And he will judge between the nations and will decide concerning 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. Isaiah 2:4
In one Peanuts cartoon Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “I hate everything. I hate everybody. I hate the whole wide world!” Charlie says, “But I thought you had inner peace.” Lucy replies, “I do have inner peace. But I still have outer obnoxiousness.” Source: Unknown
Peace is becoming more elusive in our world these days. Many African countries are on the cusp of civil war as military leaders overthrow democratically elected presidents and instituted restrictions to prevent uprisings against their despotic rule. We see a similar pattern in Myanmar where hundreds of civilians have been killed by the military and plunging the country into a civil war. The world has recently been captivated by the news of an imminent war between Russia and Ukraine. In addition, the war in the Middle East between a coalition led by the Saudis against freedom fighters in Yemen. Somalia is still entrenched in a civil war against Al-Shabaab that has caused thousands of casualties and untold atrocities. Civil war is still waging in Ethiopia between the Ethiopian government and the people of the Tigray region.
Why is it so difficult to have and maintain peace in the world? Because there are dark forces working overtime to promote hatred and create chaos in the world. In truth, the world has never been at peace since the sin of Adam and Eve. Early in the Genesis story, we see Cain kill his brother Able. One of the main reasons God send a flood to destroy the world in Genesis 7, was because of the prevalence of violence in the then known world.
Then came Jesus with a message of peace. He came preaching love, reconciliation with God, forgiveness, and salvation from our sinful nature. When Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant named Malchus who came to arrest Jesus, He rebuked Peter and reattached the ear. Before Jesus was crucified, He told the disciples Peace I live with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives (John 14:27).
The word gives peace through treaties that can be broken. But God gives peace that passes all understanding. In today’s text, Isaiah prophesies the day when all wars will cease, and the people of the world will turn their swords into plowshares. In today’s context, that means using the metals for making guns and other weapons of mass destruction to build schools, computers, hospitals, agricultural machines needed to optimize food production, etcetera.
As idealistic as this may sound, you and I can do it by resisting divisive rhetoric from politicians. We must refuse the temptation to use deadly weapons to solve social conflicts. Those who want peace here and now should compel the government to invest more in education instead of the military. We should advocate for criminal justice reform, a living wage for blue-collar workers, and the protection of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.
We must also turn our swords into plowshares in our own lives. Too many family members are at war with one another. They may have inner peace from God, but they harbor outer obnoxiousness for each other in times of conflict. Many local churches are going through their own civil war as members demonstrate outer obnoxiousness toward one another in meetings, in their communication, and in making decisions for the direction of their churches. We need to turn words that can hurt and kill relationships into words that can heal and bring harmony. The bitterness and rancor between different ethnic groups, different nationalities, and different races should be turned into bridges of peace and festivals of harmony undergirded by the principle of love. We don’t have to wait for peace to come. We should make peace now.
Questions for Personal Reflection
What sword do you need to turn into plowshare in your life?
How can you become an agent of peace in this world of strife?
Prayer- Precious Lord, I thank you for the peace you’ve given me in Christ Jesus. Please help me to become an agent of peace and resist the temptation for retaliation. Give me the wisdom to turn the swords of negative attitude, selfish motives, personal vendettas, and hurtful words into the plowshares of forgiveness for those who sin against me, and love for those who consider themselves my enemies.