From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Fourteen, Day Four
Only once in the New Testament is Jesus described as a lion. The book of Revelation (named in part for what it reveals about Christ) portrays the risen Jesus as the only one worthy to open the scroll that contains the ultimate unfolding of God's purposes for the world. The apostle John perceived Jesus as both Lion and Lamb, who through his death and resurrection becomes the ultimate victor and conqueror. When you pray to Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, you are praying to the One with the power to banish all fear, to the One who watches over you with his fierce protecting love. You are also praying to the One who is judge of the living and the dead.
I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." Revelation 5:4 - 5
Praying the Name
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. Revelation 5:5 - 6
Reflect On: Isaiah 11:6-9 and Revelation 5:5-6.
Praise God: For revealing himself in Jesus.
Offer Thanks: For the Lord's lionlike care and protection.
Confess: Any dividedness in your heart toward doing God's will.
Ask God: To help you lean on his strength and protection.
How is it possible that children in the same family can grow into adults with diametrically opposing views of their family of origin? One brother recalls his parents as warm and caring while another characterizes them as cold and unloving. There could be multiple reasons why this is so, but certainly one explanation is that the brothers' temperaments and personalities have significantly shaped their experience of relationships within the family. The compliant older brother did whatever he could to please, while the stubborn younger brother responded to parental direction with obstinate resistance.
Something similar happens when it comes to our perceptions of God. Some people see him as a loving God full of mercy while others see him as cold and distant, harsh and punitive. To some degree our perception of him depends on our response to him. Will we love him, expressing our love through obedience, or will we hold him in contempt by disregarding his commandments and his intentions for our lives? Even in the best of us, our experience of God remains fractured and divided so that we sometimes experience him one way and sometimes another.
The preacher William Watley captures our various experiences of Jesus as both Lion and Lamb:
Jesus as Lion and Lamb means that he has more than one way of approaching us and addressing our situation. When we have sinned and fallen short of God's glory, we don't need a lion of condemnation and judgment attacking us and ravaging our spirit. When we are already feeling like a nobody, we don't need a stern lion beating us up and making us feel worse. We need a gentle word from the Lord. We need a word of comfort and encouragement. We need the Lamb to speak tenderly and tell us, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Justice says that we deserve a lion to slay us, but mercy says, "I'm going to send a lamb and let you know that you have another chance."
But when we get comfortable with being miserable; when we start feeling so sorry for ourselves and are tempted to stay down; when we've been down so long that getting up doesn't even cross our minds (or if it does, it seems like an impossibility), then we don't need a lamb comforting us in our misery. We need the Lion with power to pull us up...
As Lion and Lamb, Jesus understands our weaknesses but relates to our strength, and he loves us with all our contradictions. I have always been drawn to Isaiah's portrait of a future era of perfect peace in which the whole earth will be joined together in harmony with God. Even nature's opposites — the lion and the lamb — will lie down together without a trace of fear or animosity. Think about it. No more sibling rivalry, no more arguments with your spouse, no more competition with coworkers, no more church splits, no more political infighting, no more crime, no more terrorist attacks or suicide bombings. The peace we experience will be profound, threading its way through every living thing. Even our various perceptions of God will be reconciled. The Lion God will lie down with the Lamb God, and we will experience not his fierce anger but his powerful safeguarding protection perfectly joined to his immense, sacrificial love.
Today as you seek God's face, praise him for his strength and ask him to reveal his lion like love and his fierce, protecting care.
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.