Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Swords into Ploughshares

Further to my post a long while back about many Christians not being that excited about the afterlife, or about eternal life as conceived of by many people, just sitting around for eternity strumming harps and walking on streets of gold...

I'm sure this has happened to most if not all Christians who regularly read their Bibles.  You'll be reading along in a book of the Bible and you'll read a passage that you are quite familiar with, or at least that you have read or heard many times before.  This time, however, it sticks out sideways and you see it in different light, say, the light of a 50 million candle power search light.  It's as though you are seeing the 2D passage you've always seen in 3D for the first time.  That happened to me several years ago with Isaiah 2:4:

     He shall judge between the nations,
       and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
     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.

Or as Louis Armstrong sang, "I ain't gonna study war no more..."

This is a passage that addresses a time universally recognized as not having come yet.  If you have any doubt, just watch the news - still lots of war.  Nations don't appear to be boiling their chemical weapons down into cancer medication any time soon.  Christians recognize this as a prophecy about the new heavens and the new earth, or at least about the millennial reign of Christ (exact interpretation depends on one's eschatology).  Anyway, this is referencing a time when nations will no longer war for they will all recognize the authority of Christ the King.  There will be peace.  Therefore, there will be no more need for weapons of warfare.  What will be done with all those weapons?  They will be turned into gardening tools and farming implements.

So, the new heavens and new earth will not be one long vacation, where we do nothing but visit each other in our mansions and walk along the shores of the crystal sea.  We will be gardening.  We will be tending creation.  We will be fulfilling our original vocation of taking dominion, only this time it will be over a redeemed and renewed heavens and earth, one rescued from sin and death and the curse by the blood of Christ; one under full submission to the rule of God the Father and his Son.  In the new heavens and earth we will be working, only our labour will not be toil, and the creation will willingly and happily submit, and there will not be thorns and weeds to contend with.  And there will be no serpent slithering into this garden-city, the new Eden-Zion.  And we will have access to the tree of life once more, where the nations may eat and be healed and live forever.