Scripture: Isaiah 2:2-5
November 11, 1918 marked the end of the Great War. 100 years has passed since the end of the “War to end all wars” was agreed upon.
Imagine, this was seen to be the last war we would ever need to fight. How’s that going for us today?
100 years later, and really, how many periods of peace have we truly seen? World War 2. The Korean War. The Vietnam War. The war in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan. Think about the Cold War, which wasn’t a battle, but a time of great tension. This is just to name a few. Seems like since World War 1, we’ve been practically in some state of war ever since!
This time of year, I think of my grandfather who passed away just a few years ago. I think of our own Sir Duncan McKeigan. The stories these men carry all through their lives, and the painful memories that come along with them.
I think about the last British Empire soldier to die in World War 1, a Canadian, a young man from Nova Scotia named George Price who was shot by a sniper two minutes before the guns were to be laid aside in peace. 100 years ago this very morning.
100 years is a long time. Yet Price’s story is still being told, especially this year as this significant anniversary is commemorated. And still, it’s been 100 years of bloodshed and fighting.
I’m not a pacifist. I believe war is sometimes necessary. But I also believe it should be avoided if at all possible. This is a stance which often takes me to part of the passage in Isaiah I just shared,
“and they 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 anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
Part of the issue Isaiah is getting at is that the nation has gotten away from it’s relationship with God. It has forgotten God’s promises of a strong bond through the covenant relationship made with their ancestors. As a result, life is rough.
If you remember, the ancient nation of is Israel saw all it’s neighbours with their kings and their armies. Because these other nations had kings, the Israelites saw them as powerful and more advanced, so they asked God to give them a king. God replied that they need no king, that a relationship with him was more than enough. But they kept at it, they wanted a king, they wanted to be like the other nations. Finally God let them have a king, and it was good, for a little while. Then everything fell of the rails.
By taking on a king, the people relied on a man for direction and leadership. They completely forgot about going to God for these things. Now, if the king was good and listened to God, things weren’t too bad, but many kings felt the power of the throne and relied on their own judgement and strength in leadership. And you know what happened?
Not so much that they failed themselves, kings often do well personally no matter how poorly they lead, but they failed the nation they were asked to lead. They failed to serve all the people, and tended to focus on the ones who had influence and also had money and power.
Does any of this sound familiar at all? Does it possibly reflect on something maybe we’re seeing today? Or is it just me.
Any way, coming back to the point. These kings who relied on their own judgement and strength often led their people into battles they were never meant to fight, and things would get worse.
Every few generations it seemed, a good king would come along, someone who trusted the prophets God would send them, and things would be better, but then they would start relying on themselves again and it would fall apart.
Today the prophet Isaiah is speaking to the people reminding them, that even in these tough times, there is someone they can go to and rely on. Someday, this someone is going to establish his own kingdom where all will be able to enter and walk in the way of the Lord.
He is, of course, talking about God.
And because everyone is following his way, from all the nations, there will no longer be need for instruments of war. He will take their swords and spears and turn them into tools for the harvest.
There will be no need to judge one another any more because God will lead them and settle their disputes.
Oh how we wish for this kingdom right now, don’t we?
What we often forget is that we have the ability to access this kingdom right now! It’s been with us for some time actually. This ability was granted to us by Jesus. Jesus enables us to see into this kingdom practically any time we want!
In Jesus, we are able to connect directly with God through prayer and have him lead us, have him help us settle our disputes. We can find peace in our lives, and the instruments of battle we carry, those too can be converted into tools for the harvest… God’s harvest of bringing people into his kingdom.
War is an option, but it’s not God’s first choice. It’s not what he has promised those who love him. God promises us peace, peace in our souls, which leads us into finding peace with others. And on the rare occasion, we find ourselves needing to fight for that peace.
So what do we do? How can we bring that peace into our hearts?
We love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We come to know Jesus as our brother, and we welcome the Holy Spirit, the presence of God himself, into our hearts and our lives, and then we can know peace.
The Apostle Paul wrote this to the early church in Rome,
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
This is the peace we receive for our faith in God through Jesus Christ. Peace only God can give. There’s no need to fight for this peace. This peace cannot be found in battles and wars, it can only be found in God.
May this world realize peace is right at its fingertips, right there for the grasping. All people need to do is take one step in the right direction and God will do the rest.
Let us pray,
Lord Jesus, on this day of peace, may your Holy Spirit enable us to find peace in our own lives through a relationship with you.
Open our hearts Lord, and make room for the Holy Spirit to come in. Fill us with love and peace to make this world a place of love and peace.
We realize that it may actually begin with us, as faithful followers of your way. May we share and encourage others to join us in this journey. Others who may also come to know you as well, and find your love and your peace in their own lives.
Use us Lord Jesus, as you will, to make this world a better place for all.
We pray this in your most Holy Name. Amen and amen.