Monday, January 07, 2008

It's All Happening at the ZOO

"Concentrate on the positive.
If you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and take him into your life,
you'll never have to worry about the devil."

Robert Schuller
Discover Your Possibilities (p. 61)

"It helps to know that Satan is entirely predictable."
Rick Warren
The Purpose-Driven Life (p. 203)

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil,
as a roaring lion, walketh about,
seeking whom he may devour."

1 Peter 5:8

On Christmas Day, a Siberian tiger at the San Francisco Zoo scaled the retaining wall that was supposed to protect the public. The tiger attacked and killed one young man while seriously injuring two others. Zoo officials could not understand how Tatiana the tiger had gotten loose. It was soon discovered that the wall retaining the animal was 4 feet short of the height recommended for tigers. According to the experts, if it had been erected "by the book" the wall would have protected those three young men. They had relied on the wisdom of zoo management for their safety and they had been disastrously let down.

Unfortunately, a sad parallel is occurring in many of today's churches. Pastors are neglecting the clear admonition of Scripture to be "sober" and "vigilant" regarding our Adversary the devil - thereby failing to provide an adequate hedge of protection or retaining wall for their flocks. In neglecting to go by the book - the Holy Bible - many of today's pastors are no different than those zoo officials whose neglect permitted a caged feline to get loose. As a result, our spiritual Adversary is permitted, just like that San Francisco Siberian tiger, to "walketh as a roaring lion" in many of our churches "seeking whom he may devour."

One theory about the attacks blames the victims for taunting the tiger.

However uncertain the preceding circumstances, the facts of the assault are clearer: Just before the zoo's closing time, the 4-year-old tiger named Tatiana escaped her pen and attacked the older of the Dhaliwal brothers, then turned on and killed Sousa, who was apparently trying to save his friend by distracting the animal. She then made her way 300 yards to the zoo café, following a trail of blood left by the first injured man who had fled with his brother. It was there she attacked her third victim, the younger Dhaliwal, and was shot dead by police officers — 20 minutes after they had received the call that the tiger was loose.

So, what exactly was Tatiana's motive? It may well be that she, despite being born into captivity and identified with a human name, was simply being a tiger — acting as any other predator would in nature. It's no surprise that tigers can be aggressive. But is it possible that Tatiana may have remembered the three men — who may have taunted her — and set out for them specifically? Was she, in other words, holding a grudge?

Is it possible that many evangelical leaders are actually taunting the "roaring lion" as they spread misinformation about his basic nature?

What is particularly amazing is that Tatiana had a "history of violence" - an "assault just over a year ago on a zookeeper during a feeding." It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that one must seek to avoid a close encounter with a large, cantankerous feline! So why is it that many evangelical leaders tell believers to ignore the prowling Adversary as if he were no more dangerous than a purring, cuddly house cat?!

Just as people depend on zoo officials to keep them safe from animals, believers should be able to depend on their pastor/shepherds to protect them through accurate scriptural counsel. For spiritual leaders to minimize and ignore the warnings in Scripture plays right into our Adversary's hands. Just as the San Francisco Zoo officials did not appear to factor in Tatiana's previous violent history and basic cat nature, and thus take precautions to build up their retaining wall accurately, pastors are not taking Satan seriously anymore, nor can we trust their statements about our spiritual Adversary to be accurate.

Make sure your hedge of protection is measured accurately. Measure everything by Scripture - not by the unreliable words of undiscerning spiritual leaders.

The Truth:

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." (Ephesians 6:11)

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us, For we are not ignorant of his devices." (2 Corinthians 2:11)