This morning I'm studying Isaiah 11, getting ready for Sunday's sermon. The last clause of Isaiah 11:7 in the ESV says "And the lion shall eat straw like an ox." My next thought was, "Is that really what it says in the Hebrew?" So, I got out my Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon for a little word-for-word comparative study. Yep. Word for word, that's what the Hebrew text of Isaiah says.
I wonder how Isaiah's first readers responded when they first read this. Lions roamed the ancient Near East at that time. When people traveled 2700 years ago, most of them walked.
Some people in Isaiah's day got attacked by lions and eaten. Those stories got around fast.
My parents tell me stories of hearing lions in the night, just outside their tent/cabin, while they were on a photo safari in the Serengeti in Africa. I'd love to see lions like that someday.
In March, I took Meg and our girls to the Field Museum in Chicago where the Tsavo Lions are on display. The photo above is of the Tsavo Lions, now just mounted skins.
They were maneaters.
These two maneless male lions that ate nearly 140 railroad workers in 1898. It was Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson's job to hunt and kill them. Can you imagine taking that assignment? Here is a photo of Patterson shortly after he killed the first lion, which was more than 9 feet long.
Isaiah 65 speaks of a new heavens and a new earth. In heaven, God's people will live with Him forever in glorified bodies. Jesus had a body like that when he ate fish with his disciples in Luke 24:41-43. Jesus had a real body. And one day there will be will be a New Heavens and New Earth, and it bet it will have animals like these two maneless male lions. But instead of fearing that they will eat me and my kids, we'll be able to play with them. That's just one example of the kind of peace our Messiah Jesus will bring when he comes again.
As you prepare for Christmas and remember Jesus first coming as a baby, take time to remember that he's coming again. And when he does come again, things will be so different. The lion shall eat straw like an ox.