Isaiah 2 To End All Wars

Sun, 20/09/2015 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I hate war. I hate the nations fighting, the damage to property, the loss of life, the grief, the trauma, the memories soldiers cannot shake. I would love to live in a world where there is no war.

Who’s with me? It’s so obvious, you don’t even need to put up your hand. We all are.

After the Second World War, the United Nations we know today was formed with just 51 member states. Today, there are 193, but the aim is the same: To try and get nations to work together, talk together, rather than fight each other.

In 1948, a curved piece of wall was built across the road from the UN headquarters in Manhattan. On it, the following words are inscribed: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” In 1975 it was rededicated as the Isaiah wall, and the name “Isaiah” was placed after the quotation. They are, after all, Isaiah’s words. And they come from the Bible reading we just heard.

I’ve got some excellent news for you this morning. One day, that dream will be a reality. There is a future for this world without war. And it’s absolutely certain. But it won’t be brought about by the United Nations.

Let me tell you how it will come about. There are two stages, and we’re going to look at them in reverse order.

God’s word goes out to rule the world

First, or (if you prefer), last: God’s word goes out to rule the world. God’s word goes out to rule the world.

Verse 3 describes God’s word going out to settle disputes between nations. Verse 3: The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.

Zion is the name of the hill on which Jerusalem was built. Jerusalem was the centre for God’s word being taught. God’s word is being pictured like a river, flowing down from the hill that is Mount Zion, to spread out to the furthest corners of the world, to water it. God is the king, and now his voice is being heard the world over.

And the result is that conflicts are judged, and disputes are settled. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. God’s word solves arguments.

We all know how easily it is for siblings to fall out. Natasha has been born into a family with two fabulous brothers, and I’m sure they’ll all get on famously. But it’s so easy to fall out. One child thinks he’s the most important, while another thinks he is. Both want the biggest slice of cake, the seat in the front of the car, the first go on the Wii, or whatever it is. Most of our arguments arise this way. If I think the world revolves around me, and you think the world revolves around you, we’re bound to have problems when we meet.

Everything changes when we allow God to be God. If his word goes, if he becomes the most important person in the universe, then there’s a way for our disputes to be settled. We’re no longer competing to be top dog. We all know we’re not. We work together to serve the God who is.

This then lays the foundation for the end of warfare, which follows as surely as night follows day.

Verse 4: He will judge between the nations and settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.

This is nothing less than the total and permanent end of warfare.

We see the end, first, of the machinery of war. Nobody will need a sword or a spear, a gun or a bomb, a jet or a warship, any more.

Not only that, we see the end of the motives of war. Nation will not take up sword against nation. Once people acknowledge that God is in charge, and they are not, they stop thinking about defending their corner and fighting. All the motives of war have gone.

And third, the mind-set of war has gone as well. Nor will they train for war any more. Nobody will have to think about military tactics. The Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst will be closed. War itself will be a dead industry.

This will of course put lots of people out of business. The arms manufacturers will have to diversify. So you’ll be able to buy Lockheed Martin hedge trimmers, Raytheon rotivators, Smith and Weston spades, and Kalashnikov sheers. And RAF bases will be turned into garden centres.

And so God’s word goes out to rule the world, and as it does so we stop competing and serve God. The machinery, the motives, and the mind-set for war are never seen again.

God’s word goes out to rule the world.

The nations pour in to live by God’s word

I said there were two stages. That’s the first. Here’s the second, although it actually comes first. The nations pour in to live by God’s word. The nations pour in to live by God’s word.

In the ancient world, mountains were thought of as the homes of the gods. Religions would compete in a grand game of king of the castle – who has the highest mountain. In religions that had many gods, there would be rivalry between them, which is why the Greeks put Zeus on top of Mount Olympus.

All of that will end, says Isaiah. Because which god is top dog, who has the highest mountain, is going to be settled once and for all. Verse 2: In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills. One mountain has become the highest. It’s the Lord’s, in capital letters, which is the unique name of the God of Israel, whose other name is Jacob, verse 3. It’s the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will be the undisputed king of this world.

Which means the nations will stream to him. Verse 2: It will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. That’s intentionally bizarre language. Isaiah means to be surreal here. The word really is, “stream”. It’s the verb that comes from the noun for a river. The nations will pour in to where God rules, like a river.

Now, you and I both know that water flows downhill. Water lands as rain or snow on the high mountains, and from there it flows through valleys and ravines to form big wide rivers, that eventually end up at sea level. But remember that God’s mountain has become the highest point on planet earth. The nations are streaming to it. It’s like all the rivers of the world flowing to the summit of Everest. It’s like God’s turned on some giant supernatural electromagnet, and the nations of our world are being drawn to worship the one true God, defying gravity. It’s unthinkable. It’s nonsense. It’s surreal. It’s the last thing you’d expect to happen, but it’s happening, it’s real.

Please note carefully. This is not every individual on the planet. In verse 2, we’re told it’s all nations. In verse 3, that’s become “many peoples”. Clearly it’s a vast majority, but it’s not each and every person.

And why do these nations want to pour in to where God is found? Verse 3, here’s what they’ll say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”

They want God to teach them. They want to hear God’s voice. They’re hungry for God’s word.

But not so that they can have full notebooks. Not so that they can have full brains. But so that they can live in the light of what God says. So they can walk in step with the priorities, the loves, the values of the God of Israel.

This is what’s so extraordinary. In chapter 1, God exposed how Israel knew so much about him, but did not live in the light of what she knew. In chapter 2, they’re told that one day the nations will show them how it’s done. The nations will pour in – and they’ll do so in order to live God’s ways, to live by God’s word.


And so, in two stages, we see how it is that warfare will one day end. There’s a flow inwards, and then a flow outwards. The nations will pour in, to live by God’s word. Then the flow is reversed. God’s word will go out, to rule the world. And so God will be in charge; conflict will end,


But all of that is in the distant future. As verse 2 puts it, this is “in the last days”. The New Testament uses that phrase, and is clear that the full reality promised for the last days will not come until Jesus Christ returns.

It’s still great news, though. What could be better than knowing that the day will come, with absolute certainty, when the machinery, the motives, and mind-set of war – will be gone for good? You can leave here today with a spring in your step.

And it may be in the future, but it’s not without its relevance for our day and age.

If you’re someone who is still looking into the Christian faith, you’re most welcome here. For you, this is an invitation to come on board. To become one of Jesus’ followers. One day, every nation will do that. The day will come when the vast majority of the human race will follow the person of Jesus, live by his word. When that happens, God’s rule will mean the end of all warfare, global peace for ever. If that’s what God’s rule will mean in the future, why not allow the Lord Jesus to rule your life today?

Many of us here are Christians. We’ve just baptised Natasha, wanting her to be a Christian for the rest of her life. That’s a great position to be in. And if you’re in that position, the very last sentence of the reading tells you what this means for you, today. Verse 5: Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

One day, all nations will walk in the light of God’s word. One day, God’s gracious rule will bring peace to the whole world. We are the most privileged people in the world. We are ruled by his word today. So let’s live in the light of our privilege. Let’s allow God’s rule to shape the way we live, govern our priorities. It’s the future. It’s going to fill the world. So let’s make it our present as well.

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