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"...they shall beat their swords into plowshares." Isaiah 2:4
Are these the words of the same Prophet who penned, "Come let us reason together?" Is it really possible to believe that the nations are actually going to put their weapons down? Is it sane to think that their military metals are going to be forged into tools for the production of plenty when the cry today is "More arms?"
How then are we to survey the prophecy of Isaiah whose words are echoed by the Prophet Micah? Does this phenomenon apply to the twentieth-first century? Certainly it has never occurred in the past. Will the prayer vigils of united church groups accomplish this prediction uttered centuries ago? Will the deliberations of the United Nations' councils alter any national policies? It doesn't seem likely.
The key to this prophetic timelock lies in understanding the broad scope of the message itself. Isaiah prophesied to Israel just prior to their Babylonian captivity. Because he saw both the immediate and the future events ahead of Israel, he is considered the "Overview Prophet." The immediate covered the trouble and the humbling chastisement of Gentile dominion. The future extended into the Messianic Era during which Israel would be specially used of the Lord. It is in this later period, the last days, thatů"the mountains of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains,...and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. " ISAIAH 2:2-4
The Prophet also defines the conditions that must be met before Israel attains her responsible position in the Messianic Kingdom. Before Israel will be of service to the Lord, she will first be purged (Isaiah 1:25, 26; and also Ezekiel 37:23). This cleansing will precede her important role as "blesser of the nations", "the City of righteousness." Indeed, as the world comes into harmony with God's arrangement, they will be blessed under the Abrahamic promise: "in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 22:18) As the people of earth are blessed, they will in turn bless others.
Is this "disarmament" to be voluntary among the nations? While the power blocs make peace treaties and arms control agreements, more and more funds and resources are being poured into the mold of guns and military equipment. A quick look at the budgets of the major countries will tell anyone that there is much more interest in armaments than in education, agriculture or health. Israel herself does not appear to be any world peace center. In fact, she is doing her best to rearm and is soliciting weapons from the United States.
The weak will say, "I am strong"
To be realistic, we would have to admit that the nations are now "beating their plowshares into swords!" Yes, the Prophet Joel foresaw the time when the nations will prepare for war as never before. Even the weak will say, "I am strong!" (The smaller nations want nuclear arms too.) This war against the Lord of hosts is not like any of past history. The nations will assemble and expect the Lord to bless their "holy" war when in actuality they are fighting against him. (See margin, Joel 3:9, 10)
All nations will thus be brought to the crisis of human history. "For I [the Lord] will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle;" "to the land of unwalled villages" (Zechariah 14:2; Ezekiel 38:9-16). Their common enemy will be Israel relatively quite, peaceful and defenseless. God will permit success on the part of the assembled Gentile nations for a short time for the "purging" of His ancient people. The attacking nations will find they are on the wrong side when God intervenes and fights for Israel as "he fought in the day of battle" (Zechariah 14:1-3).
The resurrection begins...
The fact will be only too clear that God is dealing with His people Israel. To bring order out of the chaos of anarchy, God will "restore... [their] judges as at the first" (Isaiah 1:25, 26). This means nothing less than the resurrection of the dead. In his letter to the Hebrews (Chapter 11), the Apostle Paul mentions those who "all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." One of the main provinces of these faithful of old will be to introduce Messiah to the modern Hebrew and Gentile world.
Israel will then recognize Jesus as the Messiah and that he is now spiritual, unseen by the natural eye. Regretting the crucifixion of Jesus, Israel will mourn for him "as one mourneth for his only son" (Zechariah 12:9, 10). But this sorrow will be turned into the joy of hearty cooperation with the Messiah. Together with the "princes" (Psalm 45:16) and "judges," Israel will be a blesser and leader among the nations...
"And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing:...many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD...In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you." "And it [Israel] shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honor before all the nations of the earth." ZECHARIAH 8:13, 22, 23; JEREMIAH 33:9
This portrayal of the earthly phase of God's Kingdom will however have a spiritual rulership. The heavenly governing body will be composed of Jesus Christ and his Church, selected during the present Gospel Age. We read in Isaiah 2:3 "...out of Zion [Jesus and his Church] shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem [faithful of old and Israel]." Thus will be fulfilled the promise of Abraham, that his seed would be "as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore." (Genesis 22:18)
But first, the Gentiles rule. . .
Why has God waited so long after the prophecy given by Isaiah to establish this Government? The Prophet Daniel provides insight as to the reason for this apparent "delay." Daniel 2:31-45; also Ezekiel 21:25-27 The Gentile governments have been first given an opportunity by God to rule the world. When God permitted the last King of Israel to be dethroned and deported to Babylon, He withdrew His favor from Israel and it was transferred to a succession of Gentile World Powers. Each, in turn, ruled the world by its own standard. The sword"not God"was sought as the ally to these World Powers.
Let the earth be glad
This dominion, permitted for a specific purpose, to demonstrate the inability of man to govern justly, was also permitted for a specific period of time. This "lease" of power passed from the Babylonian Empire to the Medo-Persian, to the Grecian, next to the Roman Empire and finally to the European national states which sprang from Rome. When this lease of power expires, Israel is released from national bondage and God begins to prepare her for a weighty role in His Kingdom which will "stand forever." As a matter of fact, from a glance at the world situation, World War I looms as a decisive turning point in Jewish as well as world history. The backs of the ruling houses of Europe were then broken and also the Balfour Declaration, allowing the Jews admittance to Palestine, was signed. Thus the Gentile powers are no longer recognized by God, for He is now preparing Israel for her momentous part in blessing all the families of the earth.
The question as to when the Kingdom would be actually set up is an old one. According to Matthew 24, the Apostles asked Jesus when he would return to set up his Kingdom. In response, one of the signs Jesus enumerated was the parable of the Fig Tree (verses 32-34; also Luke 21:29-33). (The Fig Tree in prophecy repeatedly symbolizes the nation of Israel. Jeremiah 24:1-10; Luke 13: 6-10)
Thus scattered all over the world, Israel would be a remarkable sign of the setting up of the Kingdom when she would acquire her own land and grow and develop as a people. Other scriptures indicate that her returning favor and development would be a gradual process. The Prophecy of the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37) symbolically explained that Israel would be raised from the state of national death in stages. First the bones would come together; skin would be laid on them; and finally God would give Israel "breath."
As a matter of historical record, the latter years of the nineteenth century found the Zionist movement urging Jews all over the world to return to the "Promised Land." In 1917, the Balfour Declaration, made possible by the war, gave Jews the promise of a national state. Since statehood in 1948, despite the malice and hatred of her neighbors, Israel has taken possession of her land and has flourished. But she has not yet received "breath," the spirit of God. But the time is near..."when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand...this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." LUKE 21:31; MATTHEW 24:34
Let the field be joyful
The "desire of all nations" (Haggai 2:7) will be brought by the "Prince of Peace" himself (Isaiah 9:6). Reigning with him will be his Bride, the Church (Revelation 22:17). What will the Messiah reign over? A desolate and charred earth? Not at all. While there will be great devastation in the earth, God's Plan does not end there. His purpose is not to destroy the people, but the governments, institutions and organizations of men. After God's righteous indignation is poured out on the assembled nations..."then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent" (Zechariah 3:8, 9).
The earth, a garden
The peaceful and quiet earth will be so filled with the knowledge and glory of the Lord that "the voice of the turtle (dove) will be heard in the land" (Song of Solomon 2:12). At that time..."the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose...for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert" (Isaiah 35:1, 6).
...and the Resurrection
The earth will release her dead at the voice of the Son of God (John 5:28). "Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;...Let the field be joyful,...then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the LORD:...for the cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth." PSALM 96:11-13
Yes, the Day of Judgment will be a day of blessing for the world. All of the "unjust will be given an opportunity to line up with the equitable laws of the New Government. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come, and let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. " The "...earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." REVELATION 22:17; ISAIAH 11:9. And, "they shall not hurt...in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD." ISAIAH 65:25 All implements of war will be obsolete under the Messianic rule. Swords will be of no use. Man will bend all his ingenuity, his potential and his energies towards peaceful ends. Isaiah's prophecy will then be fulfilled.
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