By now many of us have heard the tragic outcome of the 56 wild animals let loose from an exotic animal park by a Zanesville, Ohio man– before killing himself.
According to news reports, 49 of the animals, including a wolf, two grizzly bears, nine male lions, and 18 Bengal tigers, have died. One grizzly bear, three leopards and two monkeys have been captured and transported to the Columbus zoo.
After learning that the animals had been let loose just before dark, authorities closed schools, barricaded roads, warned the community, and told officers to shoot-to-kill-on-sight before something worse happened.
Since then communities around the country have been reviewing local laws to make sure they are doing everything possible to keep exotic animals in the wild rather than in people’s backyards.
Am guessing that more than a few of us have also spent some time thinking about a spiritual parallel. It’s widely known that the apostle Peter describes our spiritual enemy as being “like a roaring lion” stalking human prey (1Peter 5:8).
Interestingly, Peter describes the danger just after assuring us of how much God cares about us. Before warning us about the devil, the apostle urges us not to be afraid to humble ourselves before the Lord, nor to resist submitting ourselves to one another (i.e. submitting to the good of others rather than assuming that our interests are all that matter) (1Peter 5:5).
Before alerting us to a danger we should watch for and resist Peter writes, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (vv6-7).
It is then that he adds, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (v8).
Peter’s caution might raise some questions. What does our spiritual predator do that causes Peter to liken him to a roaring lion? How does he roar? Is the devil trying to frighten or unnerve us to the point that we forget the presence and care of our God?
Peter does seem to imply that the roar could involve some kind of suffering when he adds, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (v9).
While wondering what Peter is thinking of, I remember the night his Lord said to him, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32).
Since we have since had a chance to read the rest of the story, what did “the roar” turn out to be in Peter’s life? Could it have been the “roar within” of his own fears, followed by the overwhelming damage to his own pride when he failed to live up to his own expectations (22:33)? Is that why he talks about how important it is to humble ourselves under the hand of God, so that, in due time, he can lift us back up (1Peter 5:6)?
Seems like it could be helpful for us to compare notes with one another about “the roar” of our enemy. What do you see in the Bible and from your own experience that might help us recognize the strategies of our enemy?