Swords into Ploughshares
Lord, we know that You have grand plans for this planet You created, and we anticipate their fruition.
Read Micah 4:1–13
In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and peoples will stream to it.
2 Many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3 He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
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.
4 Everyone will sit under their own vine
and under their own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
for the Lord Almighty has spoken.
5 All the nations may walk
in the name of their gods,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord
our God for ever and ever.
The Lord’s Plan
6 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
“I will gather the lame;
I will assemble the exiles
and those I have brought to grief.
7 I will make the lame my remnant,
those driven away a strong nation.
The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion
from that day and forever.
8 As for you, watchtower of the flock,
stronghold of Daughter Zion,
the former dominion will be restored to you;
kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem.”
9 Why do you now cry aloud—
have you no king?
Has your ruler perished,
that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor?
10 Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion,
like a woman in labor,
for now you must leave the city
to camp in the open field.
You will go to Babylon;
there you will be rescued.
There the Lord will redeem you
out of the hand of your enemies.
11 But now many nations
are gathered against you.
They say, “Let her be defiled,
let our eyes gloat over Zion!”
12 But they do not know
the thoughts of the Lord;
they do not understand his plan,
that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.
13 “Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion,
for I will give you horns of iron;
I will give you hooves of bronze,
and you will break to pieces many nations.”
You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the Lord,
their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19).
The visions contained in Micah 4 look toward the future. They offer a message of hope for the people of Jerusalem and Judah and for the inhabitants of the wider world. Verses 1–3 are almost identical in content to Isaiah 2:2–4. The relationship between the two passages is unclear. They both tell of a promised era of peace and security in which the
nations will flow to Jerusalem to seek instruction from the Lord. This is followed by one of the most celebrated descriptions of an ideal future in all of Scripture: “They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more” (3).
However, this vision is not as pacifistic as it may appear. It sits alongside the promise that Judah “will break to pieces many nations” (13). Thus, it envisages a peace brought about by military means, while conveying the universal human hope that peace will ultimately prevail. It provides a pertinent reminder that people cannot live with perpetual violence and war.
The idea that the nations would stream to an exalted Mount Zion suggests the preeminence of Israel. Even so, it also offers a picture of the peaceful coexistence of nations. It envisions a world in which religious difference will persist. The surrounding peoples will worship their gods, but Judah will worship YHWH. Micah clearly considers the worship of YHWH as the better way. Still, he imagines a religious pluralism in which adherents of different faiths live peaceably alongside each other (5). In a day when religious violence stains our world, Micah’s vision of peaceful coexistence and religious freedom for all nations is what we desperately need.
Reflect on your relationships with people of other faiths and of no faith. Is there scope for developing closer ties with people of goodwill who do not share your faith?
O Prince of Peace, we long for the day when the ravages of war, injustice and violence will become an unpleasant memory, resulting in the unprecedented: peace on earth.