Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The early days of Advent are filled with lessons from Isaiah. Some of them are more well known than others because they have been put to music. To read them is to be struck by the images created by this prophet who lived so many centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Some of his words speak of the birth of Jesus and some of them seem to transcend even that time taking us to a point in history which is still out there for us.
The 11th chapter of Isaiah is one of those passages which cannot be missed during Advent. With language that is incredible to comprehend, he paints images of the Kingdom of God. Most folks think of the Kingdom and start thinking about heaven with its pearly gates, streets of gold, and personal mansions. Isaiah gives us a different starting point. His not-so-concrete images leave our imaginations with room to go beyond the things we can see. Beginning in verse 6 of the 11th chapter is that image of the animals of prey being together with the animals normally thought of as being preyed upon. Wolves living with lambs, the calf and the lion together, the cow and the bear grazing alongside each other, and the child playing over the hole of the snake are images of the new Kingdom created by the One who comes with the power of peace in His hand and heart.
It is not something any of us would conceive if we were asked to describe the way the world would look if the authority of God was fully established. Yet, this picture of what is disorder being restored to a natural order which would have preceded what we know as the Fall of humankind is a powerful thing to consider. Even without the streets of gold, being able to live in such a condition of peace and oneness with those thought to be adversaries or foes would be more than the mind could conceive. Yet, such is this Kingdom of God ushered in by Jesus in Bethlehem and which will be established as He comes again to restore His new creation.