We are continuing our meditation on the Millennium, the thousand-year reign of Jesus. When Christ comes, those who belong to the Lord will receive incorruptible bodies (1 Corinthians 15:54), and at that time, God will change the nature of the animal kingdom. Paul the Apostle wrote:
19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time (Romans 8:19-22).
What was on Paul's mind when he wrote about the groaning of the creation? I think he was referring to humanity's poor treatment of the animal kingdom. Since the Fall of Man, the relationship between humanity and the animal kingdom has suffered. Today, we see the devastating effects of modern agriculture and livestock farming methods bringing significant trauma to the creation. This suffering is not what God intended, and the animal kingdom is in anguish along with humanity. The inner longing and groaning of all the animal kingdom are for the change of their fear toward humanity and one another. Isaiah the prophet also spoke about what it would be like for the animal kingdom when Christ, the root of Jesse, will sit on the throne of the world:
4but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips, he will slay the wicked. 5Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 6The 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. 7The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. 9They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious (Isaiah 11:4-10).
Isaiah writes about the One who will bring about this time of change, a descendant of King David (Jesse was David’s father, v. 10), the Lord Jesus, the rightful heir to the throne of David, a King who will judge and change the earth. Animals that usually feed on others less able to defend themselves will feed together (vs. 6-7). The wolf and the sheep lie with one another at night—living with one another. The lion, one of the most predatory animals on the planet, will eat straw as an ox does (v. 7). Then, there will be children reaching into the dens of adders and playing with the venomous snakes (v. 8). When this prophecy was given 600 years before Christ, ferocious animals were abundant in Israel, but Isaiah prophesies of a time when children will play with the animals, and the earth will be at peace, and because the knowledge of God will cover the earth, the Gentile nations will place their trust in Him, and His rest will be glorious (v. 10). It will be the Sabbath 1000-year rest. The prayer that humanity prays for, peace on earth and goodwill towards men, will finally be answered. God's presence and reign will accomplish this. The Lord Jesus will slay the wicked with the breath of His lips (v. 4), and all creation will finally live in peace. His rest to our souls will be glorious (v. 10). Keith Thomas
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