“They won’t harm or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain.
The earth will surely be filled with the knowledge of the Lord,
just as the water covers the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9 CEB)
“…..and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6b CEB)
So this week I’ve started doing some research for my next sermon, which will be on the Prophet Zechariah. I’ve been reading about him in particular and about Judeo-Christian prophetic and apocalyptic literature in general. It’s really easy to read these visions and these accounts and get lost in the drama of God smiting this people or that people. Isn’t it interesting than when we read about God smiting people we usually assume he’s talking about smiting the people we’d like him to smite, or the people who do don’t think the same way we do?
But that’s another subject for another day. What I’ve been struck by as I’ve read about these visions is the ultimate hope they have. The ultimate vision is that someday God will put everything right and restore things to the way they should be, the way things were originally set up to be before sin and death entered the picture.
So that got me to thinking. Why am I a Christian? When it gets down to the nitty gritty, why do I profess what I profess? What is the end game for all of this?
I suspect that if you asked a lot of Christians this same question you’d get a lot of people talking about how they view the end. The end of their earthly existence and even the end of human history and the “end of the world” would probably be popular subjects. I suspect a lot of us, myself included, would say things like we’re looking forward to seeing family or friends again. For me, there hasn’t been hardly a day when I haven’t missed my grandfather Ed Moore, who passed away 20 some years ago. I’d love to see him again, to talk to him again, to sing again while he played the guitar. Now I don’t know if that’s how any of it works. I’d like to think it does, and I bet you do too.
You may get some other various answers about “heaven.” Some of it influenced by certain things in the scripture, some influenced by popular culture throughout the ages. I’ve heard fellow Christians talk about how awesome their mansion is going to be. A popular song that’s out now from a prominent Christian artist talks about how awesome the streets of gold are going to be.
I change the station every time that song comes on. Why? Because if that’s all “heaven” is I’m going to be extremely disappointed.
I’m not really into the mansion thing. I couldn’t care less about streets of gold. I have questions. I want to ask God about how this works why he made something like that. I want to know all I can about love. Science will attempt to define love as the firing of various synapses in our brain and the like, but the truth is, we still don’t know a lot about how emotions work, and I can say that, because I have a scientific degree in psychology.
And love, love is so much more than an emotion. Love will lead you to abandon all of the scientific answers and explanations. In a strictly Darwinian sense we look out for ourselves and our survival, and once we’ve reproduced we may do the same for our offspring. Yet love will lead us to sacrifice our own good for the well being of others. Sometimes a sense of love and basic humanity leads a person to give up their own life, their own existence, for another human being that the person may not even know.
I want to know how that works, because there is nothing more wonderful in space or time.
And when you read the prophets you get a sense of something so much more, something that mansions and streets of gold and even singing Stardust with my grandpa again can’t even touch! I think Isaiah says it best:
The wolf will live with the lamb,
and the leopard will lie down with the young goat;
the calf and the young lion will feed together,
and a little child will lead them.
The cow and the bear will graze.
Their young will lie down together,
and a lion will eat straw like an ox.
A nursing child will play over the snake’s hole;
toddlers will reach right over the serpent’s den.
They won’t harm or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain.
The earth will surely be filled with the knowledge of the Lord,
just as the water covers the sea.
We look around at the world as it is now and we see so much turmoil, so much strife. It appears that nothing can escape the hate and anger. It seems fundamentally broken because it is.
The prophets offer us a vision of a world that is fixed. Look at the imagery that is used in the verses above, it truly is beautiful. How might look if it were written today? I picture a world where every single human being has enough to eat until they’re full. I picture a world where people receive healing medical treatments regardless of their ability to pay for it. I see a place where people have the opportunity to better themselves through work and education regardless of social or economic class. I picture a world where every single human being is seen as being created in the divine image of God regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, nation of birth, race, creed, or any other criteria which we humans use to catalog each other. I see a world where everyone is worth it. I see a world where everyone is loved both by God and fellow humans. I see a place where people are judged by how much they love and how much they give, not how much they make and how much they take.
I see a world without war.
I see a world without racism.
I see a world without sexism.
I see a world without shame.
I see a world without hate.
I see a world without anger.
That’s what the endgame is. That is this new hope spoken of by Biblical Prophets. I want Love, Justice, and Righteousness, not mansions and streets of gold. The Lord is the giver of all wisdom. God is Love. I want the knowledge of God, of wisdom, and most of all Love to wash over this earth like water over the sea.
And I believe it will. That is my hope. That is why I’m a Christian.
Yet I know that we’re not just supposed to sit around and wait to experience this until after we die. I know that we are not called to sit on our collective duffs and wait for all of this to happen at some future date when God shows up and kills everybody who doesn’t think like we do.
We are supposed to be making justice and righteousness happen NOW. The Message we are charged with carrying is not “Make the right choice so it can be awesome after you die.” The Message is that you can meet Jesus right now. That you can be filled with the same spirit that breathed life into all flesh, that sends the winds from the four corners of the earth, that plots the stars in their courses, and raised Jesus from the dead.
Empowered with that Spirit, driven by His love, and inspired by His grace, there is NOTHING we can’t do. We’re called to make it happen now “on earth as it is in heaven.” We have to reach out and grab it. We have to do the hard work of loving, serving, and blessing others. We have to show that there’s a better way.
Look at that picture that I put on this post. See the wonder, the awe, the joy, the innocence of it. I see that as a modern picture of God’s Holy Mountain. We have to make it happen, and we can, despite our discouragement.
God loves you, He loves me, His grace is sufficient for all of us, and He calls us to bring that message to the world.
That is the message I am charged with bringing this day and everyday.
Holy and Peaceful the day of the Mountain.
A-men. Come Lord Jesus.