August 9, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Isaiah 11:6-9 (NIV)
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Then the whole world is filled with the knowledge of God, all things will be transformed. Violence will cease. Enemies will become friends. Injustice will be replaced with peace. We yearn for such a time as this, joining the ancient prophet Isaiah in looking forward to the day when “the wolf will live with the lamb.”
If I were to ask you, “What is the world full of today?” what might you say? Perhaps, “The world is full of activity” or “The world is full of adventure” or “The world is full of suffering” or “The world is full of injustice.” As you think about this world, what would be the very best thing to fill the whole earth?
The prophecies of Isaiah weave together judgment and forgiveness, doom and hope. God’s judgment is coming on Israel for her persistent disobedience, but that’s not the end of the story. In the future, God will raise up a new ruler, a shoot out of the stump of David’s family (Isaiah 11:1). This ruler will be empowered by God’s own Spirit. He will be a king who executes justice and righteousness. In the day of the messianic ruler, not only will former enemies live in peace, but also “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD” (11:9).
I would suggest that this is perhaps the best thing to fill the world. Remember, the knowledge of the Lord includes more than simply believing in God’s existence. When the Bible speaks of knowing God, this is not just true knowledge about God, but also an intimate relationship with God. It’s the kind of knowledge that a child has of its mother, for example, or a husband of his wife. In Isaiah’s vision, people throughout the world will trust in the Lord and know him personally. And this knowledge will change everything, ushering in an age of God’s peace, justice, and righteousness.
In fact, when the whole world knows God, everything will change. Those who were once enemies will become friends. Those who once acted violently toward others will live in peace. No longer will any creature “harm or destroy” (Isaiah 11:9). The knowledge of God isn’t just in the head or even in the heart. It fills the earth and transforms everything, bringing the shalom of God to all creatures. (Photo: A vision of the future? My cat, Lily, and my dog, Sandy, sometimes enjoyed each other’s company. The leopard lying down with the goat?)
Notice that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD,” not just Israel, but the whole earth (Isaiah 11:9). More than the other Hebrew prophets, Isaiah’s vision includes the blessing, not just of Israel, but also of all nations. We’ll see this again and again throughout the book of Isaiah. His prophecies are a precursor to the mission of Jesus, as well as the followers of Jesus, who are to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Thus, Isaiah reminds us of the wideness in God’s mercy. The prophet encourages us to yearn for the day when the earth will be filled with the intimate, personal, transforming knowledge of the Lord.
Do you yearn for the earth to be filled with people who know the Lord? What contributes to this yearning?
What part do you play in helping others know God?
How do you bear witness to the Lord in your daily life? In your work? In your relationships?
Talk with your small group or with a wise friend about how you know God and the difference this personal knowledge makes in your life.
Gracious God, the day will come when the whole earth will be filled with knowledge of you. People throughout the globe will know you personally. What a day that will be! Finally you will receive the honor you deserve. Finally your name will be glorified rather than mocked. Finally your kingdom will come in all fullness. Finally you will make all things right.
In that day, violence will cease. Enemies will become friends. Injustice will be swallowed up by your peace. Oh, let that day come, Lord!
How I look forward to the day when, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). What a privilege and joy it will be to join with people from all nations as we bow before you, Lord Jesus. Until that day, may I be part of your effort to let the world know about you. In my words and deeds, in my private life and my professional life, whether I’m at church or at work, may I bear witness to your good news. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Go and Make Disciples (Matthew 28:16-20)
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.