One of our year-round consistent advent prayers is to ask the Lord to end
the suffering of both humans and other animals in the world, and to usher in
His peaceable kingdom, or to come now.
We also ask Him to help us and others who are working to eliminate the exploitation of animals, and to soften the hearts of people to acknowledge the truth, so that they would return to eating only plant foods, as we do.
We also have the vision of this peaceable kingdom before us as our hope and prayer, just as Isaiah also had in 11:6-10.
6. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
7. Also the cow and the bear will graze;
Their young will lie down together;
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
9. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.
As we have talked about several times before, Isaiah’s vision reflects
the way that God created the earth and all the living beings, as well as the
way it will be in the heavenly new earth.
This is what God wants, but He also wants it to happen in the here and now as well, which Isaiah tells us, and this is the reason we ended last week’s sermon with the last two lines of verse 9:
“For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.”
Isaiah is telling us that the key ingredient to having true peace, where
no human or animal would hurt or destroy each other or any part of God’s
creation, is for us humans to be full of the knowledge of the Lord and
actually live it.
And in verse 10 he tells us the companion part of why this works.
10. Then it will come about in that day
That the nations will resort to the root of Jesse,
Who will stand as a signal for the peoples;
And His resting place will be glorious.
The root of Jesse, David’s father, is God, because he is in the direct
line of Noah, who is a descendant of Seth, the son of Adam, who was made by
God, which makes the root of Jesse, God.
This means that having the knowledge of the Lord also gives us the desire to return to God wholeheartedly with all our heart and soul.
And the lack of these two ingredients explains why we have so much warring madness and indifference to the suffering and killing of animals in the world.
It has nothing to do with what most people say about their beliefs; it has to do with the way we actually live.
If we are not completely committed to being the peacemaking children of God, we can never have true peace for the whole of God’s creation.
However, if we do have this kind of complete commitment, then we are living our Advent prayer.
Let’s now take a look at what Malachi wrote in 3:1-4.
1. "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts.
John the Baptist was God’s messenger for the first coming of Jesus
Christ, and we are to be those messengers clearing the way for Jesus’ second
We are to do this through our living example of being Spirit filled, loving, compassionate and peacemaking children of God who seek justice for all of God’s creation including every other human being, all the animals, and every other portion of God’s glorious creation.
2. "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can
stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers'
3. "And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.
Sure, we all need some improvements, but if we are living examples of
Jesus, as peacemaking children of God, we may only need to have some tarnish
removed where we have been stained by the evil in this world.
We believe that those who fear the second coming of the Lord are those who are contributing to the corruption of the world, such as those who delight in eating and wearing the tortured remains of animals, and who glory in war and killing.
Note what we are told next about the kinds of offering the Lord wants:
4. "Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be
pleasing to the LORD, as in the days of old and as in former years.
The margin notes and word study references tell us that these pleasing
offerings will be grain offerings.
In other words, Malachi is saying that with Jesus’ first coming, animal sacrifices would end, which they did less than 30 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
God does not want us to hurt or kill any other living being, or to be indifferent to their suffering.
We are to openly work to end all such ungodly activities.
Now let’s look at what John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, prophesied when he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:68-79).
68. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
69. And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of David His servant —
70. As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old —
71. Salvation from our enemies,
And from the hand of all who hate us;
72. To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
73. The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
74. To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75. In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
This came to pass with Jesus’ first coming, but most of the people and
the religious hierarchy rejected His teaching, and the world has been
suffering ever since.
I hope we all heard what Zacharias said:
To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
For there can be no true holiness and righteousness when we ravage and
destroy God’s beautiful creation.
To us, it’s like they are killing Jesus over and over again.
And then Zachariah speaks to John…
76. “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
77. To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
And this forgiveness of sin will be without sacrifice.
78. Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us,
79. To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace."
And John did all of these things as he baptized people in the Jordan
However, those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death are not just the spiritually blind and oppressed, but those who have hardened their hearts to live in the darkness of the world with all its suffering and death, and to participate in the fruits of such violence.
In His love and mercy, God will reach out to everyone to remove their self induced blindness and any oppression thrust upon them, if they are willing.
As servants of God, this is what we have been offering for many years,
too, but unfortunately most people don't want to listen or change.
To carry this a little further, note what we are told in Luke 3:1-6 about John’s ministry:
1. Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius
Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of
Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and
Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
2. in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
3. And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;
4. as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
'Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.
5. 'Every ravine shall be filled up,
And every mountain and hill shall be brought low;
And the crooked shall become straight,
And the rough roads smooth;
6. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.' "
Note specifically that all flesh, not just human flesh will see the
salvation of God.
Luke is telling us that not only was John fulfilling the prophecy of his father, but also the prophecy of Isaiah given in Chapter 40.
But they killed John as they did Jesus because they didn’t want to hear and live the truth, a problem that remains to this very day.
This is why we are continually praying for Jesus to return and end all the suffering and usher in His peace.
Thus, we not only celebrate the advent of Jesus’ first coming some 2000 years ago, but also the promise of His second coming.