Monday, 26 September 2011

The Lion And The Lamb Will Lay Down Together, Explained

What does the Bible mean by the expression the lion and lamb shall lay down together?!
Written by Dr Andrew Corbett, President of ICI Theological College Australia, and author of the popular commentary on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, September 24th 2011
The Lion and the Lamb shall lay down together
The "lion and the lamb shall lay down together" is often cited a prophecy speaking of a literal utopia on earth to come - a Golden Age - referred to as 'The Millennium'. It is argued that since so many of the prophecies regarding The Christ's first appearing were fulfilled literally, surely such prophecies of a Golden Age will also be fulfilled literally. This yet-to-come Golden Age ("The Millennium") is spoken of as "Paradise Restored" - an age of Paradise on earth where there will be no death, sorrow, pain or sickness. The prophets described this era with the expression, "the lion and the lamb shall lay down together..." But there is a slight, ever so slight, problem with this: the expression, the lion and lamb shall lay down together does not occur in the Bible! The closest we can get to it Isaiah 11:6.
¶ 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.

Isaiah 11:6
I was with a group of pastors recently in Sydney where one of them quizzed me about the prophecy in the Old Testament referring to the lion and lamb laying down together. I gently pointed out that this expression doesn't appear in the Bible. They immediately challenged my assertion. I quoted Isaiah 11:6 and pointed out that it refers to the wolf and the lamb not the lionand the lamb. I pointed out the significance of this prophecy and its most probable interpretation. They said that they would check this out when they returned home to their computer and I presume correct me if they could prove me wrong. I haven't heard from them.

It's interesting how many things are cited as if they are in the Bible. Like, one shall put a thousand to flight and two shall put ten thousand to flight is often quoted by leadership teachers about the power of an individual or a duo. But how many realise this citation refers to what Israel's enemies could do to them if they broke Covenant with God (not what they would do to their enemies)? (Deut. 32:30)

The particular almost-biblical-expression in question is used to promote "Pre-Millennialism" which is the idea that Christ will return and set up a Golden Age on earth for a thousand years where even normally carnivorous animals will become vegetarian. This idea has gained much popular paperback-theology endorsement. But I am proposing a quite different view for your consideration.
the lion and the lamb shall lay down together, is not in the Bible
In Tom Wright's book, "Justification", the master exegete and Biblical scholar describes the difficulty in challenging a view of Scripture which is almost universally accepted and taken for granted, in the same way that it must have been difficult for Copernicus to convince the world that the Sun did not revolve around the earth - but rather, that the earth rotated around the Sun. "Look" Copernicus's objectors and scoffers might have contested, "each morning the Sun comes up then each evening it goes down. There you have it! The proof! The Sun goes around the earth." But despite the objective data presented by Copernicus, the general perception continued and his objectors preserved the status quo, at least for a while.
Perhaps in a similar way, what I am proposing might meet with similar Copernican objectors...[read this article]

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