Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tree Trimming #6: Peace on Earth

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.
Luke 2:14

I'll admit, when I first saw this ornament on the Bronners CHRISTmas online store I thought, "Oh yeah, there's that verse about how 'the Lion shall lie down with the lamb'..."  It seemed like a really cool reason to get the ornament.  Of course, when I went to check Isaiah 11, I found no such thing.  "They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain..." is the the main idea and summation behind the previous verses (Isaiah 11:9a).  Where as in our day, we would never imagine letting a child play with a cobra nor would we put a wolf in the sheep pen and expect harmony--but one day, at least metaphorically, Jesus' reign will make this a reality.

But is "peace on earth"merely a future hope?  Is it something that will elude us entirely until we literally see lions eating straw and leopards nuzzling nose to nose with goats (Isaiah 11:6-7)?   Is there a way to better understand how this picture of a Lion and Lamb bring peace on earth?

I think so.

"Then one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep!  See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.  He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.'  Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne encircled by the four living creatures and the elders... "
Revelation 5:5-6

There it is.  In John's vision he is encouraged to look  at the Lion of Judah Who has triumphed and won the adoration of heaven.  But when John looks, he doesn't see a Lion, but a Lamb Who appeared to have been slain.  We're told later in Revelation 5:9-10 that the Lamb's life was used to redeem persons to fill the kingdom of God with citizens who are kings and priests.  It's an amazing scene and a shocking one as well.  Expecting a lion but finding a lamb would be supremely surprising and few things are more stupefying.  Among them is God's wisdom to use men's murderous intent against His Son to reconcile them to Himself not to mention reconciling Jews to Gentiles and vice-versa.

"For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.  His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross by which he put to death their hostility."
Ephesians 2:14-16

Christmas is a celebration of embodiment.  The Incarnation opens up the immeasurable spiritual blessing encased in a human body.  That God was at work to bring peace between Himself and humanity through the suffering and physical death of Jesus is a wonder for the ages.  Faith in Christ's sacrificial act to justify us is what brings "peace on earth" between men and God (Romans 5:1). The Lion is the Lamb and He Himself is our peace.  

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