Isaiah 65:17-25; 11:6; 35:9
Those of us who are old enough to remember the lunar landing in 1969 may also remember the name Sea of Tranquility. I always liked this name for an area of the moon; while the moon seemed like a cold and forbidding place, Sea of Tranquility sounded like a desirable place to be-no conflict, no oppression, no violence, nothing but peace and comfort.
This week’s scripture readings all have a future orientation. Thanks to human failings, there is no Sea of Tranquility on earth at present, no lasting peace and comfort. The prophet Isaiah looked forward to a time when no prey need run from predators. Instead, “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together”and no creature will “hurt or destroy” another. But such a state will not come about until God creates “new heavens and a new earth.”
Isaiah’s prophecies deeply moved the American artist Edward Hicks (1780-1849). A well-known Quaker preacher in his time, Hicks is remembered today for his numerous paintings with the title The Peaceable Kingdom, based on today’s verses from Isaiah. The paintings depict animal predators in peaceful fellow ship with creatures they would normally kill and devour, a sight never seen except in Hicks’s imagination and in the mind of God, who keeps God’s promises . Only on the “new earth” will predators-both animal and human-cease to be. Hicks’s beautiful images do not reflect what is but what will be. Such promises can give us strength and hope in our troubled, violent age.
Eternal God, we thank you for your promises of a new world of peace and tranquility. Let your promises sustain us in this present world of turmoil and conflict. Amen.