Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
— Isaiah 9:7
He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.
— Micah 4:3–4
A while back, there was this viral youtube video of a family — mom, dad and son — getting ready to embark on a long road trip for a family getaway. The parents had gotten their son tickets to that magical kingdom on earth. You know, the one that is run by a very wealthy mouse. (At least that’s what the brochures say, anyway.)
To keep this magnificent adventure a surprise for their son, the parents came up with an ingenious plan to tell the young boy that they were going on a family vacation to a Broccoli farm. They traveled for hours, perhaps even days (I’m no good on the details), but all along the way, they would bring up the thrills and excitement of what a broccoli farm would bring. The son soon became more and more enthused about their extravagant vegetation getaway.
Upon arriving at their destination, the only view was that of a grandiose castle and roller coasters galore. Absolutely no bountiful produce in sight. They opened the car door to greet their child with the news that they weren’t actually going to see broccoli, but instead they were going to see the ever-popular enchanted mouse ruler of all children’s greatest fantasies. The poor kid then burst into tears — not of happiness, but to his parents horror, the child was shedding tears of sorrow, truly heartbroken to find that his high expectations of exploring the great broccoli farm were shattered.
The video ends there, but I’m pretty sure that, upon entering the great magical kingdom of all childhood dreams, this boy probably realized that, though his expectations for magic at the broccoli farm were very high, this alternative reality was actually way better.
In a lot of ways, the Jewish people dealt with this shock of expectation versus reality themselves. In Isaiah 9:7 and Micah 4:3–4 respectively, the prophets spoke of a born messiah who would bring about peace, nations laying down their weapons. A supreme ruler who would carry out righteous judgement. The Jews interpreted this in a manner that was relevant to them. World peace. No more fighting, no more attacks, no more being kicked around by every nation who passed by. All those cruel nations were finally going to get what was comin’ to ‘em. As a nation, the jews a would finally be free of hardships, imprisonment, bullying, ridicule, harassment, taxes, death and the like. As it turns out, their expectations were wrong. Very wrong.
As we find over and over again throughout the Bible, God’s vision is never limited to just our world. Time and time again, he’s looking at a bigger, more important picture that surpasses the limited space and time we’ve come to understand in our painfully limited view. The peace that baby brought to us so long ago wasn’t to end the world’s fights, to topple governments, or to crush the world powers that be. Instead, he was born to end the fight between our sinful selves and God, to topple the wall between us and him, crushing death and bringing salvation to humanity.
The peace he offered wasn’t for the world, but for us individually. And when we accept that peace, then and only then can we conquer all the broken that is out there. His peace can bring broken people together, can give strength in dire situations, give hope and promise of a new tomorrow and forever after. That is the promised peace talked of so long ago.
What the Jews wanted was an appointed ruler, a warrior forcing peace among nations. What they got was a servant, a sacrificial lamb who spent his time on earth spreading love. Though there was nothing wrong with wanting a broccoli farm, the Lord as always had something ever so more wonderful to give: divine peace and an eternal place in his kingdom forever. Don’t let your expectations trample what the Lord has planned for you. Don’t get fixated on the broccoli farm.