What does it mean when it talks about the lion sleeping with the lamb and there will be no more pain or suffering?
I think this is the passage to which you refer:
Isa 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
Let’s look at the context — Isa 11:1-16
1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. 10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. 13 The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. 14 But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them. 15 And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod. 16 And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt. (KJV)
A similar passage is:
Isa 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.
These passages are symbolic. Much of the Bible is symbolic, but not all of it. Do not be intimidated by that.
You can figure it out with your common sense. If it looks like symbols, it probably is symbolic. If it looks like regular narrative, it probably is. And don’t try to force an interpretation on each and every detail of the symbol.
Another basic rule of Bible study is to consider the Bible as a whole. Figure out the difficult passages based on what you know about the simple ones. Do not try to explain away a simple passage based on some far fetched interpretation of a difficult passage.
Who is the rod out of the stem of Jesse? Jesus Christ. See Rev 5:5
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. (KJV)
And also Rev 22:16 16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (KJV)
And who is Jesse? See Acts 13:22-23
22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. 23 Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: (KJV)
There are other verses too that deal with Jesse and the root or rod or stem.
Note that Isa. 11:2-5 speak about Jesus’ earthly ministry.
This we have seen so far seems to be talking about the same thing as seen in Isa 2:1-4
1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (KJV)
Look especially at verse 4 — another reference to a time of great peace.
What is this peace? Put yourself in the place of the Israelites to whom Isaiah was prophesying.
Back up a little ways. God chose a certain family as His chosen people, the family of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. The Israelites.
And what did God tell them to do? Keep separate from the gentiles, the rest of the world. Why? To keep them religiously pure, and separate from the sinful nations. Throughout the history of the nation of the people of Israel, whenever they messed around with the other gentile nations, they got into trouble.
So the Israelites, later called Jews, came to despise the gentiles as dogs. We can see that in the life of Christ.
Another illustration of the intensity of this hatred between Jews and gentiles is the accound in Acts 10, where God had to go to extreme lengths to get Peter (a Jew) to understand that under the new covenant, gentiles are to be accepted with God just the same as Jews.
God did two miracles to get it through Peter’s thick skull. First, the vision of the sheets of wild animals, where God said “Rise Peter, kill and eat.”, and Peter refused, because some of the animals were “unclean.” The second miracle was when Cornelius, a gentile, spoke in tongues, a sign which Peter understood was from God.
But don’t blame Peter, he just really understood God’s requirement under the former covenant, the Law of Moses, to keep separate from the gentiles. He was so intense in his “hatred” of the gentiles (and the rest of the Jews were too) that it took extreme measures on God’s part to change their outlook.
Remember Jesus’ commission, just before He left this earth, to His apostles?
Matt 28:18-20 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (KJV)
Mark 16:15-16 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (KJV)
Luke 24:45-48 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things. (KJV)
Note the emphasis here on “all nations” or “all the world.” Jesus commanded His apostles to teach not just only the Jews, but the gentiles also.
The point of all this discussion is that the peace of which Isaiah spoke, is the end of the enmity between the Jews and the gentiles.
Paul explains this new peace between the Jews and the gentiles, in Eph 2:11-22
11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (KJV)
Isaiah is referring to the time of the church, the kingdom of God, a time of total peace, but not a physical peace, a spiritual peace.
There are many many other passages which point to this same consistent conclusion. So that is what Isaiah meant by no more pain or suffering.
By David Baize