“…nor will they train for war anymore.”

Isaiah 2

The Mountain of the LORD

1 This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
2 In the last days Peace Dove.bmp
the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted 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.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

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, house of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the LORD.

The discussion of Christian involvement in war has become a badly beaten horse in some blogging circles of late, and I fear that the political bent of many of these conversations tends to split believers into two camps (based on their stance on war and faith): liberal and conservative.

This polarizing argument largely misses the point, in my opinion.

I think Isaiah 2 may help people of faith get beyond a discussion that is too often over-simplified or over-complicated. Isaiah 2 is really more of a painting than a block of text on a page. It is a portrayal of what the world would look like if it acknowledged Yahweh as king. It is a portrayal of a world full of people had sin not entered the picture. It clearly illustrates that war and violence are not part of God’s plan for humanity, but a result of sin entering into the world.

As the people of God, we (hopefully) believe that flickers of Isaiah 2 — a.k.a God’s “kingdom” or “reign” — show up at various places throughout the world, even before Christ’s return. God’s kingdom is breaking in wherever He is at work in the world, and the people of God are called to model an allegiance to this in-breaking kingdom or “new world order.” Isaiah 2 will not be realized in full until we are in Heaven forever, but we can see glimmers of this image — on a far smaller scale — in faith communities working toward racial and religious reconciliation, droves of baby Christians migrating toward the cross all over the world, and Christ-followers attempting to “walk in the light of the Lord” instead of remaining Christians “by name only.”

I believe this interpretation of God’s in-breaking kingdom is sufficiently backed up by the scriptural narrative. This particular post will not go into an exegesis of kingdom. It is assumed.

With this knowledge, then, shouldn’t the Christian stance on war be fairly clear-cut? For followers of Christ, shouldn’t war fall into the same category as other products of the fall of man? Shouldn’t Christians not only abstain from participation in acts of war or violence, but vigorously oppose all acts of war and pray for peace? It seems to me that in the counter-cultural church of Jesus Christ, war is seen not as “just” in some cases or even preferred when the end justifies the means. It is always opposed. By every true follower of Christ.

I’m not sure if any of this helps the conversation along, but I have to believe that a renewed vision of God’s kingdom breaking in — and specifically the vision of Isaiah 2 — might lead more Christians away from the American Evangelical party line stance on war and to their knees to pray for Shalom to come to earth quickly.

In the Middle East. In the Congo. In Sudan. In America’s inner cities. In families.

That’s just what I’ve been pondering lately. Let me know what you think.

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