Focal Passage: Isaiah 2:1-4
During the American Civil
War, the Union general William T. Sherman implemented a devastatingly effective
tactic to cripple the supply lines of the Confederate armies.
Sherman ordered his men to
rip up railway tracks in the South, heat the rails until they were malleable,
and then twist the heated bars around trees. Nicknamed “Sherman’s neckties,”
what resulted was a host of gnarled rails that were often irreparable.
Sherman’s “necktie” strategy
was one of many he hoped would serve as the decisive blow to break the
Confederate will to fight, thus ending the war.
However, in our passage for
today, Isaiah describes a day when the tools of war will be “reshaped” for a
much different purpose. Isaiah envisions the time when weapons will not be
misshapen to defeat an enemy, but will instead be reshaped to defeat war
Swords will be used for
plowing; spears will be used for pruning. The tools once used to end life will
one day be used to create it.
So what might Isaiah say to
Christians who long for a more peaceful world? First of all, Isaiah’s vision
reminds us to be responsible with the tools God has given us. Take our speech,
Our words are tools that can
be used to build up or tear down. When we use our words in a destructive manner
— say, when we judge another person — we are using our God-given tools in ways
for which they were never intended. In essence, we are bending our farming
tools into weapons!
Look again at the picture
Isaiah paints of the coming kingdom. It is a world in which God judges (v. 4).
Christians are prohibited from judging one another, not because God wants all
the vengeance for himself (Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:19), but because humans are
unqualified to arbitrate for themselves. If left to our own, we will use our
tools for war, not peace.
The kingdom Christ proclaims
is one in which humans, recognizing our skewed sense of justice, defer to God’s
It is a kingdom in which
humans have not simply sheathed their swords, but instead have reshaped them
into instruments that can never again be used to destroy God’s creation.
Increasingly distraught with
the violence of our world, we may pine for the day when God will bring this
kingdom to fruition. Yet perhaps God is waiting on us, too.
After all, it is humans who
reshape their weapons, not God.
How serious are we about
asking God’s peace to reign in us and among us?
What if this kingdom was as
near as our willingness to participate in it?