Isaiah 31:4 This is what the LORD says to me: “As a lion growls, a great lion over his prey – and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against him, he is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamour – so the LORD Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights. …”
Our wise Creator has built into his Creation many wonderful things that help us to understand more clearly who we are, who he is, and how he carries out his eternal, gracious Plan of Salvation throughout history. I think of metaphors like, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6), “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you” (Psalm 32:9), “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’” (Mark 1:17).
The fear-inspiring might and power of the lion is a dramatic way of portraying both the challenges we face as Christians living in a God-defying world (along with the way the Good Shepherd is able to protect his sheep from the world’s attacks), and the sovereign rule of the Lion of Judah, to whom belongs the final victory.
CS Lewis’s ‘Aslan’ demonstrates this so well in the combining together of his conquering strength with the depth of his meekness and love. “‘Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.’ ‘Ooh’ said Susan. ‘I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion’ … ‘Safe?’ said Mr Beaver …’Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you’” (‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’).
Let us comfort our hearts with the message of Isaiah in these testing days. The New Testament applies the foreshadowing imagery of the Old Testament to the reality of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ: “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly” (Hebrews 12:22); “For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’”(1 Peter 2:6-7); “Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion …” (Revelation 14:1a).
“Saviour, if of Zion’s City I, through grace, a member am, let the world deride or pity, I will glory in thy name. Fading is the worldling’s pleasure, all his boasted pomp and show; solid joys and lasting treasure none but Zion’s children know” (John Newton).
– Bruce Christian