“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb…” Isa. 11:6.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together…” Isa. 65:25.
Millennialists look for a literal 1000 year reign on earth when actual wolves and lambs will dwell together. Extending our vision beyond the two popular texts quoted above, to take in the whole sphere of scriptures, we will find the true meaning of what these particular verses are trying to convey. In considering the whole realm of biblical teaching on this matter, and not narrowly singling out certain passages as many do, we will find a wonderful truth not generally understood.
If we read through the teachings of Christ, we will find that though He used earthly examples and terminology–such as being born, sowing, harvest, a kingdom, a sheepfold, etc.–He used them to show things that were spiritual. Such usage was obviously not to be taken in a literal sense.
No one would say that when Christ told Peter to feed His lambs He was telling him to go feed actual lambs. Everyone would agree that the wolves in sheep’s clothing were referring to men. Christ’s teachings on these things are too easy to understand to be misunderstood. But when we come to our two head texts, today many literalize them, as though the Old Testament did not use symbolic language, even as Christ did. God, through the prophets of old, used symbols to foretell future events and to describe the corrupted state of sinful man. Let us rehearse a few symbols used in the Bible to describe mankind through the use of earthly creatures.
Wolves – Matt. 7:15, Acts 20:29.
Lambs – John 21:15.
A fox – Luke13:32.
Sheep – Psalm 100:3, Jn.10:14.
Goats – Matt. 25:32.
Snakes – Matt. 23:33, Luke 3:7.
Dogs – Isa. 56:10-11, Psalm 22:16.
Bulls – Psa. 22:12.
Wild beasts, creeping things and birds–Acts 10:12.
Our reader will see through the reading of these verses and others, that neither the Old nor New Testament texts are strangers to symbolic language in their teachings. Even in our day, men may call other men certain animals that well fit the actions of their person. Christ Himself is also painted in a word picture as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” thus making clear to us His might and the fearful threat He is to all evil. It was said of the demon possessed man in Gadara that he was fierce and that no man could tame him–terms that fit his beast-like behavior (Matt. 8:28, Mark 5:4). Seeing all these things, the scriptures give us no reason to begin to apply literal meanings to passages where the context and New Testament teachings disprove the ridiculous thoughts that have become so unnecessarily famous.
In Christ we become a new creature. Our inward heart is created completely new, insomuch that those who would in the past have naturally been enemies, now dwell together in peace. This is the true miracle of the wolf and the lamb. Salvation so changes one’s heart and nature, that now two completely different and contrary people can be made one in love divine.
Imitation Christianity has strayed so tremendously far from true, biblical salvation and spirituality that such things cannot possibly happen. Thus the only interpretation that remains is fleshly. This twenty-first century religion tends toward the pleasing of fallen humanity and well suits it in its Star Wars-type fables.
If we would but read Isaiah chapter eleven, we would so plainly see that it is speaking about the first advent of Jesus Christ. “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him…” The verses continue to speak about Christ and then abruptly say, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb…” The sacrifice of Christ breaks down “the middle wall of partition” between the wolf and the lamb, the Jew and the Gentile, the black and the white, etc.
Remember Peter’s vision on the housetop? The Lord showed him all manner of animals together in the sheet. This depicts what Isaiah chapters 11 and 65 are referring to. All that were in the sheet were abiding together in peace, though naturally they were contrary to each other. Peter later makes it plain that God revealed to him through that very vision that no man should be called common or unclean. All of the creatures in Peter’s vision represented mankind, the gathering of the children of God from every nation. Nowadays if someone would have a vision similar to Peter’s, they would be more likely to literalize it, write a book about it, endeavor to use the Bible to confirm their delusion, and then sell it for a few million.
But to make our subject even more abundantly clear, the scriptures say in both Isaiah chapters 11 and 65 that, “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.” What is this holy mountain? The scriptures also make this so unmistakably clear that we cannot be confused over the matter. The holy mountain, the new Jerusalem, is none other than the church of the living God, or the host of the blood-washed saints called out of all sin and into Christ. “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn…” Hebrews 12:22-23.
Rev. 21:10 also uses the language of the Hebrew writer when speaking of the bride of Christ: “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem…” The holy mountain, the city of the living God, and the new Jerusalem were a present reality in apostolic times, according to their own words. Many sincere people have perhaps never viewed this issue in such a light as this. The fault lies in the apostate spiritual surroundings in which the whole world is enwrapped. May God grant that all the Bible’s glorious truth be opened up to many souls in these last times.
In the light of all that we have shown here, it is plain to see that the dwelling together of the wolf and the lamb is referring to the time when Christ would bring full salvation to mankind and break down the long standing divisions between them. These things are fulfilled in the gathering together of all of the blood-washed who come from varied backgrounds and upbringings, races and countries–a gathering of souls who once differed so drastically that they could not abide together in peace except they be made nigh by the blood of Christ. There is a great, humanly impossible miracle in the unity of the once rapping city boy, the cow-milking country folk, and the once head-banging rocker.
The display of God’s power and love does not lie in some future coexistence of literal wolves and lambs, but in a present, peaceful coexistence of thinking and feeling people who have been made new creatures in Christ through salvation.