What sort of change in the nature of animals do you think of when I read Isaiah 11:6-9: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. 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?” If you are like most people, your thoughts would be that the change in the nature would be in the wolf, the bear, the lion, and the cobra, to remove their predatory nature and to replace it with something more tranquil or docile. However, it is not only the nature of predators that must change for the world to know peace and tranquility, but also the nature of animals that are preyed upon that must also change. Some of you may remember that in my first year of Spokesmen’s club here I spoke about my favorite animal, the skunk , and today I would like to discuss some aspects of the nature of the skunk that must be changed by God during the Millennium so that there will be peace and tranquility among the animal and human world.
The most famous aspect of a skunk’s nature is it’s smelly spray. Clearly, if there will be no hurting or destroying in God’s holy mountain during the Millennium, there will be no skunks spraying people either. Let us remember, though, that the spraying of the skunk is merely one part of its nature that needs to be changed, and only the last step in a long chain. We cannot forget that skunks are small animals capable of self-defense and often preyed upon, and not massive predators. A skunk sprays because it is a nervous and anxious animal who feels threatened and in danger. So for a skunk not to spray, or to suffer, its nature must be changed so that it is no longer nervous and anxious. Not only must it no longer be threatened or attacked by others, but it must no longer feel threatened, which is a much more difficult matter. It is not only the circumstances, but the heart and temperament of the skunk, that must be changed. In similar manner to changing the skunk’s spraying, it is also likely that the sharp claws and fangs of the skunk would no longer be used as a defense mechanism either.
Another aspect of a skunk’s nature that will have to be changed in the Millennium is its vindictiveness. According to Skunksaspets.com, a website devoted to encouraging people on proper ways of raising pet skunks, the skunk is an animal that never forgets and never forgives offenses against it. In particular, skunks react very badly to overly harsh discipline, including hitting or swatting, and will delight in taking revenge on those who harm it similar to a toddler . Clearly, for the skunk to be a positive aspect of the Millennium, its vindictive nature and absence of forgiveness will have to be changed. There are many cases in this life where peace and tranquility depend on being gracious and forgiving, and that is an aspect of nature that will have to change. Simply because there will no longer be any hurting or destroying in God’s kingdom does not mean that there will not be the potential to remember past injuries or abuses that will contribute to a lack of goodwill and peace between others, and the skunk’s vindictive nature and eternal hostility to enemies is a reminder of the need to forgive the wrongs that others have committed against us.
There is yet another aspect of the skunk’s nature that will have to be changed in the Millennium, and that is the breeding behavior of skunks. Skunks are induced ovulators, which means that female skunks do not produce an egg unless intercourse is forced on them. To put this bluntly, all skunks are the product of rape during their rutting season. As this is an act of violence, for there to be no violence in the Millennial kingdom ruled by Jesus Christ, there will have to be a different way that skunks are able to become pregnant and bear their adorable little kits. Related to the fact that little kits tend to be the result of rape is the fact that skunks are raised nearly exclusively by their mothers and their fathers are totally uninvolved in the upbringing of children. Clearly, in a world as full of love and peace and holiness as the Millennial kingdom, one would expect skunk families to be intact and full of love, as much as human families will be, which means that the violence in the skunk households will no longer be an issue, and the lives of skunks, which are only about three years or so in the wild, will be greatly extended as a result of the greater peace and tranquility to be found.
Today I have discussed some of the ways that the nature of the skunk will have to be changed in the Millennium, in its ferocious self-defense as a result of its ambient fear and anxiety, in its vindictive spirit and absence of forgiveness in dealing with offenses, and in the rape and violence and absence of fathers when it comes to the household and families of skunks. When we think about the changes of the natures of animals that will be undertaken in the Millennium, our thoughts are usually turned towards the ferocious predators at the top of the food chain, and how their nature will be made less violent, yet a look at how the nature of a small and intensely curious woodland creature capable of self-defense but hardly aggressive towards others will have to change is a reminder that the nature that has to be changed is far more comprehensive than we may believe. Those habits and patterns of behavior that result from life in a fallen world full of violence and peril will no longer be appropriate in a world full of peace, and perhaps the deeply tormented and misunderstood animal that the skunk is will no longer itself be a misguided mascot of fear and loathing, but will be an animal that serves as a symbol of God’s graciousness through granting peace of mind, and safety, and tranquil living conditions. The same sort of changes that a skunk needs to be suitable to live happily and joyfully in the Millennium are needed by many people as well. May that kingdom come soon.