“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.”
Any time I think about the kingdom of God on Earth, the painting of “The Peaceable Kingdom” by the artist Edward Hicks comes to mind. To my slightly jaded eyes, there is almost something campy about that particular representation — not quite on par with “Dogs Playing Poker,” but in a similar hackneyed spirit.
And by the way, although we always give the lion top billing in that biblical reference, it is in fact a leopard that will lie down with a goat. The lion gets the calf and the yearling. Some misinterpretations wind up with greater credence than the truths they supplant. There’s a lot of that going around these days. Which is a shame, because the “peaceable kingdom” should be our rightful inheritance as Christians. Isaiah’s prophecy implies that it is incumbent upon us, whether we identify as wolves or sheep, lions or lambs, to embrace those who would seem completely inimitable to our wellbeing. It took the appearance of Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, to show us the way.
Lord, teach us loving-kindness that embraces those we would demonize, and help us to see that fear is a yoke that binds us in service to our worst instincts, while the love of Christ is what frees us to prepare for the kingdom of God on Earth. Amen.