The Peaceable Kingdom
In June of 2010 my family and I took a trip to Washington, D.C. where we enjoyed seeing the memorials, the museums, the White House, the Capitol, and Mount Vernon. While we visited the National Gallery of Art, we saw Edward Hicks’ 1826 painting of the Peaceable Kingdom.
The setting of this painting is the colony of Pennsylvania. William Penn, the founder of the colony, is seen in the background making a peace treaty with the local Native American tribes. In the foreground of the painting, we see children interacting with various animals, both predators and prey, lying together in peace. The hope for the early colonists in Pennsylvania was that they would be able to have a peaceable kingdom in the New World, but that was not to be.
The scene of the animals is taken from the prophet Isaiah’s vision of the Messiah’s kingdom of peace from Isaiah 11:6-9, “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, 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.” Isaiah shared this vision of peace with God’s people in Judah during a perilous time with invasions from Assyrians in the north and betrayal by their sister kingdom of Israel. In this vision and others Isaiah calls God’s people to turn from their idolatry and injustice and to turn back to their faithful God. Healing and restoration are available. If the people will put their trust in the Lord and his promises, God’s peaceable kingdom will come.
During this Advent and Christmas season, we will focus on how the Messiah’s peaceable kingdom touches us now even as we wait for its full arrival when Jesus Christ comes again to the earth. Here is the schedule for the Advent messages on “The Peaceable Kingdom”:
December 3 (The First Sunday of Advent): “The Peaceable Kingdom: Worship in Spirit and Truth” – John 4:1-26
December 10 (The Second Sunday of Advent): “The Peaceable Kingdom: Kingdom Peace for God’s People in Jesus” – Isaiah 9:1-7 and Matthew 4:12-17
December 17 (The Third Sunday of Advent): “The Peaceable Kingdom: Creation’s Hope for Release!” – Romans 8:18-25
December 24 (The Fourth Sunday of Advent/Christmas Eve): “The Peaceable Kingdom: The Peace Child” – Luke 2:8-21
May the Lord bless us with his peace as we reflect on Christ’s peaceable Kingdom and look forward to its complete arrival in the fullness of time.