I (Jennifer) am so very excited for you to meet our guest this week at FACETS of Faith. The team has known Kelli Worrall and her family for some time, and we’ve been eager to introduce her to all of you. We are very sure she is someone you should know. We love her as a dear friend, and we hope you’ll add her to your list of favorite authors.
Kelli Worrall is a Communications professor, writer, and speaker. She is the co-author of 20 Things We’d Tell Our Twentysomething Selves. She also writes at www.thisoddhouse.org. Her second book, Pierced & Embraced: Seven Life-Changing Encounters with the Love of Jesus, will be released in August.
The only lions I have ever met have lived at the zoo. I’ve only respected and admired these creatures from a safe distance, through iron fences and thick glass.
Encountering one up-close-and-personal would be an entirely different matter. Can you imagine?
For one thing, lions are the second largest cats in the world, passed only by tigers. Male lions weigh up to 575 pounds, and females up to 395. They often measure eight feet long—head and body—and stand up to four feet tall.
The lion’s eyes are set laterally on its head to provide a good angle of vision. In other words, it can see you.
Its inner ear has a long mobile pinna able to localize a sound source. Translation: It can hear you.
Its nostrils are large, and it has complex nasal passages. It can smell you.
It can run at 50 mph and leap 35 ft. It can catch you.
Its massive limbs are built for attack. It can easily kill you, if it so wishes.
In Isaiah 31, the prophet likens our God to a lion. He warns God’s people not to turn to the Egyptians for help because something much stronger is available to them. Their terror of the Assyrians is put into perspective when the Israelites realize that their God is a lion.
Isaiah 31 reads:
1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
and rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many
and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel
or consult the Lord!
2 And yet he is wise and brings disaster;
he does not call back his words,
but will arise against the house of the evildoers
and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.
3 The Egyptians are man, and not God,
and their horses are flesh, and not spirit.
When the Lord stretches out his hand,
the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall,
and they will all perish together.
4 For thus the Lord said to me,
“As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey,
and when a band of shepherds is called out against him
he is not terrified by their shouting
or daunted at their noise,
so the Lord of hosts will come down
to fight on Mount Zion and on its hill.
5 Like birds hovering, so the Lord of hosts
will protect Jerusalem;
he will protect and deliver it;
he will spare and rescue it.”
In Isaiah 31, there is no competition between the horses of Egypt and the all-powerful God-Lion. There is no contest between the material solutions of the latest military technology and the spiritual reality of God. No ally—Egyptian or otherwise—can compare with Him.
Because our God is fierce. He strikes fear into the heart of the enemy and causes them to shrink away. To be on the wrong side of our God the Lion is not only foolish, it is fatal.
Because our God is destructive. He is devastating. He destroys the enemies of Judah, but ultimately He destroys Judah itself as well. “They will all perish together.” How can God do such a thing? Because holiness and righteousness are a serious business. Isaiah, of all people, knows this well. In chapter 6 he sees a vision of God and cries out, “Woe to me because I am a man of unclean lips.” A holy God is fearsome to behold. A lion, who executes righteous judgment, is entirely appropriate.
Our God is also active. He is a young lion, growling over His prey, and He will come down. He did not wind up the world and then walk away. Rather, He is ever-present. It is in Him that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
And He is courageous. He is not terrified or daunted by the shepherds and their noise. Nothing can drive Him away. He moves relentlessly towards His goal.
Because our God is also protective. He is a jealous God, who lays claim to what is rightfully His. His people belong to Him, and He will rescue them. To try to get between a lion and its food would be foolish indeed. To try to thwart a loving God who is protecting His people would be similarly silly.
But this Old Testament image of God as lion does not give us the complete picture. In Revelation 5:5-6 the Son is portrayed as both the Lion of Judah and the Lamb who was slain. This contrast of majesty and meekness is reflected in Jesus’ life on earth. But also, these seemingly contradictory images describe what took place on the cross—the glory, the triumph—and the sacrifice. Jesus the lion devouring His prey, which is sin. Jesus the lamb made ransom on our behalf.
Certainly—as the other women have so aptly expressed this month—our response ought to be to emulate both the fierceness and the gentleness of our God. Too, we can take comfort, knowing that He is fighting on our behalf.
But finally, our response is to fall on our face in worship, as is so beautifully expressed in the following lyrics by Big Daddy Weave:
Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah
He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before You
Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain
For the sin of the world, His blood breaks the chains
And every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb
Oh every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb