Beating Swords into Plowshares
Isaiah lived in a time when the Assyrians were snacking all of Israel, including their capital city. War was the way of the land. The sword was the way of the land. Death was the way of the land. Do you see the pattern?
Death and destruction anywhere and everywhere.
The Assyrian king was warning people not to listen to Isaiah any longer. If the people would live by his standard he wouldn't kill them. They were going to have to choose to live under the sword one way or another. Either through physical death or by submission.
And what is the sword?
Well for the Israelites, it was the physical sword, drawing the blood and tears of anyone who faced it.
But what about today?
For some it's still physical war. For others it's drugs. For some it's gun violence. And yet for others sometimes it's living under an oppressive thumb. Sometimes the sword becomes our tongue when we choose to cut down others with our words. You don't have to experience physical death to know what death feels like on the inside. Swords can truly be two-edged, one side inflicting physical death. The other side inflicting fear and both will kill you one way or the other.
You can be very much physically breathing and walking around while still experiencing the way of death in the world. I met a woman this week who had lost her son to the sword of drugs. He overdosed two years ago. A few weeks ago I met a man who had been shot execution style in the top of the head but lived to tell about it. The sword of gun violence nearly took him away. And last week I met a single mom whose husband had abandoned her with her two kids. The sword that tried to kill her was neglect.
There is a way of death in the world. But there's also a way of life.
Isaiah comes along and says there's a day coming when nation will not be set against nation anymore, a day when the people will not train for war any longer. A day when people will walk in the light of the Lord, a day when people will walk in the way of the Lord.
So what does it look like to walk in the light of the Lord?
According to Isaiah, a lot like beating swords into plowshares, a lot like taking death and turning it into life. A lot like turning weapons of war into instruments of life and the only way any of us get any closer to that is by starting with ourselves.
This is what the resurrection is all about. God through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit taking all of the things that cause death inside of us and taking all of the things we use to cause death in others and asking God to turn our own swords into instruments that cultivate life.