Lions Weren’t Meant to Eat People
Lions weren’t meant to eat people. On the Serengeti Plain, lions routinely stalk and kill helpless prey. It’s normal. It’s natural. Rather than be horrified, we film lions on the prowl for television shows like Planet Earth. (Which I highly recommend if you haven’t seen it.) But as soon as the lions turn their gaze away from gazelles begin hunting people, what is natural for the lion becomes a cause of anger to man.
There is something built into us that finds a creature without a soul killing a creature with a soul revolting. Killing a man is no different to the lion than killing a gazelle. In fact, it’s a lot easier to kill a person than a gazelle. They don’t run as fast. And yet as soon as lions abandon the herd for the humans, out come the guns. This response is entirely appropriate, as the life of a human being is worth infinitely more than the life of any lion. One is made in the image of God, the other is not. No one weeps for the gazelles because they, like the lions, do not bear the image of God and are indeed soulless.
Just as it is repulsive for a soulless lion to overstep its bounds and kill a child with a soul, it is repulsive for man made in the image of God to worship soulless gods. It is an abomination for an image bearer of God to seek his fulfillment and all in that which is of a completely different nature than he is. In ancient times it was statues of Baal, Ashtoreth, and Dagon. Nowadays it is boats and houses and clothes and cars and electronic devices that will be obsolete in six months.
Sadly, most people are horrified by a CNN newsflash about a hiker killed by a mountain lion and completely oblivious to the worse plight of dead souls being coddled to death by their unshakable fixation on possessions. Lions consume the body and leave the soul unscathed. Subtle idols occupy and consume the soul, but leave no telling scars on the outside.
Ezekiel 19:1-8 is a lament over the princes of Israel, calling them lions who made themselves odious by devouring men. The point of the imagery is this: Man is made of spirit and body, and is meant to worship a spirit. God alone is the fulfillment of the soul.