A very Happy Chinese New Year to all our readers. The Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, is a traditional festival marking the beginning of the new year based on the lunar calendar. 2024 is the year of the Dragon. According to the Chinese zodiac, the Dragon is the most powerful and auspicious animal.
(NB: I do not believe the zodiacs, whether Western or Eastern, to be the controlling agents in our lives. I am just using the occasion to write about the dragon.)
Dragons do not exist factually. There is no evidence to prove they are real creatures. Dragons often appear in medieval fantasy literature and movies. In European folklore, the dragon resembles a giant reptile-like creature with enormous wings that breathes fire and is ready to crush with its coils and sharp talons. Medieval dragons are often depicted as living in underground lairs or caves and were feared for their wrath and ferocity.
The Chinese dragons have a majestic appearance. They are wingless and have long scaly bodies like snakes, sharp claws like eagles, and move majestically but gracefully in the sky.
Unlike the Western dragons which are often associated with vengeance and chaos, Chinese dragons are regarded as wise and auspicious creatures. As Jesus said, “Be ye wise as serpents,” the dragon's serpentine form, often depicted with a giant pearl (which represents wisdom and enlightenment) on its claws symbolises knowledge and wisdom.
Dragons are thought to live for thousands of years. Therefore, they also represent longevity. Historically, the Chinese dragon was associated with the Emperor of China and used as a symbol to represent imperial power. Ancient emperors of China were identified as sons of dragons.
The King James translation of the English Bible mentions dragons at least 35 times. In the Old Testament, the word is translated as serpent, monster, and sea monster by other versions in the instances it occurred. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is depicted as “the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers” in Ezekiel 29:3. The ASV renders it “the great monster that lieth in the midst of his rivers,” probably referencing the great Nile crocodiles. In Revelation 20:2, the dragon represents the “old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan.”
When we put the characteristics of the dragon together, we get these – vengeful, hot-tempered, majestic, wise, and long life.
The negative traits of a dragon are vengeful and hot-tempered. We do not want to be like the dragons - vengeful and hot-tempered. Romans 12:19 tells us that vengeance belongs to God. It is calling us to let God take care of the injustice that we suffered. God will avenge our case in His Court of Justice.
We should also not breathe fire like the dragon. James 1:19 tells us to be “slow to anger.” Solomon says “a man of quick temper acts foolishly” (Proverbs 14:17 ESV). Therefore, let us “cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil” (Psalm 37:8).
Instead, let us emulate the positive traits of the dragon - majestic, wise, and long life.
The dragon has a majestic appearance, befitting royalty. Its appearance commands respect and awe. What about us? Do we command respect when we walk into the room? The opposite is a despicable person. Proverbs 22:1 exhorts: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”
“Walk in wisdom” (Colossians 4:5). Never be a fool! “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15, ESV).
3. Long Life
Do you wish for a long life? Who will have the longest life? Those who believe in Jesus – they will have everlasting life (John 3:16).
No one has seen a real dragon. Still, everyone loves it. May we be like the dragon – in possessing dignity, wisdom, and longevity.