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11-15-19 - Peaceable Kingdom

(You can listen to this reflection here.)

The portion of Isaiah we’re looking at depicts different visions of peace and security. It even goes beyond human life to show peace reigning in the natural world, with an image some call, “The Peaceable Kingdom”: 
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox...

In this vision, predator-prey relationships are overturned; in fact, there are no predators. Carnivores have become vegetarians – a return to life in the Garden of Eden, in which plants and trees provided all the food that was needed, in which there was no killing to eat, no killing to settle scores. All that came outside the Garden, after the first man and woman were expelled.

"'They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain,' says the LORD." No one will hurt. No one will be hurt.

On the roads, I pass so many deer and other animals, slain by humans moving too quickly to get somewhere that seemed much more important than the world around them. It is such an awful counter-narrative to Isaiah’s vision. Oh, I do realize that deer are vulnerable because predator-prey relationships have been overturned in other, not so positive ways. Humans have eliminated the deer's predators, and without predators they over-populate, and have to go further and further for food, wandering onto our roadways. And I know that the natural order can also be fierce and dangerous. But my spirit takes a hit whenever I see a dead animal. I’m increasingly leery of the whole idea of killing animals for food.

So this image is powerful for me. It proclaims: “The order we call natural has been undone and remade by God.” I want the lamb and the wolf to hang out together – I love wolves, I love lambs. I want the lion to like eating ox food, not oxen. And yes, I want people to stop slaughtering animals and one another. Call me naïve; I find this vision compelling.

Well, what we do as people of faith is call into being what is not yet. Paul writes in Romans 4:17 of “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not, as though they were." If it already exists in the mind of God, it already is. We invite it to be made known in the here and now. So God puts out through Isaiah this vision of a restored creation with peace and security for every living creature. We add our faith to it, and it will be. Sooner or later… sooner, if we all agree. Transformation happens.

I'm adding my faith to this beautiful vision. What visions do you want to call into being? Your own? Something somebody else has described? Where do your prayers lead you today?

This is one way we bring about the peaceable kingdom – allowing our tragedies to become moments for transformation, our pain turned to purpose. Earlier in Isaiah, we find this vision again, with a different ending: "The lion shall lie down with the lamb… and a little child shall lead them." 
Soon we welcome that little child into our world all over again. In fact, we do that every day.

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