Isaiah 65:25
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
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(25) The wolf and the lamb . . .—The words point to what have been called the discords in the harmony of Nature, the pain and death involved, of necessity, in the relation of one whole class of animals to another. In St. Paul’s language, the “whole creation groaneth and travaileth together” (Romans 8:22). In the new heaven and the new earth of the prophet’s vision there would be no such discords. The flesh-eating beasts should change their nature; even the serpent, named, probably, with special reference to Genesis 3, as the starting-point of the discords, shall find food in the dust in which he crawls, and shall be no longer a destroyer. The condition of the ideal Paradise should be restored. The picture finds a parallel, perhaps a replica, in Virgil, Eel. 4. Do the poet and the prophet stand on the same footing? or may we look for a literal fulfilment of the words of the one, though not of the other? The answer must be given in words that are “wary and few.” We dare not, on the one hand, fix times and seasons, or press the letter of prophetic visions as demanding a fulfilment. On the other, the permanence of Israel as a people suggests the possibility of a restored Jerusalem, and modern theories of evolution point to the gradual elimination of the fiercer animals as part of the conquests of humanity.

Isaiah 65:25. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together — Concerning the metaphorical sense of these expressions see chap. 11:7, and 35:9. But since the renovation here spoken of extends to the whole creation, the words may imply the correcting the noxious qualities of fierce or venomous creatures.

65:17-25 In the grace and comfort believers have in and from Christ, we are to look for this new heaven and new earth. The former confusions, sins and miseries of the human race, shall be no more remembered or renewed. The approaching happy state of the church is described under a variety of images. He shall be thought to die in his youth, and for his sins, who only lives to the age of a hundred years. The event alone can determine what is meant; but it is plain that Christianity, if universal, would so do away violence and evil, as greatly to lengthen life. In those happy days, all God's people shall enjoy the fruit of their labours. Nor will children then be the trouble of their parents, or suffer trouble themselves. The evil dispositions of sinners shall be completely moritified; all shall live in harmony. Thus the church on earth shall be full of happiness, like heaven. This prophecy assures the servants of Christ, that the time approaches, wherein they shall be blessed with the undisturbed enjoyment of all that is needful for their happiness. As workers together with God, let us attend his ordinances, and obey his commands.The wolf and the lamb shall feed together - (See the notes at Isaiah 11.)

And the lion shall eat straw - Shall eat hay or provender like the ox. The food of the lion now is flesh. Changes shall take place as great as if his nature were changed, and he should graze with the herds of the field. See a full illustration of this sentiment from the classic writors in the notes at Isaiah 11:6.

Like the bullock - Or the ox - the cattle that herd together - for so the Hebrew word (בקר bâqâr) means. The word may be app ied to a bullock, an ox, or a cow.

And dust shall be the serpent's meat - There is evidently here an allusion to the sentence pronounced on the serpent in Genesis 3:14. The meaning of the declaration here is, probably, that dust should continue to be the food of the serpent. The sentence on him should be perpetual. He should not be injurious to man - either by tempting him again, or by the venom of his fangs. The state of security would be as great under the Messiah as if the most deadly and poisonous kinds of reptiles should become wholly innoxious, and should not attempt to prey upon people. It is to be remembered that many of the serpent kind included under the general word used here (נחשׁ nāchâsh), were dangerous to people; and indeed a large portion of them are deadly in their bite. But in future times there will be a state of security as great as if the whole serpent tribe were innocuous and should live on the dust alone. There can be no doubt that the prophet means here to describe the passions and evil propensities of people, which have a strong resemblance to the ferocity of the wolf, or the lion, and the deadly poison of the serpent, and to say that those passions would be subdued, and that peace and concord would prevail on the earth (see the notes at Isaiah 11:8).

They shall not hurt nor destroy - See this explained in the notes at Isaiah 11:9. All this is partially realized wherever the gospel prevails, but it will be more fully realized when that gospel shall exert its full power and shall be spread around the world.

25. (See on [877]Isa 11:6).

and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock—(See on [878]Isa 11:7).

and dust—rather, "but dust," &c. The curse shall remain on the serpent [Horsley], (Ge 3:14; Mic 7:17). "To lick the dust" is figurative of the utter and perpetual degradation of Satan and his emissaries (Isa 49:23; Ps 72:9). Satan fell self-tempted; therefore no atonement was contrived for him, as there was for man, who fell by his temptation (Jude 6; Joh 8:44). From his peculiar connection with the earth and man, it has been conjectured that the exciting cause of his rebellion was God's declaration that human nature was to be raised into union with the Godhead; this was "the truth" concerning the person of the Son of God which "he abode not in"; it galled his pride that a lower race was to be raised to that which he had aspired to (1Ti 3:6). How exultingly he might say, when man fell through him, "God would raise manhood into union with Himself; I have brought it down below the beasts by sin!" At that very moment and spot he was told that the seed of the abhorred race, man, should bruise his head (1Jo 3:8). He was raised up for this, to show forth God's glory (Ex 9:16; Ro 9:17). In his unfallen state he may have been God's vicegerent over the earth and the animal kingdom before man: this will account for his assuming the form of a serpent (Ge 3:1). Man succeeded to that office (Ge 2:19, 20), but forfeited it by sin, whence Satan became "prince of this world"; Jesus Christ supplants the usurper, and as "Son of man" regains the lost inheritance (Ps 8:4-8). The steps in Satan's overthrow are these: he is cast out, first, from heaven (Re 12:7-9) on earth; next, he is bound a thousand years (Re 20:2, 3); finally, he is cast into the lake of fire for ever (Re 20:10).

the serpent's meat—(See on [879]Isa 11:8).

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain—(See on [880]Isa 11:9).

This verse containeth a promise much like that Isaiah 11:6,9, and relates to the ceasing of persecution. The people of God for their whiteness and innocency are often compared to lambs and sheep, wicked men to wolves and lions, for their antipathy to the seed of the woman: God here promiseth to take off the fierceness of the spirits of his people’s enemies, so that they shall live quietly and peaceably together. Wicked men are compared to serpents, Micah 7:17, compared with Psalm 72:9; God promiseth a time of tranquillity to his church under the metaphor of serpents eating the dust, their proper meat, Genesis 3:14, instead of flying upon men: it signifies such a time when wicked men should mind their proper business, and not make it their work to eat up the people of God like bread. For the last phrase, see Isaiah 11:9, what is there noted. But will some say, When shall these things be? The Scripture gives us no record of any such period of time yet past. And it is very probable that this is a promise yet to be fulfilled, and it is not for us to know the times and seasons, but in the mean time to let our faith and patience be seen. In the mean time, we may learn that it is God’s work to restrain the wolves and serpents of the world, who would else be always doing what they are sometimes doing; and it is a sad sign that God is not yet at peace with that people, where we see wolves devouring lambs, and serpents destroying men instead of licking up dust, nor well-pleased with that part of his holy mountain where there is nothing but hurting and destroying, biting and devouring one another. When God shall be at peace with a people, these things shall not be found amongst them.

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,.... Or, "as one" (k): as if they were one, of the same kind and nature, and lived upon the same food. The people of God are comparable to lambs, for their harmlessness and innocence; and wicked men to wolves, for their fierceness and cruelty; but, by the grace of God, the latter become as mild and as gentle as the former, and live upon the same spiritual food, and join with them in attendance on the word and ordinances, where they find spiritual refreshment and comfort together; such who have been persecutors of the church shall now become members of it; and many instances of this kind, as there were in the first times of the Gospel, so there shall be in the latter day:

and the lions shall eat straw like the bullock, or "ox"; to which creature the ministers of the Gospel are compared for their laboriousness, as wicked persecutors are to lions; and sometimes the latter have been so changed by the grace of God, as to become preachers of it, as Saul was, and very probably many will hereafter; however, there will be no persecution of the church after those days; wolves and lions will have their nature changed, and be in fellowship with the saints, and be better employed than before in persecuting them:

and dust shall be the serpent's meat; the meat of the old serpent, the devil, as was threatened, Genesis 3:14 to which he shall now be confined; he shall not be able to bite the saints, being bruised under their feet; he shall only have power over carnal, worldly, earthly minded men; and shall not be able to give the church any trouble, by instigating men to persecute it:

they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord; that is, Satan and his emissaries; wicked men, comparable to lions and wolves, shall no more drink the blood of the saints, or persecute the church of God; after the calling of the Jews, and the bringing in the fulness of the Gentiles, and the destruction of antichrist, there will be no more persecution of the church of Christ, the mountain of God's holiness; he has said it, and we may be assured of the truth of it; See Gill on Isaiah 11:9.

(This verse may also apply to the Millenial state, in which the effects of the curse on the animals is to be removed. However, from this verse it seems that the curse on snakes is permanent. Editor.)

(k) "sicut unus", Montanus, Musculus, Gataker.

The {c} wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox: and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.

(c) Read Isa 11:6.

25. A last feature of the new earth is the peace which shall reign in the animal world. See on ch. Isaiah 11:6-9, from which this verse is quoted. The second and fourth lines are cited literally from Isaiah 11:7; Isaiah 11:9, the first is a condensation of Isaiah 11:6-7 a. The only clause not represented in the original passage is the third line: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat an allusion to Genesis 3:14. Duhm, partly on metrical grounds, rejects these words as a gloss.

Verse 25. - The wolf and the lamb shall feed together (comp. Isaiah 11:6-8; Hosea 2:18). The portraiture here is far less elaborate than in the earlier chapter, to which the present passage may be regarded as a refer-once. (For the sense in which the entire picture is to be understood, see the comment upon Isaiah 11:6-9). Dust shall be the serpent's meat. Here we have a new feature, not contained in the earlier description. Serpents shall become harmless, anal instead of preying upon beasts, or birds, or reptiles, shall be content with the food assigned them in the primeval decree, "Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life" (Genesis 3:14). Mr. Cheyne appositely notes that "much dust is the food of the shades in the Assyrio-Babylonian Hades" (see the "Legend of Ishtar" in the 'Records of the Past,' vol. 1. p. 143, line 8). They shall not hurt nor destroy. Repeated from Isaiah 11:9, word for word. In neither case should we regard the subject of the sentence as limited to the animals only. The meaning is that there shall be no violence of any kind, done either by man or beast, in the happy period described.

Isaiah 65:25And all around will peace and harmony prevail, even in the animal world itself. "Wolf and lamb then feed together, and the lion eats chopped straw like the ox, and the serpent-dust is its bread. They will neither do harm not destroy in all my holy mountain, saith Jehovah." We have frequently observed within chapters 40-66 (last of all at Isaiah 65:12, cf., Isaiah 66:4), how the prophet repeats entire passages from the earlier portion of his prophecies almost word for word. Here he repeats Isaiah 11:6-9 with a compendious abridgment. Isaiah 65:25 refers to the animals just as it does there. But whilst this custom of self-repetition favours the unity of authorship, כּאחד for יחדּו equals unâ, which only occurs elsewhere in Ezra and Ecclesiastes (answering to the Chaldee כּחדה), might be adduced as evidence of the opposite. The only thing that is new in the picture as here reproduced, is what is said of the serpent. This will no longer watch for human life, but will content itself with the food assigned it in Genesis 3:14. It still continues to wriggle in the dust, but without doing injury to man. The words affirm nothing more than this, although Stier's method of exposition gets more out, or rather puts more in. The assertion of those who regard the prophet speaking here as one later than Isaiah, viz., that Isaiah 65:25 is only attached quite loosely to what precedes, is unjust and untrue. The description of the new age closes here, as in chapter 11, with the peace of the world of nature, which stands throughout chapters 40-66 in the closest reciprocal relation to man, just as it did in chapters 1-39. If we follow Hahn, and change the animals into men by simply allegorizing, we just throw our exposition back to a standpoint that has been long passed by. But to what part of the history of salvation are we to look for a place for the fulfilment of such prophecies as these of the state of peace prevailing in nature around the church, except in the millennium? A prophet was certainly no fanatic, so that we could say, these are beautiful dreams. And if, what is certainly true, his prophecies are not intended to be interpreted according to the letter, but according to the spirit of the letter; the letter is the sheath of the spirit, as Luther calls it, and we must not give out as the spirit of the letter what is nothing more than a quid-pro-quo of the letter. The prophet here promises a new age, in which the patriarchal measure of human life will return, in which death will no more break off the life that is just beginning to bloom, and in which the war of man with the animal world will be exchanged for peace without danger. And when is all this to occur? Certainly not in the blessed life beyond the grave, to which it would be both absurd and impossible to refer these promises, since they presuppose a continued mixture of sinners with the righteous, and merely a limitation of the power of death, not its utter destruction. But when then? This question ought to be answered by the anti-millenarians. They throw back the interpretation of prophecy to a stage, in which commentators were in the habit of lowering the concrete substance of the prophecies into mere doctrinal loci communes. They take refuge behind the enigmatical character of the Apocalypse, without acknowledging that what the Apocalypse predicts under the definite form of the millennium is the substance of all prophecy, and that no interpretation of prophecy on sound principles is any longer possible from the standpoint of an orthodox antichiliasm, inasmuch as the antichiliasts twist the word in the mouths of the prophets, and through their perversion of Scripture shake the foundation of all doctrines, every one of which rests upon the simple interpretation of the words of revelation. But one objection may be made to the supposition, that the prophet is here depicting the state of things in the millennium; viz., that this description is preceded by an account of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. The prophet appears, therefore, to refer to that Jerusalem, which is represented in the Apocalypse as coming down from heaven to earth after the transformation of the globe. But to this it may be replied, that the Old Testament prophet was not yet able to distinguish from one another the things which the author of the Apocalypse separates into distinct periods. From the Old Testament point of view generally, nothing was known of a state of blessedness beyond the grave. Hades lay beyond this present life; and nothing was known of a heaven in which men were blessed. Around the throne of God in heaven there were angels and not men. And, indeed, until the risen Saviour ascended to heaven, heaven itself was not open to men, and therefore there was no heavenly Jerusalem whose descent to earth could be anticipated then. Consequently in the prophecies of the Old Testament the eschatological idea of the new Cosmos does unquestionably coincide with the millennium. It is only in the New Testament that the new creation intervenes as a party-wall between this life and the life beyond; whereas the Old Testament prophecy brings down the new creation itself into the present life, and knows nothing of any Jerusalem of the blessed life to come, as distinct from the new Jerusalem of the millennium. We shall meet with a still further illustration in chapter 66 of this Old Testament custom of reducing the things of the life to come within the limits of this present world.
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