6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
(2 Nephi 21:6-9, Isaiah 11:6-9)
Spiritual knowledge leads to peace.
In this passage, Isaiah paints a vivid picture of a time when natural enemies in the animal world will live in harmony. What could be more astonishing than a wolf living peacefully with a lamb, or a lion with a calf? Of course these pairs of animals are not equals. In each case, one is the aggressor and the other the expected victim. But in the world prophesied by Isaiah, the aggressors are no longer a threat. Even a human child can play near poisonous snakes with no fear.
Isaiah’s imagery may refer to a literal change in the nature of animal species. However, today I’m pondering this passage as a metaphor for human peace. There will be a time when people can trust each other, when we won’t need to fear that people will abuse, harass, deceive, or take advantage of us. What will cause this transformation? Knowledge. Isaiah tells us that violence will disappear because “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.”
The prophet Alma chose to teach a dangerous group of people instead of attacking them because, in his experience, “the preaching of the word…had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them” (Alma 31:5). And after the Savior visited the American continent and taught His gospel following His death and resurrection, there was no contention among the people for many years (4 Nephi 1:15-18).
Elder Boyd K. Packer taught:
True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior (“Little Children,” General Conference, October 1986).
Today, I will remember that knowledge leads to peace. I will remember that the word of God can have a powerful effect on the minds of people. I will remember that an understanding of the doctrine of Christ can positively influence behavior. I will strive to help fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord, so that the people can live together in peace and harmony.