The wolf will dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard will lie down with the goat.
The calf, the young lion, and the
fattened calf will be together,
and a child will lead them.
Isaiah 11:6 (CSB)
I don't think there were any carnivores in the stable where our Lord was born. Still, His birth sets in motion a certain process which will apparently involve the possibility of just this--of carnivores being in the the stable. And this is not like the proverbial fox in the henhouse! This passage speaks of wolves dwelling with lambs, leopards lying down with goats, and young lions being together with calves and fattened calves at that. I admit that when I read this last part, the skeptical side of me thought, "young lions don't even know how to kill yet, even if the calf is fattened." And then I read a little further, and it said "the lion will eat straw like cattle" (v. 7).
So much for competition; so much for survival of the fittest; so much for survival! Our Lord's advent and ultimate fulfillment of His mission will interrupt the "natural" order of things. I say "natural" because it seems at the very beginning animals were content to not eat each other. For example, an abbreviated version of Genesis 1:29-30 says, "And to all the beasts of the earth..I give every green plant for food" (NIV). So it seems Isaiah is foretelling a full-circle return to this state of affairs for creation.
Another line from a Christmas carol comes to mind, this time from Joy to the World:
He comes to make His blessings known far as the curse is found. This is profoundly pervasive! Later in this same passage, Isaiah says "They will not harm or destroy each other on my entire holy mountain, for the land will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is filled with water" (11:9). That's interesting! Sounds like "maybe the whole ocean" to me :) Actually, for those of you who may be following along in Maybe, please see pages 404-405.
Can we even imagine a world where there is no longer a food chain, no longer a category for "predator" or "prey"?
As I close, I'll just mention one more thing--the most important part for sure: "a child will lead them." What child is this? The same Child who would keep the universe running even as He lay in the manger. The same Child who, from that manger, was fulfilling the mission we reflected on yesterday--"God and sinners reconciled." The same child who will one day be praised as both the Lion and the Lamb. The same Child who invites us to become like children to experience the Kingdom of Heaven.
May childlike wonder fill us all as we prepare to celebrate His coming!