Isaiah 2:4, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
This morning, this is one of the many misunderstood and misapplied texts in the Bible. Most use this verse to try to prove a position of pacifying against war. In fact, the U.N. has this verse inscribed on their walls in an effort to push their agenda of disarming the world. This verse does not teach that war is wrong, and many do not understand that God upholds and condones war as a general principle. So, if this verse is not teaching the wrongness of war, what is the correct division and application?
This verse is found in the context of talking about the church. The Lord has been talking with Isaiah about how the manner of conduct should be within the walls and constructs of Zion (picture of the church). When in Zion, war should not be the focus or motivation. Rather, a service of love and sweet repose should be the mindset. Notice what is being changed. Before, when in the mode of the flesh, man’s whole purpose was doing whatever it took to get ahead of his neighbor. He was willing to fight and war to make a gain or profit. Once a man has begun to press into the kingdom of heaven, he no longer uses these tactics and practices.
While in Zion, he changes his mode of operation to that similar to plowing. A sword (device of war) is being changed to a pruninghook (device of farming). Now, a man begins to sow and reap in the Lord’s vineyard. Now, we are attempting to grow suitable fruit and bring alms, aloes, and sweet spices to the throneroom of God. Before, we were hateful and hating one another. Now, we are labouring together to thresh wheat in the Master’s threshingfloor. Therefore, let us press forward to the mark of the high-calling of Jesus Christ. Let us always have our thoughts and affection focused on Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
When labouring in
this vineyard, we should no longer have thoughts of war and strife. While we do
exercise discipline as a church on the wayward and impenitent members, we are
not warring but rather pruning the vine as the Lord has commanded us. We are,
however, still at war with the devil and our own flesh. Let us never cast aside
the armour with which we defend ourselves and take the pacifist notion that the
world would indicate. Many times, I hear the ridiculous claim, “You are a
Christian, and therefore, you should be against war.” My response is generally,
“Obviously, you have not read the Bible thoroughly enough.” We do have a
warfare to fight, but it should not take place in the house of God. This holy
ground has been reserved for praise, honour, and glory to the King of kings and
Lord of lords.