A reflection on Isaiah’s prophecy today invites us back to a time of absolute innocence and complete harmony. His vision visualizes the past embracing the future, inviting us to reflect on the original days of creation, when Adam and Eve were still in the Garden of Eden. There were no ‘wild’ animals or animals were not yet wild. ‘The wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling, the cow and the bear, and all their young lying together, playing with one another, and all eating grass’; that was the order of day, the original design for creation.
If Cain and Abel were to be born in that Garden, they might have had been ‘playing with the above animals, in their nursing period over the hole of the asp and putting their hand into the adder’s den once they were weaned off from their mummy’s breast’. All these might have been great and non-stoppable fun. They were not required to have schooling, ‘for the earth would have been full of the knowledge of the Lord’ (Isaiah 11:9b). How wonderful! Isaiah is predicting the return of such times. How to reach over there?
Look at the burden all of us carry one way or other, at one time or other. Ultimately all the burden is of sin, of our sinfulness. Out of man’s sinfulness was the birth of the ‘wild animals’ or the animals becoming wild. It was not they that sinned but man who was given the governance over them, appointed to have dominion over them and over the whole earth and to nurture them (Genesis 1:26b). All these animals including those that creep on the earth, were given “every green plant for food” (Genesis 1:30). When man sinned, when he went for the “knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 3:5), sin was born and the animal kingdom, which includes also man, turned wild and started killing and feeding on one another and it continues to be so even to this day!
Christmas reminds us of this great prophecy. Advent is to groom us toward its fulfilment, to prepare, to be God’s instruments to bring about such times. The Baptist invites us, the “brood of vipers”, to bear fruits worthy of repentance, to be anointed and be filled with the Holy Spirit. “May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15: 5-7)