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The Bible in The Horse & His Boy: He Is Not a Tame Lion

This post brings us to the first Horse and His Boy installment in the “God in Narnia” Series. I’m done railing against Planned Parenthood. For now. *wink, wink*I hope you’ll continue along with this series and play catch up with the previous posts if you haven’t already: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V. Enjoy!

“Bree,” said Aravis, who was not very interested in the cut of his tail, “I’ve been wanting to ask you something for a long time. Why do you keep on swearing By the Lion and By the Lion’s Mane? I thought you hated lions.”

“So I do,” answered Bree. But when I speak of the Lion, of course I mean Aslan, the great deliverer of Narnia who drove away the Witch and the Winter. All Narnians swear by him.”

“But is he a lion?”

“No, no, of course not,” said Bree in a rather shocked voice.

All the stories about him in Tashbaan say he is,” replied Aravis. “And if he isn’t a lion why do you call him a lion?”

“Well, you’d hardly understand that at your age,” said Bree. “And I was only a little foal when I left so I don’t quite fully understand it myself.”

(Bree was standing with his back to the green wall while he said this, and the other two were facing him. He was talking in rather a superior tone with his eyes half shut; that was why he didn’t see the changed expressions in the faces of Hwin and Aravis. They had good reason to have open mouths and staring eyes, because while Bree spoke they saw an enormous lion leap up from outside and balance itself on the top of the green wall; only it was a brighter yellow and it was bigger and more beautiful and more alarming than any lion they had ever seen. And at once it jumped down inside the wall and began approaching Bree from behind. It made no noise at all. And Hwin and Aravis couldn’t make any noise themselves, no more than if they were frozen.)

“No doubt,” continued Bree, when they speak of him as a Lion, they only mean he’s as strong as a lion (to our enemies, of course) as fierce as a lion. Or something of that kind. Even a little girl like you, Aravis, must see that it would be quite absurd to suppose he is a real lion. Indeed it would be disrespectful. If he was a lion he’d have to be a beast just like the rest of us. Why!” (and here Bree began to laugh) “If he was a lion he’d have four paws, and a tail, and Whiskers!

“...Bree,” [Aslan] said, “you poor, proud frightened Horse, draw near. Nearer still, my son. Do not dare not to dare. Touch me. Smell me. Here are my paws, here is my tail, these are my whiskers. I am a true Beast.”
— The Horse and His Boy

He is not a tame lion.

No He isn’t. From The Magician’s Nephew to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to The Horse and His Boy, we’ve seen thus far the proof of this point. Gentle and fierce, kind and terrible, 100 percent lion. Rather like another Lion we know of.

Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.
— Revelation 5:5

Anyone with vague familiarity of the Bible and the names of Jesus knows that Jesus is this great Lion from the Tribe of Judah. Even Judah and his future tribe is described as a Lion by his father, Jacob.

Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him?
— Genesis 49:9

It seems only fitting that the Davidic line of kings which ruled in the first Golden Age of Israel and will rule again in the age to come should be represented by the lion, a most kingly animal indeed.

In Scripture, we see about as many sides to God/Jesus as we do to Aslan in the Chronicles. Here are some of them:

The Lion, the King

Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.
— Revelation 5:5

Just as Aslan is a King and the “Son of the Emperor over the Sea,” so Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and also the Son of the Emperor of the Universe. He comes as a regent, prince, etc. as an extension of His Father to bring His Father’s rule to previously un-colonized lands.

Aslan came, sang the world into creation, set up its government, provided protection, then went back to His Father. Christ did the same.

While His Father spoke the world into existence, it is Christ Who bears the government upon His shoulders, Who is the Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, and Conquering King. It is He Who, like Aslan, freed the traitors with His willful sacrifice of death, exerted His power over death and Hell and the grave, gave us protection in His name and by His blood, and ascended to be seated in heavenly places with His Father.

The Lion, the Righteous Judge(ment)

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
— II Timothy 4:8
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.
— Hosea 5:14, 15
Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back; and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord, and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the Lord said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’”

So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back. When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse. And there, men passed by and saw the corpse thrown on the road, and the lion standing by the corpse. Then they went and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.

Now when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard it, he said, “It is the man of God who was disobedient to the word of the Lord. Therefore the Lord has delivered him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke to him.”
— I Kings 13:20-26

Lions make several appearances in the Old Testament--literally or figuratively, and often were the instruments of the righteous judgement of God. We see a similar situation in The Horse and His Boy.

“Draw near, Aravis my daughter. See! My paws are velveted. You will not be torn this time.”

“This time, sir?” said Aravis.

“It was I who wounded you,” said Aslan. “I am the only lion you met in all your journeyings. Do you know why I tore you?”

“No, sir.”

“The scratches on your back, tear for tear, throb for throb, blood for blood, were equal to the stripes laid on the back of your stepmother’s slave because of the drugged sleep you cast upon her. You needed to know what it felt like.”

Aslan was the Lion(s) who roared so Shasta and Bree’s horses would come together on their journey to “Narnia and the North.” Asla, was the Cat who warmed Shasta’s back while he slept in the tombs outside Tashbaan. Aslan was the Lion who scared off the jackals while Shasta slept in the tombs. And Aslan was the Lion who scared the daylights out of the horses and their riders so they could find new strength to reach King Lune before the armies of Tashbaan did. Yet Aslan, as he admitted, was also the Lion that chased Aravis’ horse, Hwin, and slashed up the girl’s back. This makes Aslan no less good, it makes Him no more wild; it simply makes him Aslan, the Great Lion.

These seemingly paradoxical natures confuse many who don’t know God. How can He be fierce and gentle, merciful and wrathful? To put it short, He can be and do anything He wants because He’s God. Our finite mind cannot understand infinite matters. Our earthly nature cannot wrap our brains around His heavenly nature. He is the Mighty One Who tears and heals.

Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
— Hosea 6:1

God doles out judgement when necessary, yet He is merciful. To those of us who love Him and serve Him, we are often shown mercy and grace over judgement and this mercy can even be extended to those we love who may not (yet) serve Him; that’s a large portion of the purpose of intercession. (See Genesis 18:16-33.)

The Lion, the Gentle

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
— John 1:29

Jesus is the Lion and the Lamb, the Everlasting Sacrifice for our sins and the King of our Hearts. We see this image, briefly, at the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

But between them and the foot of the sky there was something so white on the green grass that even with their eagle’s eyes they could hardly look at it. They came on and saw that it was a Lamb.

“Come and have breakfast,” said the Lamb in its sweet milky voice.

Then they noticed for the first time that there was a fire lit on the grass and fish roasting on it. They sat down and ate the fish, hungry now for the first time for many days. And it was the most delicious food they had ever tasted.

“Please, Lamb,” said Lucy, “is this the way to Aslan’s country?”

“Not for you,” said the Lamb. “For you the door into Aslan’s country is from your own world.”

“What!” said Edmund. “Is there a way into Aslan’s country from our world too?”

“There is a way into my country from all worlds,” said the Lamb; but as he spoke, his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane.

He may be a Lamb, but He is not a tame lion.

Have you met this great Bridge Builder? This One who has built a bridge over death, Hell, and the grave to everlasting life? This One who has shed His blood so that you might keep yours? This One who has roared and caused his oracles to prophesy?

A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?
— Amos 3:8

He is not a tame Lion, but He is good.