Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!


"The Lion from the tribe of Judah has won the victory."We visited the zoo on Saturday.

My brain kept going back to a Simon and Garfunkel song from college days, “At the Zoo.”

“It’s all happening at the zoo,” the lyrics say. “The monkeys stand for honesty. Giraffes are insincere. And the elephants are kindly but they’re dumb.”

The numbers of people there indicated that things were happening there. The weather was the nicest we’d had all week and the temperature was perfect for walking around enjoying the sunshine.

Crowds gathered to watch the animals that were also enjoying the warmth, especially the lions and tigers and cheetahs. I began to think about what makes these creatures so fascinating.

Certainly part of the reason is that we don’t see them on a daily basis. Native people in Africa don’t stand around and watch lions sleep, as far as I know.

Then there are the individual qualities of each species–the power of tigers, the speed of cheetahs, the size of bears and elephants and giraffes. And, of course, each one is beautiful in his or her own way.

The same God who made each unique creature also created us. “The Lord God created the heavens and stretched them out. He shaped the earth and all that comes from it. He gave life to the people who are on it and breath to those who walk on it” (Isaiah 42:5, GW).

Through the centuries, the lion, in particular, has been a significant figure, the “king of the jungle,” representing majesty, courage, and strength. The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz demonstrated courage he didn’t know he had. In The Chronicles of Narnia,  Aslan the Great Lion is described as large and terrifying, magnificent and wise. “He’s not a tame lion,” we’re told; “he isn’t safe, but he’s good.”

Aslan, of course, represents Jesus Christ. And in Revelation 5:5, Jesus is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” who has overcome death. This message comforts us during times of grief, times when we don’t understand His plan.

So next time you visit a zoo, enjoy watching the different animals But let them remind you of the Creator who made them and you. And when you see the lions, remember the Lion of Judah. He knows you, and He wants you to know Him.