Tuesday, December 03, 2013

New earth order

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Isaiah 11:1-16

TO CHEW ON: "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea." Isaiah 11:9

Today's reading from Isaiah underlines the possibility—no, the inevitability, of worldwide changes that will come about during Messiah's rule. Some of the things that will characterize this time:

  • Peace in nature (vs. 6-7):
Watch any nature show and you'll see that if there is anywhere cruelty and brutality reign it's in the natural world. All man's civilizing prowess is no match for the instinctive bloodlust of the lion or the eagle. But in the kingdom Christ's reign will bring about, this inter-genus animosity will disappear (vs. 6-7).

  • Rule of innocence "And a little child shall lead them" (vs. 6):
Guile, deceit, conniving—all that cries out for a counterbalance of rulerly wisdom and craft will be absent.

  • Coexistence of man and animals (vs. 8-9):
Our shock as we view Isaiah's picture of a child playing safely near the lair of a viper or cobra underlines how deeply etched in us is fear and animosity toward some animal species. Isn't it interesting that Isaiah uses two varieties of snakes in his illustration. Could he be saying that the condition brought about by the Genesis snake is canceled?

What is the cause of this radically peaceful new earth order? It is the knowledge of the Lord, its overflow to everywhere, its influence on every part of creation.

I pick this verse to burrow into today, partly to give you and me dream fodder for that time of perfect peace and order the Bible predicts. But I also do it to buttress us in our daily living of Kingdom principles in obedience to Jesus. No, we won't be able to breach the gap between humans and animals. But the knowledge of God can make radical differences in the here and now too. Note, for example, what was the result of God's presence sweeping parts of Wales in revival in 1904:

"Alcoholism, a major social problem in southern Wales, was significantly reduced. Miners voluntarily taxed their wages to build libraries and recreation halls which would provide alternatives to the saloons. As the numbers of arrests declined drastically, the "magisterial bench" expressed "keen gratification" for the movement. Efforts to conserve its social effectiveness were launched, a popular effort being the creation of institutional churches. Many stories of repentance followed by restitution circulated. The revival manifested itself in sobriety, industry, repaid debts, and healed relationships as well as in evangelism."
- Edith Blumhofer, Paraclete, Summer of 1986 issue (article no longer online). 

If the knowledge of the Lord can bring peace, tranquility, renewal, and prosperity to towns of rough coal miners, surely it can also be oil on the stormy waters of our lives.

PRAYER: Dear God, open my eyes to areas of un-peace and conflict in my life. Show me how the knowledge of You and obedience to Your ways can change those things. Amen.

MORE: Foundations for Farming

Foundations for Farming (formerly called Farming God's Way) is a program that is used to help train farmers in Africa to grow the food they need for survival. It combines sound farming practices with adherence to Biblical principles of dependence on God, righteousness, and stewardship. My nephew is using and teaching that program in Uganda.

Here is a comment from his Facebook wall some time ago:

"We continue to enjoy fruit from our garden; sweet corn, french beans, and a few strawberries. There is no season when we cannot grow any of these, yet Ugandans are suffering hunger and malnutrition on a broad scale. May God open our eyes to do things as He does them and to benefit from the bountiful life He has for us."

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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