A short series on Romans 8 – 11. Part 1.
“One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. With whip in hand, the same Man who offered up his life for us, first threw out the moneychangers who robbed his people and filled the temple’s Court of the Gentiles with business dealings. This prevented non-Jewish believers from coming inside.
Love provoked both actions, passionate love.
In ancient times God chose a people for the human lineage of God the Son. God revealed himself to Abraham with softly spoken words and specific instructions. And thus, Abraham left his extended family and set out for a land that God would show him. This land would become the homeland of God the Son’s human family. To set out for an unknown land required great faith and confidence in God (Genesis 12:1-9)(The Faithful).
“And he brought him [Abraham] outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” (Genesis 15:5 ESV).
In fire and smoke and bloody carcasses cut in half, on that dark and terrifying night, the Lord God, not a tame lion at all, made a covenant with Abraham. God himself bore the weight of it. (Genesis 15).
What was necessary? Belief. Faith. And yet, Abraham’s natural descendants in ancient times tried to acquire God’s favor through the rigid keeping of the law. Today, we often make this same mistake.
Their pharisaical rigidity, rather than reliance upon the grace of God, resulted in our invitation into God’s family. God used their failure for the good of the rest of the world. He isn’t a tame Lion.
Totally unaware of any of this, in ancient times our ancestors were pagans. We descended from pillaging Vikings and Germanic hordes, worshipers at Stonehenge, Celts, and other tribes of ancient lineage from Africa, from Asia, and from Aryan nations on that same side of the world, making human sacrifices, pursuing runes and spells, praying to stars and stones and unknown spirits.
We were “Gentiles,” non-Jews, people totally unacquainted with the God of Abraham and the way of salvation. But, because of the faithlessness and the legalism of Abraham’s descendants we were invited in.
They [the ancient Jewish people] sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
whom your fathers had never dreaded.
18 You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you,
and you forgot the God who gave you birth.
19 “The Lord saw it and spurned them,
because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters.
20 And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them;
I will see what their end will be,
for they are a perverse generation,
children in whom is no faithfulness.
21 They have made me jealous with what is no god;
they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
22 For a fire is kindled by my anger,
and it burns to the depths of Sheol,
devours the earth and its increase,
and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. (Deuteronomy 32:17-22 ESV).
He is not a tame Lion, but a God whose anger can be kindled, whose heart can be broken. God is passionate love. He made this quite clear when he gave his commandments at Mount Sinai.He is not a tame Lion, but a God whose anger can be kindled, whose heart can be broken. God is passionate love. He made this quite clear when he gave his commandments at Mount Sinai. Click To Tweet
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands [to the thousandth generation] of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6 ESV).
The Lord God longed for Israel’s wholehearted love to the thousandth generation! And yet, ancient Israel embraced the idolatry of the surrounding nations. Eventually, the majority rejected their Messiah.
And so, non-Jews, us, Gentiles were invited to be members of God’s family alongside the Jewish people who followed Messiah Jesus, comprising his New Testament church. We weren’t even a nation; rather, we were tribal hordes descended from mixed roots. And yet, God wanted us. He wants all of the nations and peoples and tribes of the world, starting with his own.We were tribal hordes descended from mixed roots. And yet, God wanted us. He wants all the nations, peoples, and tribes of the world, starting with his own. God so loved the world, that he sent his One and Only Son. Click To Tweet
God so loved the world, that he sent his One and Only Son.
His own people killed him, and he allowed it to happen, just as was planned from all eternity. The Lion of the tribe of Judah died for us, and then he rose from the dead, the least tame act ever accomplished.
When Paul met Christ on the Damascus Road, nothing was ever the same. Paul reached Gentiles, journeying into mountains and valleys and across seas to bring the message of salvation to us, where we beat and stoned him and ran him out of town, and yet Paul persevered.
He reasoned with philosophers in Athens, saying, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us“ (Acts 17:26-27 ESV).
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote of Gentiles and the untamed Lion and how it came about that he offered salvation to even us:
30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes“ (Romans 9:30-10:4 ESV).
“But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, ‘I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation, I will make you angry.’ Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me‘ But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people” (Romans 10:19-21 ESV).
For reasons known only to God, their rejection resulted in our entrance into God’s family and the softening of our pagan hearts to embrace him. Our tribal ancestors were drawn to the Lord with messy conversions and tribal surrenders and slow adaptation, recognizing that we needed God’s grace.
God wants us to “seek him, and perhaps to feel our way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).
This requires humility and yielding, turning from transgression and toward him. He wants us to draw near to him, to humbly rest in him.God wants us to "seek him, and perhaps to feel our way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us." This requires humility and yielding, turning from transgression and toward him. Click To Tweet
For all eternity, he yearned after the spirit of each one of us, and he now woos us toward a loving relationship with him.
“Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.‘ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:5-8 ESV).
May we draw near to God in humility, submitting to him by the grace of his Holy Spirit. May we lean hard on him during our calamities and praise him with joy and gratitude in our triumphs as he works all together for our good.
Jesus is not a tame lion, for he is good, so very good.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 ESV).Jesus is not a tame lion, for he is good, so very good. "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). Click To Tweet