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Passage: Isaiah 11:1-9

Isaiah 11:1-9 – The Peaceable Kingdom

Summary

In the coming messianic kingdom, not only humans, but all God's creatures, will live together in peace and harmony.

Analysis

Here is another of Isaiah's promises of a restored "Messianic Kingdom" (see Introductory Issues). Though the family tree of Jesse, David's father, has been reduced to a stump, God will make it grow a new branch (see Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8).

The new king will be given God's spirit, just as God's spirit "came mightily" upon David (1 Samuel 16:13). Governing in the spirit of God will mean caring for the poor and the meek, as it does throughout the Bible (Psalm 72).

This text goes beyond what we have heard so far by including all creatures in the kingdom of peace. The "dog eat dog" world of "nature red in tooth and claw" will no longer prevail, even though for now that, too, is part of God's created order (Psalm 104:21). The vision of a world in which wolves and lambs, calves and lions all lie down together clearly moves beyond the possibilities of the present age. The description seems to partake of elements common to fables and fairy tales, but something else is at stake here. By bringing together in peace the child and the snake, the text reminds us of the enmity brought through human sin in Eden (Genesis 3:14-15). God will overcome the curse of sin and establish a world in which all creatures thrive. This is just one of many texts in Isaiah that contain what we might now call an "environmental impact statement." Judgment and promise, sin and grace are not only for humans, but their consequences, good and bad, are felt by the entire creation.