11 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
These verses from Isaiah foretell the coming of Christ and the changes that the world will undergo. The first part delivers a vision that a persecuted people would long for and expect from the Messiah: a leader who rules fairly and with divine wisdom. The poor and meek are heard at last.
The imagery of the latter verses is both startling and beautiful. The new world that is coming will operate under a new set of principles: the wolf and lamb will lie down together in peace, the lion no longer kills, but rather eats straw, and baby plays safely next to the cobra’s den. This is a world of strength without aggression, gentleness without fear, community without competition. It mirrors the Garden of Eden before sin and death entered this world. This juxtaposition of power and innocence was manifested in the life of Jesus who used his divine power in the service of others and gave his life on the cross to put Death to death.
Through the life and death of Jesus, the foundation of this new, perfect world was laid, but it has not arrived yet. It is not a holiday gift that we anxiously wait for by the mailbox. As followers of Jesus, we have been given an active role in bringing about the transformation of this world. This is accomplished by expressing the truth of Gospel in the words we speak and the actions we take in our day to day lives, but especially in this season of Advent.
Prayer: Lord, send us out today with the determination to act and speak the truth of the Gospel. In a world that seems to be fueled by hatred, violence, selfishness, and fear, let us be the voices of compassion, generosity, courage and love. In this season of Advent, let us be the living examples of your holy grace that was given in the gift of your son, Jesus Christ.