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Archive for Thursday 23rd August 2002 - Can the lamb lie down with the lion?

Sometimes I am visited by Jehovah’s Witnesses. They say that the world will soon come to an end, and only 144,000 souls will be saved. They invite me – or you – to be one of that number.

I do not believe in that, but I enjoy seeing these good people, and I admire their brave spirit. I also like their magazine, The Watchtower, especially the pictures. They illustrate the future paradise, with people of all types and races living together in health and harmony. And they show all kinds of animals – the wolf and the lamb, the lion and the young goat – resting and feasting together.

But there is something wrong with the picture. It shows the lion sharing the lamb’s diet of grass. Biologists say that a lion’s stomach is not adapted for grass. I pointed that out to one of the Witnesses. But he just smiled and said that it is in the Bible.

It does actually say in the Bible (Isaiah 11, 7) that the lion will eat straw like the ox. But surely, this cannot be meant literally. I think it must mean that a perfect individual would have the lion’s courage and the lamb’s humility. Or something like that.

But I still like that picture in the Peaceable Kingdom. It is a reminder that in nature all creatures depend on others and are normally on good terms. And it leads to a subject that I have been interested in for some time – the possibilities of friendships between animals and people. More on that next week.

John Michell

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