Wolf and LambJune 25, 2012 - 5:00 am
“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearlingtogether; and a little child will lead them.” — Isaiah 11:6
One of the most famous prophecies given over to us by the prophet Isaiah is the messianic description of world peace. Not only will nations beat their swords into ploughshares, but the tranquillity will spread to the animal kingdom as well. Predators and their prey will live together in peace and harmony. The wolf with the lamb, the leopard with the goat, the calf with the lion, and a small child with them all. Pretty miraculous! But the Jewish Sages have a different take. They ask: “What’s the big deal?”
The Sages recognize that this miracle has already happened before. Been there, done that. During the great flood in the time of Noah, all of the animals lived peacefully together in small quarters together with their human caretakers. The lions did not start a mutiny, and the elephants did not lead a stampede. Even the smallest creatures remained unharmed. The wolf already lived with the lamb! So what’s so amazing about this happening again?
The Sages teach us that there is a profound difference between the peace that was kept on Noah’s ark and the peace that will reign during the messianic times. During the flood, living creatures came together because they shared a common adversary. But in the messianic era they will come together because of love.
How will this awesome transformation come about? How will we go from a world filled with hate to a world brimming with love? Just a few verses later we are told: “They will neither harm nor destroy . . . for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
Just as water fills the sea, everyone will recognize that God fills the earth. Just as the waters make up the sea, the whole world will understand that God makes up the earth – and everything and everyone in it. After millennia of fighting against one another, we will finally understand that we are part of each other. We are all part of God. We are all one.
So how could we possibly hurt each other?
We can all access the messianic era right now. Think of your body. There are good parts and less than ideal parts and perhaps even a part that is irritating you. But you would never hurt any of those parts. Your right hand does not slap the left! That’s how we have to see the people around us. Yes, even the irritating ones. We are them and they are us, and we need to treat them accordingly.
When we succeed at bringing peace into our own lives, we then will see it in the whole world.