Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
From Job 10:16, we learn that almighty God is pictured as a lion hunting prey:
"And were my head lifted up, you would hunt me like a lion."
Hosea also describes God in this way:
"For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house
of Judah" (Hosea 5:14).
The study note in The Lutheran Study Bible about this verse from Hosea is helpful in helping us to unpack this metaphor: "Though Israel and Judah were right to dread Assyria's might, the Lord is the real power they should have feared" (p. 1443).
On the one hand, the lion is strong, and is seen as a predator. This image produces fear, as we become the target of the fierce hunter. But that fear, Lord-willing, leads to repentance. For like Job, we do not want to lift up our sinful heads in the face of the one who hunts, for he hunts to destroy sin.
Unfortunately, there is another lion that is out on the hunt. 1 Peter 5:8 describes Satan as the other hunter: "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
And like a lion, the Devil is patient. He waits until you are unsuspecting, until you think you're all alone, until you let down your guard, and then he pounces for the kill. He is on you, attacking what God has created within you--the faith that trusts in Christ and His promises. And like a female hunter, he leaves you for the dominant male to come in and devour.
You see, because almighty God hunts sin, and destroys those who would reject His son, Satan hunts us down in order to leave our remains for God to destroy.
But the Scriptures don't just speak of almighty God as the hunting lion (Law). There is another image involved in God being a lion, and that is of a ferocious protector of offspring:
"So I am to them like a lion; like a leopard I will lurk beside the way. I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs; I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open" (Hosea 13:7-8).
Almighty God tears open those who would threaten to steal away his cubs, that is his children. And ultimately He would accomplish this tearing when the Lion of Judah would ascend to the cross and there defeat sin, death, and the Devil himself.
God hunts sin, but he does so to bring His cubs into the eternal protection of his den. In other words, the fear and repentance produced by God the hunter, is met with the comfort that comes with fiercest protection in the face of those who would seek to harm us eternally.
The same lion that hunts the sin that remains within, protects us as His own -- for his own cub has already paid the ultimate price, and He wishes not to loose another. Amen.