Asking the Deeper Questions

LISTEN NOW!

Isaiah 2:1–5 (NIV)

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; 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 any more.

O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

CONSIDER THIS

Can you even imagine it?

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

So stuck we are in the status quo of chaos and conflict that we can hardly fathom a future without it. This is the news of the day, every day, every month, every year—shots fired; soldiers dead. We invent acronyms like IEDs to efficiently say things like “improvised explosive devices,” which mean roadside bombs. They explode in crowded markets and on otherwise peaceful roads going to the wrong places and kill hundreds of people at a time, while permanently traumatizing the brains and minds of everyone within the blast zone. And all of this so someone can be king of another hill.

We accept it as the new normal. “It’s just the world we live in,” we tell ourselves. All the while the ancient oracles never stop crying out:

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Far from a utopian vision of the socially engineered peace of political correctness, the Bible gives us real prophets, but they are not realists. Neither are they optimists. They are what I call hopefulists. They do not deny the reality of swords and spears. They reveal a deeper destiny:

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.

They see weapons taken out of the military industrial complex and the business of fear and returned to the service of farming.

It’s time to ask these questions: What of my life? Am I fashioning myself as a sword or being fashioned into a plow? I want to be sharpened for the glory of God; but I must be bent instead for the glory of the ground. I want to climb the mountain, take the hill, ascend to greatness; but I must learn to churn the soil so my children might come after me sowing seeds of light. What will be my legacy? What do I leave in my wake—a fertile furrow or a monument to myself?

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.

These words are not practical, you say. And you are correct. These words purpose to unshackle us from the false security of a safe existence. You were made for more. You were made for glory. You were crafted to express the impractical extravagance of holy love. Can you even imagine it?

THE PRAYER

Our Father in heaven, nearer than my breath, thank you for these days of Advent and this new year in Christ. Thank you for your vision that has never wavered. From those first warring brothers of Cain and Abel to the warring nations of our time, you have never wavered from your vision of perfect peace. Forgive me for my cynical realism that scoffs at biblical idealism. I will stop. There is no such thing as biblical idealism, only truth. Swords into plows. Yes, Lord. I don’t see it yet, but yes, I will believe. Come, Holy Spirit, and translate this truth into my small life that I might grow larger in the Lord. In the name of Jesus Messiah—the one who has come, is here, and is coming again—for his glory and our good, amen.

THE QUESTIONS

Do you tend to write off such language as hopeful idealism and dismiss it? What will it take for your mind to bend into the shape of God’s Word—from a sword into a plow?