Poets are known to exaggerate for effect. They even have a word for their exaggeration that seems to legitimize it a little bit, “hyperbole.” Definition:
Hyperbole is a figure of speech…in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect;
an extravagant statement…”
Dragons are a prime example of the vivid imaginations of people through the centuries. All of the common fears of society were rolled into the idea of an evil creature out there in the dark. The dragon was neither reptile, bird, nor lion but seemed to be all of them at once. The dragon lived on the land, in the water and it flew through the air. Its breath contained two deadly elements: fire and disease. The flight of the dragon through the night could blight the land and contaminate the rivers and lakes.
Poets took up the tale and sang songs of terror to entertain their audiences in lamp-lit inns and around campfires in the dark, disturbing woods.
St. George and the Dragon
The most famous of these tales is “St. George and the Dragon,” an ancient legend brought to England by Medieval Crusaders. The pagan king in a far-off land and his people were terrified by a plague-breathing dragon in a lake. The dragon demanded sacrifices to refrain from destroying the kingdom. At first it was sheep and then the demanded sacrifice was the children of the Kingdom, chosen by lot. When the lot fell on the King’s daughter, she was taken to the lake. St. George was passing by. He made the sign of the Cross and stuck the dragon, taming it and putting a leash on it the girl used to lead the dragon to the King. Before the King, St. George advised the people to convert to Christianity. They did and he killed the dragon. At the site of the slaying a spring started flowing. It was a healing stream.
Message: We have a Champion who has killed the beast.
St. George is the Patron Saint of England; his sword was called “Ascalon.” Winston Churchill used this name for his personal aircraft in WW2.
The biblical Poet engaged in this same hyperbole:
“You divided the sea by your might and shattered the heads of the
dragons upon the waters.”
The Bible is not promoting a belief in dragons; the Poet is extolling the victories of God.
Dragons are a metaphor for our fears—those undetected beasts of the night and those predators lying in wait in tomorrow’s high grasses. Our enemies fly in the skies, swim in the seas, and lurk in the shadows. We need a champion—a brave knight who is more than a match for any dragon. We need a God who commands the seas and the skies and the rivers and the mountains, plains, hills and deserts.
Like St. George, we make the sign of the Cross—that is—we commit our lives to Christ! When we do, he tames any dragon who would dare oppose us and lends us His mighty sword. He is the One who met the dangers we face and disarmed them. The darkness holds no terrors. The high weeds shield no predator. The skies are clear to be enjoyed. The water supply is rich in its healing flow and the breath we breathe is the breath of God.
Poets are known to exaggerate for effect. St. George and his dragon is not history—it is hyperbole. The victory of Christ over Satan is not hyperbole—it is accomplished fact.
… God is my King from ancient times, victorious in the midst of the earth. You divided the sea by your might and shattered the heads of the dragons upon the waters; You crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him to the people of the desert for food. You split open spring and torrent; you dried up ever-flowing rivers. Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the moon and the sun. You fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter. … Arise, O God, maintain your cause…
Colossians 2:13-15 NIV
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 NIV
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 John 5:1-5 NIV
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
Song of Victory
Words and Music: Rob Packer
You have won the Victor’s Crown.
You have triumphed over sin and death.
Your name is lifted high and rings through all the earth.
Ev’ry demon spirit of hell trembles when your mighty name is heard.
And we, Your church proclaim Your vict’ry in the world.
O, the glory of Your name, the splendor of Your name,
And none can compare with the power of that name!
You are Jesus! You are Lord! You are God!
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
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