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Discovery Magazine 12/1/2010

The “King of Beasts”

I have always liked lions. Not that I enjoy petting or playing with lions, but I have always enjoyed watching and talking about these amazing cats. Admittedly, part of my affection for lions comes from the fact that my last name is Lyons (pronounced “lions”). I’m also partial toward lions because my favorite school, and the one from which I graduated (Freed-Hardeman University), has as its mascot a lion. (It was always amusing to see what colors the students would paint the lion statue in front of the dining hall.) In addition, the lion is special to me and millions of Christians around the world because the Bible calls the Lord Jesus, “the lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5).

Evolutionists would have us believe that the first lion evolved through purely naturalistic processes some 25 million years ago. However, no proof exists for such evolution. Cats (both big and small) certainly have changed over time (after all, lions and tigers can mate and have “ligers”). But, there is no proof that lions came from a totally different kind of animal 25 million years ago. Everything we see in nature (including the existence of big cats like lions) is reasonably understood in light of what the Bible teaches: “in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Exodus 20:11). Furthermore, Genesis one clearly states that on day six of the Creation week, “God made the beast of the earth according to its kind” (1:25). Lions fit into the biblical category of “beasts.”

The lion is often called the “king of the jungle” or the “king of beasts,” because it is the most famous and feared of the big cats. It is not the largest cat on Earth (that honor belongs to the Siberian tiger), but it still is one of the most fearsome. Lions can reach lengths of 10 feet, heights of four feet, and weigh as much as 550 pounds. Female lions (called lionesses) are not as large as the males, but even they can reach weights of 300 pounds. Perhaps most frightening of all is the lion’s heart-rattling roar, which reportedly can be heard from as much as five miles away.

Lions normally are not very active during the daytime. In fact, lions are known to sleep about 20 hours a day. Most of their hunting takes place at night. Interestingly, the males are not normally part of the hunting and killing of prey. That job mainly is left up to the lionesses (while the males, in turn, provide protection for the lionesses). When hunting in groups (called prides), lions have even been known to attack very large animals, such as hippos and elephants.

The first time the term lion is used in Scripture is Genesis 49:9. There Jacob prophesies that the tribe of Judah will grow from being a lion’s cub to a “leader,” before whom the other tribes would bow down. One of the final times in Scripture in which the term lion is used is in reference to Jesus, “the lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5). Indeed, Jesus was the strong and powerful, prophesied descendant of Judah, Who conquered death, and brought eternal life to those who submit to Him.

The mane of a male lion serves at least two purposes: (1) It makes the lion look bigger (and thus more likely to deter intruders from the pride); and (2) it can help soften the blows from an enemy (normally another lion who wanders into his territory and challenges his authority).

Many people get to see tame lions at circuses. Amazingly, trainers have taught these large, fearsome cats to leap over hurdles, walk on their back legs, give “high fives,” and jump through hoops of fire.

The apostle Peter warned Christians to be spiritually alert and watchful “because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

The mountain lion is known by several names, including cougar, puma, and panther. Mountain lions are found on the continents of North and South America—from as far north as Canada to as far south as Chile. Amazingly, a mountain lion can jump up to 18 feet high (nearly twice as high as a basketball goal!). Although many people claim that mountain lions do not live in the southeastern part of the U.S., they have been found in Texas and Florida (and, believe it or not, my wife and I actually thought we saw one in a wooded area near my house in Alabama only a few weeks ago).

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*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

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