The Bible depicts Satan the devil as a roaring lion. Do you understand Satan's tactics and know how to defend yourself against this evil, devouring force?
I received a shock when I drove around the bend in the dusty African road. There, straddling my path, was a lion! You may not find anything about such a situation in your driver's manual, but it's best to give way to lions. It's not worth arguing the toss with the brutes. So I braked my car to a stop and waited. The big, powerful cat was clearly agitated about something, and was glaring at the source of his annoyance. Actually, the object of his irritation was worrying me, too. You see, he was glaring at me. It wasn't even my car the lion was watching. He was looking angrily through the windscreen at me. I froze. My legs turned to jelly. I don't like zoos much. I enjoy wide-open spaces myself, and get distressed at seeing animals caged. But right then it wouldn't have bothered me one bit to have seen bars between that brute and me. Wild lions emanate a ferocious quality that caged lions lack. It's one thing to see a lion in a cage. It's another to be 40 feet from one in the open. For a long moment, heat waves danced across the ground between us. I consoled myself by thinking that I had not heard of a lion attacking a car. Then, suddenly, the tense silence was shattered by a reverberating, deep, throaty roar. The sound died away, leaving the land — and me — shaken and subdued. Just my luck, I thought to myself. I've probably met the most bad-tempered creature on the African continent. Today, he's probably missed a kill, stepped on a porcupine, been stung by a swarm of bees and had a fight with his mate. No doubt he's determined to attack the first thing that moves. I know that lions don't attack cars. But does this lion know that? As perspiration trickled down my face, the blazing sun sparkled off the lion's cruel, amber eyes and the razor-sharp teeth he generously displayed to me. I've seen lions in films. But a film image can't convey what it's like to have 400 pounds of angry muscle, teeth and claw coming your way. A moment like that is wonderful for helping you concentrate. I've heard how people in danger can have their whole lives flash before them. But I am a pragmatic person, and in a second or two I was hastily figuring all the angles. What would I do if the cat charged? I would be the endangered species. It would be good to get to someplace else, and fast. But I couldn't swerve off the road because of the rocks and trees. Nor could I quickly back along the winding road and, in any case, backing up might only trigger his chasing instinct. Once his powerful muscles exploded into acceleration I would have about two seconds left. I slammed my car into low gear and hovered my foot above the accelerator. I was going to resist. If the charge came I was going to charge right back. It would have been a strange spectacle — two clouds of dust at either end of a short stretch of road, rushing toward each other like knights at a jousting tournament. At one end would be the lion, roaring and charging. At the other would be me in my car, accelerating and blaring the horn for good measure. If the lion's nerve failed him, he'd mistime his leap and I'd nail him with the business end of my automobile. If not, I had one hand on the handle of the driving door. If the lion did get inside the car, I intended to leave for the nearest tree. I was going to do everything humanly possible to survive. I was going to put up a terrific fight for life. The lion started pacing back and forth in front of me, scrutinizing the menu and trembling with the desire to attack. A lion normally begins its charge from about 40 feet — just the distance that separated this lion and me. The moment before its charge begins, a lion raises its tail and flicks it back and forth. The lion is then set to kill. As the animal's tail began to move I began to pray. As the lion's tail rose so did my fervency. In terms of sincerity that was one of my best prayers. I know we all have to go sooner or later, but I wanted it to be later rather than sooner. Besides, there's something about being eaten alive that could ruin one's day. To my great relief, after some more growling and snarling and glaring, the lion lowered its tail and, with a final, mean growl, slunk away. Thus I lived to tell you the story.
Know your enemy
The apostle Peter likened Satan to a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8). Peter's contemporaries knew what he meant, as there were wild lions in Palestine at that time. But most of us in the 20th century have been cut off from the land and nature. Unless our study is diligent, therefore, we can lose much of the Bible imagery that is built around nature. The apostle Paul said he was not ignorant of Satan's devices (II Cor. 2:11). Are we? You may have heard the saying, "Know your enemy." When you know your enemy, it is easier to defeat him. We need to know how our adversary Satan operates so we can guard against him. Here are several ways in which Satan resembles a roaring lion.
Lions are wonderfully camouflaged. They blend perfectly into the bush. Their amber eyes and golden bodies merge into the undergrowth so they can sneak up on their quarry. Soldiers use a similar tactic when they don camouflage uniforms. Is it any wonder that Satan, the father of warfare, uses the same technique? The devil has the perfect camouflage. He is invisible. And what's more, many people don't even believe he exists. One of the devil's most clever tricks is to persuade someone that he isn't real. Then he can roam undetected, wreaking havoc and destruction. But as Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong has said on many occasions, there is a cause for every effect. Look about you at this world. There is a cause for all the evil. The Bible tells us that cause. Genesis 1:2 tells of a time, before the creation of Adam, when the world was "without form, and void." Did God bungle the job of making this globe? Of course not. God is not the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33). So what happened to put the world into that sorry state? Read Ezekiel 28:12-17. The archangel Lucifer, later renamed Satan, was given control over a beautiful earth. But in a display of astounding arrogance he sought to take to himself the supreme position of authority in heaven. He was overcome by his pride (interestingly, we refer to a "pride" of lions). But pride comes before a fall (Prov. 16:18). Satan apparently really believed he could knock God off God's throne. With all God's talk about serving and caring for others, maybe Satan reasoned that the Ancient of Days was soft and senile and would be a pushover. Perhaps, before this rebellion, there had not been a reason for God to get angry. But Satan learned a lesson. El Shaddai, the Almighty God, blasted Satan back to earth (Luke 10:18). Before Satan's rebellion there's no mention that Satan had a fear of God. But since the rebellion Satan and his demons are in fear and trembling (Jas. 2:19). Satan is here on this earth now, and he knows his time is short (Rev. 12:12). Despite his camouflage of invisibility, Satan is a real being. Don't be deceived. Satan is alive and well on planet earth.
Lions look cuddly
The facial expressions of these big cats are normally mild and pleasant — seemingly full of warmth and gentleness. In photographs lions often appear sweet, cuddly and playful. But realize this: Lions cannot be trusted. You may have read of stories of people who, while visiting animal parks, lowered their auto windows to pat lions and lost their arms. People who have befriended these creatures have ended their lives locked in a lion's jaws. Lion handlers know that working with lions is always risky. Lions can turn on their handlers at any moment. Even when they appear docile, lions may attack. Likewise, Satan doesn't always appear as a ferocious beast. His ferocious nature may only display itself when he is going in for the kill. He and his grisly gang of wicked cohorts like to palm themselves off as angels of light (II Cor. 11:14). Satan likes his part of the bush — this world — to look attractive and appealing. And this world — its cares, its entertainments, its pursuits — can certainly look enticing and enjoyable. But remember: Beneath the pleasant and friendly exterior are the instincts of a furious beast ready to bite and kill and gorge itself on its victims. Satan wants us to snuggle close to his lair so he can catch us off guard.
A pride of lions has its own territory, a specific area in which it lives and hunts. A pride will roam to and fro through this area, looking for kills. Satan also has his killing ground. He was cast down to this world and is confined here. This is his turf. Anywhere on this planet is lion territory, spiritually. Every nation is Satan's killing ground. And just as lions hunt in packs, so Satan leads a host seeking what suffering they can cause (Mark 5:1-13, Jude 13). In Bible imagery the governments of this world are likened to beasts (Dan. 7:17). Just as the lion is referred to as the "king of the beasts," so Satan is able to influence and lead, within the limits God allows, all human governments. He can raise to the ruler's chair the very dregs of mankind. The devil, as "king of the beasts," can play national governments like puppets. This world's ideologies and philosophies all show a satanic influence. Cutthroat competition in the marketplace, the struggle to "get while the getting is good," national and individual jealousies and rivalries — all stem from Satan, the king of the beasts. To put it another way, Satan is the god of this world, as surprising as that may seem (II Cor. 4:4).
Lions love darkness
The prey animals, over a long distance, can usually outrun a lion. During daylight the prey spot the lion and run away before the lion gets close enough to begin its charge. So most daylight hunting attempts by lions fail. Darkness gives the lion an added advantage over his quarry; this advantage often tips the scale in his favor. So lions, in general, prefer to hunt at night. Similarly, Satan is sometimes called the prince of darkness. He also likes to stalk at night. To avoid his attacks we need to stay in spiritual daylight. Jesus Christ said, "I am the light" (John 8:12). When we are close to that light source Satan will not be able to take us. But what if we wander away from the light? The African bush is a hard land. At night, without light, even the most heavily armed man stands little chance again st a marauding lion. In the same way, no matter how much knowledge or ability we think we have, no matter how strong we feel we are, if we are wandering around in darkness we are easy pickings for Satan. Without light we will not break the charge.
Method of kill
A male lion usually weighs from 350 to 400 pounds; some reach 500 pounds. Males are usually about 9 feet long from nose to tail and stand about 3 1/2 feet tall. Females are slightly lighter and smaller. Lions have 30 teeth and sharp claws to match. At night they prowl proudly across their domain, seeking prey. The male is dominant and guards the territory, but the female usually makes the kill. Lions pad softly along, silently surveying their prospective victims. Their amber eyes see well in the dark as they patiently approach prey. And they have an uncanny knack of appearing on the scene when least expected. They prefer large victims to small ones but will go for both. Zebra, buffalo and waterhog are among their favorites. And they will single out the weakest animals in herds. A zebra with a limp is in great danger. If the victim raises its head, the lion will freeze in his tracks. He has to wait patiently, though he may be dribbling with greed. Then, when the animal being stalked is again unwary, the lion creeps forward, its body hugging the ground. It has to get close to its prey. A lion can travel at tremendous speeds over short distances (lions have been timed at crossing 100 feet in just over three seconds, from a standing start). But a lion can't maintain that speed for long. Consequently it must move, undetected, close to its prey, or healthy animals will outrun it. From about 40 feet the lion explodes into action. Its tail goes up, it lets out a paralyzing roar and it begins an incredibly fast rush. It hurls itself onto the prey, inflicting deep gashes and wounds. It will bite and claw and cuff the thrashing victim, often appearing to play with it. The victim's death does not come quickly. A killing may take 10 minutes or more. The lion straddles the animal, biting into its hide and ripping away chunks of flesh. Then the lion goes for the throat. Its steel-like jaws clamp down hard on the neck, choking off the air supply and strangling their victim. Then they drag the carcass away to gorge greedily on it. It's rare for a man without help to survive a lion attack. But because it takes time for the brute to go for the throat, there is time to shout for aid. Someone who can drive off the beast may be nearby. If assistance comes quickly enough, there is hope. Victims of lion attacks need medical attention immediately. The lessons here are clear. Satan stalks stealthily through spiritual nighttime, using cunning and deception to get close to his prey (Rev. 12:9, 13:14,20:3). He tries to catch us off guard. Like a lion, Satan is willing to attack anything but prefers large game to small and prefers the weak to the strong. In other words, the members of God's Church are especially appetizing. Their part in God's plan makes them big game. And a member who has some besetting spiritual weakness is like a zebra with a limp. But if any of us do stumble and are attacked by a spiritual lion, there may still be time to cry out to God for help. God is far stronger than Satan. Satan may roar but God thunders. God can pull Satan off you. Then you need expert help — the balm of God's Spirit — to heal the awful wounds from the mauling. But isn't it much better not to put yourself into a situation where Satan can dig his fangs into you?
The lion put down
From time to time some lion may taste human flesh and develop a liking for it. Such a beast has to be tracked and destroyed. But tracking down a lion requires an expert with superior weapons. Once the lion is destroyed, the local people celebrate at being rid of the beast. Satan is a man-eater. He will destroy any man who puts himself in a position to be taken. And the Bible tells us that Satan's destructive activities will increase at the time of the end — the time in which we are living (Rev. 12:12)! So Satan needs putting down. And that is precisely what is going to happen. Satanic influence will be stopped and removed from the world — if need be, blasted off every part of this planet. Christ will leave no corner for Satan and his cunning cohorts to skulk in. The devil's ultimate downfall is prophesied in the Bible — Satan's fate is already sealed. Revelation 20:1-3 prophesies of the time when a mighty angel will stop Satan in his tracks — will bind him with a great chain. This will occur just after Christ returns to rule the earth. Satan will be caged to prevent him from causing further damage. This putting away of Satan — his binding and banishment to the bottomless pit — is pictured by the Day of Atonement, one of God's seven annual Holy Days. God's Holy Days picture what is to happen from now until the end of this age and afterward. For more information on these Holy Days, why not read our free booklet, Pagan Holidays - or God's Holy Days - Which? Yes, one day we will be rid of the beast. But in the meantime we have to be vigilant. Occasionally, when I perceive Satan attacking me, I remember that lion straddling my path in Africa. It was a time to resist stoutly and pray fervently. When you sense Satan on the offensive, will you fight for your life and shout to God for help? If you do, God will help you. Or, when the lion roars, will you accept his invitation to dinner?