Standing boldly outside the UN’s (United Nations) headquarters in New York is the “Swords into ploughshares” statue that shows a man hammering a sword into a ploughshare. Donated by the Soviet Union in 1959, the statue gives reference to verse four in this prophecy of Isaiah found in the second chapter of his prophetic book. It stands as a symbol of the hope of peace across the nations.
Isaiah’s staggering vision (a divine revelation) found in chapter 2 tells of the unfolding of the kingdom reign of God on the earth that centres on Judah and Jerusalem in the “latter days,” which can be understood as in the future. No dates are given but Isaiah discloses a description of breathtaking events that give us a vivid idea of what these “latter days” are to look like.
No Greater Mountain than the Lord’s
It’s worth noting that in Isaiah’s time mountains were viewed within the religions of the nations surrounding Israel as the points where heaven and earth met and were subsequently dedicated to the worship of idols. Isaiah makes it clear that in the “latter days” the Lord’s glory and praise will eclipse all other false contenders in plain sight as “the house of the Lord will be established as the highest of the mountains” (v2). Today as in Isaiah’s time there are many idols (false gods) whether humanism, Buddhism, Islam, Jediism, money, fame, or self, all of which lead many astray from God’s grace. However, there’s a time coming when Christ will be known across the entire globe as the one true living God. Isaiah’s vision tells us that “the nations will flow to it” (the “house of the Lord”) and shall follow the Lord.
Peace shall Reign through Christ’s Reign
As great as the UN’s reference to verse four which tells us that “they [the nations] shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks,” (v4, parenthesis added) the UN misses out on the rest of Isaiah’s prophecy which tells us that the precondition for this peace is submission to the Lord. In later chapters of his prophetic book Isaiah gives further clarity to the work of the Lord which points to the suffering messiah taking on himself the transgressions of humanity and consequently providing peace with God (See Isaiah ch53 and ch61). It follows that Christ Jesus is the pivotal factor of the nations flocking to God and peace reigning on earth.
Isaiah charges his readers to “walk in the light of the Lord” (v5). We ought to be inspired by this great prospect of world peace in the messianic age and allow it to lead us into obedient faith in this present time.
God’s Lowering of the Proud
From v6-v22 Isaiah focuses on the rebellion of God’s people. He points to their pervasive materialism, idolatry and partnership with pagan nations for material and commercial gain. Isaiah points to the common and chief end of all who engage in such practices – “the lofty pride of men shall be brought low” (v17). We’re informed that the root of all this for Judah and the nations is pride. Pride is like a subtle yet insidious disease that none of us are immune to. We who believe in Christ who justifies the prideful as innocent through their faith in the payment of their sins by his death and resurrection, ought to live humbly in a manner pleasing to the Lord as those indebted to God yet never able to pay back the insurmountable cost for their redemption.
God’s judgement shall come upon not just the proud but on everything which people have trusted in instead of trusting in God and “the idols shall utterly pass away” (v18). The Lord alone will be exalted. Isaiah tells us that this judgement shall come on the day of the Lord, which appears to give reference to Christ’s return. Isaiah pictures this scene as terrifying for the prideful to the extent that “people shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendour of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth” (v19).
Yet there is the positive outcome where the “splendour of the Lord” shall be manifest and what requires faith now will be in plain sight to all on that day – Christ exalted as Lord of all, who shall not only judge the earth but advance his kingdom over the entirety of the cosmos; creating a new earth, a new Jerusalem (Zion) and even an entirely new universe. All who put their trust in the Lord rather than any created thing can look forward to this day with the hopeful expectation of every wrong being finally made right.
Lord Jesus please help us to live in the light of your word and your love; submitting ourselves fully to you in faithful obedience and enjoyment of you, with a hopeful expectation of your return to set all things right, amen.