Beat plowshares into swords OR swords into plowshares?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Coincidence? Sometimes there are coincidences, sometimes not.

Last week, one of my colleagues uttered out of nowhere the phrase "beat their swords into plowshares". We were both quietly working on our computers and suddenly it just came. I asked him why he said it and he simply replied, "Oh! A song, but it was the other way round, 'beat plowshares into swords'. Something is not right somewhere."

I am not so familiar with the prophetic section of Scripture and so I did a search in my Bibleworks and showed him: Micah 4:3 and Isa 2:4 have it as "beat their swords into plowshares", whilst Joel 3:10 do have it the other way round, "beat plowshares into swords".

So, we have both. But why he brought it up, I still have no idea.

I would have just let it rest except that the preacher in church this morning brought up the same phrase. He was not preaching from it - he was just using it peripherally to refer to his point on peace. But to me, it struck a chord.

I don't think it is a coincidence. Both almost came from nowhere, and a bible verse that is not that ordinarily quoted like John 3:16 or Psalms 23. A word from God to me perhaps? And if it is, it certainly speaks volumes.

Isaiah 2:1-4
1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw
concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

2 It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established
as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,

3 and many peoples shall come, and say:
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.


Micah 4:1-5
1 It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
2 and many nations shall come, and say:

"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
3 He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide for strong nations afar off;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
4 but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid,
for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
5 For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.

Compare those with Joel:

Joel 3:1-21
1 "For behold, in those days and at that time,
when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
2 I will gather all the nations
and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
And I will enter into judgment with them there,
on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel,
because they have scattered them among the nations
and have divided up my land,
3 and have cast lots for my people,
and have traded a boy for a prostitute,
and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it.

4 "What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon,
and all the regions of Philistia?
Are you paying me back for something?
If you are paying me back,
I will return your payment on your own head swiftly and speedily.
5 For you have taken my silver and my gold,
and have carried my rich treasures into your temples.
6 You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks
in order to remove them far from their own border.
7 Behold, I will stir them up from the place
to which you have sold them,
and I will return your payment on your own head.
8 I will sell your sons and your daughters
into the hand of the people of Judah,
and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away,
for the LORD has spoken."

9 Proclaim this among the nations:
Consecrate for war;
stir up the mighty men.
Let all the men of war draw near;
let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords,
and your pruning hooks into spears;
let the weak say, "I am a warrior."

11 Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations,
and gather yourselves there.
Bring down your warriors, O LORD.
12 Let the nations stir themselves up
and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread, for the winepress is full.
The vats overflow, for their evil is great.
14 Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision!
For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
16 The LORD roars from Zion,
and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth quake.
But the LORD is a refuge to his people,
a stronghold to the people of Israel.
17 "So you shall know that I am the LORD your God,
who dwell in Zion, my holy mountain.
And Jerusalem shall be holy,
and strangers shall never again pass through it.
18 "And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and the hills shall flow with milk,
and all the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water;
and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD
and water the Valley of Shittim.
19 "Egypt shall become a desolation
and Edom a desolate wilderness,
for the violence done to the people of Judah,
because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
20 But Judah shall be inhabited forever,
and Jerusalem to all generations.
21 I will avenge their blood,
blood I have not avenged, for the LORD dwells in Zion."


As I said, I am not at all familiar with prophetic books, so my disclaimer here is: I may be wrong.

What I can see for now, is that the 3 passages are eschatological but Micah and Isaiah are about peace within the nation, while Joel is about judgement on the whole entire race of mankind.

The thing is how different we see the world right now. We are fighting from within and being consorts with the world. Within the body of Christ, we need to beat swords into plowshare, the same goes for when we work in the world - we need to plow and not fight. We need to understand the other people, where they are coming from to reach out to them with the love of Christ. Instead, we are busy being at war with each other.

We need to stop complaining, stop bickering, stop blaming, stop comparing, stop hating, and start working. There is so much work - the harvest is white but the workers are few. Put down the sword, pick up the shovel and start working.

pearlie

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3 comment(s)

  1. That's a neat way of putting it!I've noticed those two different verses,as well.At first glance,I thought one was meant for a time of war,and the other is for a time of peace.But i like how you interpreted it.You're definitively hearing from God on that!This post blessed me a lot.I got all excited.haha

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  2. Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks for visiting and glad that this has blessed you :) I went over to your blog and love your handiwork! =)

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  3. yes,I saw your comment!Thank you.:)

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