Weekly Pastoral Message prepared by Rev. Murray Adamthwaite
for Sunday 21st June 1998
From the Pastor: Animal Lessons II
"And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown on the road, and the lion standing beside it ...." 1 Kings 13:25|
Lions are frequently mentioned in the Bible: they once roamed the
countryside of Bible lands in large numbers. Both Samson and David killed
lions in the course of their occupation (Judges 14:5-6; 1 Samuel 17:36).
Assyrian wall reliefs depict the king and his entourage in lion hunts and
also show caged lions. However no lions exist in Palestine today, nor have
they since the time of the Crusades in the Middle Ages. In Bible times
lions constituted a hazard to travellers. Even though the Palestinian lion
was smaller than his more familiar African counterpart, they were just as
dangerous, ferocious, and carniverous as the latter.
In the book of 1 Kings there is a strange story of a prophet from Judah
who came to the newly-formed northern kingdom of Israel, but disobeyed
instructions to deliver his message and return home without any meal or
refreshment. Strange, because it was a faithful resident prophet who
seduced him into having a meal, yet the northern prophet suffered no harm;
only the travelling prophet from Judah was killed by a lion. Then a
further strange twist: having killed the prophet the lion simply stood
by the body without attempting to devour it at all. This is so contrary
to the nature of a lion that passers-by remarked on it. God ensured that
a lapse of obedience would not mute his testimony, even in death. The
story also reminds us that God has absolute control over men and nature.
The lion in the story reminds us furthermore that "the Lion of the Tribe
of Judah" (Revelation 5:5) is the One who has absolute control over men,
nature, and history; He opens the seals of God's Book and sets events
in motion. He also will requite the multitudes of disobedient people who
have flouted every command God has decreed, yet will work to accomplish
the final redemption of the people who are "chosen, called, and faithful".
The lion is a call to absolute obedience.