No More Wars
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, September 1, 2002
Copyright © 2002, P. G. Mathew
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 any more. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.
A Vision of Utopia
No more wars! In this passage, Isaiah sees a vision of a time of universal peace when there will be no more wars on the face of the earth.
In the eighth century B.C., Isaiah, whose name means "the Lord is salvation," and his younger contemporary Micah were both given visions of a true utopia. We find this vision in Isaiah 2:1-5 as well as in Micah 4:1-3 almost verbatim. This universal peace is to take place in the last days and will be centered in Jerusalem, where God dwells.
When we study the Scriptures, especially the Old Testament, they speak of a future period of far greater blessing than the present time, but which still falls short of the eternal state and its blessings. We find reference to this period here in Isaiah 2 as well as in Isaiah 11, Zechariah 14, Psalm 72, and other places.
According to a number of theologians, this future time of peace will be the period of the millennium that we read about in Revelation 20:1-6 when Satan is further bound and prevented from deceiving the nations for one thousand years. Jesus Christ is now reigning in heaven, but during the millennium he will reign on earth. All nations will come under the rule of Christ; thus, it will be a time of universal peace when, as we read in Isaiah 11:9, "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."
In the Last Days
First, then, we want to find out when this vision of Isaiah and Micah will take place. It will be "in the last days," as we read in Isaiah 2:2.
Many people like to speculate what the Bible means when it speaks of the last days. Several years ago a man named Hal Lindsey, author of The Late, Great Planet Earth, calculated that this period would begin in 1988. According to his speculation, the rapture would take place in 1981 and Christ was going to come with the saints in 1988. Unfortunately, his calculations were false. However, Mr. Lindsey did make a lot of money from the sale of his book. Another man, Harold Camping, who comes from a Reformed background, predicted that Jesus Christ would return in September, 1994. Mindless Christians follow these gurus who sensationalize the Scriptures. This happens because modern man does not want to really study the Bible.
According to the Scriptures, the last days began with the incarnation of Jesus Christ. In one sense, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, brought about universal peace by his death on the cross. Now all people, whether Jew or Gentile, can be at peace with God and receive the peace of God that passes all human understanding by trusting in Jesus Christ alone. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). When Jesus Christ was born, the heavenly host praised God, singing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests" (Luke 2:14).
But this peace which Jesus inaugurated at his first coming will continue even after the second coming of Christ when he will begin his millennial reign. The millennium will be a time of greater peace on earth than earth has ever experienced. There shall be no more wars.
In Isaiah 2:2-4 we read about this time of peace:
In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains . . . . Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.' . . . He will judge between 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.
So we know from the Scriptures that this great time of peace will take place in the last days. But we do not know when that will occur and we are not here to speculate.
The Mountain of the Lord's Temple
The second point we learn from this passage is that the mountain of the Lord's temple will be raised above the hills to be the chief among all mountains.
The temple of Solomon was built on Mount Moriah where Abraham sacrificed his son Isaac. That whole complex was later known as Zion, a designation Isaiah used many times throughout his prophecy. In the Bible the word "mountain" often represents authority. According to this prophecy, the kingdom of the Messiah will be preeminent over all the kingdoms of the earth.
All nations will come to Zion and be subject to the Messiah's rule and instruction. In the last days Zion will be raised so high that all people will recognize its supremacy and subject themselves to it. To a certain extent, Zion is even now lifted up because, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ pictured the true church as the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Of course, all peoples and nations do not submit to the Lord Jesus Christ today. But Isaiah is saying that a time will come when all nations will stream to Zion to be instructed in the truth.
In the last days, Mount Zion, not Mount Olympus, will be established and raised high. In the last days, there shall be no more diversity or religious pluralism, and the nonsense of the equal validity of all ideas will not exist. Only the truth of the Messiah will be valid. The rock of God's kingdom will strike upon all kingdoms of the world, and then it will become a huge mountain that will fill the whole earth, as Daniel predicts (2:35). "Of the increase of his government there shall be no end," Isaiah says in Isaiah 9:7. "All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him" (Psalm 72:11). All people will come and kiss the Son as a sign of subjection to him (Psalm 2:12).
The Streaming of the Gentiles
The third point we want to look at is the coming of the Gentiles from all over the world to the mountain of the Lord's temple. In Isaiah 2:2, in the last part of the verse, we read, "And all nations will stream to it." Throughout the Bible nations are seen as great waters, and here we are told that these waters are going to flow up into Mount Zion. Then in verse 3 we read, "Many peoples will come . . . ." This is speaking especially about the Gentiles. God has a plan for the Gentiles. In Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed. Notice, then, they are all streaming to the Middle East, to the mountain of the Lord.
In the last days, when the mountain of the Lord's temple is established and raised up by the rule of the Messiah, Jews and Gentiles alike will come to Zion. They will come voluntarily, with great joy. They will not go to famous universities of the world; rather, they will go eagerly to Jerusalem, which is the center of true learning.
But how can sinners come to God on their own? They are not going to; rather, they will be drawn by Jesus Christ himself, who said, "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (John 12:32). Having grown weary of their lives of sin and the superstition of idolatry, they will come and say, "We are sick and tired of all our superstitions and false philosophies. We want to hear truth and to serve idols any longer. We desire to know the truth and worship the only true and living God."
Many people from all nations will come to Jerusalem just as the wise men of the East came to worship baby Jesus. They will come like Ruth, who said, "Your God is my God; your people are my people; where you live, I will live; where you die, I will die. Don't tell me to go back to my people and to their god."
These people will come to Mount Zion, to the temple, to the God of glory, high and lifted up in holy majesty. They will come willingly and spontaneously. But why are they coming to Zion, of all places? Don't they have any vacation homes in the mountains or by the ocean or in some other beautiful place on earth? Don't they have other, more exciting things to do than to come to the house of God? Yes, they may have other places to go to and other things to do, but these people are tired of all these things. They are tired of materialism. They are tired of all the pleasures of this world. They are tired of the emptiness of worldliness. They have realized that the world can really offer them nothing.
The Desire to Learn Doctrine
Why, then, do the nations stream to the mountain of the Lord? In verse 3 we read, "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." These people desire God's teaching. They hunger and thirst after righteousness. They desire to be taught truth. They recognize that Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life. Sick and tired of all gods of lies and all human philosophies, they want the truth that is Jesus. Jesus was found in Jerusalem, so they stream to Jerusalem.
In the Old Testament we read that three times a year the Israelites were to come to Jerusalem to worship God and be instructed by him. This is what these people were doing. This great multitude of Gentiles wants to come to Jerusalem.
It was God's plan that in Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed. Today people hate doctrine. They will say, "Are you going to that church? Oh, aren't they into the Bible? Don't they teach a lot of doctrine? I hate all doctrine and all truth, so I have found a church where they don't teach any truth. I think I will go there." To such a person I would say, "Goodbye., but I pity you." Oh, it is a rare thing today for anyone to pick up a book on doctrine. They hate it.
But there is coming a day when Gentiles will flow into the center of doctrine, wanting to learn the doctrine of God, the doctrine of sin, the doctrine of atonement, the doctrine of hell, the doctrine of judgment, the doctrine of the person and work of Jesus Christ. They want nothing to do with sensation and feelings and stories.
Some ministers only tell stories, usually to manipulate the listeners. They do so because they know people like stories. Many of the popular preachers on television only tell stories. But can you imagine what would happen if someone taught the word of God on television? Oh, the audience wouldn't stand for it. "Stories," they would say. "Just tell us stories." These are mindless people with itching ears who are looking for a massage. They don't want doctrine. But there is only one story I want to listen to and preach: "the old, old story of Jesus and his love."
But why are they studying doctrine? Is it to get a degree or to impress some people by printing cards that say, "Doctor of Theology"? Is it because of intellectual curiosity? No! We oppose dead orthodoxy. The purpose of learning doctrine is to put it into practice. There is a vital link between doctrine and life.
Thus, in verse 3 we read, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." Psalm 23 tells us, "He guides me in the paths of righteousness."
Doctrine Leads to Ethics
These people desire to be taught by the Messiah and to learn doctrine "so that they may walk in his paths." Knowledge of doctrine must lead to ethics.
This idea is not popular in today's churches. But not only must we teach doctrine, but we should ask people, "How are you living? How is your relationship with your wife? How are the children?" Suppose a man refuses to work, but lives off of his wife. It is biblical to come to him and say, "No, you have to support your wife. And if you don't do it, you are worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8).
But here in Isaiah 2:3 we find the purpose of teaching: "He will teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths." That is the stated purpose coming from the hearts of Gentiles who had lived lives of dissipation, lies, self-fulfillment, pleasure, materialism, self-devotion and self-worship for years. Such people want to learn doctrines so that they can live obedient lives. Their desire is to obey Jesus Christ implicitly; thus, they are true disciples, because a disciple is one who not only hears but does what he is taught.
If you are a pastor of any reputation, I urge you to be unafraid in applying this truth. Ask your people, "How are you doing? How is your marriage? What is going on in your life? How are the children? How is your wife? As the husband and leader in your home, are you teaching your family about God? Do you work to support your family?"
True disciples desire to obey Jesus Christ. They want to hear and do. True converts to Christianity are marked by obedience to the truth. In fact, if you do not obey the doctrines of Jesus, you are not a Christian. All your profession is merely imagination. A true Christian is known by how he lives. He is the light of the world and the salt of the earth. He is called out of darkness into the marvelous light. He is different.
We Must Come to the Center of Truth
The rule of Jesus is a word-based rule coming from the center of knowledge, which is Jerusalem. So in the latter part of verse 3 we read, "The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." No wonder Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, "Salvation is of the Jews." It goes out of Zion. Jerusalem, standing for Jesus Christ, is the source of knowledge because Jesus Christ is truth. But unless we come, he cannot teach us, and unless he teaches us, we cannot live in obedience to him.
In Acts 2 we notice that while Peter was preaching on the Day of Pentecost, people from many nations came and heard the doctrine of salvation. PGM From that time on, people have been coming to be taught of God's truth. God draws them, they come, they are taught, and they live lives that are holy and happy, in that order. If you are not happy, you are not living a life that is pleasing to God.
By God's mercy, many of us have also come to the house of Lord to hear the word of the Lord, and we know that many more will come in the future. Biblical truth always triumphs over all superstition!
In Deuteronomy 4:5-8 we find a passage is applicable to all God's people:
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
We should consider ourselves to be a blessed people to have churches to go to and Bibles in our hands.
The Messiah and Judge
In Isaiah 2:4 we read, "He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples." Whom is Isaiah talking about? The Messiah is not named here, but we see later in Isaiah 7, Isaiah 9, Isaiah 11, Isaiah 53, and other places that he is the virgin-born child, the son that was given, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God, the Wonderful Counselor, the Branch, the shoot that comes out of the stump of the Davidic covenant, the great King, and the suffering servant.
Who is this Messiah? He is not the romanticized Jesus of whom some sing, "Sweet Jesus, sweet Jesus. . . ." No. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. So in verse 4 we read, "He will judge between the nations." This Messiah of whom Isaiah is speaking is the supreme Judge, Jesus Christ, to whom all nations will be subject. In that day there will still be disputes, but all will come to Jesus Christ to settle their disputes. The supreme court of the universe will not consist of nine sinful judges, but just one: the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here, then, Isaiah saw a Judge who is greater than Solomon, as Jesus himself said. Here is a Judge who is both God and man. Here is a Judge who is the Lord of all. Here is a Judge who is wisdom incarnate. Here is a Judge who is filled with the Holy Spirit and anointed to rule, as we read in Isaiah 11:1-4:
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord-and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
This supreme Judge will judge all righteously. A day is coming when the word of the Lord shall be exalted, honored, and obeyed. All his decisions will be final.
Even today the word of the Lord is to judge and decide all matters for those who are Christians. In other words, we are to live this Judge's decisions, found in the word of God. Whether we are husbands or wives, parents or children, masters or employees, we are to live by his decisions. The affairs of the church are to be settled by his decisions, and in the church there is a court, a session, in which God's authorities rule, judge, interpret and make decisions based on the Scriptures, as we read in 1 Corinthians 5, 1 Corinthians 6, and Matthew 18.
We are not to go to the courts outside, to the courts of the world; rather, we are to live by the word of God. When we have decisions to make, we should come and ask, "Pastor, brother, sister, tell me what the Messiah is speaking about this situation." Then we should say, "Thank you. That is what I want to do." So if a wife comes and says, "My husband refuses to work. Instead, he sits at home playing computer games and waits for me to take care of him. Please ask the court to say something about it." The court should then invite the husband to appear before the court, where he will be told what Bible says on that issue.
A day is coming when the pagans of the world will come to hear the word of God and the decisions of Christ. They will say, "We will live by his decision." Gentiles by the millions will delight in God's word and in the judgments of the great King of the earth.
A Time of PeaceFinally, Isaiah spoke about a time of universal peace. In verse 4 we read, "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." There will be no more military academies, whether for an army, air force, or navy. There will be no national defense budget. Swords and spears shall be recycled to make agricultural implements. During this time of peace there will be no more draft, so people will not have to leave the country to get out of it. Additionally, I think the security companies will be out of business because we will not need to lock our doors anymore. The theocracy of Christ will guarantee peace and safety throughout the world. There will be no more wars anywhere on the planet Earth.
This universal peace will not come through the United Nations, nor will it come through the rule of an undisputed superpower. This universal peace, such as this world has never experienced, will come through the submission of all people to the one true and living God, Jesus Christ.
In his vision Isaiah saw a time when people would abandon their idols and superstition and submit fully to the God of Jacob. It would be a time with no more cults, no more false religions, no more diversity, and no more religious pluralism. Satan would not be able to deceive nations any longer. God's truth alone would prevail as King Jesus rules the whole earth from Jerusalem.
Not only that, this text tells us that, as all hostility is dealt with under the Messiah's universal rule, people will even forget how to wage war. In Isaiah 11:5-9 we read,
Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as waters cover the sea.
Let Us Walk in the Light of the Lord
In verse 5 Isaiah came to the following conclusion: In view of this vision of the last days in which Gentiles would be running away from their idols, shouldn't the people of God also walk in the light of the Lord? So Isaiah said, "Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord."
Why did Isaiah speak to his people in this way? Because, just as we see today, during his lifetime Isaiah saw the people of God abandon their God for the superstitions and idols of the surrounding nations. They became fascinated with Baal worship, fertility cults, Molech worship, and other pagan practices, including throwing their own children into the fire for Molech.
In verse 5, then, Isaiah said, "Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord." He was telling them, "You are God's people. You have the light; walk in it! You have the Bible, which is the word and decree of God. You should be stirred and spurred and encouraged by this revelation to serve God. After all, one day all the world will to come to listen to the truth of God's word. Why don't you value it, embrace it, desire it, walk in the light of it now? As God's people, you are the light of the world, the salt of the earth, a city on a hill that should not be hidden. Don't hide your light under a bushel! Let it shine so people can see it! Be a witness for God in this world. You have the truth; declare it! Be my witnesses."
Destined to Reign
If, then, you are a true Christian, what will you be doing during this time of universal peace? Jesus Christ himself speaks about this in Revelation 2:26-27, saying, "To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations- 'He will rule them with an iron scepter, he will dash them to pieces like pottery'-just as I have received authority from my Father." You and I are going to reign with Jesus Christ.
In Revelation 20:4 we read, "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge." During the thousand year reign of Christ, we will reign with him.
The apostle Paul understood this; thus, in 1 Corinthians 6:1-3 he wrote, "If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels?"
What, then, is the destiny of all true Christians? They shall reign with Jesus Christ.
What About You?
In conclusion, if you have not trusted in Jesus Christ, I urge you to kiss the Son, surrender to him completely, and he will save you. He said, "Come unto me . . . . I will give you rest." He is the only Savior. But if you are a Christian and yet are somewhat bored by the word of the Lord, listen to what Isaiah says: "Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord." I pray that you will repent. Then you will be able to say with the psalmist, "I rejoiced with those who said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord'" (Psalm 122:1).
Praise God for his Son, Jesus Christ, and for this word that speaks to us of a utopia produced by him-a time when his Son will reign on this earth, a time when we will reign with him, and a time when nations will stream to him, saying, "Please teach us your ways; we want to walk in your paths."
May God have mercy on us and help us in the present to walk in the light of the Lord. Then we can live holy lives and be happy in Christ both now and forever. Amen.
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Copyright © 2002, P. G. Mathew
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