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!

Underground

It is spring. Tulips and daffodils are springing up. It seems like these flowers are just suddenly appearing. However, that is not the case. If there are to be spring flowers, bulbs must be planted in the fall. They should be placed 10-12 inches deep beneath the soil’s surface. Then, a period of cold weather is necessary to break the dormancy of the bulbs. After a long cycle of cool temperatures, the biochemical process is sparked that causes the blossoms. All this is underground work.

God works underground with creation. He also works deep in our hearts. The Lord describes His ground work in Ezekiel 36:26-27 saying, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”  The power of the Holy Spirit changes our hearts. This is ground work because our heart is the ground, or soil, of our lives. It is also ground work in the sense that it is the foundational work that God does within us.

Isaiah 35:1-2 says,The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.”
Various commentaries point out that the desert can refer to a spiritual wilderness. In these verses, there is a messianic message that is later fulfilled by Christ’s ministry. Combining the underground work of God in Ezekiel and the blossom in Isaiah, we can make a personal application. When the Lord works underground to give us a new heart, Jesus is the blossom that appears.

Luke 8:17-19 says, “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.God works in our hearts creating deep roots – deeper than the 10-12 inches for tulip bulbs. The height of the faith flower that suddenly appears reveals the depth of the underground work of our Creator’s loving hands.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV says, “For everything there is a season.” Growth takes place in floral bulbs during winter as well as spring. Without winter work, no spring flowers. In our lives, there may be bleak times when nothing appears to be happening. We may think God is ignoring our struggles. We may feel like He has abandoned us. However, God is doing a deep spiritual work in our hearts. He digs out the dirt of sin and plants new life. He is working underground. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God’s hands are in touch with flowers and personal lives. He handles all things with care. God works slowly and thoroughly. Philippians 1:6 assures us, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Whether it be blossoms from bulbs or flowers of faith, God works underground to produce beauty above ground. According to Ecclesiastes 3:11 KNJV, He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.)

The Season of Springtime

 

rainspring-flowersApril showers bring May flowers.

This is a saying I remember from my childhood. Today these words help me to endure the spring rain showers (mostly snow showers this year) that prevent the weather from being as warm as I would like. It is near the end of April, so I cling to the promises of May. The flowers will soon bloom along with the blossoming of more consistent bright and sunny days. Since I cannot yet be out in my flower garden, I think I will plant some seeds in the garden of my heart and mind. I found the following quote at THEDAILYQUOTES.com.

Your mind is a garden.
Your thoughts are the seeds.
You can grow flowers.
Or you can grow weeds.

Just as there are many packets of seeds available in a garden store, so are there many thoughts accessible to be planted within my mind. Each day I choose which packet of seeds, or thoughts, I will allow to take root within my mind. My thoughts may be positive or negative. Either choice will produce fruit. Positive thoughts grow into flowers that bring a smile to my face and to those around me. Negative thoughts are like weeds that I must pull out of my mind. Weeds of words have a tendency to grow faster than positive posies! I need to follow the advice of Paul in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  Since I have trouble remembering all of Paul’s words, I like to simplify his instructions by remembering the acronym that Steve Nicholes uses for THINK. T is true – H is honorable – I is innocent – N is necessary – K is kind. I like these seeds! Proverbs 23:7 NKJV states, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” This verse describes my heart as the fertile soil where the seeds of my thoughts grow producing either flowers or weeds.

If God wasn’t growing sons and daughters,
things would not take nearly as long.
But since He is more interested in our growth
than He is in our getting,
waiting becomes
a very essential and useful means toward the end.

At the beginning of this blog, I admitted that I needed patience while waiting for warmer weather. Pondering the place of patience within the garden of my life, I like the above quote by Jack Hayford from Moments with Majesty. Applying Hayford’s quote to gardening and to my life, I realize that spring is the growing season. Plants and seeds are growing whether or not I yet see visual proof. Just like seeds, thoughts are growing in the garden of my heart and eventually they will produce actions and reactions. I must remember that growing is more important than getting! Sometimes the seeds I plant are the prayers I pray. God hears my prayers the moment I pray them, but His answers may not be evident as quickly as I would like. God is at work in the garden of my heart before I am aware of the answer. Psalm 40:1-2 says, I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;” The soil of my heart may be muddy and need to be dried up a little bit before His best answer can grow within me and produce the best fruit or flower. The best soil for planting needs to be moist but not saturated with water. The mud of April showers needs to dry out to some extent before May flowers can be planted.

Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

I found this quote online at goodreads.com. It is taken from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. During the month of April, there are days when I too ask if spring is coming. I like how the answer combines sunshine and rain. Both elements of weather are needed for flower gardens and gardens of the heart and mind. Spring, showers and sunshine all go together. Zechariah 10:1 says, “Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone.” Most likely, I would complain if there was no rain just as I grumble if I think there is too much rain. I must think about the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I will embrace the showers and the sunshine. I will acknowledge the possibility of flowers and weeds. I will allow growth to take place. It is springtime in my life and in the atmosphere!

My Reader, enjoy the special seasons of your life. Today is April, but it will soon be May.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new