One Faithful — One an Imposter
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“The lion which is mighty among beasts and does not retreat before any” (Proverbs 30:30 NAS).
In the scriptures we have many references to lions. We will focus on the two that are most familiar to the brethren: the Lion of the tribe of Judah representing our Lord, and the roaring lion of which Peter warns us, who is none other than the great adversary, the Devil.
The Roaring Lion
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8,9).
Be sober, that is, sensible, discreet, sober minded, and vigilant, constantly watching out for our enemy. It is useless to watch unless we know what we are watching for. Paul tells us that we need to know our enemy, “lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
A lion’s roar is so fierce that it has been known to paralyze its intended victims, even men. This ferocious beast can run short distances at 50 miles per hour, and leap as far as 36 feet. The strength of lions is legendary. They can kill animals much larger than themselves, such as zebras and water buffalo. Without proper protection a man would be no match for a lion. How much more this is true respecting the devil. We are no match for his wiles, yet we have the assurance that the Lord is on our side.
In knowing our enemy we will need a proper means of defense, which the apostle lists for us in Ephesians the sixth chapter. There we are told that we need to put on the Helmet of Salvation, the Breastplate of Righteousness, and the Shield of Faith. We also need to be shod with the Sandals of Peace and have in our hand the Sword of the Spirit. The need for such armor is given to us in Ephesians 6:10-13. There we are told that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places; therefore we need this spiritual armor.
The word adversary in the First Peter text comes from the Greek word antidikos (antid’-ee-kos) and is defined as an opponent or adversary and (specially) Satan, as the archenemy. This is also how Weymouth translates this when he says, “be on the alert. Your great accuser, the Devil, is going about.” The devil is indeed the great accuser, even to the point that in Eden he accused God of withholding information from Eve (Genesis 3:4,5).
One of Satan’s devices is to discourage the Lord’s faithful. In some cases, the more conscientious they are, the more subject they will be to Satan’s suggestions of unworthiness, rejection, condemnation, or even Second Death. But “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you” (1 Peter 4:12). God permits this as a test or trial of our faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore to be developed into His likeness, our faith must be tried. The more our faith is developed, and that through trial, the more pleasing we become in the Father’s sight. The trial thus proves our faith, being much more precious than gold. He would have our faith in Himself implicit, unwavering (1 Peter 1:7-9). However, the Adversary, as a roaring lion, would destroy our faith by exaggerating our weaknesses and failures, to cause us to cease striving for the goal of divine approval. He would have us give up in despair.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). We have been given exceedingly great and precious promises that we should claim before the throne of grace as ours. In faith, then, we can resist the devil. With a firm resolve the adversary will flee us.
One of the means of attack from this great evil lion is to stealthily sneak up on us to try and take us unawares, perhaps looking for that careless moment, or when we are at our weakest. The lion has a very stealthy walk. On his feet are soft cushions, which enable him to come very near to his prey before his approach is recognized.
Animals Attack from the Rear
“Animal trainers say that the secret of handling safely all beasts of the cat species, such as lions, tigers, and leopards, is to keep them constantly afraid of you. The instant they get over their fear, they will attack anyone who crosses their path. They are all treacherous, too, and often gather courage for an attack when the master’s eyes are turned away from them. One never knows when they will get over their fear and spring at the keeper. … Our fight with the devil is like that. He is always seeking to attack us from the rear or in ambush. The devil goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, but he is a great coward when faced with courage. ‘Resist the devil and he will flee from you’ is as true in our time as it was when the Apostle James first made the declaration” (Anecdotes and Morals).
Satan would have us draw back from our consecration vows. We are usually more vulnerable to this when we are discouraged. “If any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38). The drawing back may at first be a very slight departure from the narrow way of sacrifice — only a looking back perhaps, with a sigh for the things behind; a little slowing up of speed in the race set before us; then a little disposition to compromise the Truth in favor of the cravings of the fallen nature. Thus the way is prepared for the arts of the tempter, who is quick to note our weak points, and to take advantage of them in a manner best suited to our case. Subtle errors are brought to bear against the judgment; pleasing allurements, with a show of righteousness, are presented to the fleshly mind; and, almost imperceptibly, the soul forgets its ‘first love’ for the Lord, and its first zeal for His service, and drifts away from the Truth and the spirit of it, being no longer led of the holy Spirit of God” (R1799, April 8 Manna).
Paul warns that Satan often transforms himself into an angel of light, which is not surprising since Satan and the fallen angels are liars and deceivers. The name Lucifer, his angelic name, means “The Morning Star” (Isaiah 14:12). The etymology of the name is interesting. The Old English word Lucifer comes from the Latin, which literally means “lightbringing,” from lux (light) and ferre (carry).
So Satan was originally a light bearer, and yet he has become the symbol of darkness and a worker of dark deeds who deceives by presenting himself as an angel of light. He would therefore have others succumb to his deceits through subtle errors, to lead them away from the light of truth, into the darkness of error and unbelief. He does so by seeking leaders who have allowed pride or vain glory to enter their hearts and, themselves deceived, introduce errors. He would use those who are most esteemed if he can but lead them astray, knowing many enamored with such leaders are less prepared, not having the whole armor fully on, the helmet of salvation protecting their heads. Not skillful in the use of the sword of the spirit, their guard is down and now are open to be easily deceived in following these beloved and pious, but otherwise deceived, leaders of the church. (See 2 Corinthians 11:14,15, Acts 20:3, James 3:1). We can therefore see the importance of Peter’s instruction to be vigilant, to be on the lookout.
We can do this by studying the Lord’s word, proving all things, and holding fast to the truth given to us in it. As our Lord instructed Peter, “Watch and pray” that in doing all these things we can be protected from this wily foe (Matthew 26:41, 2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:21).
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah
Lions are symbols of strength and courage and have been celebrated throughout history for these characteristics. They are also common symbols for royalty and stateliness, hence the phrase “king of the jungle.”
The title “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” evidently refers to our Lord’s strength and majesty, thus picturing his mighty power as the Millennial King. The connection of a lion with Judah is found in the blessing Jacob gave to his son Judah. In Genesis 49:8-12 there are several symbolic references which have to do with our Lord. For example, he speaks of Judah as having his hand upon the neck of his enemies, and so it was under King David, a type of Christ, that as a mighty warring king with power from God he defeated all his enemies. And so Jacob said that Judah was a “lion’s whelp,” and when he became a mature lion, who would dare arouse him?
Another symbol used in connection with Judah is the scepter, which represents the authority to rule. This scepter was given to Judah, and there it would remain until Shiloh, the Prince of Peace, would take it up at his resurrection.
The title “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” could only come to one born of the tribe of Judah. Jesus, therefore, did not have that title in his pre-human existence as the Logos. Rather, having been born of Mary, he was of the tribe of Judah, and he is also the root of David. He would receive this title at Jordan, when he presented himself in consecration to do and fulfill the will of God, to carry out the work of man’s redemption.
The only direct text in which this title is used in reference to our Lord is Revelation 5:5, “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”
John, representing the church of the firstborn, is shown here as weeping because no one had been found who could open the book. What is this book? Evidently not the Bible, for the New Testament had not yet been written. No, this book is God’s plan of the ages (see Ephesians 3:11 Diaglott) which was in Jehovah’s hand from before the foundations of the earth. It was after Jesus finished his sacrificial work on the cross that he became worthy to open the book.
Upon his resurrection he was given by God all power in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18). So too he was given the book and the power to open the book, to reveal to us God’s plan. This power and wisdom which he received is represented in the seven horns and the seven eyes of the slain lamb which John saw in the vision, and is recorded for us in verse 6. Seven eyes would represent complete wisdom and seven horns complete power.
This now all-powerful Lion of Judah, to whom the book was given, would prevail to open it one seal at a time, gradually making known the Heavenly Father’s arrangements, the hopes of the Kingdom and the blessing of all the families of the earth. Thus it has gradually been revealed throughout the Gospel Age until the time that the seventh seal was opened, the seventh messenger was on the scene, the seventh trump was blowing during the seventh stage of the church. The whole plan of God has now been opened up to the watchers.
It will be during the reign of this Lion King that Satan, the roaring lion, will be bound and afterwards destroyed in the “little season” spoken of in Revelation 20. We read in Isaiah 35:9 that during the reign of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, “no lion” nor “ravenous beast” will be on the highway. This way will be set up for the redeemed world of mankind who will be walking therein (Satan having been bound). They will approach full perfection and harmony with God under the terms of the New Covenant.