The Peaceable Kingdom, by Edward Hicks.  C. 1820                      

   Written by on March 3, 2017 at 1:06 pm

The Peaceable Kingdom

logo-smith-gregThis Bible tapestry contains many thematic threads, woven together to create one beautiful scene. Perhaps the scene itself is the Peaceable Kingdom, with its various wild and domesticated animals living together in harmony, and people of various nations sitting down to smoke a peace pipe. A child reaches into the adder’s hole, and the wolf lies down with the lamb.

Such an inclusive picture can only be the work of God!  All of creation is brought together in peace and unity.  Speaking to an Israelite audience who believed that they were the apex of creation and God’s own favorite people, Isaiah confronted dualistic thinking.  Instead of dividing the world into “us vs. them,” Isaiah 56:1-8 says that God paints with a much broader brush, creating a panorama that is beyond the scope of their imagination.

This is what the Lord says:

“Be just and fair to all.   Do what is right and good, for I am coming soon to rescue you and to display my righteousness among you. 2 Blessed are all those who are careful to do this. Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest and keep themselves from doing wrong. 3 “Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will never let me be part of his people.’ And don’t let the eunuchs say, ‘I’m a dried-up tree with no children and no future.’4 For this is what the Lord says: I will bless those eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy and who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me. 5 I will give them—within the walls of my house— a memorial and a name far greater than sons and daughters could give. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear!

6 “I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant. 7 I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations. 8 For the Sovereign Lord, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel.”

In dualistic thinking, everything is black or white, foreigners or natives, saved or damned, male or female, rich or poor.  Jesus clearly shatters this dichotomy with teachings like the Good Samaritan and loving the enemy and stranger.  Philip demolishes preconceived notions with the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch.  Nondual thinking says, “Be fair and just to all (Isaiah 56:1).”  Instead of reserving justice for a few, it extends fairness to everybody–including the foreigner and those with nontraditional sexuality.  In fact, it extends a blessing to those within these groups who seek God.

In Edward Hicks’ painting, at center stage is the lion.  Right in the middle of such tranquility, the lion scowls at the ox.  For all the rest in the painting, heaven has come to earth.  They have accepted the Lord’s Reign, and are at peace with one another.  Yet the lion, with his mouth shut, refuses to rest in the abundance and grace of God.  Instead, he scowls at his inability to consume the meal that looks at him with trusting eyes.  While all the rest are experiencing heaven on earth, the lion is in his own personal hell.  Rather than these two planes existing in separate locations, heaven and hell are intermingled, the only difference being the attitude of the experiencer.  Dualistic thinking says, “predator or prey.”  Nondual thinking says, “We are all here together.”  The choice is up to us, whether you will experience hell or heaven on earth based on your own limited or unlimited thinking.

© 2017 by Gregory T. Smith.
Reprinted with permission from revgregsmith.blogspot.com

About Greg Smith

Greg Smith is a Baptist minister who has served churches in Central and Southside Virginia. He lives in Halifax County, VA with his wife and children. To read more of Greg’s writings check out his blog at revgregsmith.blogspot.com.

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