John Muir (1838-1914) was an influential Scottish-American naturalist, author, and an early advocate for conservation of wilderness in the US.
He once said, “Hiking — I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains — not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter’? It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre” (that is, to the Holy Land). And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”
Modern culture has succumbed to the fever of a restless and feverish drive for activity AW Tozer exposed this restless spirit in the church by saying that we have become like impatient and immature children in a marketplace, running from booth to booth, chattering much about everything, but never stopping long enough to learn the true value of anything.
We must become scriptural ‘saunterers’ again, by taking time to ponder and meditate on the stupendous things revealed by our awesome God — and slowly and repeatedly meditate on the entire ‘holy land’ of scripture. On that note, let us consider the view of the kingdom of the Messiah presented in Isaiah 11:5-16.
We must become scriptural ‘saunterers’, taking time to meditate on the things revealed by our awesome God
Leadership creates the atmosphere for those being led. If the disciple is not above the master, then it is the master that sets the bar of example for the disciple. This is true of a nation, church or home, and the reason for the disintegration or success of all three in modern cultures.
In our text, we see that God’s kingdom is characterised by righteousness and faithfulness, because these are the characteristics of Messiah the Prince, as we have seen in our previous two studies. Wherever the kingdom of the Prince rules in the hearts of men, you see two primary changes.
First, the vicious become tranquil. Isaiah 11:6-7 says, “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.”
Second, the venomous becomes harmless. “The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’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 11:8-9).
The natural man is both vicious and venomous, and it is a wonder that there has been any civilisation at all after the Fall of Adam and Eve. The earth is a massive graveyard containing the witness of man’s cruelty to man!
Those without a biblical worldview live with the tension of having ideals for which they can give no explanation. Only the strongest survive; that’s how people can be so heartless. But we know that we can have a heart; we need our friends and family and cruelty is not acceptable.
The text reveals the two ideals men have tried but failed to attain in a fallen world: unity (v.6), and safety and security (v.9). It is important to notice that these features will be attained through the knowledge of the LORD (v.9). Hebrews chapter 8 describes the effect of the new covenant upon its recipients. “And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all will know me, from the least to the greatest of them.”
It is only through the new birth and the knowledge of the Lord that we can have lasting unity and peace on earth. One of the magnificent aspects of missions is that the gospel is for all men in every part of the world. Warring between primitive tribal groups ceases when Christ controls hearts. Men and women held hostage to superstitions that have caused centuries of heartache and sorrow through human sacrifice and disregard for the uniqueness of human life have been freed with the good news of reconciliation with a loving Saviour.
It is only through the new birth and the knowledge of the Lord that we can have lasting unity and peace on earth
The text further reveals that the work of the Prince of Peace will be that of recovery and rejoicing. There will be the recovering of the Gentiles as expressed in v.10: “Then in that day the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious.”
This is one of many Old Testament scriptures that speak of the salvation of the Gentiles and which Jesus had in mind when he said: “For God so loved the world (not just the Jew) and gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever (from every kindred, tribe, tongue and nation) believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Jesus said in John 12:32: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” We also are mindful of the ‘sheet vision’ God gave containing every creature to be eaten by Peter, both clean (a metaphor for the Jew) and unclean (a metaphor for the Gentile). Thank God that His grace extends to the entire world!
There is also a recovering of the remnant of Israel. “Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain… and He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (vv. 11-12).
The final recovery mentioned in our text is one that is most often not considered at all by many Christians. It is that Messiah the Prince will recover a fallen creation seen in vv. 6-9. Note the expression given in the NASB of Romans 8:19-22:
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”
The lamb that groans now in the presence of a wolf will one day dwell without fear of him. The young goat that lives in fear of the leopard will one day lay down in peace with him. It is negligent theology to think that God created all the birds, fish, plants and animals for nothing. When the curse on creation is lifted, “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9b).
Our next study in Isaiah will cover all of chapter 12 which expresses the rejoicing that will come to all of those included in the Kingdom of Messiah the Prince.
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