This Week's Focus Passage

Isaiah 65:25. ‘The wolf and the lamb shall feed together.’

And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.

Now we must skip over fifty-some chapters of Isaiah to arrive at the parallel found in Isaiah 65 in its several closing verses, namely 17-25, which passage begins with the happy declaration from Jehovah, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth.

Calves and lions; cows and bears? Some commentators have taken this picture to be referring to the realm of nature apart from mankind, saying that the perfection of the coming administration of this great Prince, namely the righteous reign of the Branch from Jesse’s Roots, will include such a remarkable change in the animal kingdom. Beasts that have always—that is, since the fall—been antagonists found in differing levels of the ‘food chain’ shall now be abiding together in peace; they shall be as one. In that camp of writers, these animals that are found everywhere over God’s earth will, in this great day, no longer be at enmity with each other. They are referenced in pairs. We discover this new arrangement throughout the passage ‘where two traditionally hostile creatures are now pictured as living on the friendliest of terms.’ This seems to be the new condition of the new heavens and earth as the Prince of Peace has returned. One such commentator has written:

‘All these engage in the friendliest contacts and live at utter peace. Into the midst of the picture a child is placed, one of tender years, and is represented as leading this motley crew of beast out into pasture single-handed and without the least bit of trouble. All ferocity is gone; nature is no longer red in tooth and claw.

Is this perhaps what has been referenced by the apostle Paul in Romans 8:19 where he has written for our learning, For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. The creation is waiting for the day when all things shall be made new as Isaiah has prophesied of God declaring, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come to mind. It will no longer come to the mind of the wolf to attack and devour the lamb, neither will it come into the mind of the lion to hungrily eye the calf or the fatling, but they shall dwell as one. The creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption. And Isaiah again;

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.

There are yet others who have written upon this portion of Isaiah’s prophecy who, rather than taking the figures as literal animals have understood them as representing persons. John Gill is representative of such commentators, saying of the language, And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid:

“This, and the three following verses, describe the peaceableness of the Messiah’s kingdom. The wild and tame creatures shall agree together, and the former shall become the latter; which is not to be understood literally of the savage creatures, as if they should lose their nature, and be restored, as it is said, to their paradisiacal estate, which is supposed to be the time of the restitution of all things; but figuratively of men, comparable to wild creatures, who through the power of divine grace, accompanying the word preached, shall become tame, mild, meek, and humble; such who have been as ravenous wolves, have worried Christ’s sheep, made havoc of them, breathing out slaughter and threatenings against them, as did Saul, through converting grace, become as gentle and harmless as lambs, and take up their residence in Christ’s fold, and dwell with, yea, some of them even feed, Christ’s lambs and sheep, as the above-mentioned person.”

Gill continues to reference the leopard shall lie down with the kid; in the same vein when he refers to ‘such who are like the leopard.’

So who is correct? The literalist or the figurativist? Perhaps they are both correct, or both wrong? David Martyn Lloyd-Jones taught, from Romans 8, that when Paul referred to the whole creation waiting for this time of restoration, he must have been referring to creation apart from believers, for he makes mention of them just a few verses later when he says in 22-23:

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

And so Lloyd-Jones maintains that the creation spoken of previously involves not redeemed man, per se, because we see that distinction as cited above. And even, in his teaching from Romans 8:18-23, he brings in Isaiah 11:6-9, and joins himself with those who lean toward the literal view of the animals mentioned by the prophet. He said “The lion is carnivorous now, but he will not be so then.” He continues, “Such is Isaiah’s prophecy of this condition in which the whole creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption. ‘Nature red in tooth and claw’ will no longer exist, parasites will have gone, all that makes life difficult will have disappeared, and there will be this amazing, incredible harmony even among the animals and beasts of the field.” Whether the animals are literal lions, or figurative; whichever thought is followed; the new heavens and earth will be blessedness.


David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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