From somewhere in my childhood I remember a picture– I think in one of my grandmother Laurie’s picture books– that represented the scene in Isaiah 11 of the lion and lamb, the child and the adder. It might have been something else entirely, but I do have a very early, early memory of this verse. And a very early thrill at its meaning.
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear the fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him…
He shall not judge by what his eyes see…
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth…
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 leave them.
The cow and the bear shall graze…
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox (shall we all be vegetarians when we cross over Jordan?).
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.
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples– of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11).
Perhaps some of the best words on reconciliation in the Bible? The most incompatible beings can rest together in peace? The deepest wounds in creation, the ones so deep that they look like it is just the way things are— even those things are mended and healed. Healed in ways we never could have imagined possible: the lion eating straw like the ox??? And how does this all happen? Why does the picture of Christ (11:1-5) sit next to (but without any explicit connection with) the verses of wolf and lamb etc. ? In Isaiah 9 he is called the Prince of Peace– the ruler of shalom, the one who makes incompatible things lie down together and the one who heals the deepest wounds in creation. The one who does not judge by what his eyes can see– He can heal wounds that we can’t see or begin to heal on our own. More to write on this, but must go get ready for work.