Thursday, December 12, 2013
The view of the world described in the 11th chapter of Isaiah is indeed earthshaking. Actually, it describes a world turned upside down. The vision of Isaiah seen by each of us as we read the words of the passage is unthinkable. Unspeakable. Unbelievable. It is something which does not belong to this world; yet, this world is its setting. What a world Isaiah describes as he speaks of the wolf living with the lamb, the leopard living with the kid, the calf and the lion together being led by a little child, the cow and the bear grazing and their young playing, and the nursing child playing without fear over the den of a poisonous snake. His world is a world empty of predator and prey, threats and danger, and filled with the knowledge of the Lord.
At first glance we might think that this world envisioned by the prophet speaks of a futuristic radical restructuring of the created order. But, maybe it is not the future which he is seeing, but a radical return to the intended order of creation established and set forth for all humanity to see in that Genesis story of the Garden. Certainly, the Garden story is about the wrong choice of humanity, about our unwillingness to live in our God intended place in the pecking order, and the terrible consequences of such a choice. But, it also enables us to see the order of God before it was tainted by our own disobedience.
The story of the Scripture can be understood as God's story of bringing humanity back into the intended order. From the mercy first offered to the sinning couple of the Garden, to the mercy offered from the mercy seat to those stiff-neck Hebrews, to the mercy afforded to all of us through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, it is all about what God has been doing and is doing to bring us back home where we were created to live. When we began to understand this radical act of God, we are able to start seeing our need for the radical response set forth by the Word as it calls us to repent for the Kingdom of God is near...even here.