Glimpses of the Peaceful Kingdom

It has been awhile now since I have posted—it has been a busy season with work and seminary. During the Advent season, I have been reading through the book of Isaiah—section by section—looking for messianic prophecies in the text. Yesterday as I was reading and came across a passage that really resonated with me: Isaiah 11. It resonated so much with me that I spent more time today reflecting on it. The first section of this chapter has been titled by the NRSV “The Peaceful Kingdom.” Three verses in particular began to form beautiful portraits in my imagination:

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
    the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
    and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
    their young shall lie down together;
    and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
    and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
    on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea. 
— Isaiah 11:6–9, NRSV

As I read this passage, I thought about the images that the prophet was developing. Imagine a wolf and a lamb sharing a pen together or a small child putting his or her hand in a snake hole. Both sound like terrible ideas! But the prophet Isaiah writes this in anticipation that the Messiah will bring this kind of peace. Some people might ask: “Why don’t we have this peace if the Messiah, Jesus, has already come?” I wish I had an easy answer to that question, but it think it comes down to one word: mutuality. Jesus came not to bring a kingdom of this world, but a kingdom that was not of this world (John 18:36). The kingdom that Jesus brought is one that he invites us to join with him in its expansion. With this said, I believe that the kingdom of God has come, is coming, and will continue to come—and we are invited to take part in that process.

Today I came across a video that gave a glimpse of the peaceful kingdom of Jesus. It was an advertisement developed by a British grocery chain retelling the story of the 1914 Christmas Truce. This was a beautiful story of how both British and German soldiers called a truce on Christmas and actually came together peacefully for several days. Sadly, by New Years Day, they were commanded to return to battle against each other. It was in those few moments that the peace of Jesus was seen in the midst of a bloody war that would continue for several years.

This has made me ask the question: “With who do I need to make a Christmas truce—a lasting peace treaty?” Asking this question doesn’t necessarily mean we have an enemy in my life, but it means that we recognize that we can always do more to seek peace in our lives. This Christmas season, I encourage you to think about that question and look for ways to extend an invitation of peace. I believe that it just takes simple actions to help advance the peace of Jesus. I truly believe that it starts with one.

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