Troublesome Topic: Violence Is Not Normal in God’s Realm

Lesson 7 of 13

Isaiah 11:6-9 gives us a beautiful picture of what God’s “normal” looks like.

Isaiah 11:6



The ferocious predator will live in fear of the defenseless prey, the untrustworthy and the helpless will trust each other completely; the weak and untrained, as well as those that are pampered and receive special care,

[will be comfortable around] the wild and dangerous;

that which is insignificant will lead them all.

Isaiah 11:7


The one that glides slowly

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and the one is that divided

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will graze in unity, their offspring will lie down [close to each other] and the one that pierces

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will eat straw like the one the rips.


The ferocious predator will eat in a nonthreatening way like a domesticated grazer, their young will have complete confidence that no harm will come to either of them, and the most feared of all predators will not be a threat at all because it will no longer kill to eat.

Isaiah 11:8


The child that is still nursing

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will amuse himself

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over the hole of the venomous snake,

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and the weaned child will put his hand into the hole of another venomous snake.

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The innocent ones who are inexperienced at perceiving danger will take no risk in constantly playing right

where grave danger usually resides; those who are only slightly more experienced in the dangers of life will not be in danger of harm even if they do what always provokes an aggressive response.

Isaiah 11:9


Those that previously acted violently shall not cause any harm nor destruction in all my holy mountain,

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For the earth will be full of the knowledge of YHVH (read Adonai)

as the waters cover the sea.


Nothing will cause any harm or destruction in my holy realm where my strength [will be evident], For as my rule becomes complete, all the inhabitants of the earth will fully understand God’s ways and know Him personally, as fully and assuredly as water fills the sea to their proper level.

Violence may be normal in our society today; it may be normative for mankind living in sin, but it is in no way normal for God’s kingdom. One day, God will restore things to the original condition in which He created them and do away with sin and the effects of sin. Isaiah 11 is a picture of what things will look like when God’s normal is the only normal. The things which God establishes as normal for His people are the things we should be doing and the way we should be living every day, despite the fact that the world around us is living according to another norm, one they have set for themselves. God is allowing mankind to continue living in a delusion, thinking that the normal that they see is the only one that exists. That is all man sees because he is drugged with the intoxicating, but empty pleasure of setting his own course. Only a few escape that whirlpool of lies and come to live in the light of the truth. But you and I know that in the end there will only be one standard of normalcy left, and it will not be the one contrived by the teamwork of man and Satan.

Who would have thought that such powerful truths are contained in the laws about clean and unclean things?!

How does this affect our lives today?

At this time, God’s kingdom is ruling in individual hearts. If you are a follower of Jesus, God’s kingship should be evident in your life. Therefore, nothing that resembles violence should be a part of your life because God is king of your life and in His kingdom, there is no violence. This includes words spoken in anger, or spite, or revenge, or as gossip. In God’s kingdom there is peace, meaning wholeness, wholesomeness, and wellbeing. Do you promote these things in each of your relationships? Where God reigns there is complete trust. Can people trust you completely? God wants His subjects to fully know and understand Him and His ways. How well do you know God?

The next lesson for the the medium and full length versions of this study is: Death is Abnormal

The next lesson for Why Is That in the Bible? is: Death is Abnormal


1: "Dangerous Yellow Thing":

The word that is usually translated “wolf” comes from a root word meaning “yellow.” Its cousin word in Arabic means “jackal” and in Ethiopic means “hyena.” The emphasis seems to be an animal that is “yellow and fierce.” Even when it is used figuratively of humans, the word points to actions that are cruel and fierce. However, the idea of yellow cannot be ignored for “yellow” is the root word that this one comes from. Are some wolves yellow? Today we know of the Senegalese wolf (which is somewhat yellow and looks like a jackal to me), the Serengeti wolf (which is a bit yellowish), the Egyptian wolf (which is not yellow in my opinion), the Algerian wolf (which is a bit yellow), the Indian wolf (which has some yellow), the African wolf (which has some yellow and was previously considered a jackal), and the Arabian wolf (some of which have yellow coloring). In modern Hebrew this word means “wolf,” but it probably refers to one of the yellow species of wolfs known in that part of the world. Hebrew has other words for jackal and hyena. But as you can see, there has been some overlap between the jackal and the yellow wolf in name and in body shape and markings.  Obviously the word developed over time from meaning “yellow” to meaning “a yellow wolf” today.  The question is, “What was it referring to in the days of Isaiah?” We cannot be sure. In my opinion it was either referring to a jackal or a yellow wolf.

2: "dwell with"

This verb, which I have rendered “dwell,” has the following meanings: “to sojourn in a foreign place without rights,” “to dwell somewhere and be mostly inactive,” “to dwell as a lodger or guest”, “to stir up strife,” “to fear, or to live in dread.” The idea of fear is actually quite prominent in this verb, making it an interesting choice for this setting. The original readers of Isaiah’s words knew all the possible meanings of this word and how often it is related to fear, so they would have understood both the simple meaning of this phrase (the yellow wolf will be inactive and not act aggressively) and the more ironic meaning (the yellow wolf will live in fear of the lamb). This is yet another example of a double meaning in the Hebrew text, with both meanings being viable. Rather than simply saying that the yellow wolf will not attack and eat the lamb, this verb is quite possibly communicating that the tables will be turned; the predator will live in fear of the prey. In God’s kingdom I don’t think anyone or anything will live in fear, but this is a word picture to show how completely different things will be compared to what they are now.

3: "Dominator":

The word which, through its common usage, came to be understood as “lamb” was more accurately “a young ram;” it actually means “to dominate” probably through the act of butting. A young ram that is learning to butt does so at every opportunity, thus earning it the name “dominate.” However, it is butting animals of its own kind; it is no match for a true predator like a yellow wolf.

4: "Filtered":

The word which is usually understood as “leopard” actually means “to filter” and thus gives the idea of something that drips through a piece of cloth or other filtering material. The image conveyed is that the leopard looks like something dripped on it causing it to have splotches or spots.

5: "Cutter":

Their word for “young goat” comes from a root word meaning “to cut off,” referring to the act of cropping the grass close to the ground.

6: "will lie down":

This verb means to “stretch out.” It expresses the idea of lying down in a way to be totally comfortable and totally relaxed.

7: "around":

This word, often translated “calf or yearling,” comes from a root that means “around” and seems to refer to the fact that calves like to run around or frisk around. Why they used the word of year-old calves I am not sure. This word was sometimes used of a young, castrated male calf that has not yet been trained to serve as an ox. When we put together the ideas of young, untrained, and castrated, we get the image of something weak or incapable.

8: "covered":

This word for “lion” came from a root word meaning “covered” and probably referred to the way the male lion’s shoulders are covered with a mane. The same root word is used of “a town” that was large enough to be “protected” by walls. Did this refer to a fully grown lion or to a juvenile lion? Even though a fully grown lion has a larger mane, it appears that this word may have referred to something different, such as a juvenile lion, because there is another word for lion that will be used in the next verse.

9: "flapper"

This word, often rendered as “fattened calf, or stall-fed calf,” comes from a root word meaning, “to flap” or “to beat oneself with wings.” How did this mean “a fattened calf?” The part about beating oneself with wings was used in reference to the ostrich, which is so large and fat that it cannot fly even if it flaps its wings while running. Videos reveal to us that ostriches do not actually flap while they run, but their wings do bounce around a bit when they run at full speed. They extend their wings when cornering and if they want to ward off predators. The point we should take away from this has nothing to do with whether they flap their wings while running, but that they were large and fat, too fat to fly, and a bird with wings was expected to fly. Due to the emphasis on them being fat, this word was transferred to calves that were being specially fattened for tender meat.

10: "in unity":

The word I have rendered as “in unity” is usually translated “together,” however, the Hebrew word focuses more on emotional and relational closeness than physical proximity. Its meaning is “closeness, and unity” or “in community.”

11: "Little Shaker":

This word for “child” comes from a root word meaning “shaking.” It can refer to either male or female of any age from infancy to adolescence, or even to a servant. However, in this case the noun is followed by the adjective “small” which clearly gives the idea of innocence, weakness and defenselessness.

12: “glide slowly”:

The word usually rendered “bear” comes from a root word meaning “to glide slowly of softly over [the ground].” The bear comes after the cow in the Hebrew sentence, but in reality the emphasis is on the predator in each case because it is the predators, not the cattle, that will act differently in the kingdom of the shoot of Jesse. That is why I have put the bear first.

13: "divided"

The cow was probably given this name because it has a spit hoof. It can also mean “to break out,” but that seems less relevant to the cow.

14: "pierces"

Another word for lion is this one that means “to pierce;” it obviously referring to its ability to pierce flesh with its fangs.


This word, which is usually translated simply as “child” actually means “to suck, or to nurse.” It refers to a small child that is still of nursing age. However, don’t interpret that like a modern American, because they usually nursed their children until age 3 or even 4.


The verb I have rendered as “will amuse himself” comes from a root word that means “to be smooth, to smooth over, to smear.” From the idea of “smoothing over” they got the idea of something that is now “pleasing, a source of delight.” From that they also got the idea of “taking delight in something, being pleased,” even “sport and general play.”


What I have rendered as “venomous snake” comes from a word that means simply “to twist.” It is usually applied to venomous snakes, but we cannot be sure which species of snake. When dealing with plants and animals scholars figure they can be confident only about 50% of the time or less. The names given to animals in ancient times usually were a description of how the animal looked, acted or moved. For instance, would the name “climber” be a squirrel, a cat, a sloth, a monkey, a raccoon, or some other kind of animal? This word means “twister;” are there other animals that twist? Well, I recall that the honey badger fits loosely in its skin and when grasped in the mouth of an enemy, it can twist around and bite the nose of its attacker. So even something like “twister” is not a sure thing. But the various uses give us a good idea it is a type of snake (not a honey badger). We don’t know what species of snake because “twister” doesn’t help us distinguish between them. Its usage implies it is venomous and therefore dangerous, and that is the important thing for this verse.


I have rendered this word as “another venomous snake” because it is a totally different word, but it has a very similar usage. It comes from a root meaning to “extrude, or stick out,” which probably refers to the snake’s habit of sticking out its tongue. Its various uses give scholars the idea that it is also venomous, and dangerous. Which of these is more dangerous than the other we cannot know. Maybe this is intended to escalate from a younger child to a slightly older child, and from a dangerous snake, to a more dangerous snake. However, it could also be simple parallelism in which the two halves of the sentence mean the same thing but communicate it in slightly different ways. I believe it is parallelism because the meaning is the same each time with the emphasis on there being no danger where it normally would reside.


“My holy mountain” is seen by many as a reference to Mt Zion, the location of the temple. However, this passage is describing the arrival of “the rod from the stem of Jesse and a branch out of his roots,” i.e. the arrival of the Messiah and what He will establish. We now know that this refers to much more than the activity that would go on at the temple mount, in fact, the era of the Former Covenant was brought to a close by a handful of key signs, one of which was the destruction of the temple (Mt 24). I believe this phrase refers to the Messiah’s realm – the kingdom He would establish as the Holy Spirit took control of one heart after another.