Pacifist Prophecies in the Old Testament (Part 1)

Yesterday I mentioned that holy war “often featured in the Old Testament, but not always.” I also mentioned that apocalyptic pacifism “emphasizes the difference between old and new covenants as a movement towards climax.” Today I would like to demonstrate how pacifism was anticipated “in the last days” by the prophets of the Old Testament.

Isaiah 2

This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

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, 
   and all nations will stream to it.

Many peoples will come and 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.” 
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. 
They will beat their swords into plowshares 
   and their spears into pruning hooks. 
Nation will not take up sword against nation, 
   nor will they train for war anymore.

 Come, descendants of Jacob, 
   let us walk in the light of the LORD.

This prophecy is repeated in Micah 4, almost word for word.

And now “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:2)

So, let us walk in the light of the LORD.



5 thoughts on “Pacifist Prophecies in the Old Testament (Part 1)

  1. “They will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
    Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore”
    Why keep this vision strictly for the future?
    Can’t we work towards it now? Everybody who wants to, at whatever level they can? Sure, it’s a complex issue, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed.
    Andrew and I were talking on the weekend, and the “swords into plowshares” image got us thinking… a little brainstorming and we came up with “Re-tool: adventures in peacemaking”!


  2. Of course!
    Christ was in the future for Isaiah and Micah … but not so for us. That’s why I included the Hebrews reference, which speaks of us already living in the “last days” that Isaiah was looking forward to, now Christ has ascended. The time for the covenant community to beat swords into plowshares has come! It came when Christ said to the world, do your worst, and showed us that life trumps death.
    Some will of course point out that we live in an overlap of the ages, that war will continue till the powers and principalities are judged. This is true. But we’re to bear witness to the age that is to come, not the age that is passing. That can’t be done with swords.
    I like you’re idea of re-tooling. How would you suggest developing the concept?


  3. See also Zechariah 9:9-10 especially vs 10 “I will remove the war chariots from Israel….your king will make peace among the nations”.


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