God’s Promise of Peace for the Last Days
He will judge between many peoples, and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. 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…Micah 4:3
There has always been this notion that world peace is achievable through human effort. As Christians and also as Canadians we do strive for peace, but we know that lasting, true peace will not be seen in this present world. Yet someday there will be global peace again, and Micah 4:3 speaks of this. Micah says that these things will happen "in the last days." That's a reference to the distant future, the time of a new heavens and new earth. We see signs of this age emerging already now after the first coming of Christ. But it is only with his second coming that this age appears in its fullness.
In these latter days described by Micah, there will be a temple. Many nations will be drawn to this temple. In the new creation there will be great ethnic diversity. Today already, we are aware of the huge variety of peoples being drawn into Christ's church. They come from every ethnicity. They're all being gathered into the church by Christ. We see all of that now and it's a sure sign of what is coming.
In the new creation there will be God-given peace among all the different ethnic groups. Even among Christians there can be disputes on the political front. Even Christians from the same nation don't always look at political issues the same way. This can even lead to war. God promises that in the age to come, he will put all these disputes to rest and nations will be at peace.
This reality is portrayed with what happens to their swords and spears. These represent the entire military arsenal of the nations. These destructive weapons will become constructive. The nations will take their swords to the blacksmith and he will turn them into plowshares. The plowshare is made out of metal, and is part of the sharp end of the plow. Instead of being used for destroying human life, the metal in those swords will be used for supporting life through agriculture.
The same is true for spears. Trees and vines need to be pruned for maximum productivity. For that, people working in orchards need pruning hooks. The nations are going to take their spears to the blacksmith and he will convert them into pruning hooks. Instead of being instruments to draw blood, they'll become instruments to promote life.
If you read some commentaries written after World War I and before World War II, you will find some scholars who thought this prophecy was being fulfilled in their day. There's at least one commentator who thought that Micah 4:3 was fulfilled by the League of Nations. After World War II, we find these prophetic words hijacked again. Today if you go to New York and visit the gardens at the United Nations, you'll find a sculpture entitled "Beating Swords into Plowshares," and depicting a blacksmith doing what's described by Micah. The message seems clear: the United Nations is bringing this to reality.
If there is any place on the earth right now where this is really beginning to happen, it is in the church. This is where people have peace with God. We were at war with our Creator. We each had a dysfunctional, adversarial relationship with him. Now through Jesus, we have a personal relationship of peace with our God.
This reconciliation also shapes our human interactions. Because we have peace with God through Christ, we also pursue peace with one another. We're not to be people who enjoy conflict and strife. Our Savior taught in the Beatitudes, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." The pursuit of peace in our human relationships and also on the larger scales of ecclesiastical and national life – all of that – is a fruit of our faith in Jesus Christ, our great peacemaker and peacekeeper.
The day is coming when the signs will fall away and the reality will be present. It's not going to happen through human efforts. There will be global peace, but it won't come because of the United Nations and its philosophy. It will come because our God has promised it. Global peace will come because our God means what he says and is always faithful to carry out what he says. Don't ever forget that!