1 This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
2 In the last days
the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
as chief among the mountains;
it will be raised above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
3 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.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.” ……
4 He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
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.
5 Come, O house of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the LORD.
I love the imagery of this prophecy. They will beat their swords and spears into farming equipment! Not only will they not be at war anymore, they won’t even need to train for war in preparation. This is what happens when God’s kingdom is established, His dwelling place is chief among the mountains, and all nations are drawn to Him. The question is if this prophecy has any relevance to you and I in this day and age. I submit to you that it does, and that we are wise to consider its implications.
As John the Baptist preached, the kingdom of God is truly at hand. Yet, we also witness daily all the ways that God’s rule has not yet fully taken over our world. The classic passage on this tension is Hebrews 2:7-8. (Speaking of Jesus)
7You made him a little lower than the angels;
you crowned him with glory and honor
8 and put everything under his feet.”
In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.
What Isaiah 2 gives us is a vision for what the kingdom of God looks like when everything is fully subject to Him. It gives us a trajectory for our own lives as well. This is where we are heading. Toward PEACE.
The Apostle Paul opens every one of his epistles with a salutation of grace and peace toward his audience. This isn’t a meaningless introductory phrase but the heartbeat of his message again and again. Peace through grace. It’s peace with God first and peace with our neighbor second, and it is singularly available through God’s free grace extended to us through Christ’s death on the cross.
But aren’t we at WAR? I’m not talking about physical war necessarily, but what is commonly referred to as spiritual warfare. I hear this terminology often in Christian circles. “We are at war.” “Be on guard.”
And this is all fine … to a point. The Bible does use this phrasing, and it is true that while we are on the trajectory toward ultimate peace, we are to guard ourselves diligently against Satan’s attacks. However, my experience with the war phrasing has raised several red flags. The primary one is that many times, Christian groups aren’t clear with whom we are at war. If you are intent on fighting a battle and unclear on whom the enemy is, beware anyone who gets in your way!
So here are my thoughts today on spiritual War and Peace.
1) If you use the terminology of war, be clear on who the enemy is. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. People aren’t the enemy. Paul is especially clear on this throughout his epistles. We love people. We pursue people always in hopes of rescuing them from our real enemy in the heavenly places. We do not wrestle with flesh and blood. Don’t aim your weapons at other people. Fight FOR the heart of the one who is ensnared by Satan. Leave the 99 and seek after the 1. That one heart is not your enemy–he or she is ensnared by your enemy.
2) While guarding against aiming your weapons at living individuals God has likely actually called you to pursue, do feel free to aim your spiritual weapons at yourself. We put to death within ourselves those things that serve unrighteousness. Examine yourself for the snares that Satan is attempting to use to undermine your walk with God.
3) Remember that our trajectory is toward peace. Keep your eye on the prize — peace through grace. And don’t accept less. Don’t be content with severed relationships in the Body. Don’t accept collateral damage as a reasonable option in a church. Pursue the wounded. Reconcile the broken relationship. As God’s kingdom is ushered in, genuine, authentic peace wins as the result of gospel-centered reconciliation at every level.
We must have a strong grip on the deep implications of Christ’s words on the cross, “It is finished!” He fought the last battle. He has conquered sin and death. The rest are skirmishes putting the final touches on His great victory. If you understand what His kingdom looks like when it is finally fully upon us, you will then be able to recognize those things that do and do not mark movement in legitimate kingdom growth. The enemy loves to make us call good what God calls evil, and he loves even more to make us suspicious of what God calls good. We don’t necessarily think it is evil. We just think it is lame. But in the end, God’s grace wins the heart of all those He has called to Himself. Peace through grace in Christ will have the last word. And we are moving full speed toward that day.