Friday

He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (v. 4)

Isaiah 2:1-5 Friday 18 December 2020

Psalm 47

Background

 I can’t remember when I first saw a ploughshare. I was brought up by the seaside and they weren’t  plentiful. Now I live in a country village and at the right time of year ploughing is a common sight, although it is highly mechanised and looks very different from in biblical times.  Ploughing images from the past don’t seem to be so appropriate. Not to mention spears…or swords… It is tempting to ignore Bible passages like this. Farming changes, so do circumstances, and parts of the Bible seem to be irrelevant. It depends on how we read them though.

 We are dealing with language and metaphor, but they point to reality. The message is clear. This vision of a future time depicts it as one when people live together peaceably, when nations will no longer be at war. It all seems unrealistic, impractical. But is it?

I once knew a young man who worked in an ordnance factory, making modern weapons, and he started coming to church. I don’t know what had drawn him there, perhaps he had been to a crusade – they were more common back then – or perhaps he had started reading the Bible. I don’t know whether he had professed his faith in a conventional way and I'm not sure if he would describe himself as 'being born again’. But I do know that he was beginning to live his life in a new way. He came for a chat one day and said "I'm giving up my job". It transpired that he felt he could no longer make weapons and be true to his faith so he retrained as a furniture restorer.

"Swords into ploughshares"? Not exactly. But the intent is exactly the same. That was the story of one person. But can a nation do the same thing? Is that dangerous or totally impractical? It is said that Tertullian, one of the Church Fathers, challenged a soldier to lay down his sword. The soldier, worried about losing his livelihood, said: "But I must live." And Tertullian replied: "Must you?"

 How we live matters. "You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?"(Matthew 7:16) I sense I have a long way to go...

 

To Ponder: 

  • How has your faith changed the way you live your life?
  • Has being a Christian ever caused you to make sacrifices in the way you live?
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