Lion and Lamb

There is an old proverb about March that says, “In like a lion and out like a lamb.” As a child, I would always watch the weather on March 1. Was it like a lion? Was it like a lamb? I have also heard that if March comes in like a lamb, it will go out like a lion. Not much truth in this saying other than March weather can be a volatile. Spring arrives in the middle of the month but plenty of winter still hangs around – especially in the northeast where we live. March is a month with ferocious lion-like winter days as well as milder lamb-like spring days. 

Lions and lambs. Two very different animals. Both terms are used for Jesus Christ. He is the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb who was slain.

Lions are fierce animals that symbolize power. A lion roaming its territory creates a sense of majesty. A lion is known as the king of the beasts. What a powerful prophetic picture of Jesus!

In Genesis 49:9-10, Jacob blessed his son, Judah, saying, You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness – who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.The tribe of Judah became known as the kingly tribe.

I find it interesting that Judah was referred to as a lion’s cub. Was it significant that he was a cub while Jesus later became the Lion of Judah?

Lambs were often the sacrificial animals throughout the Old Testament. They were symbolic of Jesus who would become the sacrifice of all sacrifices. Hebrews 10:14 states, “For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

In Genesis 22, God provided the lamb for the burnt offering so Abraham did not have to offer the sacrifice of his son Isaac. The account of the first Passover is recorded in Exodus 12. The sacrificed lamb provided protection for the Israelites.

John the Baptist described Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” in John 1:29. Three years later, Jesus fulfilled the role as the Lamb of God when He died upon the cross for our redemption.

In the last book of the Bible, Jesus is described as both the Lion and the Lamb. John says in Revelation 5:5-6, “and one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw a Lamb, looking, as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by four lining creatures and the elders.

While Jesus is described as both a lion and a lamb, each animal reveals a different aspect of His character. We see Him as the conquering King who will slay the enemies of God when He returns. And, we see Him as the sacrificial Lamb who took away the sin from His people so they can share in His ultimate victory.

In one of his sermons, Augustine emphasized that the lion stands for Christ resurrected and the lamb for His sacrifice. His words are “He endured death as a lamb; he devoured it as a lion.”

I like the song The Lion and the Lamb. Partial lyrics are as follows:

Who can stop the Lord Almighty?
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
So open up the gates, make way before the King of kings
Our God who calls the saved is here to set the captives free

Lions and lambs create an interesting topic whether we are talking about weather or Jesus Christ. According to the calendar, we know March 1st is coming in a couple of days. Then we will find out whether the weather is like a lion or a lamb for 2019. We do not know when Jesus will return. However, the Lamb of God promises in Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon!

Advertisements

WHAT IS IT?

If I make something new for dinner, my husband may suspiciously ask, “What is it?” Although he is not a picky eater, he says he will not eat anything he cannot identify. I wonder if this is how the Israelites felt when they first saw manna on the ground. Did they want to eat something they could not identify?

God had led the Israelites out of Egypt and they were on a 40 year journey to the Promised Land. Their stomachs were growling and their spirits were grumbling. God heard. God responded graciously. The Lord said to Moses in Exodus 16:4 I will rain down bread from heaven for you.”

In the morning, the ground was covered with a variety of Frosted Flakes. Exodus 16:14-15 says, “Thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, ‘What is it?’ Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.’” Exodus 16:31 tells us, “The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.”

Manna” comes from the Hebrew word that sounds like “What is it?” To answer this question, we can say that manna was both physical and spiritual food for the Israelites. It was a type of bread that satisfied their physical hunger. However, it also had a spiritual purpose. The Lord concludes Exodus 16:4 saying, “In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow My instructions.” God gave specific instructions how they were to gather this bread. Whether or not they would obey His instructions would reveal their commitment to Him. Deuteronomy 8:3, “He humbled you (the Israelites), causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

Jesus makes a transition from the Old Testament bread of heaven to the New Testament bread of heaven. Jesus says in John 6:32-33, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” In John 6:35, Jesus declares, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”

In the Old Testament, manna was bread sent from heaven to save the Israelites from dying of starvation. They gathered fresh manna each day. Only on the sixth day could they prepare and keep it for the sabbath. In the New Testament, the Bread of Life(Jesus) was sent from heaven to save our souls from dying; we received salvation. We accept Him as our personal savior once and receive the gift of eternal life.

Bread is a basic dietary item – a staple for physical life. The Bread of Life is our spiritual sustenance – our assurance of eternal life. John 6:27 says, Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.

Manna was a prophetic shadow of Jesus. The Israelites asked, “What is it?” They were told manna was bread from heaven. Fast forward almost 1300 years. While Jesus was sharing His last Passover meal with the disciples, He gave a new meaning to bread. Jesus broke bread into pieces and told His disciples to eat it. I wonder if they asked, “What is it?” Jesus gave His answer in Luke 22:10,This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Today, “What is it?” is answered for us each time we take part in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and partake of the bread.

Before concluding, I would like to expand our question. “What is it you need?” Like manna, God’s mercies are new every morning. (see Lamentations 3:23) God provides fresh mercy every day. We are not stuck with stale bread or stale promises. May we pray as Jesus taught in Matthew 6:11, “Give us today our daily bread.” We need both the physical and spiritual bread the Lord provides. Taking some liberties, I translate Psalm 34:8 to say, “Taste and see that the Bread of Life is good.” Again I quote John 6:35 where Jesus promises, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” As the Bread of Life, the Lord will supply all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

 

The Glue of Love

Tomorrow will be Valentine’s Day. As a child, I remember making valentines. I cut out hearts of red construction paper – probably some pink and white ones too. Mom gave me a few lace doilies I added to make my valentines fancy. Then I used lots of glue! Glue held my homemade creations together.

I think God uses a different kind of glue to hold everything together. His glue is called love. Today, we will explore scripture to learn about God’s glue.

First, let’s consider God being the glue.

I John 4:16 says, “God is love.” If we describe glue as love, then God is a kind of glue because He is love. In Hebrews 13:5, God says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” We are attached to God by His love. I applied glue to the pieces of my valentines to hold several hearts together. God promises to stick to us like glue. He is a glue stick!

We learn in Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Healing broken hearts sounds like a function of God’s glue. I am sure some of the paper hearts I cut out were broken because I was not careful enough with the scissors. I glued them back together so I could make more valentines.

Next, let’s think about love as glue.

I John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.When I made valentines as a little girl, I did not know how to spell many words. It was easier for me to just glue hearts together as a symbol of love. I chose to express my affection by making valentines with my hands rather than by writing poetic words.

According to Paul, God’s glue is patient and never fails. I Corinthians 13:4 tells us, Love is patient.” When making valentines, I had to be patient and allow the glue dry. Otherwise, the glue would not have done its job. A few verses later, I Corinthians13:8 says, “Love never fails.” When my glue dried, it did not fail to hold the embellishments I attached to my valentines.

We read in I Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.I used a lot of glue on my homemade valentines. Glue covered a multitude of paper hearts. Only then was I sure they would stick together. The glue probably also covered a multitude of my creations’ imperfections just as God’s glue covers our many sins.

Now, let’s consider how we can apply God’s glue.

When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus answered in Mark 12:29-31, The most important one is this, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’” In a recent sermon, our pastor pointed out that our loving God requires loving our neighbor. In other words, loving God and loving people stick together. Love is a powerful glue.

God’s love-glue is made of two components – loving God and loving others. Things don’t stick right in a person’s life if both expressions of love are not evident. When I made childlike valentines, I put glue between two different hearts to make one card. When we put loving God and loving people together, we apply the most powerful glue to our lives.   

Proverbs 17:17 tells us, “A friend loves at all times.” We are to let those around us know how much we care about them whether it be Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year. We should stay attached to our friends through all circumstances. We should stick together like glue.

Finally, let’s glue everything together.

Colossians 3:14 instructs us, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Whether we are thinking about godly virtues or valentines, love is the theme. Glue holds things together just as love holds things together.

I Corinthians 16:14 is a good reminder for all of us. Do everything in love.” Whether it be making valentines or going about daily activities, love should be part of the process.

Be a Waiter while Waiting

I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait,
Psalm 130:5

The Psalmist says that he waits for the Lord. I guess I should follow the Psalmist’s example. In this context, what does it mean to wait for the Lord? Do I just stand around doing nothing? I don’t think so.

Two types of waiters come to mind. Both are found in a restaurant. Waiters can be people who serve those seated at the tables. Or, waiters can be people seated at the table waiting to be served.

The job of the first waiters is to efficiently serve the restaurant’s customers. They often greet their patrons by asking, “How may I help you?” Waiters politely and accurately take food orders. Shortly after serving the food, waiters check to see if everything is to their patrons’ liking.

Waiting is serving. Jesus is an example of a waiter. Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

All of us are waiters who serve. We serve people and we serve the Lord. Psalm 100:2 NKJV says, “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before His presence with singing.” The New International Version reads “worship” rather than “serve”. Worship is waiting upon the Lord by giving Him the glory and honor He deserves. It is a privilege to wait upon the Lord by worshiping Him.

The second type of waiters are people who are waiting for something to be done for them. They wait expectantly whether it be for restaurant food or for an answer to prayer. These waiters wait with a sense of anticipation.

People seated at the tables expect to be served plates of delicious food in a short time. They do not always wait patiently. Sometimes we can be like them while waiting for the Lord to move in our lives. Scripture gives us a word of caution. Psalm 27:14 NLT says, “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”

Isaiah 40:31 NKJV says, “But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Other translations use “hope” or “trust” instead of “wait”. For  me, hoping and trusting are spiritual activities. Effort is involved. The same can be true of waiting. Waiting on God can be faith at work. Lamentations 3:25 ESV tells us, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”

I believe it is our privilege to wait on the Lord by serving Him and those around us while waiting for answers to specific prayers. When serving other people, we can be encouraged by Hebrews 6:10. “God will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.” If we are waiting upon the Lord by serving Him, let us follow the advice of I Samuel 12:2, “Be sure to fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you.” While waiting for the Lord to move in our lives, remember Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Which ever type of waiter we may be, let us fulfill Romans 12:11, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”