What Was War?

“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?'” – Eve Merriam

I had to touch on this at some point… :)

Isaiah 2:4

He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.

Also…Micah 4:3

He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
4but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid,
for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.

Obviously these are two verses peace activists like myself love to cite when talking about God being a peaceful God. The prophets here, Micah being a disciple of Isaiah, believe that the way of the Lord is peace, and when the nations gather unto God, learn his ways, and let Him be their judge, then they will fully and truly know peace.

Theses are indeed visions of peace, not commands to beat our swords into plowshares and not take up war anymore (though I certainly couldn’t see God opposing such an action).  The prophets are looking forward to the time when YHWH reigns from Mount Zion and the nations no longer need to use military technology because there’s no longer anyone waging war. They’re looking forward to the peace that the Messiah will bring when he redeems Israel and the rest of Creation.

Now, before, anyone can get to it, I will point out in Joel 3 he says the same thing…but reversed…

9Proclaim this among the nations: Consecrate for war;
stir up the mighty men.
Let all the men of war draw near;
let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords,
and your pruning hooks into spears;
let the weak say, “I am a warrior.”

This doesn’t invalidate the visions of peace in Isaiah or Micah in any way; it just adds to the fact that visions of peace and war both exist in the Old Testament.  Nor does this validate war.  Isaiah and Micah’s visions are what will come when the Messiah comes, and I believe that the same peace they envisioned could be acted out here.

Many people, be the authors, musicians, poets, presidents, kings, etc., have spoken of a time when war was no more.  Mankind cries out in redemption from it, and yet we wage it still!  We are a war-tired people, just like the people of Israel were at the time of this writing.  What we cannot do anymore, though, is continue to live so violently while we wait for Jesus to come back. A recovering alcoholic should not be getting drunk each day prior to his AA meetings; nor should we wage war until the Lord returns.  Peace is a virtue, indeed, and we must practice it if we want it to become second-nature.

We may not see world peace before the Christ returns, but that is no reason not to strive for peace until then, despite what the rest of the world does.

 

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