“A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump, from his roots a budding Branch. The life-giving Spirit of GOD will hover over him, the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding, The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength, the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-GOD. Fear-of-GOD will be all his joy and delight. He won’t judge by appearances, won’t decide on the basis of hearsay. He’ll judge the needy by what is right, render decisions on earth’s poor with justice. His words will bring everyone to awed attention. A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked. Each morning he’ll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots, and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land. The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the baby goat. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough, and a little child will tend them. Cow and bear will graze the same pasture, their calves and cubs grow up together, and the lion eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens, the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent. Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill on my holy mountain. The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.”
Isaiah 11:1-9 MSG
This passage from Isaiah’s prophecy fills me with so much fantastical hope, Advent hope. What a beautiful picture of Christ’s eternal reign, I would think it difficult to read these words without feeling a hum of warmth. It’s the kind of expectant hum one experiences when they first read Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”, in which an evil winter’s grasp is melted away by the very presence of the Lion, the true King.
I was listening to a sermon just recently by Campbellsville Vineyard’s Senior Pastor, Adam Russell. In the sermon, Adam made a striking observation about the peaceful, almost paradoxical relationships presented in Isaiah’s 11th chapter.
Wolves and lambs, lions and calves, these are not animals that live together, they do not sleep peacefully near one another in the current state of things. The lamb is afraid and the wolf is hungry. And we, humans, are both of these creatures. We have been preyed upon and we have been starved. Some of us have even identified as extremes of these natures, feeling as if the whole world is out to destroy us, or living with insatiable, ravenous appetites that are never satisfied. And it is to the heart of both of these natures that the Christ comes with His remedy: the remedy of peace, the remedy of wholeness.
In Jesus’ Kingdom, there is no need to be afraid, no need to consume one another. The deepest needs of calf and cub are met in the Lord’s very presence. The overflow of Christ’s wholeness is all-sustaining and never-ending.
With that promise, we come to this season of waiting. Waiting in the tension of Advent, the tangible electricity of the “already and the not yet”. We repeat the Master’s prayer saying, “on earth as it is in heaven,” looking for the magic glimpses of Spring: the tastes and smells of the coming, eternal Summer. As wolves and sheep, we long for the wholeness of Emmanuel.
In the love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
We pray this mystery:
Christ has died
Christ is Risen
Christ will come again
Come, O Come, Emmanuel, God With Us
On earth as it is in heaven
Amen, Amen, and Amen