The lion is the strongest of quadrupeds of his kind. It lives alone, and is a nocturnal animal. His powerful roar can be heard miles away. It is considered the king of the animals. Let us see what the Bible says about it: A lion is destructive. And in the language of Jeremiah, it symbolizes the king Nebuchadnezzar. “A lion has gone up from his thicket, and a destroyer of nations has set out; He has gone out from his place to make your land a waste. Your cities will be ruins without inhabitant” (Jer. 4:7). “I will go to the great and will speak to them, for they know the way of the Lord, and the ordinance of their God. But they too, with one accord, have broken the yoke and burst the bonds. Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them” (Jer. 5:5,6). The image or the nickname of “lion” fits the person of Nebuchadnezzar very well, who was mean and destructive, and who was brought in the scene to slave the Jews and other peoples by none other than Jehovah “And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant” (Jer. 27:6).
The lion is compared to the serpent, that is, to the devil: “You will tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down” (Ps. 91:13). We read in the prophecy against Judah, “The oracle concerning the beasts of the Negev. Through a land of distress and anguish, from where come lioness and lion, viper and flying serpent, they carry their riches on the backs of young donkeys and their treasures on camels’ humps, to a people who cannot profit them” (Is. 30:6).
The lion is compared to the dragon: “Son of man, take up a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him, ‘You compared yourself to a young lion of the nations, yet you are like the monster in the seas’” (Ezek. 32:2).
Nebuchadnezzar was a lion; Pharaoh was lion and monster; lion, monster and serpent are figures and variations for the devil: “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9).
Lion is a symbol of wickedness: “My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword” (Ps. 57:4).
The lion drinks the blood of the dead: “Behold, a people rises like a lioness, and as a lion it lifts itself; it shall not lie down until it devours the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain” (Num. 23:24). “They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and roaring lion” (Ps. 22:13). “Save me from the lion’s mouth” (Ps. 22:21). The lion is guileful: “He lurks in a hiding place as a lion in his lair; he lurks to catch the afflicted; he catches the afflicted when he draws him into his net” (Ps. 10:9).
In the New Testament, the lion is the very own devil: “…casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:7,8).
It is very strange that the lion being a destroyer, devourer and a figure of the devil, may be an instrument in the hands of Jehovah. Let think about this: King Jeroboam made two altars and two golden calves. One of the altars was in Bethel. When Jeroboam was burning incense on the altar in Bethel, Jehovah sent a prophet prophesy against the altar. After that, Jeroboam invited him to his house. The prophet did not accept, in obedience to Jehovah that had said to him: “You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came” (1 Kings 13:9).
The prophet went away. An older prophet went to meet him and convinced him to go into his house and eat, saying that he had received orders from Jehovah to make him this invitation. The younger prophet believed him and accepted. When he was going away from the old prophet’s house, Jehovah sent a lion, which killed him (1 Kings 12:26-33; 13:1-26). We have another story: Jehovah wished to rebuke the king Ahab for the alliance he had made with Ben-hadad, king of Syria. He used of a stratagem, having a prophet make up a riddle. The prophet said to his neighbor by the word of Jehovah, “’Please strike me.’ But the man refused to strike him. Then he said to him, ‘Because you have not listened to the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have departed from me, a lion will kill you.’ And as soon as he had departed from him a lion found him, and killed him” (1Kings 20:35,36). There is a third case: After Jehovah handed the people of Israel to captivity in the hands of the Assyrians, their king brought people from Babel, from Cutah, and from Avva and from Hamath and Sephar-vaim, and settled them in Samaria in place of the sons of Israel, they did not fear Jehovah, for they did not know him. Jehovah, then, sent lions, and they killed some of them (2 Kings 17:23-25).
Jehovah used lions to kill the Moabites who escaped from Moab’s destruction (Is. 15:9). The impression that the reader of the Bible has is that the lion is the pet animal of Jehovah, and a favorite instrument of his inexplicable massacres. If we take Peter’s words about the lion, that he is the devil, we see that it kills and destroys under the orders of Jehovah. It was Jehovah who gave orders to Satan to strike Job and his house. What is frightening is that Jehovah declares himself to be a devouring lion. Let us read the text: “So I will be like a lions to them; like a leopard I will lie in wait by the wayside. I will encounter them like a bear robbed of her cubs, and I will tear open their chests; THERE I WILL ALSO DEVOUR THEM LIKE A LIONESS, as a wild beast would tear them” (Hos. 13:7-8). Jeremiah says: “Jehovah has become like an enemy. He has swallowed up Israel; He has destroyed its strongholds…” (Lam. 2:5). “A lion has roared! Who will not fear? Jehovah has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8).
To escape from the Lion there is one only way: to belong to the Lamb. Have you seen greater wonder? That a lamb delivered from a lion’s jaws? (2 Tim. 4:17).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira