Again, it’s repetition in Jeremiah that’s caused me to pause and reflect this morning. Something said of God’s judgment of Babylon in this morning’s reading that was also declared concerning His judgment of Edom in yesterday’s reading. And it’s got me thinking about a lion.
“Behold, like a lion coming up from the thicket of the Jordan against a perennial pasture, I will suddenly make them run away from her, and I will appoint over her whomever I choose. For who is like Me? Who will summon Me? What shepherd can stand before Me? Therefore hear the plan that the LORD has made against Babylon, and the purposes that He has formed against the land of the Chaldeans . . . ”
(Jeremiah 50:44-45a ESV)
Check out Jeremiah 49:19-20 and you’ll find pretty much the same declaration, word for word, directed towards the Edomites.
At first, what grabbed me is the rhetorical challenge of the LORD of hosts. Who is like Me? Who’s going to set a time for Me to appear before them and defend Myself? What protector of any flock is going to hold their ground against Me? Short answers to these three questions? No one. No one. And . . . no one. For God appoints over every nation and every peoples whom He will. Either to rule them or to chastise them.
“Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?” (Exodus 15:11 ESV)
But then, it was the shepherd reference that caught my attention. Why refer to the leaders of Edom and Babylon as shepherds? Why not king or ruler? Why use that word picture? And it seems to me it’s because one of the shepherd’s jobs is to protect the flock. To ward off ravenous beasts who would harm and disperse the flock. At least that was a big part of David’s resume (1Sam. 17:34-37).
So, noodling on the shepherd motif it led me to meditate on what these impotent, unable to stand, shepherds were up against in trying to withstand the Sovereign LORD’s determination. They were up against a lion.
“Behold, like a lion coming up from the thicket of the Jordan against a perennial pasture, I will suddenly make them run away from her . . . “
Our God is like a lion. Earlier in his prophetic declarations, Jeremiah said that, in the day of God’s wrath, the “lords of the flock” would cry out and would fall and shatter “like a fragile vessel.” That their pastures would be laid wasted and their “peaceful folds devastated.” And all this “because of the fierce anger of the LORD” who “like a lion, has left His lair” (Jer. 25:34-38).
Chew on that imagery for bit. Our God is not only a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24, Heb. 12:29), He is also an unquenchable fire. A lion that cannot be opposed.
Who is like our God? No one! He is a Lion.
Yes He is! And one day He will again leave His lair. When this day of patient forbearance closes, when this age of grace has seen the harvest of every soul readied to respond to the gospel by faith, then again the Lion will leave His lair.
And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, . . . And He went and took the scroll from the right hand of Him who was seated on the throne.
(Revelation 5:3-7 ESV)
The Lamb is the Lion. On that day when God will again judge the nations–those who refused the offer of His free salvation through the judgment already born for them by Christ on the cross–it will be the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the risen ruling Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who will come forth in justice.
And who then will summon Him to give an account? Which shepherd will be able to stand before Him? No one!
Who is like Him? No one!
All praise and honor be to the Lion of the tribe of Judah. To the Lamb that slain.
Because of grace. For His glory.