* This post is part of an Advent devotional, being posted daily during Advent 2014. For an intro to this series of posts, please read the initial post here.
Saturday: 6 December
Read: Isaiah 11:1-9
(Light a candle)
Attempt to imagine a world without war or rumours of war, without the threat of violence anywhere – not even among the animals. The ripple effects of such a reality are almost beyond our comprehension. For a moment consider some of the changes. Financial shifts would occur – no defense contractors and billions of dollars would be available in government budgets. Some changes we desperately, desperately long for already – no military funerals; no child soldiers; no mass displacements and refugee camps; no beheadings; no rape; no terror. Other shifts would be trivial and seem almost comical – how do you do a nature documentary without the pervasive predator-prey tension? It is nearly impossible for us to conceive of that world.
Though we are tempted to dismiss such a vision as simplistic idealism, as if Isaiah were completely unaware of the complexities that make such a future mere wistfulness, this passage understands that such peace will flourish only when justice is transformed. The coming servant of God will judge by God’s Spirit and with a desire to please God. How different from our law enforcement and political structures! Even in their best iterations, these structures that ought to protect can serve as instruments of oppression and violence. Moreover, the coming servant will administer righteousness on behalf of the needy and the poor – those whose pleas frequently go unheard and are silenced whether by lack of resources, lack of access, or lack of breath. In our here and now, it is difficult to conceive of a justice system that is not distorted by privilege and biases. What a different world ours will be when the structures and those called to enforce laws and administer justice do so with the trust and confidence of all people!
The absence of violence is only one mark of the coming kingdom. God has promised to so thoroughly and completely remove our sins that not only will war cease, but the underlying structures of justice will be completely and fully trustworthy. The richness and goodness, the abundantly flourishing life of this transformed world pushes beyond what we can imagine. Take hope, for in the coming kingdom “They will neither harm nor destroy…” says the Lord.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, that the light of your life may fill us with the living hope that our sins will be no more. Amen.