Another Look by David Faust
It’s a jungle out there. No wonder the king of beasts captures our imagination. You can buy a cute stuffed lion for your baby, or listen to the lions roar at the zoo. You can join a service organization called the Lion’s Club, watch The Lion King movie, and cheer for the Detroit Lions football team.
And you can read about lions in the Bible. When a roaring lion threatened the muscular Samson, “He tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat” (Judges 14:6). David killed a lion when it attacked his sheep, an incident that later gave him courage to face Goliath. “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine,” David declared (1 Samuel 17:37). Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den because of his devotion to prayer, but the next morning he emerged without a scratch because God protected him.
We all live in a lion’s den. First Peter 5:8 warns, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” We need to be spiritually street-wise because the devil is not our buddy or our mischievous friend. He’s not just a witty competitor who happens to be captain of the other team. He’s our enemy, our adversary, a spiritual terrorist with a bomb in his hand, a snake with poisonous fangs.
He doesn’t just hang around in sleazy bars and back alleys. He prowls around college campuses, well-groomed suburban neighborhoods, even church buildings “looking for someone to devour.” He wants to destroy marriages and families. He claws away at our enthusiasm for ministry. He gnaws on reputations, swallows up hope, tears up relationships, and devours resources that ought to be invested in God’s work. He chews up our time so we waste it on pointless pursuits. He rips away at the truth, replaces it with lies, and leaves his victims bloody and wounded. He is the lying lion.
Peter exhorts, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:9). The Greek word translated “resist” literally means to stand against. It’s where we get the English word antihistamine, a medication that builds the body’s resistance against allergies and colds. James 4:7 uses the same word when it says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” If we stand strong in our faith, the lying lion will turn tail and run.
What would it be like to have a lion for a friend instead of an enemy? What if instead of ferocious anger the lion became a symbol of power under control—power mingled with gentleness and grace? What if you lived in a different kind of lion’s den where the lion tucked you safely under his mane so no one would dare to harm you? Near the end of the Bible one of the elders near the throne of God comes to John and says, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah . . . has triumphed” (Revelation 5:5).
In Genesis 49, Jacob compared his son Judah to a lion’s cub. He predicted that the scepter of royal rule would not depart from Judah and ultimately “the obedience of the nations” would be his (vv. 8-10). Jesus Christ fulfilled this prophetic portrait. He is the Lion of Judah, the King of the jungle.
Christ is the loving Lion. He’s not our adversary; he’s our friend. Instead of devouring us, he protects us. The loving Lion enables us to confront the lying lion with confidence. Satan may prowl, but he won’t prevail. He can tempt, but he won’t triumph. He may nip at our heels, but he will never devour us. Christ has risen from the dead, and death has been devoured by victory (1 Corinthians 15:54).
In C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia the characters discuss Aslan, the lion who represents Christ. Lucy asks, “Then he isn’t safe?” Mr. Beaver responds, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
In this lion’s den we call home, the Lion of Judah is forever on our side. He isn’t safe, but he’s good. In life and in death, that’s the main thing we need to know.