Day 349

Doing Hard Things the Right Way

Wisdom Proverbs 30:11-23
New Testament Revelation 5:1-14
Old Testament Esther 9:1-10:3


Doing hard things requires us to be lion-like – bold, steely and courageous. Doing things the right way means being like a lamb – gentle, meek and submissive. We are supposed to be a godly mixture of the qualities of both the lion and the lamb.

But how can one person be both ‘the Lion’ and ‘the Lamb’?

In C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, the lion, Aslan, represents Jesus. In the most famous of these books, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan is slain:

‘“Bind him, I say!” repeated the White Witch... “Let him first be shaved” … the shorn face of Aslan looked… braver, and more beautiful, and more patient than ever. “Muzzle him!” said the Witch… the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him… They began to drag the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone Table.’

Later, ‘they heard from behind them a loud noise – a great cracking, deafening noise… The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end… There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.’ Aslan tells them that ‘when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.’

In the book of Revelation, we see Jesus is standing at the centre of the throne of heaven. He is the Lion and the Lamb. He is both triumphant (‘has triumphed’, 5:5) and slain (‘you were slain’, v.9). In an imaginative and powerful way, C.S. Lewis shows how Jesus can be both ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah’ (Revelation 5:5) and ‘a Lamb [that] had been slain’ (v.6).


Proverbs 30:11-23

  11 “There are those who curse their fathers
   and do not bless their mothers;
  12 those who are pure in their own eyes
   and yet are not cleansed of their filth;
  13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty,
   whose glances are so disdainful;
  14 those whose teeth are swords
   and whose jaws are set with knives
  to devour the poor from the earth
   and the needy from among mankind.

  15 “The leech has two daughters.
   ‘Give! Give!’ they cry.

  “There are three things that are never satisfied,
   four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
  16 the grave, the barren womb,
   land, which is never satisfied with water,
   and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

  17 “The eye that mocks a father,
   that scorns an aged mother,
  will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley,
   will be eaten by the vultures.

  18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me,
   four that I do not understand:
  19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
   the way of a snake on a rock,
  the way of a ship on the high seas,
   and the way of a man with a young woman.

  20 “This is the way of an adulterous woman:
   She eats and wipes her mouth
   and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’

  21 “Under three things the earth trembles,
   under four it cannot bear up:
  22 a servant who becomes king,
   a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,
  23 a contemptible woman who gets married,
   and a servant who displaces her mistress.


Be cleansed by the Lamb who was slain

We need to be cleansed from our sin – our ‘filth’, as the writer of Proverbs describes it (v.12). This ‘filth’ of sin comes in many guises and disguises:

  • Failure to give sufficient blessing and obedience to our parents (vv.11–12,17)
  • Pride, which can come in the form of ‘haughty’ eyes and ‘disdainful’ looks (v.13). ‘Don’t be stuck-up and think you’re better than everyone else’ (v.13, MSG)
  • Failure to look after ‘the poor’ and ‘the needy’ (v.14)
  • Sexual sin, which justifies itself by saying, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’ (v.20)

The worst state to be in is not to recognise the need to be cleansed (v.12). It is a wonderful thing to be cleansed of our sins.

In the New Testament passage for today we see the whole of creation worshipping the Lamb that had been slain, because ‘with your blood you “purchased for God” members of every tribe and language and people and nation’ (Revelation 5:9). It is the blood of Jesus that ‘purifies us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7).


Lord, may I not just be ‘pure’ in my ‘own eyes’ (Proverbs 30:12). Please cleanse me by the blood of the Lamb, who purchased me for God.

New Testament

Revelation 5:1-14

The Scroll and the Lamb

5 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

  “You are worthy to take the scroll
   and to open its seals,
  because you were slain,
   and with your blood you purchased for God
   persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
  10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
   and they will reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

  “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
   to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
   and honour and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

  “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
   be praise and honour and glory and power,
  for ever and ever!”

14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.


Worship the Lamb who is also a Lion

Sometimes I find myself acting like a lamb when I should be a lion. I act meekly when I should be bold, steely and courageous. At other times, I act like a lion when I should be more lamb-like. I am too fierce when I should be gentle, meek and submissive.

Jesus took on powerful opponents with lion-like courage: for example, throwing out the money-changers from the temple. On the other hand, with the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1–11), he could have been steely, but instead he was gracious and gentle as a lamb. The challenge for us is to follow the example of the one we worship.

What is going on in heaven right now? John tells us that when he glimpses into heaven he sees millions worshipping Jesus: ‘the Lion’ who is also ‘a Lamb’. Jesus is the key to understanding history and salvation.

On earth, we find it so hard to understand what is going on. What are God’s plans and purposes for history and salvation? What are his plans and purposes for your life and my life? The scroll ‘sealed with seven seals’ (Revelation 5:1) probably represents God’s plans and purposes.

No one in heaven or on earth, or under the earth, is found worthy to open the scroll or even to look inside it, except for Jesus: ‘The Lion of the tribe of Judah’ who ‘has triumphed’ (vv.2–5).

Here stands Jesus in all his majesty and kingship. Only Jesus can open the secrets of history, God’s plan of salvation and his purpose for each of our lives.

The Lion is also a Lamb: ‘A Lamb, slaughtered but standing tall… He came to the One Seated on the Throne and took the scroll from his right hand. The moment he took the scroll, the Four Animals and Twenty-four Elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb (vv.6–7, MSG).

The Lamb is worshipped by the whole created order and the entire church falls down before him.

Here is an amazing fact: your prayers on earth affect the worship of heaven: ‘Each had a harp and each had a bowl, a gold bowl filled with incense, the prayers of God’s holy people’ (v.8, MSG). Your prayers fill the golden bowls of heaven. Your prayers really do make a difference.

‘They sang a new song... “with your blood you purchased for God members of every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth”’ (vv.9–10).

‘Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand’ (v.11a). There are more than a hundred million angels worshipping Jesus:

‘“The slain Lamb is worthy!
Take the power, the wealth, the wisdom, the strength!
Take the honor, the glory, the blessing!”’ (v.12, MSG)

There is something extraordinarily powerful about large crowds worshipping Jesus together.

This is one of the reasons I love the Leadership Conference and Alpha Global Week, when people from over a hundred nations and numerous languages – peoples and tribes all together – worship Jesus. This is a foretaste of heaven.

Here we see that the activity of heaven is the worship of Jesus. You will sing songs of redemption. The whole of heaven bursts with praise (v.13). There is a great orchestra and a magnificent choir and all types of music in harmony. You were created for the worship of God’s glory, which was revealed in Jesus Christ – the Lion who is also the Lamb.


Lord, I worship you as the Lion of the tribe of Judah who has triumphed, and the Lamb that was slain. Lord, I want to become more like Jesus and know when to be bold and courageous like a lion, and when to be meek and gentle as a lamb.

Old Testament

Esther 9:1-10:3

9 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. 2 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. 3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. 4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.

5 The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

11 The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.”

13 “If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.”

14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. 15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder. 17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

18 The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

19 That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.

Purim Established

20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot ) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur. ) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.

29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom—words of goodwill and assurance— 31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. 32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.

The Greatness of Mordecai

10 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. 2 And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.


Celebrate the triumph of the Lion of the tribe of Judah

Jesus is the Lion who turns the tables on your spiritual enemies. He is the one against whom no one can stand. He is the cause of feasting and joy and celebration. Ultimately, he is the reason we give presents on Christmas day, to celebrate his coming and his triumph.

Esther is a ‘type’ of Christ – that is to say, her life prefigured and foreshadowed Jesus. Humanly speaking, if it were not for her intervention, the Jewish nation would have been destroyed. Her action brought defeat to the evil one – Haman – and brought freedom, joy and triumph to the people of God, and the ‘tables were turned and… No one could stand against them’ (9:1–2).

Trust God that, in the end, whatever evil is planned against you will come to nothing. God has promised, in Jesus, to give you the ultimate victory.

In the meantime, have the lion-like courage of Esther and Mordecai, and their lamb-like willingness to sacrifice their lives in obedience to God’s purpose.

This led to God’s people ‘freeing themselves from oppression’. They ‘celebrated with much food and laughter... laughing and feasting... their day for parties and the exchange of gifts’ (vv.17–19, MSG).

These events foreshadowed the great event of the triumph of the ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David’ (Revelation 5:5) – through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

He brought about: ‘sorrow turned to joy, mourning somersaulted into a holiday for parties and fun and laughter, the sending and receiving of presents and of giving gifts to the poor’ (Esther 9:22, MSG). This too should be part of our celebration.


Lord, thank you for the ultimate triumph of the Lion, who is also the Lamb who was slain. ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ (Revelation 5:13).

Pippa adds

In Revelation 5:8b it says, ‘Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.’

I love the fact that the bowls are made of gold. It shows that our prayers are precious. And, all our prayers – even mine – go in the bowls.



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C.S. Lewis, in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (London: HarperCollins) pp.138–140,146–148,166.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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