Among the prophecies looking toward a glorious future for Israel and the restoration of the Davidic kingdom is the hope for peace whereby weapons of war will be turned into instruments of peace. The people “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3-4)
Moving from a time of war to a time of peace is everyone’s hope. Yet, nations perpetually prepare and engage in war. In recent years the United States has been involved in two wars. According to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation nearly half of all our taxes go to support the military. America not only spends more money on the military than any other nation, but more than all other nations combined. It is curious that a nation still claiming to be Christian spends more money on “swords” and “spears” than “plowshares.” The consequence is that war machinery robs the poor and the hopes of our children.
In an attempt to support our troops we tend to worship the god of Mars rather than the God of Peace. Some military leaders, however, have been loath to do that, notably Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower was not an anti-war radical but a five star general and President of the United States. In 1953 he wrote about this dilemma:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…This is not the way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” (“A Book of Wonders,” E. Hays)
This statement reflects the attitude of Jesus. When he was arrested and his life threatened with crucifixion, Jesus’ response to one who took a sword, striking the slave of the high priest and cutting off his ear, was, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matt. 26:52)
Endless preparations for war, intended for peace, usually lead to war. Jesus’ observation is too often true. And with atomic weapons that can exterminate humanity, the pacifist’s approach may be the most practical. “Put your sword back into its place.” Turn your “swords” into “plowshares.”