The wolf is now dwelling with the lamb, and this has been true for two millennium. Is this a surprising statement? While this is not true in the animal kingdom, it is most certainly true in Christ, for His Church. I’m referring, of course, to two well-known parallel passages in Isaiah 11 and Isaiah 65:
[Isaiah 11:1-10] There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit… The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
[Isaiah 65:25] “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.
PHOTO SOURCE: TERRY CROPPER
On what authority do I say that this is a present reality? The authority I stand on is the New Testament, which interprets the Old Testament far better than I ever could. Specifically, I would point to the testimony of the apostle Paul in Romans 15. The short study that follows already exists on this blog, but it’s buried in a longer post regarding Revelation 20 and the millennium. It’s a valuable study, so I’d like to re-post it here on its own. Terry Cropper has also posted this study on his “New Jerusalem Community” site (at this link). As Terry says, “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.” Here’s the study as it appears on Terry’s site:
In what sense is the wolf now dwelling with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6), the cow and the bear grazing together (verse 7), the nursing child playing over the hole of the cobra (verse 8), and the earth full of the knowledge of the Lord (verse 9)? Good question—let’s ask the apostle Paul. He quoted the next verse as being fulfilled in his own lifetime: “IN THAT DAY the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of Him shall the nations inquire, and His resting place shall be glorious” (Isaiah 11:10). Romans 15:12, where Paul cites this verse, reads this way: “The root of Jesse will come, even He who arises to rule the Gentiles, in Him will the Gentiles hope” (Romans 15:12).
The context of both Isaiah 11 and Romans 15 suggests a bringing together in Christ the remnant of God’s people from among both the Jews and the Gentiles. Isaiah uses figurative language; Paul in Romans is more straightforward. Why not? The “mystery of God” spoken of by the prophets had been revealed and was about to be fulfilled in Paul’s day (compare Ephesians 3:6 with Revelation 10:7).
“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6). There is no Jew or Gentile in Christ Jesus (Romans 10:12-13; Galatians 3:28, 5:6, 6:15-16); “the dividing wall of hostility” has been broken down (Eph. 2:14).
The wolf (Gentiles), so to speak, now dwells safely with the lamb (Jews), i.e. among those who belong to Christ. The Gentile nations which were deceived and dwelling “far off” (Ephesians 2:11-22; Romans 9:22-26) prior to Christ’s work on the cross are now brought near (so that without distinction “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”; Romans 10:12-13).
To expand a little bit on this, Paul states in Romans 15:8 his purpose for quoting Isaiah 11:10 four verses later in Romans 15:12.
For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
Clearly, then, Isaiah’s prophecy was confirmed (fulfilled) when Jesus came to earth to be a servant even to the point of going to the cross on our behalf. This also brought about a great harvest among the Gentiles. Isaiah 11 goes on to immediately say this:
In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, fromHamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.
Did this not occur on Pentecost, when Jews from “every nation under heaven” were gathered to hear the gospel preached through the mouth of Peter?
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:5-11)
Paul’s application of classic “premillennial passages” (Isaiah 11 and Isaiah 65) to his own lifetime (Romans 15) is not an isolated incident in the New Testament. Many of these passages have been arbitrarily equated with the millennium (spoken of solely in Revelation 20), thrust into our future and declared to be unfulfilled, when the New Testament says otherwise. Simply put, a lot of Old Testament passages taken by premillennialists to refer to a future, physical/earthly kingdom centered around earthly Jerusalem actually have to do with a present, non-physical/earthly kingdom centered around the New Jerusalem, the Church (Gal. 4:24-27, Heb. 12:22-24).
Let us rejoice that God’s kingdom, marked by “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17), is here with us now.