Updated: Aug 18, 2021
I want you to think of two fairy tales. Do you remember the story of Little Red Riding Hood? How the wolf wanted to eat both her and her grandmother? Or how about Three Little Pigs? Do you remember that In his zeal to get to the mice to eat them, the wolf threatened to “huff and puff and blow your house in”!
These fairy tales make us think of the ferocity of wolves. Now you know the Bible has a story about wolves too. It’s a different story all together and we’re going to look at that together.
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. Isaiah 11:6 NIV
As we just recounted from the fairy tales, wolves don’t live with their prey, they eat them! Leopards eat goats, and lions eat calves. What are they all doing lying down together?!
The absurdity of this picture is precisely what the Lord is using to draw our attention to something incredible, something beautiful, that is coming and will be here soon.
This picture that the prophet paints is not only delightful, it brings us hope. If one day a wolf can coexist with a lamb, maybe we really can have a more peaceful universe where we can all get along.
The prophet’s vision is depicting an incredible scene. What an incredible accomplishment it will be for predators to lie down peacefully with the helpless animals that are normally their prey!
For that to happen the predators cannot give in to their natural desire to eat others weaker than themselves. Similarly, the lambs and goats and calves, who are normally victims, must either lose or overcome their natural tendencies to be afraid of and to flee from predators.
Is this possible? Can there be peace among sworn, natural enemies? I mean, we have some history here. Scars. Offenses that go back years, even for generations.
However, the prophecy is that they will not only find peace, but that a little child shall lead them. This is so even though we know that children can be victims of predators too. What kind of parent would leave their child alone with a known predator?
For all these things to occur something dramatic has to happen to change the natural order of things. In fact, the only real explanation for this change would be that the nature of both the predators and victims has to change.
Predators have the power to take what they want, but in this prophetic picture they don’t take it. The sheep and goats have the power to run away, but here, they don’t.
This prophetic picture is promising us a world where people have learned to control their appetites and their fears. Could that even be possible?
Enter Jesus, who is the perfect picture of self-control. Jesus is God so He has the power to do whatever He wants and take whatever He wants. After all, He raised people from the dead and operated in supernatural power nearly every day. It’s what He is known for.
Yet, Jesus never used that power for His own benefit. He only used His power for our benefit and for His Father’s glory.
This characteristic is known as ‘meekness’. Meekness has been defined as “power under control.” It’s when you know you have the power to get something you want but you don’t exercise that power because it wouldn’t be right.
A story in the Bible dealing with self-promoting disciples provides an opportunity for Jesus to teach us about meekness:
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 NIV
This is a revolutionary teaching. Jesus rightly states that the people of the world crave power and when they get it they normally use it to their own advantage. That’s not meek and that’s not right. Jesus taught us not to live like that. Instead, He taught us to use our power and authority to serve and not be served.
Honestly, we don’t see much meekness in this “dog eat dog” world. But the prophet here is seeing something in the future. He is seeing a picture of the Messianic Kingdom, that is, the Kingdom of Heaven where people act in meekness, not doing as they please.
As the Prophet Isaiah says:
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain. Isaiah 11:9
What will it take for His kingdom to come, and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven so that nobody will harm or destroy anybody else?
Imagine the peace and rest. Imagine being able to leave your doors open at night. Imagine not having to worry about what neighborhood you are going through, or who is coming into yours.
This is where God is promising to bring us. What a beautiful future we have waiting for us!
So how do we get there? What brings about this change? The Scriptures teach that the change will come with the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. Look with me back in Isaiah to chapter 9:
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 NIV84
The prophet announced that light and good news were coming to a dark and miserable place, through a little child. This child, our Savior Jesus, will carry with him a new government, a new kingdom. This kingdom will be a peaceful kingdom. It will establish and uphold justice and righteousness, not just outside of us but inside of us as well.
Satan, who is the current prince of this world [John 12:31], is the leader of those who only sow to the flesh and pursue nothing but their own self-interest. These are people who, like Satan, care nothing for us. [John 10:10]. That is the world as it is now in most places. But the new regime, which is the kingdom of God, is fueled by God’s passionate zeal for everyone to live in peace, free of all coercion and violence.
With this coming is a transformational power that God has made available to us so that we do not stay slaves to Satan and to the old way of doing things, looking out for our own self-interest and indulging the desires of our flesh. Instead, this power and grace equips us to be changed from the inside out so that we can have the same kind of peace the Prophet Isaiah was showing us with the picture of the wolf living with the lamb.
This marvelous power which the New Testament refers to as “grace” has appeared to the world through Jesus Christ our Lord. Look with me to Paul’s letter to Titus:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope-- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14 NIV84
The Apostle Paul writes that this grace comes as a teacher… a teacher of righteousness. We see that grace teaches us how to say ‘No’ to sin and to live a self-controlled, upright and godly life. This power to change our lives through grace is for right now, not for later on in heaven. The training and the purification are for here.
But for grace to teach us, as any teacher will tell you, the student must be teachable. We must want to learn.
That’s the problem. To be teachable we need to look down the rabbit hole to places inside that are a little dark. Most people don’t want to do that, including some good Christian people.
As Jesus taught us:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-21 NIV
There’s a lot of Christians who love the light, but others not so much. To love the light means that you want to see the truth about yourself. A truth that can sometimes be not only inconvenient but a little scary and even shocking! But, if we are going to change, we must first see what needs to change inside of us.
The reason we don’t see the wolf lying down with the lamb yet - the reason the world is still filled with violence with even the church divided - is because so many people don’t want to look at what is going on inside of them. Without this willingness to see who they really are, they can never learn a better way to live.
The first thing Jesus said when He started His ministry was, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17 NIV
The kingdom can’t come unless people first repent of their evil ways. And good people want to repent. Good people don’t want to be bad, they want to be good. If they see something in themselves that hurts other people, they want to change it.
In fact, good people rejoice in the opportunity to repent. They know the Word teaches that what God reveals He heals. It’s a beautiful thing to know that God not only forgives, but He cleans us up too!
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV
We rejoice because when the Kingdom of Heaven is near, the grace of God comes with it. That grace gives us the ability to see what we are doing wrong and the power to change it. This is the good news, that we can be transformed.
Do you not know “that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 NIV It is kind of God not to leave us in the mud we have fallen into. Once we repent, grace works to be God’s supernatural change agent in our lives. As grace does its perfect work in us and we see and then repent of those dark areas in our lives, our actions will change.
As our actions change, people will grow to trust that we will not abuse them for their own benefit. Only when this kind of trust is present can true unity be achieved. Only then will we be at the point where the wolf will live with the lamb.
Jesus came to give this grace to people who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6 NIV
So let’s examine ourselves and ask, am I willing to look inside, down the rabbit hole, to see who I really am? Do I really want to be righteous? Let’s ask God to show us His light, so that we can apply His grace to our situations, forgiving us for our selfishness and empowering us to overcome our issues. As each person follows through with this with genuineness of heart we will be well on our way to the unity and peace God promised us would come.
©2021 Heart of Titus Ministries, Inc.