Lions and Wolves and Snakes! Oh My!

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD. – Isaiah 65:17-25

Do you remember, in the movie The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man are walking through the dark, spooky forest? They’re fearfully chanting, “Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh my!” Of course, as is often the case with movies, their fear turns to laughter as they encounter a lion, a cowardly one more afraid of them than they are of him.

Isaiah 65 ends with a similar sort of thought about lions and wolves and snakes. Isaiah doesn’t picture them as a danger to the reader. No, the lions are eating straw; lambs are dinner guests with the wolves; and the serpent is insignificant as dust. An “Oh my!” of delight might escape your lips at the sight. And that’s just what God intends. Isaiah pictures the kind of place that rights every bad situation. He gives a few earthly examples to help you understand: think of healthy babies, long lives, happy homes, no more tears – only good things.  He calls it “the new heavens and the new earth”. It’s the home God’s prepared for believers.

It’s a desirable thing, because we often experience the opposite. Believers can die young and get sick. Babies aren’t always healthy. Jobs are sometimes horrible and hard. Homes sometimes fall into foreclosure. The world doesn’t look like Isaiah’s picture. Here’s a way to think about Isaiah’s words as you live in this world that tests your faith with difficult times. Believers can pray to God for help and comfort. He answers in various ways. But in his Word, God tells of his Son, your Savior. He delights in you because of the forgiveness Jesus won – enough to give you a peaceful new home. You’re God’s own, dear child right now because of Jesus. Difficult work, failing health, and rough days all fit inside his love as he answers your prayers. No situation can take away the peace he pictures for you.

The believer can trust that what God says is true. After all, by his Word, God made the first heavens and the earth. And in the meantime, he’s tossed the Serpent Satan in the dirt and won salvation for us. He’s given us every reason to believe he can create it all again: new heavens and a new earth so joy-filled that this one won’t even be a memory. Be glad and rejoice in what he’s promised to create for you.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, help me always to see the beautiful peace you’ve won for me. Let that peace live in my heart every day so I can serve you with joy and trust in your promises. Amen.

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