Sunday, May 3, 2015

When The LION Roars!

I wonder who gave the Lion the title ‘King of the Jungle?’ Did he take the word picture from the Judeo-Christian Bible, or did it commandeer it? The first mention of a lion is in Genesis 49:9. It is applied to the tribe of Judah, which was also the tribe considered to give Israel their king. In Revelation 5:5 we discover the full meaning of linking ‘Lion’ and ‘Judah’ together. It is a title for Jesus, the risen Lord!

There are some wonderful insights presented in the Scriptures about the lion. In Numbers 24:1-9 this term is applied to the God of Israel. What is interesting is that He is pictured as a lion on the hunt. A feature of the lion is his roar. Within the Old Testament we are told that the Lord God ‘roars.’  The prophets see Him in this metaphor as coming in judgement (Hosea 13:7 is upon Israel and Jeremiah 25:30-31 is upon the Nations.)

Another reason why Yahweh, the Lion of Heaven, is forecast as ‘Roaring’ is something God will do to Israel. ‘They shall go after the Lord, who roars like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west. They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will return them to their homes, says the Lord.’ (Hosea 11:10-11) The prophet Joel tells us that the Lord God will roar from Zion and it will shake the heavens and the earth. His breath and its sound will engulf the multitude of Nations in the ‘Valley of decision.’ That will make a person’s hair stand on end. However Joel goes on to say that God, at that time, will be a refuge and a stronghold for Israel. (Joel 3:16.)

The thing I like about the Bible is its use of words with deliberate, specific and defining intent. This is especially true in regard to the character of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  The mystery of the Godhead is always before our eyes as we read the Bible. It is once again before us when we consider the title of the Lion! Yahweh is the Lion of Israel. Jesus is the Lion of Judah, the future King of that Nation and indeed of the whole World.

The term ‘the Lion’ not only implies the Lord’s regal stature, it also upholds His warrior status. He is the Lord God of Hosts. When He returns it will be in that warrior capacity to bring His rule and reign to earth. People shy away from the image of Jesus as warrior and Judge. It means they are accountable to Him in some way or other. They prefer the babe of Bethlehem. In a manger Jesus isn’t so threatening. However, He is no longer in the manger. Nor the carpenter, or Rabbi. He is the crucified, entombed and risen Lord and Saviour. At this moment His offer is about the grace of salvation by obedient faith. That has a time limit, known only to him and also our own mortality. That is why the Bible says, ‘Now is the day of salvation’ don’t let it pass you by.

Proverbs has two quotes referring to earthly kings. I would like to apply them to Jesus Christ in His status as the Lion of Judah, King of Israel. ‘A king’s anger is like the growling of a lion, but his favour is like the dew on the grass’ (19:12). What would make Jesus angry? Our refusal to bend our knee in gratitude for His salvation! In 20:2 the author takes it further. ‘The dread anger of a king is like the growling of a lion; anyone who provokes him to anger forfeits his life.’

When the Lion of Judah roars from Heaven and prowls upon this earth He will not be laughing. HE comes to set up His kingdom. He comes to reign. He comes to Judge. Those who know Him as Lord and Saviour will rejoice at the sound of the roar. Others will be filled by terror.

©4.5.2015.  Ray Hawkins

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