Sunday, July 3, 2011

The wolf and the lamb will feed together.

By Terry Cropper

Seven centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophet Isaiah peered into the future and depicted the glorious nature of the Messianic era with these words. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain," says the LORD. (Isaiah 65:25) A parallel verse is Isaiah 11:6-9

As with most of the Bible because of our modern culture we tend to take this language to be fulfilled literally. I often pointed out how the Messianic prophecies, must be understood in their culture and historical setting. In other words we need to look closely at the language in these passages and see how God use metaphors in other scriptures to make his point to the people of that time.

The first piece of evidence is found were Jesus used figurative language to emphasize a point, make a impression, or attract the attention of the listener in his audience. Speaking of Judaic authorities Jesus told the disciples. Behold, I send you forth as (sheep in the midst of wolves): be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16) The disciples or anyone else who hard Jesus use this expression would never forget the Judaic authorities as "wolves”.

The Book of Acts was written to provide a history of the early church and there, the writer states, "For I know this, that after my departure (savage wolves) will come in among you, not sparing the flock. (Act 20:29) The disciples would never forget Jesus words.

Other good examples are found in Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. And in John 10:12-13 "But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. "The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. It is clear that God's people are often referred to as lambs or sheep or the flock. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. (Luke 10:3 KJV)

God often used animals in figurative language to describe the hostility between men. This kind of language was first used in the Old Testament. Every Jew that was familiar with the Old Testament know how God used metaphors to describe men. Here is a passages that show the wolf as a false teacher: Benjamin shall raven as a wolf in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. (Genesis 49:27)

Here are some passages that show sheep as the saints. Psalms 95:7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. (Psalms 95:7) Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. ( Psalms 44:22)

Speaking to the leader of Israel God used this metaphors to describe his people. Ezekiel 34:2-11 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? "You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. "The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. "So they were scattered because [there was] no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. "My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them. 'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: " As I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock" 'therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them." 'For thus says the Lord GOD: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.

Notice what the prophet Isaiah writes, O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!" Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young. (Isaiah 40:9-11)

Bible prophecy often makes use of figurative language for a forth coming event and a special time elements involved in the prophet's message. Now notice how Matthew makes the connection of the good shepherd to Christ. Matthew 9:36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.

This figurative language was well known to all the members of Israel who were familiar with the Old Testament. This language was studied by all the congregation of Israel on the Sabbath in the synagogue. It was spoken in homes and by the rulers of Israel.

This is the reason Isaiah chose to use figurative language to describe the Messianic era. It is clear from scripture that people are often referred to as wolves and sheep. Often the context of a passage will point out whether figure of speech is intended. The is equally helpful in identifying what I believe to be the significance of Isaiah 11:6 and 65. Therefore, it is my conclusion that Isaiah is showing a represents of the peace in Messiah’s coming Kingdom . The wolf and lamb represented in Isaiah 11 are referring to the uniting in Christ Jesus. There is no difference. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb in peace.

This peace treaty that was brought about by the blood of Christ in God’s holy mountain is also seen in Isaiah 56:6-8 "Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants--Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, "Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him."

The little child leading them is simply referring to the peace, and ruling nature, of the Messianic reign. Christ is the Prince of Peace and He alone brings peace. He alone can tear down hostility. God’s people are no longer a prey for the wolves to devour: To correctly interpret biblical prophecy, we need an approach that will allow us to understand how the Jews understood prophecy and what the prophet said or wrote to his own people, and times."