Several years ago in Colorado, a cow confronted a bear. The young cub was trying to help itself to some apples from a tree at the corner of the cow's field. The cow was annoyed (she's called "Apple", by the way) and proceeded to eject the bear. The confrontation was caught on camera and lasted about thirty minutes. The cow eventually won the battle, and the juvenile bear left empty-handed. So much for the old prophecy of a cow willingly feeding with a bear!
Isaiah 11:6-7 – The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. (NIV)
The picture that Isaiah paints in his prophecy is one of planetary peace. Predators sit with their prey and share a meal together. The law of the jungle is cast aside, and God's peace prevails, even in the animal kingdom. It's a remarkable prophecy and must have seemed absurd to the first people who heard it. After all, who has ever heard of a lion eating straw, or of a wolf lying down beside a lamb?
What Isaiah was trying to tell his people was that God will bring peace back to a wild and wicked world. The earth and everything contained in it belongs to Him. God will make things right in His own way, by His own power, and in His own time.
As Christians, we interpret this prophecy in the light of Christ coming into the world. He reconciled all of creation to God through His sacrifice. Jesus ushered in a new age of peace, hope, and love. His message, His ministry, and His mission were all combined in a divine effort to cleanse the cosmos from the contamination of sin and to restore all creatures to God.
So, how do we apply a lesson like this? If reconciliation is important to God and made effective through Christ's sacrifice, then we, as Christians, need to become reconcilers in the world. It's a hard role to play, as well as a humbling one, but if our mission is to be like Jesus, aren't we supposed to follow His example?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, our world doesn't need know-it-all Christians who do nothing about injustice, intolerance, and inhumanity. Help us to heal the earth through Your words, Your works, and Your ways. Grant us hearts that seek to help other people, and give us opportunities to show Your reconciling, restorative, and redeeming power. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.
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