12:23-24 Corinthians 5:17
SKY: The sky has been depicted in the painting to subtly suggest a ripping of the clouds to reveal light overcoming darkness. The Scriptures mention that when Christ died on the cross, at that moment there was an earthquake, and the huge veil in the temple was ripped from top to bottom. Christ's work on the cross was a victory of spiritual light over spiritual darkness.
Matthew 27:45-54 Mark 15:33-38 Luke 23:44-47 John 19:28-37
FLYING BIRDS: The birds are vultures, or symbolically demonic imagery suggesting the fading away with the darkness of those icons associated with death and demonic powers.
PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE IMAGE: There is one final symbolic intention in the painting. Although the lamb primarily represents Christ as the "sacrificial lamb" who died on the cross, it also represents me, a lost sheep, and any other lost person who puts their trust in the message of the Gospel of Christ; that he died, was raised from the dead, lives forever now at God's right hand, and lovingly offers his salvation to each of us who are willing to believe. It recalls the promise from throughout the Scriptures of God's protection of his people. The lion is massive. The lamb is small and vulnerable. It is relaxed and secure in its close and personal position, protected by the KING OF KINGS, our high priest and advocate before an awesome, but loving, forgiving, and holy God.
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