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 destroy on 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 stalled out the last couple days and was off the water. I kept saying to myself “I should get back on the water”, but alas I just found myself lazily hanging out on the shore. I am back at it today – a bit groggy and ” sleepy-eyed ” but diving in none the less.
This is a really interesting verse. It provides a picture of God that is both mesmerizing and puzzling in some ways. There is clearly a change in the “natural” order that is to occur at some time in the future to the point where a “wolf will live with the lamb”. Perhaps most interesting is the statement “and a little child will lead them”. This verse has been interpreted to be a prophetic reference to Jesus. I get that interpretation, but I wonder if there may be something else going on here.
A “child” is referred to twice in this passage: “a little child will lead them”; and “The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest”. The second two references seem imperfect references to Jesus. The more I look at this and chew on it the more I wonder if perhaps there is a dual meaning to the child or infant. What if it is referring to both Jesus and followers of the Way of Christ (Christians)?
All those who follow God and Christ have been referred to as infants before in the old testament in the book of Psalms (Psalms 8:1-9), and certainly Jesus said we were to become as children to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3). If this is true then we as followers of Christ are to play a role in the ushering in of this new order – God’s Kingdom.
This is both scary and amazing at the same time. It is much easier to think of the kingdom of God arriving when Jesus returns. Our commitment to faithfully follow Him has reserved us a front row seat, right? This passage seems to be saying we are actually “in the game” not just watching it. Not only are we in the game but we are going to “play near the cobra’s den” and put our hands “into the viper’s nest”.
The water reference occurs in the final sentence, where there is reassurance to be found: “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”. The take home message I get is that although we need to take responsibility and be “in the game” the outcome is ultimately not up to us. The knowledge of the Lord will cover all like an expansive ocean.
We should not make the error of being a passive spectator, but neither should we be a distracted disciple trusting too much in our own knowledge and skills. We are to be a bold and curious children helping to lead all we meet further up and further into God’s Kingdom.
Prayer: God you have made us Your children. Help us to lead others boldly toward Your kingdom and participate in its arrival.