And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us about His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between many peoples and render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. Though all the peoples walk each in the name of his god, as for us, we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever. (Micah 4:1-5)
The prophecy above is an interesting one for a couple of reasons. One, virtually the exact same prophecy can be found in Isaiah 2:1-5. The prophets Isaiah and Micah were contemporaries, and most conservative scholarship place their prophecies during or near Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem in 701 B.C. The setting and its eventual outcome are described in 2 Kings 18-19 and 2 Chronicles 32:1-23.
It’s always been debated as to whether Isaiah wrote his prophecy first and Micah borrowed it, or, Micah wrote his first and Isaiah borrowed from Micah. Or, did they both borrow it from another source? Personally, I believe in a God who is big enough to give it to both of His prophets at the same time.
What also makes this prophecy interesting is its misuse by mankind. In fact, part of Isaiah’s version of this prophecy is inscribed on a wall outside of the United Nations building in New York City. This partial quotation, out of context, demonstrates the presumption of the nations, united in belief that mankind can bring peace to the world, while not acknowledging the God whose word they are using.
Last night’s cowardice attack in Nice, France is simply one more example of humanity’s inability to bring any real, lasting, permanent peace. There are gang wars, civil wars, the war on drugs, tribal wars, ideological wars, territorial wars, and of course, religious wars. No matter how much they might want it, ‘Coexist’ simply doesn’t exist.
Trying to live in peace with everyone we can is good, and right. It’s biblical: If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. (Romans 12:18 NET) But, all the peace summits, peace conferences, peace sit-ins, and peace treaties in the world won’t result in lasting peace for this world. The truth is, man, however well-intentioned he might be, is incapable of delivering what he does not possess. Peace comes only from the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give peace to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27 NLV)
That’s more than a sentimental thought. That’s a theological and historical fact. Jesus Christ went to war with the three greatest enemies of all mankind, Satan, sin and death. He trounced them, crushed them, wiped the floor with them. His victory was so complete that the battle will never have to be fought again. And, having thoroughly and completely defeated them, He signed the peace treaty in His own blood, making it possible for mankind to be reconciled to God; making it possible for mankind to experience true peace.
Micah and Isaiah’s prophecies were delivered at a time of national crisis. The nation was living in fear, and uncertain of the future; not unlike how many people are feeling today. The point of the prophecy was to remind the people of God that no matter how turbulent the times, or how evil the enemy, when the Prince of Peace returns He will establish His peace on this earth. Then, and only then will men finally “hammer their swords into plowshares.”
Dr. J. Clay Stevens is Lead Pastor of Cross Culture Church in Raleigh, NC. He is author of the book I Get It! Discovering How To Really live In The Promises Of God. His life mission statement is: "To take people from where they are to where God wants them to be."