God desires a world where creation cooperates as it did at the beginning, where violence is unknown, where shalom permeates all the world.
The prophet Isaiah saw through a window and described a time when natural enemies would live together in peace, the time of shalom:
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 hole of the cobra,
and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge
0f the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
[ Isaiah 11:6-9]
Some people see in these words only a description of what life will be like at the end of time, as perhaps a description of heaven itself or of the time some call the millennium. But this seems to me an open window for us to see into the dream of God. Is this not what God desires for the world? And if it is, is it possible for us to work together toward the time of shalom even in this present world? Is this not our call as Christians?
Paul’s words to the Christians in Rome are at least an echo of Isaiah’s vision: Love does no harm. [Romans 13:10] The key phrase “no harm” unlocks the window to this divine dream. And love unlocks the door to the place where “no harm” becomes our experience. God desires a world where creation cooperates as it did at the beginning, where violence is unknown, where shalom permeates all the world. God desires the world described by Isaiah and will bring it into perfect existence at the end of time.
At the end of the book of Isaiah, we see the same vision described by God’s word through the prophet:
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
Nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create….
The wolf and the lamb will feed together
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all
my holy mountain, says the Lord.