You may have heard the phrase “The lion will lay down with the lamb”, and associated it with Heaven, or with End Times. You may have even joked about it – like I did in a Facebook post with a picture of my dog and cat cuddling together. It certainly sounds Biblical. But… it is a misquote. These two verses in Isaiah are probably where the idea comes from:
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 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.
We are right to associate this concept with Heaven; that Heaven is a place of peace even among those who on earth would be predator and prey. The misquote isn’t far off from the idea of the original. Isaiah was a prophet, and in both these chapters he is talking about God’s plan to eventually resolve all conflict and bring the Israelites into peace.
Well, what about that Bethel song “The Lion and the Lamb”? Well, that’s actually a completely different phrase:
Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah. He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles.
And every knee will bow before Him
Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain. For the sin of the world, His blood breaks the chains.
And every knee will bow before
the Lion and the Lamb.
In this song, we aren’t talking about actual lion and lamb, nor are we talking about earthly rivals. Instead we are talking about two concepts that are seemingly opposite, but exist together in one persona. We’re talking about God as both a powerful conqueror, and as one who allowed Himself to be slain (in the act of Jesus crucifixion). Those concepts are also Biblical, and we have some reason to refer to Jesus as both lion and lamb.
Revelation 5:5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
In this verse in Revelation, the “..tribe of Judah, Root of David” phrase references the lineage of Jesus, which was prophesied in the Old Testament and fulfilled in Jesus’ earthly family lineage.
John 1:36 And he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
Revelation 5:11-12 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Those verses are references to Jesus, in which He is called the Lamb. This is a comparison to the actual physical sacrifice of actual lambs demanded of the Israelites in Exodus.
So, the song “The Lion and the Lamb”, referencing the duality of one who is both a sacrifice and a savior, is Biblical. And while this is different than the phrase we started with, I think this is the more important thought to focus on.