The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.
Isaiah 11:6-9 ESV
(I had written a more in depth post and the computer lost its connection and with it the entire post…so this is a brief version of that more in depth offering)
I like nature documentaries. I like to watch animals functioning in their natural habitat, relying on their protective and predatory instincts to survive. But there is a subtle danger in watching these, or any other displays of “nature”. The problem, as best I can tell, is not so much in what is going on as much as in how we see it. Even the word I just used, “nature”, is deceptive at best. We see these things as natural. We fall into the casual assumption that the carnage that takes place daily on the Serengeti plains are wholly representative of the way things are supposed to be. But, curiously, we Christians don’t see anything else that way. We don’t assume that sickness or disease or famine or drought or suffering or disaster are qualities of life that God built into the world “in the beginning”. We see these things as the heinous effects of sin, fractures that began thousands of years ago at a place called Eden.
Once upon a time lions and hyenas weren’t mortal enemies. Once upon a time an impala had nothing to fear when cheetahs or leopards stepped out onto the edge of the plains. Some of you can’t fathom it, but there was a time when people weren’t all that concerned with snakes harassing them or spiders crawling on them. It is decidedly unnatural for these things to be reality.
Just briefly friends, I would encourage you to fight against the temptation to see this life as “normal” or “natural”. What we know, what the Scripture tells us, is that the knowledge of God will flood this place one day. The dark glass that we’ve been looking through, trying to see God, will be removed one day and we will be able to see Him as He is. At that time, in that moment, rest assured that nothing will be the same. All of the little things that we have, by necessity even, taken for granted will be “righted”. The real definition of “natural” and “nature” will be revealed. And all of the subtle stress that we simply live with will be gone. One of the verses in the traditional Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World”, says this:
No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.
The idea captured here is that sin affected everything, even the makeup of the physical world that we live in. This being the case, the redemption of God, being a complete and total redemption, will necessarily have to extend to the extent of the curse. Basically: whatever went wrong will be made right, no matter what it was.
You see, there is a type of violence that we don’t see anymore. There are weights and burdens that we don’t even know we carry. We tend to just cal these things “life”. But if Jesus has shown us anything He has shown us that His definition of life and ours are completely different. Perhaps, just maybe, if we could begin to engage the idea of the knowledge of God, if we would dedicate ourselves to knowing who He is, in that pursuit we might begin to see what it is that we are missing. Some of those weights and burdens would lose their power of anonymity and we would find ourselves releasing those yokes for the faithful ease of the burden that Jesus says we can have of His.
Don’t merely watch nature and think of it as “the way things are”, think of it as “the way things won’t always be”.