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They Will Hammer Their Swords into Plowshares

A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassionate Internet Church
 
29 July 2012
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Isaiah 2:1-11
Micah 4:1-13
Matthew 5:9
6:10

In the wake of the horrible and senseless killing spree in a crowded theater in Aurora, Colorado, we are hearing a very mixed message from both Christians and non-Christians.
 
Some are saying that they are going to arm themselves for defense of themselves and others, and would shoot such a person if they could, even in a dark and crowded theater.
 
Others are saying that they agree with arming ourselves.
 
Yet others are calling for more gun control, but such a call is getting very little government support and sponsorship.
 
Elected officials and particularly those who are running for office seem to be afraid of even mentioning the subject of gun control for fear of losing votes to the powerful gun lobby folks.
 
What would God have us do?
 
Jesus calls us to be peacemaking children of God in Matthew 5:9, and in Matthew 6:10 He tells us to pray for our Father’s heavenly will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, where there is no pain, mourning, or death, like exists in Aurora.
 
However, what Jesus is calling us to do is exactly what God wants us to do, no matter how much evil exists in the world.
 
And let’s not forget that gun control is a beginning form of peacemaking.
 
So with this in mind, let’s go back some 750 years before Jesus to the time when Micah was prophesying.
 
In Micah 4:1-13 we are given a look at the way the Lord wants us to live.

1. And it will come about in the last days
That the mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains.
It will be raised above the hills,
And the peoples will stream to it.
 
2. Many nations will come and say,
“Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD
And to the house of the God of Jacob,
That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For from Zion will go forth the law,
Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

God wants all the peoples of the earth to come to Him and to learn from His teaching, and we hear many people saying they are doing just that.
 
But, there is something very wrong today, for most people don’t seem to want to hear Jesus’ messages of peace.
 
They act like they would rather live in this corrupt and violent world, and even contribute to it, and God will judge the intent of their hearts and souls.
 
And at the same time there are those who desperately want to hear the churches speak forth Jesus’ message of peace, and to see an end to all the violence in the world that causes billions upon billions of animals to suffer and die every year, as well as many millions of our fellow human beings who are caught up in our warring madness.
 
But many, if not most, of these people don’t come to the churches because of all of the hardness of heart they encounter from both the clergy and congregation.
 
Something is horribly wrong.
 
It seems to be the same today as it was in Israel some 2,800 years ago.

3. And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they train for war.

Who do you think God will choose and who do you think He will judge as being evil?
 
This passage is telling us that God’s chosen peacemakers of the world will destroy all the instruments of killing, and turn them into instruments and equipment for farming vegetables and fruit trees, and people will no longer train for war, or make war on the animals or other humans.
 
And, don’t forget that factory farming and slaughterhouses are places of making war on animals.
 
We also strongly believe that the killing of animals is the root cause of all the other killing and violence in the world; for in order to take the life of another living being, we must first harden our hearts so that we no longer have empathy for the feelings of the intended victim.
 
Let’s go on and see what Micah says it will be like for the peacemakers.

4. Each of them will sit under his vine
And under his fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid,
For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.

Then Micah returns to talking about both those who do evil and those who seek the Lord as peacemakers.

5. Though all the peoples walk
Each in the name of his god,
As for us, we will walk
In the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.

Note the two kinds of people: those who follow the ways of the devil and his demons, and those who truly desire to walk with God in peace.

6. “In that day,” declares the LORD,
“I will assemble the lame
And gather the outcasts,
Even those whom I have afflicted.
 
7. “I will make the lame a remnant
And the outcasts a strong nation,
And the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion
From now on and forever.
 
8. “As for you, tower of the flock,
Hill of the daughter of Zion,
To you it will come—
Even the former dominion will come,
The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.

Then Micah returns to address those who are not the peacemaking children of God.
 
And remember that he is addressing the Israelites, which is the same as addressing the Christians and Jews of today who are not peacemakers.

9. “Now, why do you cry out loudly?
Is there no king among you,
Or has your counselor perished,
That agony has gripped you like a woman in childbirth?
 
10. “Writhe and labor to give birth,
Daughter of Zion,
Like a woman in childbirth;
For now you will go out of the city,
Dwell in the field,
And go to Babylon.
There you will be rescued;
There the LORD will redeem you
From the hand of your enemies.

Even in their punishment, God still offers His mercy and grace to all who will repent of their evil ways.

11. “And now many nations have been assembled against you
Who say, ‘Let her be polluted,
And let our eyes gloat over Zion.’

Even the enemy recognizes that the people have turned away from God, and that His protection is no longer with them; thus, the enemy no longer fears attacking them, but their retribution will come.

12. “But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD,
And they do not understand His purpose;
For He has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.
 
13. “Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion,
For your horn I will make iron
And your hoofs I will make bronze,
That you may pulverize many peoples,
That you may devote to the LORD their unjust gain
And their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.

We need to remember that the peacemakers are the ones who will destroy the enemies of the Lord, and they will do it without violence.
 
They will remove the evil away as one threshes grain to remove the stocks, and they will do it without violence.
 
About 50 years after Micah, the prophet Isaiah began his message to the people. Let’s take a look at 2:1-11.

1. The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
 
2. Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
 
3. And many peoples will 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 concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
 
4. And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.

Do you notice how both prophets are saying almost the same thing?
 
God’s message of calling the people to repentance has remained the same, even to this very day.
 
He wants them and us to be peacemakers who seek to bring the whole of creation back into the heavenly will of God.

5. Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Remember that after Jacob wrestled with God over his sinful nature, the Lord changed the name of repentant Jacob to Israel, because God felt that he would now walk in the light of the Lord.
 
And then Isaiah describes their ungodly and evil natures.

6. For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob,
Because they are filled with influences from the east,
And they are soothsayers like the Philistines,
And they strike bargains with the children of foreigners.
 
7. Their land has also been filled with silver and gold
And there is no end to their treasures;
Their land has also been filled with horses
And there is no end to their chariots.

In modern language and references, this could be describing our own nation.

8. Their land has also been filled with idols;
They worship the work of their hands,
That which their fingers have made.

We have made money, wars, special interests, and killing and eating animals into idols, and even bring them into our houses of the Lord, as if God will be pleased.
 
Nothing is further from the truth.
 
And those who live this way will fail.

9. So the common man has been humbled
And the man of importance has been abased,
But do not forgive them.
 
10. Enter the rock and hide in the dust
From the terror of the LORD and from the splendor of His majesty.
 
11. The proud look of man will be abased
And the loftiness of man will be humbled,
And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

This is exactly what the peacemaking children of God are to help bring about.
 
None of us can do everything by ourselves, but together we can change the world into a much more peaceful abode.
 
If we begin with eliminating the violence on our own plates, and then eliminating it in our kitchens and in our whole household, we will have made a significant start to ending the violence and corruption; and in the process we become a witness to others.
 
As we more and more spread this example to others through our words and lifestyle, we will find others who will understand and change, and we will see even more changes toward peace.
 
It is up to us.
 
Are we willing to do this?
 
God and all the suffering humans and animals are counting on us.
 
Amen.

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