By Dr. Harold Sala
And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Micah 4:3
“It’s a true story,” says James Hewett. A certain couple grew increasingly alarmed by the threat of nuclear war and so decided that they would move to the safest place on earth. But where was that? They studied, they inquired, they looked at the map, and they considered a variety of options and possibilities. They wanted ultimate security in a small out-of-the-way place where the superpowers were least likely to disturb their tranquility.
They found it, too (so they thought) and moved there. Christmas cards that year were postmarked the Falkland Islands. Most of the folks who got the cards said, “Where?” But within weeks, they were no longer asking the question because the Falkland Islands were on the front page of every major paper in the world as the peaceful islands were turned into a battle ground between Great Britain and Argentina.
In your Old Testament you will find 12 short books, often referred to as minor prophets–not because they are unimportant–but because they are not as long as, say, Isaiah’s or Jeremiah’s writings. One of them was penned by a man by the name of Micah, who lived about 70 years starting in 740 B.C. A contemporary of Isaiah, Micah knew that the world was shaky. Assyria in the north was ruthless, domineering, and vicious. History reminds us that Lenin, Hitler, and Stalin were all disciples of Assyrian military policy. It was the Assyrians who first used crucifixion as a method of execution, terrifying their enemies into submission.
Micah lived in Judah, the southern kingdom, when Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, laid siege to the northern tribes of Israel. His world was in chaos. Armies were on the march, and homes and families were being torn apart by conflict. Understanding the times in which he wrote reminds us of the perils of living in a nuclear age when madmen have the capability of creating catastrophes of global proportions.
During this time, however, Micah gave to us a great promise of lasting peace. Here’s how he put it: “And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3).
Micah never lived to see this, and frankly when you look back in history, that time has never come–which means Micah’s promise is yet in the future. God’s timetable is different from ours, and though centuries may span the gap between the promise and the fulfillment, when God says something, you can count on it as a sure reality.
There will come a time when God says, “Enough!” and He will again send His son to rule and reign in our world, and that’s when He will judge the nations, and men will beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks.
The words of an old spiritual go, “I ain’t gonna study war no more,/ Ain’t gonna study war no more,/ Ain’t gonna study war no more.” For centuries men and women have talked about laying down the sword and shield by the riverside and putting on a robe of white before you cross the river to peace.
No, that’s not a pipe-dream, an empty, meaningless hope. It is the certainty that God is in control, no matter what has happened or will happen, and that sometime the King of kings and Lord of lords will rule and reign with justice and equality. Until then, may His peace fill your heart and may you walk with the assurance that someday Micah’s prophecy will become a reality. May God hasten the day.
Resource reading: Micah 4