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THE LORD IS THE LION
Alignment on Lions
THE VERY IDEA OF A LION
What is there about a lion ? (Proverbs
30:20). A king indeed, he seems to be. The pure solidity of his structure allied
with the lithe felicity of his motion, the assured tenor of his look, the
magnificent ruff about his neck, as though an inbuilt symbol of
Elizabethan significance, the roar that brooks no reply, but signifies his
presence, the capacity for quiet seeming rest... it is all there.
Thus when we reflect that the Lord is the Creator,
and distance ourselves momentarily from the fact
that the curse is upon our globe because of sin (Romans 5:1-12, 8:17ff.),
which unlike organic evolution*1, never fails to assert itself in this or that quarter,
in the behaviour of man in things great and small,
we perceive that here is a symbol of
That is, outside the killing, which comes from the curse, there is the sense of majesty.
Accordingly when in Genesis 49:9 we read, in the prophetic passing of Jacob, that Judah is of the lineage of a lion, we expect from it a lion! In fact, the nature of this lion is focussed. "As a lion, who shall rouse him up!" the blessing goes. There is about Judah the lineaments of lion, there is something of majesty which is to be found here. But what precisely is it ? What lion is to be a descendant of this Judah, so that it has such a title ? What is the culmination and justification for the LION motif ?
It is this: the sense of majesty will not be lost to this tribe, its participation at that level will not be annulled until SHILOH COMES. This term is associated with the root meaning for rest rather closely, as also in "the waters of Shiloah" in Isaiah 8. These are described as flowing gently, as distinct from a raging torrent. Some relate it to a stream from a fountain proceeding into a nearby valley by Jerusalem.
It is clear that whether or not this be the intent, the SENSE of it is such in Isaiah 8:6. Indeed, further, it is presented as an halcyon holiness, loveliness, a symbol of the Lord Himself, in that its REFUSAL is seen as refusing the peace and grace, majestic sufficiency and quiet kindness of the Lord. Indeed, this cognate term has in the context of Isaiah 8, the concept of rest in redemption, that is, where rest IS to be found. A raging torrent is the option they effectually take, in refusing these gentle waters, so graciously offered; and that raging option is to appear in the form of a militant neighbour, even Assyria!
It is not at all that there is any relish in this result; for it came when Ahab, in his sophisticated equivocation, rejected on behalf of the people, an unlimited offer of divine action and help. Instead, by removing divine aid, then in the natural and unhindered scope of things, to them in that day or soon thereafter, would come the Assyrian assault. Later, despite the failure of that generation, in His chosen time (Daniel 9:27ff.), the Messiah would indeed come, though they turned their back on the God from whom He would come (as in Isaiah 7:14ff., 9:1-7), from eternity to time (Micah 5:1-3).
The results of that further defiance and provocation when the Messiah DID come has affected their history ever since; and when as foretold, there is a vast movement in Israel back to Him, then they will be placed in a whole new history, resembling that of their escape from Egypt (Micah 7).
What then ? In the day of King Ahaz (Isaiah 7), they had abandoned their rest; but the Lion of Judah would surely come. Ah what rest is there!
The concept of restfulness is as in Isaiah 63:14:
"As the cattle will go down into the valley,
the Spirit of the Lord will cause him to rest.
So did You lead Your people to make for Yourself a name of glory."
Indeed, in Isaiah 30:15-18, we find a similar concept.
"In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.
But you would not, and you said, 'No, for we will flee on horses.' "
The Lord gives derisory comment on this escape concept, for a people who had provoked Him enough, and had refused a generous, gracious and powerful offer from Him. They will instead of relying on the Redeemer, restlessly pursue their own ideas, and flee with speed. They will find an escape corridor ? Flee, this they may do; but those who pursue them will use speed likewise (Isaiah 30:16).
There is no escape laterally; it must be vertically to the authority of the Lord and His saving power that they look. Indeed, His offer for their predicament as recorded in Isaiah 7 had specifically covered ALL CASES, for they could ask high, going upwards (like a rocket into the beyond), or low, going downwards (as those who meet the most subterranean foes and forces): it was all one. But no! they would not trouble the Lord! What obsessive equivocation, what gall to conscience, what ingenious distancing of anything to do, directly, with the Lord! As they moved away, so their efforts would be countered by those, then, who moved after them. Fitness may be helpful; but being MADE fit is of the Lord, and His fitness, when He resolves to bring aid, fits into no container, and before Him, mountains flit (Mark 11).
In sum, therefore, Judah has a lion-type lineage, and will not lose this specific thrust till the Lord comes in His glory to this earth to be the lion indeed (as in Psalm 2, 110, Isaiah 11, Micah 7). It is THROUGH this tribe of Judah that He comes, in taking a virgin within it as the site for the incarnation (Isaiah 7 cf. Matthew 1), and in so doing, He comes with a triumph to be attested in a universal rule over this earth: from child to Champion, from Babe to Builder He proceeds, with much in between!
It is conspicuously clear in the figure "the sceptre shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes", that this is to be by human birth as in Isaiah 9 with 7, that He whose kingdom will not end, is to appear, As to this coming Ruler and Peace, "to Him shall be the obedience of the people", as in Deuteronomy 18:19, as is fitting for One who is after all, the "mighty God" (as in Isaiah 9:7 and 10:21. The Prince of Peace is He (Isaiah 9:6), to whom this kingdom is attributed on earth, and as such He is recipient of all the other titular elevation, from first to last, which rounds off the excited acclaim earlier in Isaiah 9.
Thus the Lord epitomises what Judah is to be used to bring to earth, in terms of supplying the human form for the incarnation; and He whom this encapsulates (cf. Jeremiah 31:22), He who through this human vehicle comes as man to this earthly sphere, is even the Lord Himself, the mighty God whose kingdom knows no end: the Lion of Lions and the very figure of sovereignty. But what a lion is this, with not curse but cure and blessing, majestic in poise, profound in peace, the object of continual prayer (as in Psalm 71).
however we look at the phases of leonine majesty in the Lord, as Teacher and
Lawgiver, as Mentor, as Saviour and Lord, let us consider further aspects of the
lion in the word of God, for there is much to be learned.
Daniel held some sense of the majesty of the Lord, but lightly, in this, that while the power and problem-solving precision of the Lord is amply demonstrated in his missionary life as a statesman (a remarkable combination), in his own person there is such a sense of being an instrument of the Lord, such a distancing from any sense of personal potency (Daniel 2:27-30), that it would be almost laughable to evoke the concept of lion here. Yet for all that, in his interpretation of dreams, in the sense of subservience to the majesty of the Lord and the continuing work of God in power through Him in fragility, you find the very contrast and continuity of divine power, arresting. From this, you look to God and not to Daniel; but rejoice He so used His servant.
Indeed, if you look for example at the case of Nebuchadnezzar, who was brought from madness to massive realisation, just as Daniel foretold, you see that through stormy ocean crests, the testimony of truth moves like a yacht, always imperilled, never stricken, and its course has majesty all the more for that. Indeed, at length even in Daniel's day, the mighty but humbled King Nebuchadnezzar even blessed, praised and extolled God, and proceeded to attest the God of truth and reality, whose power, and not that of man, appoints whom he will to be king. His purposes may be to exhibit folly, rebuke evil, let its inward nature be revealed, to anoint beauty or disappoint folly: but it is His choice, and the power given to man is merely instrumental, even thought to be sure, the evil is of his own making. Though this be so, it is not of his own disposing, as Proverbs so pithily declares. "The lot is cast into the lap, but its entire disposal is of the Lord."
Thus with Daniel, like a midge among the mighty, in this world's eyes, but precious and deputed from the hand of God, there is conquest in spirit, rule in mind, and the power of God operates without total acknowledgment. The emphasis is on this: what under the direction of the Almighty, his presence in court is used to present, to activate, to control, like a spanner in the hands of a master mechanic, a yacht in the hand of one who controls the winds. It is thus that there is that something of the golden aura, that seems to flow into his affairs, nobility an atmosphere, faith the channel, the Sun of Righteousness, the presence of God, what is conveyed. The LION is God and not man.
What then of development in Daniel's day, when Darius became ruler, and a new Empire began to preside. Did its presence nullify or again express the unchanging and undying power of God ? In thi new Empire, there were certainly changes and trials, tests and traps. Hence, we must ask, what, when that new Empire invested itself with power, through the overthrow in due course, of Babylon, just what would next bring awareness of the majesty of the Lord ? It did not fail to happen; and it was this.
The jealous courtiers conspired to use the only vulnerability they can see in Daniel, to rid themselves of his pre-eminence. That, it was his religious life, which was far from being kept a secret! Daniel was loved of the Lord and did not hide that light under any bushel. Inducing the King to make a ludicrous rule that no one but he should have prayer presented to him, god or man, for a time, 30 days, these paragons of envy awaited their prey. Daniel was sure to breach that rule, and hence die. The court lions, in their view, would make of Daniel a prey, for it was predictable that he would not cease to pray to HIS GOD, and not another, king or otherwise. Nor would he hide the God of truth from the light of day. The thing, therefore, seemed sure; for the penalty for breach was stipulated: the lion's den. Doubtless, the beasts would not be well-fed before the victim was exposed to them.
Daniel of course disobeyed, as any man of God must do, when a law subversive of the Sovereignty of the Lion of Judah, the God of creation, is introduced and applied. Caught and confronted, he was duly sent to the lions' den for the evening. Darius, the ruler who rightly prized Daniel, was powerless, for in this kingdom of the Medes and Persians, even the ruler who made the law, could not change that very law that he himself had made, this being the nature of the rule in that place. Daniel therefore, king or no king, because of law, went to the lions. Only the LORD could change that law, and He chose not to alter it, but only its outcome. This of course was testimony to what would come in the Messiah whom Daniel predicted: God would not change the law of truth, and He chose to alter the outcome, in this, that those who officially murdered Christ, could not dispose of the body. He did, but rising in it, just as Daniel, threatened with death, was alive as day broke, and came out of the potential tomb!
The simple answer therefore ? Since God had at that time far more for Daniel to do, it was this: God simply in effect, closed the mouths of the lions. Such things may occur on occasion; but it takes a miracle to make it occur under such circumstances as these, at the right time for the entire night and when the entry into their presence is precipitate! God thus showed that ANY sovereignty among men, such as the lion might figure, is closed before Him.
Indeed, had He not sent the former King, Nebuchadnezzar a dream indicating he would go mad and act like a beast for a time, eating grass indeed; and that it would be only after he would realise that it is the God of heaven who deals with kings on earth, giving kingdom to whom He will, that his reason would return. This in history provides a parable for man, who only after he realises that God is not immersed in circumstances, but has rule over all things, limited or exhibiting the evil, to humble it or to let all see its nature, with power to save mightily in His own hands, will be able so much as to live on this earth. For those who do not realise this, the madness remains, but the earth does not (cf. Matthew 24:22).
Evil may be used to smite, and good to bless, but His is the determination.
These things come to pass, before judgment is passed on all. Time tests. History expresses. In the case of Nebuchadnezzar moreover, a substantial period passed before the King, surfing in personal satisfaction and full of himself, was brought down. He had his opportunity to repent as Daniel advised; but did not take it. Thus the time came and he left sanity, literally to make an exhibition of himself.
Seemingly narcissistic and self-aggrandising from the account, ruined, he next received restoration to his mind and kingdom. Then with vitality and clarity, having awakened to divine reality, he humbled Himself before that King whose is the universe, who created the souls of men, and the destiny of all. This he attested in his autobiographical account (Daniel 4:34-37).
In this king's testimony lay majesty, and through the presence of Daniel, servant of the Lord, there came the assured sense of God speaking and then doing what He said, for stated purposes, just as equally there arrived on scene, clear deliverance in knowledge for the prophet, and again wisdom at other times. There is a majesty for attestation in all of these things: the king from the negative lapse and restoration, Daniel direct in the positive information and personal deliverance repeatedly, as the case required. Let us now consider the latter.
Little Daniel ? the cadet administrator ? the Jewish exile ? the meek but firm in faith ? Yes, through the power of the Lion of Judah, he was delivered. A King was humbled, given understanding to know why, and to realise truth. The lions, the sceptres of this earth, were closed to the test, as with Peter metaphorically in Acts 12. God with Daniel both closed the mouth of the lions and opened the path of testimony. In this case, the Lord wanted the continuity of a prophet in the foreign land, and He so devised and the result arrived as devised. Indeed, great was the testimony in this way, to that evil empire of Babylon, before its impending fall. There was majesty about this, that they received so much warning by direct exhibition both of wisdom and power, before they fell, if by any means, they might not fall (as in Jeremiah 51:8-9); for the love of God and His mercy does not freeze.
The case is not substantially different in our own day. We also are given (cf. SMR Chs. 8-9) so many testimonies that Babylon might almost laugh at the folly of modern man, and seek to know when he too will fall! Many in this, our own day, seeing the whole scope of Daniel's predictions, including that starting our current era (Daniel 9:24-27 cf. Christ the Citadel ... Ch. 2), might also understand. But they do not! Some do, and for this, the power of God is operative, as in this maelstrom, only His could be. It acts, here also, PRECISELY as He said.
To past exhibits, we return, and consider something of warnings. We look at one of the other prophets who warned Babylon.
Thus we read from the Lord, in Jeremiah's prediction (bold added):
"Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed. Wail for her!
Take balm for her pain; perhaps he may be healed.
We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her ..."
How many others would He have healed; but they are not healed because they insist on forsaking the unlimited power and true tests of the Lord, preferring to flee on horses (Isaiah 30:15ff.), symbolic or actual, or to admire their works, as the case may be! It is grievous; but the grief is so readily avoided in this, that if God would have healed, having desire (I Timothy 2, Colossians 1, Luke 19), then reception of His remedy, in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, by faith, and of His presence in the same way, with rejoicing in His resurrection, is the direct route to redemption, a plain road to deliverance. Indeed, it becomes part of it. Since these things are so, how direct a step is in order. Equivocation as with King Ahaz reaps what it shows (Isaiah 7).
What then ? When He says, Come! one comes. When He says, Understand! one does so, calling in faith upon His name (cf. Proverbs and the promise of Proverbs 1:23). He always does what He says. He is great to know, faithful, concerned, involved, and a Father to those who through Christ come to Him, as He is, and not to someone else, as He really is not! (cf. II Corinthians 11).
In this way, we see from Jeremiah's prophecy that the Lord would have healed that great city, centre of Empire. She failed despite Daniel's dealings with divine power from on high, of an incisive and conclusive character. She failed even though at one time, the majesty of God was even recognised and proclaimed through one of her Kings! and several kings of Babylon saw the Lord's decisive words and actions together. They stayed; the kings went. The word of the Lord always stays; and it endures for ever (I Peter 1:23-24). Indeed, as in I Peter 2:23-24, what stays most fixedly is the blood of Christ, once shed, salvation ingredient and base for millions and possibly more than that! (Revelation 7).
Such is not the way for belligerent man. Babylon arose; yet Babylon fell. Its power soared with pride, its religions with complexity and presumption: it fell. Even the next Empire, that of the Medes and Persians (as predicted by Daniel - 8:20), received a testimony that might have been put to better use in the power of its time of expansion. This further testimony came in the time of the ruler, Darius, on whom the trap of the jealous courtiers was set. Despite their care and intelligence, in this assault on Daniel, they could not prevail, lions or no lions; for the Lord is the lion who made lions, and humbled man and beast alike. Here as recorded in Daniel 6, He used lions as symbols of His power to deliver. The souls of men He seeks; and whether in suffering or through power to extricate, whether in wisdom or in knowledge, in prediction or in retrodiction, it is attested to one and to all, without opportunity for rational rejection. What He decisively foretells, this incisively history exhibits.
Never imagine that the God of the Bible is averse to saving, because He makes His will so clear, and His word so binding (cf. Ezekiel 33:11); for constantly He indicates His contrary desire, even to the point of sending His only begotten Son into this world as the Lion of Judah, a centre from which come the waters of Shiloah, as He pours out His Spirit sent from the Father (John 1:26). As Shiloh, sign and symbol of the gentle Saviour in His gracious offers, he is seen sending the waters of His rest (John 7:37ff.), while in Himself providing that rest which the Gentiles would find, as they do find, glorious (Matthew 11:27ff.), as foretold by Isaiah 11:10.
It was He who came NOT to judge BUT so that anyone who believes in Him might be saved. It is in this context that He assures us that the outage, the ground for omission from His loving grace is NOT HIS stated will in terms of love for this world: for He was sent that it might be saved (John 3:17). It is not in Him, that this blockade lies, but in that other party in the divine-human inter-relationship in focus. It is in man (John 3:19). The impetus, the desire, the provision, that is the Lord's and there is the positive pole. The other too positive pole which is repelled, is that of self-assertive man.
Each such man is so considered WHEN his own preference lies outside the scope of the divine mission, and he rejects it. As clear as could be, in heart and procedure, mission and commission, the Lord was bent to save (Colossians 1:19ff.), while in heart and mission, many are those among man who are so bent to resist and rebel, that the upshot is disaster and humiliation, if not soon, then later. That God foreknew all, before sin arrived, and seeking all, knew His own is merely the emphasis on the process of LOVE. There is no mistake. If you want Him, be sure He is wanting you! He has plumbed the depths and none can ever be excluded with any desire, but what is ultimately against that of the Lord, and turned instead, as seen in the very knowledge of God, to that of himself or herself. He does not tell us that He went to ultimate cost in seeking to save the world, and not to judge it, in order to have secret sight set on the opposite. Since love does not compel, therefore His desire He does not in this realm, direct to breakage point. In His chastity of love, He redeems not robots but real people. If they are too damaged in heart to know even themselves, HE is not so! HE KNOWS (Romans 8:30).
HIS purpose was not to judge but that the world be saved. Man's purpose if seen as ultimately contrary, and the Lord has foreknown it all in truth and reality, is the decisive exclusion force, even though man in sin cannot personally manage his own will (John 1:12). Hence John 3:19 brings a catastrophic force to those who would in any sense put exclusion to 'sovereignty' that would deny the very word of God. It is divine chastity, the restraint of love, which does not force and mould and so save what is no longer the person, but the robot; and it is in this characteristic of the Almighty, that His wonder is seen so dramatically. Love, it is like that; and God, He is love (I John 4:7). WHO would not worship such a God as this!
'Man cannot, being sin-smitten even in will, decide (John 1:12), you declare. True; but where man fails to know man, God succeeds.
Yet God can, and has known it all before sin stalked and ground man down.
THERE is a lion. There is regality indeed, a holy majesty and one of great beauty, clear as the rainbow, more powerful than the atomic bomb, more constructive than Spring. He does regenerate what He FOREKNOWS, and does not what in the very heartland of eternity, He knows has rejected Him: He knows it like a King, before it happens ? Yes and more, before any man or the very world was created. Why then bother with it ? You want freedom ? here it is. He wants free salvation ? Here it is. Love is for those whom it invests, but it never invests those for whom its bonds are the shackles of hell! There, there is majesty. There is the Lion of Judah, the God who through Daniel, warned Nebuchadnezzar, and would have healed Babylon. The worst in action, in heart, is not too had for Him to redeem; the offer is to one and to all in great depth and total sincerity. It is when all mercy is trodden under foot, and the heart counsels to have nothing, in the sight of God, that there is a very different lion. It is like disease: take the cure, and the tender nursing prevails; reject it and be ravaged.
Indeed, you see this aspect, when He is continually rejected, in terms of a lion in another format in Hosea 5:14-15, that of judgment; and to this we will DV return. Meanwhile, we see an arresting scene with the same force, in a sensitive case.
I KINGS 13
One of sad complexity, this case is one covered in Ch. 4 of Vol. One of Possess Your Possessions. A prophet is sent to the apostate Northern Kingdom, called 'Israel', that seceding section of the nation which left the temple and the faith for provocative schism. Egyptian style calves of gold were fashioned for worship. Not least, the thing was politically provoked and the seceding King religiously opportunistic. They kept the North, with its 10 tribes of the 12. How could he keep his people from returning ? Why what need of a Temple of Truth is only he could create idols, of vast appeal to man, then as now, apt to be fascinated by naturalistic folly, twittering witlessly about nature making, as if it could before it was there. Naturally, God in His supernatural wisdom, had something to say, and for this purpose, sent a prophet to speak and act.
Sent to warn and predict a specific ruin, the prophet went as sent, and direly he predicted the idolatrous altar would be used for burning bones of the befouled, sacrifice of its priests, through the power of a coming King, named as Josiah (I Kings 23:20). Moreover, he gave the signal that this would certainly occur, a colossal divine irony on false sacrifice in a dramatic fashion. He indicated through the prophet sent, that this same idolatrous altar would split, right then, in two, which it did. The ash poured out of the broken container
The King stretched out his hand to have the man arrested, for this was contrary to policy, the point being that if he could manage a religion to the North, the people might not then gravitate back to the power in the South (called 'Judah'!). The King's own hand, it was, that was arrested; and only when he besought the prophet to heal it from its suddenly withered condition, was he delivered in this.
There had been warning for the king, but also for the prophet who transmitted it. The prophet had been given strict instructions as to the way in which he was to act; for who is he who is beyond correction and direction among the sons of men! He was not to eat or drink in that land to which he was sent, but come home. Indeed, the principle, as in I Corinthians 5:11), is applicable to this day, concerning those who name th ename of the Lord, but have a notable divergence from His word, making it up as suits them. Thus this prohibition is a sure message to those who insists on dilly-dallying with those in Bible-assailing or mutating or expanding churches (and it is assault whether it be verbal, against its words, or in conduct, endorsing what it forbids). Romans 16:17 directs. DO this, AVOID such persons. Millions have no more learned the lesson given to the prophet than he had. Foolish talk is vain. The life (and death) of that prophet illustrates this.
It is easy to be so successful in much, as was this prophet sent North, that you relax and either directly or by rationalisation leave the word of God, in some matter, yourself. Hence when the prophet was spiritually seduced into eating and drinking in the land with a prophet who lying, said an angel had asked him to invite him to his house, that same host prophesied that he would not find repose with his fathers. A LION killed him. It remained by his corpse, nor did it eat his ass, as if in silent attestation that the Lord had done this, not 'nature'.
In other words, here was one sent by the Lion of Judah, that Lion who would at a time become the Babe of Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-3), who as there shown, is the God of eternity. Because He became a babe, did He cease to love truth and purity; or did He thereby revoke the reality of penalty for those who play with fire! The prophet died for the difference. He cancelled orders, because of a LIE from an older prophet, and treated the ORDER of God as if it were manipulable by circumstances. He died for it, at the mouth of a lion; for the devil indeed goes about as a roaring lion, to arrest those who do not resist Him. It is well that stronger is He who is in us than that usurping force; and better yet, that the Lord knows how to keep His sheep (John 10:9,27-28). He also knows that what He says is an order.
There is no room for confusion. Since the ACTION seemed, in the light of the miracles and the message, to authenticate non-separation, that is, through the failure of the prophet to keep apart from the pollution personally, and his decision to linger in that land, God separated his spirit from his body. There was a separation which no disobedience could confound!
Here lay, then, a dramatic confirmation of what the Prophet Jehu told the fine King Jehoshaphat, when he similarly erred (II Chronicles 19:1ff.). He had joined forces in battle with a man who combined the name of the Lord with other worship. What sort of confusion is that ? Yet perhaps millions multiply practice it as if it were life!
The prophet Jehu showed otherwise. That ? Is it for you to help the wicked and love the haters of God ? he remonstrated (II Chronicles 19). In other words, communality, empathy, correlation with such centres of disobedience, where yet the Lord's name is used, this is ludicrous. It is ignorant. It simply will not do. The corpse of the prophet sent to the Northern kingdom showed that most plainly, as if in an experiment. Here was an essential gaffe, a folly and a foozle so ridiculous that it deserves rebuke, and who can tell how far and how fast this will move! Remember, invisible things which belong to the heart and mind and spirit of man are not always apparent, till tragedy shows them! True love seeks to deliver FROM evil, not to join in it; and a parade of 'love' which suggests affinity and communality is utterly detested.
The Lion in its symbolism showed the power of God to keep purity, and not accept pollution in the very rebuking agent, at the very level in view!
II KINGS 17:26
When eventually, the entire Northern sector of Israel, the bit that retained the very name, was destroyed, and its people deported, while foreigners were imported, there was a virtual annihilation, though of course some could immigrate to the South, Judah, a malady came to the country. it was found that there were 'lions in the land.' This was pointed out to the ruler of Babylon, who at request sent in priests to bring something of the past religion back into that ravaged land. However, since their source was presumably those who had been involved before in the pagan, schismatic and idolatrous worship, it did little good.
The lions were of course a symbol, in significance also.
Thus if you do not accept the LION OF JUDAH, then there are plenty of roving lions which can arise in the absence of His power, to harass, murder, attack, and roar. Communism was just such a lion for the West, and Nazism was another. The fibrillating liberal, neo-orthodox and now neo-evangelical schisms, in their lassitude with commandments, opposition to them or even obstruction, and institution of reckless new approaches in the name of Him who forbids them, are more*1.
They love to roar in their mean weakness, for there is a sense of majesty in their mission, like that of Babylon in its devastation of Jerusalem. They are the exhibit - as were the lions in the land of what became Samaria, that Northern bit of Israel of old - that if you do not yield to the lordship in reality of Him who IS the Lion, then lions, miserable beasts of empty roaring, can inhabit your 'land'.
We may now move to more in a national setting.
We turn to the desolation of a desolator, in the case of Daniel, as shown to him before the fall of Babylon. In this Chapter 7 of Daniel, this is found in a reference in the divinely granted revelation of a series of four empires coming, and to come. It concerned one of them.
This was the first, Babylon, then current with Daniel. As already seen in Daniel's prophecy, the boastful king Nebuchadnezzar had been humbled to the very earth, on which he crawled, eating grass in sublime indifference to the realities of his case; but was later healed and confessed the power and position of God (Daniel 4). Now we see a characterisation in terms of a lion.
For this first of the four empires, Daniel sees the most majestic symbol of a lion with eagle's wings. Think of the majestic power, the extraordinary felicity of flight added, and consider what a kingdom that was! Yet the wings which showed more than usual power, were stripped, and so looked ludicrous, mere symbols of what had been, and now was not, the stubs being a recognition of humiliation and loss. This beast, or symbol of imperial and ruthless power, of control and conquest in the hands of men, organised for assault and grasping: this was MADE to stand on two feet. The plucked lion became a man! In other words, King Nebuchadnezzar was restored to the privilege of having a genuine human heart which could reason and look up to the Lord: indeed we are told that "a man's heart was given to it," thus showing the infamy of the proud leaders of the beasts, in their bestial roles. They become INHUMAN, and does not 20th century history, and no less that of the 21st., show precisely this!
Lions are not lionised by the Lord, in their empty roaring, when man acts as if so made among the inhabitants of the universe; but their very symbol is stripped, and their greatness becomes their vainglory.
Yet for all that, while they roar and claw, they can be dangerous; and the Lord as with James (as distinct from Peter in the murder of Acts 12), may let their horror cry, when His love and mercy, judgment and truth are thereby made the clearer to man; for what man will die for visions of personal gain, thereby inapplicable ? or what person will surrender what he holds most dear for something else ? God Himself did so, but the surrender was for a time and a purpose, and the triumph - for the object of His love, His only begotten Son - was in the end total. It is love in faith that does it, in man, that he so yields that the beauty of holiness may readily be seen. This in turn may be used to show the reality of the love of God to this day, to cynics and sceptics; and it gives attestation, in its courage and service, to the truth of Him who sends. This yielding of one's life to give more of the love of Christ to the lost (cf. Colossians 1:23), it is not set to destroy, as with Moslem militants, a simple procedure, deadly, decadent, a befouling of love. No, with those who so love, it is to secure for safety and abundance of life, those to be saved. For this, death in the flesh is found a reason enough, if required. Yet it is in one's OWN flesh, if necessary, and not imposed in a way most unloving, on the flesh of others, far less indiscriminately, to kill whether or not it seems to fit the bill.
Rome imposed the threat of lions; these militants the threat of mutilation by parts and particles, fling about. The principle is not different. Extinguish what offends, and do so with distemper and disregard. Some however, though so threatened, as many of the early Christians were by the Fourth Empire, that of Rome in Europe, escaped.
These were delivered from the mouth of the lion, "stopped the mouth of lions." This we find in this verse of Hebrews, and thus the other side is shown, that even the worst of organised human, crushing power is not sovereign over the decisions of God, but rather for a time may have its place and permissions; and then it is met and overthrown.
So is man educated through divine wisdom and power, and shown in mercy the realities behind the rebellious self-elevations of that which
for all its 'mouth of the lion' pomp*1A,
will meet the same end as its victims. Theirs will however be a very different result: not favour but fate.
This applies, unless they repent: that is, they will suffer the alignment with the mortality in which they delighted, receiving as the last word, death in its mode for man, in judgment, a thing not to be desired by any means. Ladling out death by their desire, they can drink it themselves, not so much at the hand of man, though this may indeed intervene, but at the judgment seat of God.
Jeremiah is given to express the principle like this: "As Babylon has caused the slain of Israel to fall, so in Babylon the slain of all the earth will fall." There is a certain proportionality, where mercy is despised (as in Jeremiah 51:9). It is a city, and it is an approach, synthetic, despotic, irreligious in the multitude of religions, a gloss on God, but not from Him: it is precisely in this mode that the whole devastation of the human race has come. In many gods, they deny that God who is One and supreme, just as much as in their worship of them. Elsewhere, it is called, eating the fruit of your own doings (as in Proverbs 1). It is well not to mock the mercy of the Lord, or to imagine it will be placed, like some dog imperiously called to one's side, where one desired. It is to be found ONLY where it is, which is where He has stated it to be. What more is desired ? that the food is not only provided but brought where one demands. Isaiah 55 declares otherwise, that one must seek it where it MAY be found!
Where it is found, one mouth which is stopped is that of the devil, who loves to deride and derogate the saints, but his own sin remains while theirs is covered. As to other 'lions', the Lord uses them as He appoints. Indeed, take the case of the cross of Christ: if the rulers of this Age had known the resultants, they would not have crucified Him. God holds the controls, not obliterating evil at this stage, but exhibiting it, and restraining or deleting as the case may best require (cf. Isaiah 14:27, Ephesians 1:11).
We move now to another phase of the matter of rule, of lions, of temper and distemper, of great littleness and little greatness, and of the contrast of all this with the Lord.
This exhibit has almost a comic aspect as seen in Isaiah 21:6-9, much in the line of Daniel 7, where the regressive-type lion, Babylon, an imaginary substitute for the Lord in its vain ravings (cf. Jeremiah 51:41-42, Isaiah 47:6-14), was stripped of its wing beauty (Daniel 7:4) and made to look ridiculous. Here another verbal cartoon, one might almost say, shows the thing with a vigorous impact. Man is slow to learn in these things, so the Lord has multiplied images, as He Himself declares, both in the Old and in the New Testament (cf. Hosea 12:10 and Mark 4:34).
Consider the prophecy through Isaiah concerning this lion, Babylon.
"I was angered with My people, I have polluted My inheritance, and given them into your hand: you showed them no mercy; upon the ancient you have very heavily laid your yoke.
"You said, I shall be a lady for ever:
so that you did not lay these things on your heart, neither did you remember the end of it.
"Therefore hear now this, you who are given to pleasures,
who dwell carelessly, t
who say in your heart, I am, and none else beside me;
I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
"Yet these two things shall come to you in a moment in one day:
the loss of children, and widowhood:
they shall come on you in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries,
and for the great abundance of your enchantments.
For you have trusted in your wickedness:
you have said, None sees me.
"Your wisdom and your knowledge, it has perverted you;
and you have said in your heart, I am, and none else beside me.
"Therefore shall evil come upon you;
you will not know from where it rises: and mischief shall fall upon you;
you will not be able to put it off:
and desolation shall come upon you suddenly, which you will not know.
|Stand now with your enchantments, and with the multitude of your sorceries,
in which you have laboured from your youth,
if perhaps you will be able to profit, if so be you may prevail. 1
"You are wearied in the multitude of thy counsels.
"Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators,
stand up, and save you from these things that will come upon you. 1
Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them;
they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame."
This indictment of self-will, self-elevation, godlike self--endorsement, false philosophy and religion posing and imposing, but in fact useless and vain, shows the very theme and stream of the meaning of MYSTERY BABYLON in Revelation 17. It was this most clearly characterised spiritual folly which in the first of the four Danielic Empires, gives us the lead and the understanding of just what was wrong with that other 'Babylon', that famed city on the seven hills, Rome in Revelation 17. This was its name, code and meaning. What bore this name, though different in site, was similar in substance.
Here in ancient Babylon was the very lion of lions; but in its reduction, whether as shown historically in Babylon, the empire here set in its shrouds of death, or in Rome with its famous religion to near the end, of Romanism, there is a continuity. The approach therefore of Revelation to the burning of Rome which Revelation 18 foretells, is very similar in spirit to this denunciation of Babylon in its SPIRITUAL manner, found in Jeremiah 50-51. On Romanism in this regard, consider SMR 911ff., and on Rome, 946ff...
These things being so, let us now look at the quasi-comic Isaiah 21. This too deals not only with Babylon, but with our theme, the lion.
What happens in this imagery ? It is this. A watchman is called for, for there is some great impending event. He is to tell the story of it.
He sees what ? It is a chariot, emblem then of war, with a pair of horsemen, reinforcing the military impact. But look! it is a "chariot of donkeys", a bit like saying that the world champion motor racing expert has just joined the field at the start, on a bicycle. A donkey of domesticity to draw a chariot of rule!
What can this portend ? It is next noted: "Babylon is fallen , is fallen!" The feeling is rather like that of the fall of the USSR in the nineties, after its fearful and almost inhuman ferocities in starving, abusing and torturing so many for long so hideously, carrying many to Siberia for the crime of having land, and not wanting to join the atheist mob in its virtual communal rapes, or even for being in the way. It was easy to be an "enemy of the people" when the "people" were to be equated with the military dictatorship by a symbolic joke, to be stated with a straight face; and it, this farcical imposition, it was was an enemy of God*2.
The chariot suggests the essential nature of Babylon, and the donkeys with it illustrate the fact in quasi-comic style, derisory of its dynamic, while making artful comment on its folly.
Their images, idolatrous concepts, themes invested with physical form, folies of religion, constructions of imagination, symbols given face, these lie broken by the divine power of the One who really IS a Lion. This then is the message from the Lord, conveyed in this style in imagery, the less imaginary for being so imaginative, reality ground out with lively wit.
A lion ? yes a lion by self-appointed self-importance and facial facade; but in fact, a donkey-drawn vehicle for folly, impotent before the Lord.
THE LORD IS THE LION
We come now to four respects in which we readily find in the Bible that the Lord is the Lion, when what it symbolises is what He has, yes and much more, for not only is He the One who has majesty and ultimate power, but He has it by virtue of everything being wholly dependent on Him for its very existence (Hebrews 1:3, 11:1-4).
THE LION OF SPEECH
Amos 3:4-7 provides this verbal concept: that of the Lord as in charge of speech, giving Israel foreknowledge of major events, and doing so with the roar of a lion.
"Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey,
will a young lion cry out of his den,
if he has caught nothing ?" the Lord asks.
If a trumpet is blown in the city, will the people not be afraid ?
"If there is calamity in the city, will not the Lord have done it!"
In other words, for this covenant people, calamity does not come casually. It comes causally.
It may seem to do the former for those who, absconding altogether from God, are like chaff (Psalm 1:5), blown by the wind; and this is their reward for depersonalising God and impersonating His place, making themselves in their own minds, captains of their souls.
If they are so puffed up
that they vaunt themselves as particulate personalities,
with faith in themselves, their world, co-created with them, or
realise themselves in restless vagabondage without the virtue of truth,
full of emptiness like discharged container ships,
not vulnerable through detachment from their Creator,
and so imagine folly,
and defile their final duty:
then let them experience the vulnerability of schism
from their spiritual source.
That is precisely the message of Proverbs 1 and it is the testimony of Psalm 1..
But for a covenant people nothing is left to wander!
Is not the death of the saints precious in the sight of the Lord! (Psalm 116:15 cf. Amos 4!).
The Lord then gives two assurances to the people to whom He speaks:
1) Firstly, He gives overview of what is to be for His people:
"Surely the Lord God does nothing
It is not a matter of political commentary, musing;
It is He without the knowledge of whom, liberty becomes more and more eroded
This divine overview of history, especially but not only for His own people, was promised and provided. He said it; and therefore, He did of course do this (cf. SMR Chs. 8 - 9, The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet esp. Ch. 4, for example).
Thus we come to the other part of the declaration, in Amos 3:8.What do we find ?
A lion HAS ROARED. This reviews the fact that not
only WILL the Lord act in this revelatory way, but HE HAS given utterance, and
there IS a record and testimony of it in Israel (cf. Isaiah 48:3ff., 40:21ff.).
God has already acted systematically in this way, and it is matter of record.
Moreover no made-up gods, and there are many, or people whatsoever could, or did
do this. As He is, though triune, the divine singularity, so His word is a
monolith of majesty, in architecture, a lion of lordliness, in coverage, and a
place of protected refuge for His people. Rock may crack, but His word is
unbreakable rock; and lairs may be invaded, but His testimony has the
incomparability of truth,
never bending, never broken, never expelled, always impelling.
It is as Christ declared (Matthew 5:17-20), for God has put His name in His word, and it will be done (cf. Isaiah 14:27, 59:21, 34:16, I Corinthians 2:9-13, I Peter 1:9ff., II Peter 1:16ff.).
"A lion has roared! Who will not fear ?
The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy ?"
THE LION AS MENTOR
Alas, the Lion has foretold necessary discipline
(and Gentiles, let us all take this to heart,
In the case of Israel, she had even sent to Assyria for help! (II Kings 15:19).
"Yet he cannot cure you, nor heal you of your wound."
The point is quietly but firmly noted!
For this intransigent ignoring of the only relief,
that of the Redeemer,
and failure to be faithful to Him who had done so much for them,
a vagabondage from virtue so clearly depicted in the life of the prophet,
itself turned into a biographical parable (cf. Hosea 1 with 3),
then what ?
Then this: the Lord will "be to Ephraim like a moth, and to the house of Judah like rottenness."
More yes, alas more! It was to come and it came.
"I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
and like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear them and go away;
I will take them away, and no one shall rescue.
"I will return again to My place,
till they acknowledge their offence.
Then they will seek My face;
in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me."
Then it moves in Hosea 6:1-3, to the basis for it, in the symbolic coverage of the resurrection, fulfilling the wave offering festival, on the third day after the passover sacrifice, with new life. The Lord has smitten, it says, and He will raise us up. When ? On the third day.
Why the third ? and why did Christ so often stress that the resurrection, like prophecy in general, when from the Lord, was not just a generality, vast though that feat would be to transfer to Himself the raising from the dead He had so notoriously wrought on others. It was a piece of arithmetical exactitude as well. It was no mere thrust from the dead; it was controlled, contained, invoiced in redemptive power (Matthew 20:28, Hebrews 9:12) and executed in triumphant might (John 2:19-20). It would therefore not only be WHAT God said, but WHEN God said. As to that, it would not only be on the third day after interment, but in the year of Daniel's prophecy for it*2A.\
Think of it! From some 6 centuries before Christ, comes the year for His resurrection, as foretold in Psalm 16; and from still further back, at some 14 centuries B.C., comes the symbolic representation of sacrifice for sin's coverage, followed on the third day with life in continuance, despite this loss, with the transition from symbol to efficacious performance, the DOING of it, left to that coming prophet who would displace even Moses in finality! (Deuteronomy 18), and be pierced to death (Psalm 22), the One who made death for sin a mere procedure overcome in power, as prescribed (Psalm 16), and this not only for Himself, but with provision to share this overcoming with His people (Isaiah 26:19, Hosea 6, Isaiah 53-55), even to the uttermost (Hosea 13:14). Hosea moreover showed that man though it would be, in form and format, God it would be in Person who did this thing!
In the Levitical symbolism, the passover was held, symbolising ransom through the blood of Christ to come, the rest day following being first honoured, and then on the day after this rest, the life coming as if from the dead, in the waving of the sheaf from the harvest in store to come, celebrating life. It is no merely natural sequence. It is death for sin which the Passover incisively represents, the day of rest a pause, and the day AFTER this, the enduement with life, NOTWITHSTANDING the penal character of the death. It was no natural death; it was death supernaturally imposed in sacrifice, and composed in guilt. It is this, in symbolic form, which in corporeal brutality is shown in Psalm 22, and in theological essence, in Isaiah 53. There Christ, having overcome the brutality of the cross, will "share the spoil with the strong," however apparently weak this crucifixion might have at first made Him seem. Paul expounds in this area freely (I Corinthians 1:18-25, 15:43-58).
How the apostle laments for his 'brethren in the flesh', Israel, going about to establish their own righteousness (Romans 10:3ff.), when it is HIS which made the difference, enabled the divergence from death into resurrection and is the provision of God; for nothing short of perfection COULD make heaven the haven it is, nor can any sin enter there (cf. Revelation 21:8). The simple realisation of this fact should help millions to cease milling about the troughs of untruth in misled denominations, which continue to come as faithfulness in this, our generation continues to go, and apostasy to grow. Do not put the snout into the spiritual trough, but so act as those whose hearts are set on heaven, and whose spirits are in the hands of the Lord. But what of Israel ?
WHEN and only when they learn, in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31), what this means, that the divine righteousness that saves is available only as a gift (Romans 5:15-18), and accept it as a passport and His virtue as a visa, trusting in His might to accomplish all for them for ever (II Timothy 1:8ff.), does blessing come. In the interim, the Lord has been as a lion to them, to tear and go away (Hosea 5).
It is not for ever (cf. Romans 11); by no means is it so, for if the removal of the Jews is the occasion for the grafting into the spiritual tree of Gentiles, what is the restoration of Israel (and he cites a special time for it in Romans 11:25), but LIFE FROM THE DEAD! (Romans 11:12-15). For each individual, whether in trickles till the great opening of the heart to come in Israel, or at that transformative time, Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:27ff.), it does indeed rest on life from the dead, as in Isaiah 26:19. There it is shown that the LORD'S OWN DEAD BODY which is seen to rise, is ultimately carrying with it those who are His own, in the resurrection. It is when the lion that tears is seen in their tears as the Lion of Judah (Zechariah 12:10-13:1), that His protective care and provisions can and do return. Then for them indeed, a fountain will be opened and opened in Jerusalem, for they are not forgotten.
This is part of the blessedness then to come. Indeed, let us look further at this delivering aspect.
THE LION AS DELIVERER
The Lord will act for Israel, "as a lion roars ... to fight for Mount Zion."
We learn, after the strictures (such as that of Isaiah 29:13) that "Assyria will be beaten down", as the Lord "strikes with a rod." Some had hoped for help from Egypt, but in vain, for this is merely to trust in one bit of creation against another, whereas in the end, this is a testimony to futility.
"The Egyptians are men and not God," the Lord reminds them;
and "their horses are flesh, and not spirit." Such is found in Isaiah 31:1-3.
Nevertheless, when the time comes, He will show not rebuke but deliverance: that is, despite their lapse into an empty faith in flesh.
"As a lion roars, and a young lion over his prey ...
so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill.
"Like birds flying about, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem.
defending He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it."
We will return to this.
THE LORD AS SAVIOUR AS WELL AS DELIVERER
ISAIAH 31:6-9 -32:20, REVELATION 5:5
"RETURN," He calls, "to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted," Isaiah 31:6. This comes immediately after the declaration of divine deliverance as a lion roars!
In this sequence, then, in Isaiah, you have the initial rebuke (31:1-3), the re-assurance (31:4), the exposition and the correction with the invitation through repentance (31:6), and finally the undertaking to deliver is consummated with the enduring character of the Lord's commitment to His people,'thus failing, falling and here restored (31:8-9).
Just as His word is like the roaring of the lion, and who can afford to ignore it! so His deliverance is like that of the lion in full voice for its prey. He will not fade into some kind of political mist, or demagogic disappearance. He never fails (Zephaniah 3:5).
Thus, having called them to return, again He announces the destruction of an intervening obstacle, the Assyria (31:8) of such potency as slaughterer in Zion (just as jihadists are now taking over the role for the time being, though much helped by Iran, whose territory has some of that of ancient Assyria). This indeed in the text of Isaiah is approaching intimately close to Isaiah 32, where the Messiah in strength of earthly rule is shown manifest. This is the area of disquisition: the climacteric era preceding not just His coming, but HIS RULE on this earth, for which His people wait now, as in the day of Joseph and Mary, they awaited His first coming, that of incisive suffering and personal exposition of truth to many, and provision in power of the entire basis of the Gospel, for so long proclaimed in the prophets, and shown in the symbolism from the day of Moses.
What then of Isaiah 32, following on from this
account in 31? He is there found providing for His, the
shadow of a mighty rock, and a shelter from tempest (cf. Psalm 18 :1ff.).
Indeed, He will be like rivers of water in a dry place (Isaiah 32:2 , 44:4-5 cf. John 4:14, 7:37-38).
In this there is a sweetness, reminding one that in envisaging this time,
Jeremiah found this very thing:
"After this, I awoke and looked around,
and my sleep was sweet for me"
This word from the prophet Jeremiah was in a similar epoch, in which many pivotal events leading to the New Covenant are mentioned: one is the virgin birth (30:22), and on the other hand, the weeping of Jewish women for the "slaughter of the innocents", that crushing of youngsters under two, by Herod, to preserve himself, his dynasty or his power (Matthew 2:16ff.). This dramatic tableau and forecast of a deep poignancy is on the threshold of the vast announcement of a NEW Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31ff.), to which these events were to be (as they now long have been) prelude.
God's determination to carry through these things, and in particular to rescue Israel, which for all the New Covenant, does not cease to exist as the former recipient of the divine and enduring communication of the word of God, is as shown in Micah 7, with such explosive force, as in Deuteronomy 32 and Joel 3. Ezekiel extends the envisagement further (cf. It Bubbles ... Ch. 10, SMR Appendix A), in Chs. 36-39.
Things are fulfilled (Matthew 5:17ff.); and symbolic expressions of salvation are not fulfilled in dumping Israel in contravention of an unqualified undertaking (Genesis 17, cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4), and a clear word from Christ (Luke 21:24); these are fulfilled in the Cross of Christ. What is to come in its time (Romans 11:25ff.) is likewise as foretold, the other prong of the unqualified undertaking to Abraham (Genesis 12). This is not as if to show God unfaithful (flatly negativing His own relevant utterance in Ezekiel 36:22), but faithful, thereby giving a lead in this as in all else, that to the jot and tittle He will do what He has said. Imagery merely intensifies understanding; it does not substitute for it.
Of course in the fulfilment, the essential wonder of the Lord is indeed shown, and here there is a beautiful sweetness as Jeremiah found, in seeing not only the restoration but the redemption of Israel in his multiple prophecies, this experience of 31:26 being on the very verge of the New Covenant (31:321ff.).Moreover, it is in the very shadow of the divine announcement that while the Lord would indeed scatter Israel, then He would regather and rebuild them! (Jeremiah 31:27-28). While these are two prongs, Jew and Gentile, with one base in the Gospel, they are by no means confused, however convergent at the end.
It is as we see in Revelation 5, at verse 5, you see the LION OF JUDAH on whom the whole opening of the books of history, the bringing into action of the counsel of God the Father, will depend. Accordingly, in the vision and symbolism of Revelation, you see a scroll which NONE can open, a vision of what brings the future to the present, makes history happen, makes it POSSIBLE for there to BE more history (cf. Isaiah 51:16), in that HE has given it meaning, in the salvation of souls by His wonderful act and deed (Galatians 6:14).
Without such a wise and initial counsel, the Lord would not have brought Zion into existence; but the thing was not aborted because salvation was bought by Christ. This being the disposition of divine counsel, history came and Christ acted; and here in Revelation 5, we see the outcome. It is THEREFORE HE who can open the scroll of forthcoming history and the end of all things, for some in the wonder of eternal life with Him, since His action enabled the entirety to come in the first place, essential in the counsels of eternity for time.
THEREFORE the Lion, the 'Lion of Judah,' is able to open it (Revelation 5:5), the 'Root of David' (Isaiah 11:1) prevails and history comes out into the open light leading to the consummation. Having paid for the deliverance and salvation of many whose number is to be made up (Revelation 6:11), He is able to act, and open it He does. The seal snapped, the substance, that of the Lamb who as lion delivered, is unfolded. How marvellous to have a leonine lamb; but these things are for different aspects of His divine work, to die for sin and to rout the devil, endure the condemnation and let His people go free, as once from slavery in Egypt, so now from that to sin.
In Revelation 7 we see the two prongs in their mutual and eventually cohesive testimony, that of Israel's saints washed in the same blood as those of the Gentiles.
Christ's authentication and sufficiency is then acknowledged (Revelation 5:9-13), as the one who is worthy do open it, the reason being given:
"for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood,
and made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth."
Then a vast chorus of worshippers presents praise,
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom,
and strength a honour and glory and blessing!"
What a prodigy, a LION to end all lions, who is yet a Lamb to end all lambs (cf. Hebrews 9:12-28, 10:10-14)! Such is the case however when God elects to become man (as in Philippians 2:1-12, Revelation 5:13, John 8:58, 5:19ff., Isaiah 40:10ff., 48:16), so that we might, being found, be founded and not confounded, and find our way back to God (I Peter 2:22ff., 3:18).
Here then is the meaning of the riddle of Samson (Judges 14:14), the sweetness that was in the very midst of strength, in fact in that case, a honey hive lodged in the carcass of a lion; and what is the carcase ? It signifies something in the wisdom of God who in many imaginative ways, sometimes prosaic as nails, sometimes as brilliant as rainbows, shows His meaning, often indeed using parables. In what way then does this signify the wisdom of God ?
It is in this, that the sweetness is in the carcass of a DEAD lion; for Christ crucified shows the wisdom and the power of God: for if a dead lion contained honey, indeed an active hive of it, how much more does a living and resurrected Christ, whose carcass the grave could never finally embrace, show it. As to that, death could only briefly touch Him, in transit, till He rose, His body preserved for all that, alive from the very dead. If however the period of death for His body was short, a mere three days in the sequence in view, its significance is for ever (cf. Galatians 6:14, Revelation 5:13).
In many such ways, God is showing Himself as the Saviour whose love is sweet, whose sacrifice shows it and whose mercy is eternal. What a lion and what a lamb is this: the world has no other, nor does it need it.
SOME MORE LINES ON THE LION
In Isaiah 31:4-5, we saw this word:
"As a lion roars, and a young lion over his prey ...
so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill.
"Like birds flying about, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem.
defending He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it,"
noting intention to return to this.
It is followed at once in 31:6 by the call to repentance, for return to Him against whom the people had DEEPLY REVOLTED. Accordingly, Christ indicated in Luke 13:1-3, that UNLESS you repent you will all likewise perish, and again, in 14:27ff., that you have to forsake everything to follow Him (in spirit, the results as He appoints).
Speaking then here very definitively to Israel (but with the same Gospel in hand), inviting and exhorting them to return from their wanderings, to Him (31:6), God proceeds next, and at once, first to actual repentance throughout Israel (31:7), and then to show the devastation of Assyria (31:8), that wounder of the heart of the Wonder of Israel, destroyer of its temple. This is as foretold in Micah 5:5-6), immediately after the reference to the incarnation of the Judge of Israel, as a babe in Israel. Indeed, in this case it STARTS with His being stricken, though their Judge, proceeds to His coming a babe, and then moves to His delivering power, thereafter. Assyria in its rampant insurgency becomes the butt of divine displeasure (as in Isaiah 30:27-33, so in Micah 5:5-6), being stricken by the Lord "whose fire is in Zion, and whose furnace is in Jerusalem".
In Isaiah this precedes the Messianic depiction of Ch. 32 in its glorious, regal power on this earth, just as in Micah, it follows the incarnation. Its time and task place is set.
Small wonder then that Christ referred to its removal from Gentile domination as in Luke 21:24, when the fulness of the Gentile occupation of history and of Jerusalem, ends, This leads to the end of that pruning out of Israel for the endurance of the Gentile time, to which Paul referred. Thus those of us who have lived through 1948, restoration of half of Jerusalem as provided for in Zechariah 14:1-2, when the UN was set to devastate the land by decree and division, and many more were set to destroy it, and likewise through 1967, providing for the restoration of the rest of that ancient city to Israel, have seen great things. It is the end of an epoch, give or take a little for the settling down process. In 1980, the declaration of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the land of Israel was a further confirmation.
These are not nationalistic things, for Israel was never a nationalistically conceived or concentrated body, except to the extent of sin (as dramatically emphasised in Samuel and the appointment of Saul as King (I Samuel 8:6-8). Its role, part, and the ground of its partition, was not only the wickedness of the Canaanites, in which case God used this method, instead of a flood as earlier on a broader scale, but the appointment of Israel as the site for the Messiah, and as a provider of intelligible and meaningful praise to God (Isaiah 43:21, Genesis 15:13ff.). Being like the other nations was a hiccough which like a fit of one of the pontiffs, continued incontinently, almost to its ruin. Such desire for a nation so conceived and called by God, it was but lust. It has a different dimension than this, in the divine intention, as the Lord states (cf. Deuteronomy 4:7-15, 7:7-12, Isaiah 43:21).
As for Israel's restoration, take it or leave it, it REMAINS and is a fait accompli, as biblically predicted and appointed, the signal for the end of the Gentile Age (Luke 21:24), the approach to the terminal of this phase of history, the preparation for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, there crucified, to rule with His saints "on the earth" as noted in Revelation 5, and not at all a time for petty menace, international jurisdictive quarrels, intrusions and profusions of words and 'views' of this kind and that. God has said what He wants, what He will do and will do it, as always in fulfilment (cf. Matthew 5:17-20).
Ignorant efforts, or rebellious (take your pick, the Lord knows), to order things differently merely prepare the stage for the last act (as in Micah 7). Indeed, whatt an act it is, compared explicitly in power and impact to that of the Exodus (7;15), when God delivered Israel from Egypt.
Now it is not only those seeking
1) to gain more and more of a tiny Israel, while their religious kind occupies a large portion of this earth in surrounding nations, and indeed quite explicitly
2) to exterminate her,
but an increasing aggregation of
increasingly hostile nations,
for whom justice seems to have a cover over the eyes,
blinded not to prejudice but to reality,
which is to be seen.
Now even faithfulness to international agreement appears quite readily to be dispensable*2B,
so long as Israel is made more and more of a mockery of a country,
though its multiple and diverse exploits exceed those, size for size, of any nearby land!
This is not, for example, merely in agricultural finesse and martial discipline, but in Ph.D. numbers at the academic level.
So be it. It is not unusual for nations to fight with the Lord on this and that point, and here it is the Israel point. They suffer for it and will suffer as in Zechariah 12, and in 1948, 1967, 1973, 1990 (Iraq gave Israel some rockets, as it had already given it the thumbs down). Now they pontificate and pronounce in endless seeming, meaningless intimations of this and that course of action, as if prescribing methods of euthanasia to a young man! but this, it is rather to a young nation.
Young ? It is so only in one respect, in its 1948 restoration, in its coming en bloc, into this modern world, as receptive on the whole, as might be a doss-house to a babe on its doorstep.
They do not appear to see; nor was it premised that they should, for in Psalm 2 we see their ultimate relationship to the Messiah, that of the Gentile nations, just as we find His to them, in terms of international power units. This belligerence toward the Lord and His Christ was foretold, and they have much to learn (Ezekiel 37:28 gives a line on their wake-up call). When He foretells an attitude, a divine faithfulness, a plan, a scenario, to meddle with it is to meddle with Him. Of these attitudes and actions of the nations, warring, worrying, flurrying, hurrying, harassing, lashing, turning on Israel as if her local enemies were not enough, of this whole force of international deprivations and attack on Israel, the results, like the thoughts now, are not pretty.
Intractable intransigence against truth has a high cost, not of living, but of dying.
Thus with Jerusalem back, according to the direct word of Jesus Christ, the Gentile era closes, and His own return has this for one of the symptoms of its coming 'near' (Luke 21:24-28).
Now in preparation for greater things, that era at last comes to its conclusion. The profusion of confusion is one of the symptoms, and especially notable is it when the actors fight the Lord. They do it in morals, in mindless assault on the Bible, in rampant unrealism on creation, in intoxicated paeans to force and survival, in novels translated into history on cruelty and oppression, in high words and low deeds (cf. News 121, 122).
This is the political and land side of things; but the spiritual application comes in the sequence: but not yet (cf. It Bubbles Ch. 10). It is not that the land side is carnal and petty, because it is a SYMBOL of God's faithfulness (as expressly in Ezekiel 36:22), and He takes pity on His name as He states! Yet the people who are to be won to Him, Jew and Gentile, as He acts out His multi-part scenarios with its successive tableaux amid the nations and the ways of this world, and the consummation of His dealings as foretold with Israel: it is these who have the therapeutic, blessed and lovely aspect, in this, that they are healed of unholiness, wrought in wisdom, taught in heart and regenerated in life. No small repository in this context is that of Israel, a great explosion coming in the spiritual department (Zechariah 12:10-13:1, Romans 11:25ff.).
Here is some of the wheat coming in, amid the chaff of Psalm 1, and the broken shards of Psalm 2. It comes as the final numbers are made up (Revelation 6:9ff.), from various sources by that one salient divine resource, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through that one clear declaration of the word of God, the Bible, for that vast and noble purpose of the Lord, in love the finding of the lost, to restore them to Himself (I Peter 3:18).
Now we await what in Ezekiel 36-37 is an account of the two-stage rocket, if you will, or restoration if you won't, of Israel, first to its land and second to its Lord, in large numbers, and as Paul shows, in a sudden vast change from what had preceded. This is her hour for repentance; but do not be deceived. When it comes, it is not like the dripping of a tap, but as an epochal event (Romans 11:25, Zechariah 12:10, Ezekiel 37). The first stage has already blasted off, and the second is coming.
Command one in Ezekiel 37:4l, it is for the dry bones of an internationally scattered to be restored to the land: DONE!
Command two in Ezekiel 37:9) is for this aggregation, the physical restoration to have the breath of life, that is to become more than restoration of physical beings to land: it is next to become restoration by regeneration of spiritual life IN these beings, to the Lord! SO the second command in Ezekiel 37 brings life to them (cf. It Bubbles ... Ch. 10).
It is summed up in Ezekiel 37:11-14.
"they shall defile themselves no more" (Ezekiel 37:23), and most significantly,
"David, My servant, shall be king
This then is that terminal to hidden truth, the end to the obscuration of the Gospel of the Messiah, as the mainline opens beside it to the very revelation in spiritual power within Israel, of Christ as crucified for sin (Zech. 12:10-13:1); and added to this, there soon comes the consummation of His return to earth (Zech. 14:5), with His saints, all duly collected in heaven as in Revelation 19:8 and Matthew 24:29-31, I Thess. 4). There follows His rule there (as in Revelation 5:10, Psalm 72, Psalm 2, 96, Isaiah 11, Micah 4).
That amplifies Isaiah 31-32 for us, following the call to repentance of Isaiah 31:6, leading on to the consummation in Christ, as in the following chapter.
Isaiah 32 at once proceeds to delineate, to give portrait of Christ in His sweetness, hiding place, shelter, rivers of water in a dry place, shadow of a mighty rock, liberator from tarnished misunderstandings. In this, we travel by glissade, as in passing swiftly and gracefully from one point to the next, to His coming. He comes to save; He comes to rule: we move from one to the other as on the pinnacles of high mountains, not here stopping or stooping to the valley between. Here we proceed from peak to peak, so moving adroitly and smoothly from His visit to Israel in the flesh, to His coming in power to rule, reigning ON EARTH for a time with His saints, as Revelation has shown us.
But what intervenes ?
It is this quite explicitly.
This consummation does not come UNTIL THE SPIRIT IS POURED OUT FROM ON HIGH
(Isaiah 32:15 in accord with Zechariah 12:10 in its intense emphasis on this).
Until then, no small troubles brew.
But when it does happen, as shown in Hosea 5:15
leading on to the fulfilment of the wave offering ceremony, in Christ's rising from the dead
in three days*3,
which He so emphasised (Hosea 6:1-3),
then comes also deliverance (as in Zechariah 12:10--14:5).
"My dead body" all indeed arise from the dust, who are His (Isaiah 26:19),
and in this day of His manifest rule on this earth,
this becomes His living assemblage, His divinely called body.
What however FOLLOWS this in Isaiah 32,
that repository for one of the most sublime attestations of the coming of the Saviour,
the Messiah to this earth in 32:1ff. ?
What are we shown in the latter part of Isaiah 32 ?
It is this. THEN justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field (Isaiah 32:16ff. as in Psalm 72). We are in the millenial arena so clearly demarcated in Isaiah 11, Micah 4, Isaiah 59, Revelation 21, Psalm 2, 72).
It is as in Isaiah 11, when
"He will decide with equity for the meek of the earthy;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked."
This, as in Psalm 2, 110, is to come in its time. Then as Isaiah declares, the earth will indeed be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, and as Habakkuk 2:14, with the knowledge of it, alas now so repressed (as in Romans 1:17ff.).
THEN! then "the work of righteousness shall be peace" (as in Isaiah 45:24, where one says, "Surely in the Lord I have righteousness and strength," and to Him men will come.
What however will be the EFFECT of this attributed righteousness (as in Psalm 32, 71), God's own righteousness of which ALONE David would speak, there being no other worthy of assertion ? THIS righteousness would be, as it is, as a gift inalienable (cf. Isaiah 51:11, Romans 5:1-11,17), a source of "quietness and assurance for ever." There is the ingredient of eternal life which must be remembered and rejoiced in, as one possesses one's possessions.
But what of the deliverance for Israel through the Lord, as birds flying (Isaiah 31:5), in the midst of these revelations ? As Israel has both phases, the spiritual and the land in divine warrant as from the first (Genesis 12), what is a recent event in which these things have occurred, in the eschatological setting for that land ? It has various fulfilments, but none perhaps more dramatic than that of 1917, when British General Allenby occupied Jerusalem, emphatically delivering it from the Moslem imposition, and there air power, though in an early form and format, was used.
Again, of course, in 1973, when Israel was once more as divinely promised, back in control of Jerusalem, the Israeli air force was used to deliver it from invasion by Egyptian tanks (courtesy of the USSR, since deceased), from brazen assault by destroying much of the Egyptian air force ON THE GROUND in Egypt. As this left the approach of a massive tank force from Egypt vulnerable for destruction by the Israeli air force, which suitably obliged, so was Jerusalem defended and Israel helped in its establishment once more, even while the nations licked the leisurely lip, contorted the specious smile or flurried in innominate furies.
So indeed, they should return to the Lord, as just after this, stated in Isaiah 31:6, and look to HIM for the deliverance from 'Assyria' (31:8-9), and to the Messiah (32:1ff.). So it is to Him, as for such long centuries before, when they were first in the land, they come once more to look for His spiritual solace and wisdom, so that the Spirit might indeed be received from on high - indeed it will convict in Israel as so often in the Gentile world (cf. John 16:7ff., Zechariah 12;10-13:1, Isaiah 32:15), before the Lord's return to rule (Zechariah 14:5).
Note then the glissade, in its smooth flow, or perhaps better flying fox flight from the peak of the first coming of Christ with living waters and as refuge and shelter, to the second, where evil will not dare to lift its head (Isaiah 11), and His praise will fill the earth, before its demise (Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 51:"6, II Peter 3).
What a LION is this LION OF JUDAH, and how important not to be torn, but born, through Him!
See Errors, and in particular Index-Mini on these topics.
See also *2 below for more on the spirit of what is in view here.
Thus one of the motifs of modern man is a self-proclaimed competence (when he is not too busy being depressed in the ultimate bipolar bifurcation which is here spiritual and not merely emotional), and delusive assertion of classic power to invent through collision, invasion, annexation, grabbing, grasping, rasping, ascending on other necks for base, and so on. It is called survival of the fittest, but in fact is used merely as a paean of praise to man, and somewhat more grudgingly, to those who by any means grab more and better.
It does not really create the system; it only abuses it, and neither World War I nor WW II nor WW III (the cold one), nor WWIV (coming along in terms of false prophecy, which may yet aggregate, with a few stark violences here and there as prelude) brings remedy to this fake survival, which merely give augury of escalation to decimation, and advance to disaster.
One of its amoral supports is what falls and fails in its own right, which in this case is a logical and scientific antinomy, organic evolution. On this, see further in SCIENTIFIC METHOD, SATANIC METHOD AND THE MODEL OF SALVATION
The failure of organic evolution in any phase to assert itself, so that it can be seen to occur, is its chief naked emperor's-new-clothes performance. Its lack of performance at any level, since it is mere dream, is a staggering fact (cf. SMR pp.140ff.). Excuses and expectations mingle like thugs in a crowd, and blow themselves up from time to time; but they never manage to construct anything assessable, positively.
A dream that, in this way or that, violates the major laws of physics (TMR Ch. 8), demanding that the categorical and staggering progress achieved in this world as base, come from some baseless hotch-potch of quasi-creation, remains what it started to be: vision of desire without verification in performance, or sustainable logic as ground. Yet it is said to be firmly established, while those who insist on what works, verifies or shows itself in some way, are ridiculed.
How often has this been so in science; but never with such near hysteria as in this instance! Science is organised human knowledge with a special test and adapt feature in this instance; and like other organised creations of man, it is readily disorganised, in whole or in part. Where it refuses to adapt, it is sure to fall; for intelligence is given for a reason. The laws remain the same (and Karl Popper was right to announce that organic evolution has no law, and in this, it has nothing to test, except failure on all sides to show itself in action); but the need of man to meet change with wisdom remains a challenge. It is not met by ignoring it, and changing the rules by imaginative fiat, with imaginary power to propel the myth.
God's wisdom and adherence to stated plan is testable in every sphere where He has made pronouncement in the Bible, the only verifiable body of religious teaching, where this is pervasively and persistently so. If creation went on before our eyes, He would be shown incorrect; but as it does not, His statement on this point is verified. What it took to make what is there in kind and constitution, as mind, matter and spirit was propagated and put in synthetic place, is not manifested now. HOW it happened therefore is not subject to experiment. That is creation teaching and it is verified. God did it, is not doing it, and uses His own discretion; and it is NOT so at this time, since He has finished that work, of which we and our world are parts.
In the case of biblical creationism, that is the result of the eternal basis being adequate for any eventual result and operative at will, like any other Creator in kind; and it MUST be, since nothing has no result, and anything inadequate as the original basis by definition CANNOT have the result. What is the original, this must have what it takes to get what you've got: not by some imagination of other worlds and other logic (invented courtesy of THIS logic), but by actualities present THEN, when the world came into being, in all its phases. Nothing has no basis for providing additions; or for that matter, insertions in the first place.
If this natural order could be caused, without aid from intelligence to make itself into something radically different, of the order of what is there now, but alien to this, that would be a verification of the naturalistic hypothesis, that what is there made itself or did not need to be made, despite the multiple causative alignments manifested in the diverse phases of its integrated existence. Since it CANNOT be made so to do, this is a second verification. That causality would have to be sacrificed for this to happen and this is an antinomy, it a third verification. This is so, since in any such case, the idea is to be maintained in the interstices of the logic, which being abused, is yet to provide validly for its own replacement!
Since the laws of nature as pointed out in TMR (Ch. 8 as marked, and Ch. 7 passim), are aligned differently and in non-creative flow in this arena, thus their breach would also be required, and this, in terms of organised knowledge, is a fourth anti-verification of the OED (organic evolutionary dream).
The fact that this alleged phenomenon is NEVER seen to occur in its informational explosion or even kind institution, is on the other hand, a specific verification of biblical teaching in this area. So too is the inability of man to make anything comparable, for man is presented in the Bible as a being who is MADE, and not in his creativity, of the order of God. Nor indeed, does he lack intelligence, which is one fundamental differences between organic evolution and what is causatively akin to the product, namely intelligence.
Thus even if man managed to contrive it, it would not show the OED hypothesis right. It would have to do it of itself, without our aid, and even then, and this is a still further verification of creationism and of course the Bible which gives its specifics readily testable, the fact is this. To develop is far easier than to institute. It is much easier to learn more mathematics, for example, than to institute that entire discipline of thought into existence, and to have a system which is starkly intelligible in terms of it.
It is always ludicrous to have a system penetrable in its multitudinous laws and provisions and interactions, by intelligence, so that this may formulate what is already there in systematic terms, if that same system be not itself constructed on such principles; just as it is even more ludicrous to have the systems construct themselves when they are not there, or arrive as it were, postage-paid to our address, from nowhere. All these things beg the question, do not answer to cause, and fail to be verified. In biblical creation, all these things answer the question, provide the logical valid ground, readily permit informed question concerning it, answer to cause and are verified at every point where direct statement gives an option which either will or will not be found in accord with fact.
Biblical creation never ceases to be attested in the nature of realities which are its results; organic evolution never begins to be in any sphere of observation or law. The gods of naturalism have no go! indeed. Such is the detailed coverage of the issue in five volumes.
Like the political process, always failing to find rest, so is this invasion of science by philosophy.Indeed, it demeans science, like a virus, and makes of its method such a devastating irrelevance, that nowadays you at times find someone suggesting we dump the requirements of scientific method, making it easier in the verification area, the more to emphasise its philosophic base, while changing its base to something basically different! This of course is just one more verification of biblical creation, since it is changing the rules which made science workable, testable, cleansed and comportable with fact, in order to gain a breathing space; and then, adding to this, in seeking to have a philosophical postulate accepted, one diverse from what gave science its place, moving to dreamland, the considerations of cause apart. But what of this ?
Remove the foundation and the building crumbles, be it what it may.
The politics of force and the metaphysics of irrational fraud meet together in synthesis called civilisation; and while it contains far more than this, this ingredient, like radioactive dust strewn over a city from the air, makes folly a motif of the mass of mankind, controlled, misled, miseducated and abused.
It is well that God has a Gospel of grace by which one can move to the Rock of reality in Jesus Christ, whose word endorses the Bible (Matthew 5:17ff., John 14:26), which Bible also endorses itself by continually verifying itself in the laboratory of history, as prophecy fulfils itself voluminously, perceptibly, emphatically, and in the laboratory of life, as its perspective is confirmed, look where one will.
See for example:
Aviary of Idolatry, Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 5,
News 37. 44, 69, 97 (the exploiters, the fanciful,
the Communists, the de-godders and the realities), 98,
News 150 - Taiwan,
The Grating Grandeur and Aggrandisement of Man,
and the Meekness of the Majestic Messiah Ch. 2.
On this see SMR pp. 886ff. -901, with 931-946, and briefly, Christ the Citadel ... Ch. 2.
See Divine Agenda
Ch. 8, It Bubbles ...
and Secular Myths and Sacred Truth Ch. 5 with Ch. 5.
On this, see SMR Ch. 6, pp. 472ff..
Beauty for Ashes
Hong Kong, and the movement
of nations in the last century
Tender Times for Timely Truth
SMR pp. 925ff., 971-972;
Beauty of Holiness
(war and force, rising downwards, Tiananmen and truth),
Ch. 4 (liberty, Tiananmen, worship and its direction in time, its terms and code of truth); History, Review and Overview Ch. 1,
Impossible to Men, Open to God Ch. 5
See also Lord of Life Ch. 8.