The Wolf and The Lamb
If you are familiar with the futurist’s view or maybe have come out of this camp you will be just as familiar with the position this futurist camp holds on chapter 11 of Isaiah and in paticular verses 6 and 7. As you may know the futurist holds to the idea that these two verses are specifically referring to a time on earth when a thousand year period of time (literal) will take place when Jesus will reign over the entire earth and the earth will be subdued by this reign. It will be a time, by their estimation, when all creatures, likewise, will have been subdued and will no longer act upon the instincts placed within them by their creator but instead will become docile and a community of passive loving animals towards one another and with the peoples of the earth who will also live among these creatures exhibiting no fear from one to the other.
However, I would like to present what I believe to be what these verses actually mean and by allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture you too may come to my conclusions or some refined version of them.
In Isaiah 11 we see a picture of Jesus in His first coming, and when we read of the wolf and the lamb as they lie down together and we might say in what sense is this a reality? The answer to that is really quite interesting. Its one of those answers that made my spirit jump within me. I may not be able to convey to you the same sense of exitement I felt when I discovered this, but I am sure you will certainly have something to think about and you may never look at these verses in the same way again. This comes right from the pages of the prophets.
Notice what Isaiah says: 6 “ The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
In each case you have what the Jew would call a clean animal and an unclean animal. A docile animal and a ferocious agressive carniverous animal. The four carnivorous animals mentioned are a lion, a leopard, a bear and a wolf. These same animals, at least three of the four, are mentioned in Daniel chapter 7 as Gentile nations that rose up in the persecution of the Jews. The first of the four beasts was like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard, the fourth is not said to be a wolf but is simply described as an indescribable ferocious beast. Its not called a wolf but it is interesting that in the New Testament Jesus and the Apostles warned us about wolves – but the interesting thing here is that the Gentile nations in Daniel are discribed as these very same animals.
And then, of course, the docile animals, the clean animals, are all sacrificial animals. The cow, the lamb, the kid, all the things mentioned here that lie down peaceably with the ferocious animals, are pictured as the clean animal. Now, when God said you should not plow with an ox and an ass together, which means you cannot put them under one yoke, the reason being the ox was a clean animal and the ass an unclean animal. Paul told his hearers to not be equally yoked together with unbelievers. Implying the clean and unclean animals. This is a spiritualization of God’s people and those who are not God’s.
Now look at Ezekiel 34. Here we have a parable, more or less, a figurative prophecy where Israel is compared to God’s flock. The leaders of Israel are compared to the shepherds, and he is decrying the shepherds for the improper shepherding saying: Woe to the shepherds that feed themselves, should not the shepherd feed the flock. And He goes on that He is going to replace those shepherds of Israel with a Shepherd (meaning Jesus).
23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.
But the interesting thing here is the part of the new covenant that Jesus will establish. He says in verse 25:
25 “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing;… 28 And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid.
I believe this is Hebrew parallelism when beasts of the land are identified with the nations (heathen). What I am saying here is that the Hebrew prophets would sometimes compare the Jews with clean animals and compare the Gentiles, who are unclean, with unclean animals. There has always been hostility between the nations and Israel just has there is between the ferocious animals and the docile. But in Christ, these would lie down peaceably.
Looking now at Epesians 2: 12-16 we read from Paul what exactly Jesus did accomplish.
12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
Of the two, Jesus has taken the believing portions of the Jews and the believing portions of the Gentiles and made one – the body of Christ, the church. And he is saying that God has removed the enmity that existed between the Jew and the Gentile and in Christ God has made them one.
I am personally convinced – you are free to disagree – that Isaiah is speaking figuratively of this very thing. That the clean animal and the unclean animal, formerly hostile to one another, as a result of Jesus coming has made us one in Him. They are harmoniously one together.
Now, if we need any further evidence, turn to Isaiah 11 again and see at the end of verse 6 where it says:
And a little child shall lead them.
Jesus made that statement also in Matthew 18:1-4
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Then back to Isaiah 11:8-9;
8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD…
Would I be taking too many liberties in saying that these poisonous snakes could refer to demons or to the devil which is commonly in Scripture referred to as a serpent or a dragon? If I say that, then what we see is the most vulnerable of God’s people, the little children themselves have authority over the serpent. [The] child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
Let’s look at Luke chapter 10:17 Here is where Jesus says to the 70:
17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
When Jesus said, ” and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” I hear an echo of Isaiah saying: 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.
I think Jesus is referring back to this passage saying; “You little children, I have given you authority over the serpents. Nothing shall hurt you, they shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain”.
1 John 4, talking about the spirit of the antichrist, then says in verse 4:
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
This is about the spirit of the antichrist – the demonic powers that seek to keep people in darkness – and little children have overcome these. We are God’s little children.
Is. 11:8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD…
In my opinion, these are spiritual fulfillments in our own lives today. I don’t see the end of verse 9 completed yet because but I do think each generation heads in that direction. Because Jesus came, this is how it will all end up, and because Jesus came, because He has given authority to His people to stomp down the devil, because of the great commission and the new life in Christ, this message will be carried to others forever.