He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. 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. (Isaiah 2:4, TNIV)
Last night the President of the United States, Barack Obama, told the world that he planned to send 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan in order to combat Al-Qaeda and establish peace in that country.
This morning I read that the Lord will be the one to bring that peace into the world by judging between nations and settling disputes. Additionally, those nations will then turn their weapons of war into tools for agriculture (read: growth). They will also no longer express hostility toward other nations or train their young men (and women) to fight in wars.
Why do we believe violence is the way to peace? Is it because that's the way we've settled our disputes in the past? Is it because we are afraid to actually sit down and talk to one another? Is it because we may actually have to change our way of doing things if we re-evaluate our current practices? Is it because we are too afraid of letting God call the shots in our lives to actually give scripture the authority we say it has? I am not sure, but what a picture of the Kingdom Isaiah gives us here!
A couple of definitions:
Plowshare - a tool "used to create deep furrows in a cleared field that could then be sown with seed"
Pruning hook - a tool "used to prune grapevines, produce high-quality grapes, and speed the harvest"
In the midst of a world that so willingly escalates violence, what place does an image of surrender have? Not surrender in the sense of giving up, but surrender in the sense of giving over - giving over control of our lives, our families, our nations to the One who loves us so much that he came into our world and became one of us.
As we prepare to celebrate the Advent of the Christ-child, let us remember that he came to share a vision of the Kingdom of God and bring that to fruition. I believe that his vision includes turning weapons of war into tools for fruitfulness.
Loving God, help us to live in accordance with you so that the weapons we turn against each other may be transformed into implements of faithfulness. In Jesus' name. Amen.