Thursday, October 12, 2006

Isaiah 11 - Lions, tigers, and bears...

The part of this chapter that gave me the most reflection was the poetry describing the state of things during the millennial reign of Christ:

6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.

9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the dearth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

There are some literal interpretations of this passage that relate it to the state of animal life in the millenium.  I don’t know whether actual lions will munch on grass with cattle- that whole picture seems strange to me.  Perhaps that will happen, but given the dual nature of many of the symbols of the scriptures, I think we can also apply these symbols to understanding the nature of man during the millennium.  There are all sorts of creatures here- wolves, bears, lambs, leopards, baby goats, calves, lions, fatlings, children, babies, snakes, etc.    Some are predators, some are prey, some are helpless, some are powerful.   But in the last days, none shall “hurt nor destroy in all [God’s] holy mountain”.   The first thing this means to me is that the concerns for the physical and spiritual safety for our families we have now will no longer be something to worry about when Christ is here.  The second thing that comes to mind, and this is pretty much conjecture on my part, is that while there is peace, there will still be the different kinds of people that there are today.  i.e.: Wolves, lions, leopards, snakes, etc. will still exist, but they will live peacefully, harmless to their fellow man.   It think this may say something interesting and subtle about the binding of Satan in the Millenium.   

The next thing that I think is significant is the reason that we will be able to live in this peaceful state:   “for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea”.  This phrase reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures in the Old Testament:

Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

When I ponder this, I think about the troubles that exist today, both inside the church (brothers) and outside the church (neighbors).  I think about how much effort is required to teach the principles of the gospel over and over again.  These principles are an invitation to come unto Christ, to know him.   I think this is meant to help us understand that knowing God is a whole lot more than knowing about Him.  I believe a sign that we truly know God is that we live in complete peace and harmony with our fellow beings.  No stealing or plundering of course, but also no slandering or gossiping, with a genuine measure of heartfelt kindness, patience, and forgiveness.  I heard a church leader say the job of a priesthood holder is to build others up.  I therefore think that the process of coming to know God goes hand in hand with the process of learning to be generous, kind, cheerful, and optimistic. 

May we all live in such a way that the world is better off because we are in it.



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