Not a Tame Lion

“Come, let us return to the Lord;
    for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
    he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.” — Hosea 6:1

The Dragon and The Lion

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis introduces us to Eustace, a boy who is very selfish and constantly complaining, making himself “an unmitigated nuisance” to his cousins Lucy and Edmond and the entire crew of the ship. But, on one of the islands during their expedition, by the mysterious magic of Narnia, Eustace is turned into a dragon. As the days pass, Eustace the dragon learns humility.

Then one morning the boy Eustace appears again as himself, and he tells Edmund how he was changed. In the night, one of his legs had been hurting terribly from an arm-ring that was much too tight, and as he looked for relief he saw a huge lion coming toward him in the moonlight. The lion told him to follow, and though he was afraid, he did, to a deep, wide well at the top of a mountain.

“The water was as clear as anything, and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first. . .

“I was just going to say that I couldn’t undress because I hadn’t any clothes on when suddenly I thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that’s what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and the scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully. . . . I could see it just lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

“But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before.”

Eustace repeats the process of scratching and peeling away his dragon skin two more times, only to find still more hard, rough, wrinkled, and scaly skin underneath every layer.

“Then the lion said. . . . ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. . . .

“Then he caught hold of me. . . . and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . . After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me. . . in new clothes…”

“I think you’ve seen Aslan,” said Edmund.[1]

I couldn’t help but think of this episode from The Chronicles of Narnia when I read Hosea 5:14-6:3. Much of chapter 5 describes the desolation that will fall upon Israel because of their apostasy. God will cause their entire society to decay and fester as he removes his restraining hand and gives them over to the evil intents of their hearts. In their sin, Israel has become an unmitigated nuisance to their God.

Hosea declares the terrifying lengths to which God will go:

For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
    and like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear and go away;
    I will carry off, and no one shall rescue.

I will return again to my place,
    until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face,
    and in their distress earnestly seek me. — Hosea 5:14-15

The LORD himself, in his holy and righteous anger, will tear them apart as mercilessly as a roaring lion, and then he will turn his back and leave them utterly forsaken—until they repent and seek his face. But how can they repent when scratching at their own scales only scrapes the surface and doesn’t get to their hearts?

Be Encouraged

In one of the most passionate pleas in all of Scripture, Hosea calls sinners to return to the LORD, an invitation which is also the solution God has provided so that sinners may answer the call:

“Come, let us return to the Lord;
    for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
    he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will raise us up,
    that we may live before him.” — Hosea 6:1-2

Jesus himself is the Lion who became a Lamb to take away the sin of the world. On the cross, Jesus Christ died as the substitute for every sinner who places their faith in him. As our representative, Jesus was torn, that we would be healed; struck down, that we would be bound up; and in his resurrection we too are raised up on the third day (Ephesians 2:4-6). On the cross, the Son of God was forsaken by his Father so that we would become children of God (1 John 3:1). In Christ we are crucified so that in him we may live.

We need Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, to mercifully tear off our hard, rough, wrinkled, and scaly skin, going right to our hearts with his fearsome and effective claws, that he might make us new and dress us in his robes of righteousness. It may hurt more than anything, but only for a moment. After that, and into eternity, it will be perfectly delicious…

Pray With Me

Oh Lord, let us know you; let us press on to know you more and more every day; for your going out is sure as the dawn; you will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” (based on Hosea 6:3)


[1] C. S. Lewis, The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers: 1952; published for Scholastic 1995), 107-110.

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