Jump Start # 2517
Isaiah 11:6 “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them.”
Our verse today describes a change that takes place. God uses common enemies to show that they are no longer enemies. If you put a wolf and a lamb together in a cage, only one is coming out and it’s not the lamb. Leopard and a kid, meaning a goat, not friendly. Here, the leopard is laying down with the goat. You won’t see that on the nature shows. A lion and a calf? Bad news for the calf. The arrangement in this verse is of natural enemies. Animals eat animals. That’s part of the food chain. Part of the circle of life, as the song goes.
But something has taken place. These fierce, wild animals, the wolf, leopard, and lion are no longer stalking these other animals. They are not harming these other animals. They are dwelling together. There seems to be a sense of contentment, joy and fellowship. The lamb is not running away. The kid is not fighting back. The fear that they would normally have is gone. Something has happened. To both sets of animals, there seems to be a change.
Isaiah has shown other changes that would take place. Swords, instruments of war, were being beaten into plows. Warriors were becoming farmers. The climate of hostility was going away. Days of peace were coming.
What was bringing these changes? It was the Messiah. In the passage about the animals, it says “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord” (11:9). In the passage about making plows, it says, “the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (2:3). Jesus was coming. People would learn His ways. And, in so doing, they would change their ways.
Our verse today is not about zoos, the African safari, or animals. It’s symbolic of people. People were going to change. Those who hate, would not hate anymore. Those who caused trouble, would cease causing trouble. Jew, Gentile, master and slave would all worship together in a congregation. They would look out for each other. They would be part of the same spiritual family in Christ. Compassion, love, humility and service would replace selfishness, indifference, and arrogance. People would be different. It would be a noticeable difference.
What this is showing us is that a person doesn’t simply add “church” to their busy schedule. It’s more than just picking up a Bible now and then. Something has happened on the inside. One’s thinking has changed. The house has been rewired. Christ is now living in us. And, this is a important aspect that folks need to see. It’s not just getting down to the church house on Sunday, it’s being a different person all the time. Everywhere, including work, recreation, home and school. A better way of thinking. A better nature. This is going to be reflected in the words, attitudes, and choices in life. I’m no longer the same. The old man has been crucified. The old person is dead. I’m not that person any more. I’m different. I belong to Jesus.
It would be great to read these verses before a person was baptized to remind them that this is a total and complete change. You are not adding church, your are changing your nature.
Now, a couple of thoughts:
First, when a person says, “I can’t help it,” that’s really an excuse. He can help it. If a person can change their nature, then they can help what they do, say or think. Maybe a dog can’t help it, but you are not a dog. You are made in the image of God. You are governed by the word of God. Jesus lives in you. So, yes, you can help it. You can be nice. You can be kind. You can forgive. You can serve others. “Well, that’s just not my way,” then change your way. If a wolf can change his way about a lamb, then you can change your way about others. Gone is hatred, prejudice, evil speaking, trash talking, putting others down, making fun of others—this includes politics, religion and people we disagree with. This includes in-laws and outlaws.
Some have not grown up with the best environment or examples before them. Some were never taught the grace of Jesus as a child. Home was stressful, ugly and every man for himself. You may have had parents that never said that they loved you. You may never have seen forgiveness. That’s a tough road to travel. But guess what? You can change. Come to Jesus. Learn His ways. You don’t have to be the way you were raised. You don’t have to repeat those lessons to your children. The wolf, the leopard and the lion could change. The lamb, the kid and the calf can also change. One doesn’t have to hold grudges, live in fear or not trust others. You can change.
Second, the means to change is the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Learn His ways. Look at how He treated others. When disappointed with others, especially Peter, He never sent them away. Most of us would have kicked Peter off the team for the way he was. Jesus didn’t. There are times when most of us would have scrapped all the apostles and found us a “B” team to replace them. Jesus didn’t. Patient. Teaching. Enduring. Helping. That’s Jesus. You can be like that. You can change.
I’ve seen that wolf and leopard change. I’ve seen former military men who all their lives have barked out orders at others, demanded from others, and came across as rough, gruff and tough, change. They became Christians. They learned from Jesus. Plows were made from swords. People no longer were afraid to talk to them, because their natures changed. These same people have become some of the best shepherds in the kingdom. They are tinder, kind and compassionate. I’ve seen them gently helping a widow through a funeral. I’ve seen them with tears coming down their cheeks. I’ve seen them pray some of the most earnest prayers. I’ve seen them visiting local jails and helping a teen who made some wrong choices. I’ve seen them open up their homes and allow others to stay for long periods of time. I’ve seen them helping a young mother, whose unfaithful husband has left her alone and nearly destitute. They have paid house payments, found apartments, and even loaned their cars to help. These once rough and tough men have changed. They came to Christ, and they were made the better. People noticed.
And, truth be told, each of us who are in Jesus, ought to have changed. Recently, I got a call about my up coming high school reunion. It will be the 45th year—WOW! I’ve not gone to any of them. I’m not really interested. I’ve not kept up with anyone and I’m not the person that I was in high school. I’ve changed. What interested me then, doesn’t now.
Have you changed? I hope so. If you haven’t, it’s time to start. You do that by spending some time with the Lord.