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Meditation 24*

The Lion Has Roared

The lion has roared—
who will not fear?
The Sovereign Lord has spoken—
who can but prophesy?
Amos 3:8

Most readers of these meditations have never heard the roar of a lion with his full strength in the wild. We may have heard the sound with which a lion makes the bars of his zoo cage shimmer. Even then does it make us shiver, as when it snorts out of his nostrils, snores out of his throat or roars with his wide opened maw. But what is this snore of the basically tame lion in his cage compared to the thundering roar with which the wild lion terrifies the desert or spreads shivering fear throughout the forest?

God created that roar. The lion did not just find it, but the Creator of this royal animal created and instilled that roar in the king of the wild. That roar began as a thought in the Lord of Lords and from there this divine thought entered this majestic animal.

This gigantic, overpowering wild animal is a dreadful illustration to us humans, an illustration of brute strength that far supersedes human power, of an enigmatic power that lurks in secret places and then suddenly wakes up and frightens any nearby human soul. That’s the reason the roar of a lion can serve at the same time as an image of the wrath of God as well as of the stealthy crawl of satan. The immense wrath of God and that snorting of satan are both superhuman powers that create images within us and symbolically speak to us through that unsettling animal. Such animals also have their purpose, which, among others, is this higher role of reminding us humans of the reality of immense super-human powers.

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The Scripture frequently points us to the roar of God’s wrath and compares it to the roar of a lion in the forest. In Hosea we read, “They will follow the Lord; He will roar like a lion. When He roars, His children will come trembling from the west” (Hosea 11:10). Or take Isaiah: “As a lion growls, a great lion over its prey—and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against it, it is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamor—so the Lord Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights” (Isaiah 31:4). And John wrote on Patmos, “He gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When He shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke” (Revelation 10:3).

When you walk carefree along the trail in the forest and are oblivious to any danger, let alone a lion, that does not mean there is no lion. She may be hiding with her cubs in the thick of the underbrush, awaiting her hour and ready to pounce upon her prey. When she sees her victim from afar, she opens her maw wide, lets her manes rise up and allows the warmth of her blood spurt out of her throat and nose as vapour and then comes the terrifying roar that thunders through the woods and makes the entire forest floor shake.

It is here that the Holy Spirit makes you hear an echo of the bulldozer of God’s wrath among the nations and in the hearts of individuals. Neither the nations nor individuals ever consider that there is an immense God in the wild forests of their lives. They live without a care, oblivious of any evil or suspicion of a power that will judge them. This goes on and on from day to day and from year to year, till, suddenly, the Lord lets go a mighty roar in the life of such nations or individuals. When we then hear that roar of His holy wrath, puny beings that we are in our impotence, we tremble with our entire beings and are terrified to the very core of our lives before the face of the Lord of Lords.

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Our conscience is the ear with which we hear the roaring Lion. Conscience, that wonderful interpreter of our inner thoughts, immediately interprets for us in a pithy and touching way what the wrath of God crashing into our lives means for us. That conscience is a wonderful memory created within us that reminds us in a split second and in vivid shades and colours of our forgotten past with its sinful history. It is that which relentlessly prostrates us, never gives us a way out, but judges us constantly and irrevocably. Our conscience within us understands that roar of the Lion and makes us shudder, because we have provoked the Lion of Judah. That is what grooves into our soul that endless, deep, cutting mortal agony.

The Lord God is on the way! Hear the roar of that Lion. I, I have infuriated this almighty God with His immense majesty!

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And then, suddenly, you lighten up. You no longer consider resisting, while fleeing will not help. In your fear, even before you feel all torn up inside of you, you feel yourself already succumb. And that is what saves you. Once that roar of the Lion overpowers you and makes you shudder, then suddenly the tickling, the excitement and that sinful search for your own ego falls away along with your egomania and your proud self-confidence. You suddenly find yourself reduced, dwindled and, as you collapse, your evil heart breaks and the proud spirit within you is squashed.

And then, then everything is glorious! Now the roaring of the Lion has suddenly achieved within you that which all the pressure to love, all words of warning or all holy intentions were not able to accomplish. Now it vibrates again in your soul that you are responsible to God and are to keep Him in mind, Him, the Eternal One, the almighty and all-authoritative God. Your soul lifts itself above the insignificant and lets go of all trivial spirituality.

The game is over; things are serious now. Dragging and slow feet are replaced by a steady and firm step. Even though the roar of the Lion may cease, you will never again forget the voice of the Lord of Lords, but you will walk in the awareness of His fellowship.

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And so that roar of the Lion will soon cease, but the nations have been startled and many hearts have become despondent in fearful terror. Ah, if only the children of God were attuned to their conscience and catch the vibration of God’s majestic wrath. So many are slumbering that need to be woken up again, not tomorrow, but right now. See, the Lord beckons and all His children need to follow His cue.

And then there are so many children of God who still walk around unconverted but who will sooner or later be adopted as children, even though their ear is still plugged and their capacity to believe is still dulled. While they are still on their carefree path, they, too, need to perceive the roar of the Lion. They are the Lord’s and need therefore to join His people.

The majesty of the Lord of Lords is so indescribably horrific. Does your heart sense nothing at all? If you experienced that roar, how can your heart withstand it?

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