When leopards lie down with goats - 29 October 2018

Xanthe Hancox

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. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroyon all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  Isaiah 11: 6-9

I’m currently on maternity leave and there have been days, I confess, where I’ve gone down a YouTube black hole, watching cute animal video after cute animal video. The ones where animals of different species are pals are my favourite (if you have access to YouTube and ten minutes to kill during your lunch break, here’s something to make you smile).

These unusual friendships throw into stark contrast our failings as humans to treat each other kindly. Nations and people seem more divided than ever, and the idea of a harmonious society seems as unlikely as leopards and goats cohabiting peacefully. No matter how hard politicians, NGOs and individuals try, we can never quite get along.

The reason for this is simple: our human efforts for making this a new world don’t account for human brokenness. Sin has brought about separation not only between God and humanity but also between people (and, indeed, animals).

Isaiah, however, speaks about Jesus in powerful poetic terms that go far beyond anything we could dare to hope for. Christ will create a community in which impossible enemies can come together in peace.

God’s grace works wonderfully to change sinners of every description and bring them into fellowship with one another. And God’s promises are beginning to be fulfilled as the Word of God spreads. The earth is filling with the knowledge of the Lord, and one day God’s kingdom will be complete. In this abiding new world order, peace will be the order of the day.

Prayer: Dear Father, help us to break down barriers and to seek to befriend others; and as we do, enable us to be bearers of the gospel of peace. Amen

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