The debate belongs to this article. If you haven’t read it already, do that first. I think it’s quite interesting even if you hate religion.
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The German peace movement during the Cold War often cited ‘turn swords to ploughs’ (Mi 1,1-4). This is part of the prophecy of Micah and did not mean to resist from war. It is the enemies of Israel who will be disarmed and their weapons will be destroyed in the final days – according to his prophecy. The identical prophecy with the same context was made by Isaiah (Is 2, 3).
| Christian Republic
In fact, Micah 1:5&f refers to God coming down from heaven to destroy Samaria and Jerusalem for idolatry.
As for the apparent topic of your piece, war is a natural state of man, and always will be until Christ puts an end to it as it pleaseth Him. However, I have long considered how war is petering out. There are very few hotspots of active military engagement in the world today, but that’s not the point: war is now less military than it used to be.
War today is ongoing but it is espionage, surveillance, financial, cyberspace and the like, that are the broadest fronts with the hottest battles. There will never be another Pickett’s Charge or Normandy. At no time in history has there been as much firepower in the hands of governments and the general population as we see today, yet except for Yemen and Syria, there isn’t much government-to-government shooting going on these days.
The Old Testament is like a child’s Bible picture book, full of symbolic stories and allegories involving actual events that, in God’s providence, carry great spiritual truths – illustrating Christ and His Church and their victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. Until those victories are in our bag, there will always be wars and fighting among us. The means may be less violent these days, but it is war nonetheless.
Good catch. I do indeed not read prophecies very intensively. (For quick readers: Swords to ploughshares are still no command to abstain from war.) Prophecies are a part of the bible that I really don’t know much about. So I went for the quotes and the immediate environment make it sound as if Israel may simply dominate. The Micah part reads:
Indeed, the Law will proceed from Zion,
and the message of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And he will judge among many people,
rebuking strong nations far away;
and they will reshape their swords as plowshares
and their spears as pruning hooks.
The more I look at it, the more I think that the text is a hybrid. Jerusalem is already a rubble at this point and yet the Lord speaks “from Jerusalem”. This is no logical contradiction because Zion is in Jerusalem. It just makes no sense to edge in the name Jerusalem at this space when the city is rubble. The Isaiah part does the same:
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
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.
So I believe that this is an older text. And indeed had the meaning that I interpreted. This was then embedded into a final days prophecy that sees Jerusalem destroyed. Integrated it doesn’t read like only the enemies of Israel, but instead really all destroy their weapons. This is only possible because the Lord establishes himself as an authority over nations and can enforce a rule of law between them – a luxury today’s nations don’t have.
BTW I stumbled across something that is quite fitting (Micah 3, 5). The passage is about false prophets and comes right before the Lord names their punishment.
This is what the Lord says about the prophets
who are causing my people to go astray,
who are calling out ‘Peace’ when they’re being fed, but who declare war against those who won’t feed them:
Exactly my problem with the pacifist movement.
The problem is that people try to believe all prophecies despite their contradictions. The final days will be a big war. The final days will be the kingdom of the lord and peace. It is put together that the hopeful, the peace parts come after the big war parts. So some people believe a big war must happen to come to the peace.
I personally take the prophecies with a grain of salt. The hill of Zion will have grown higher than all other hills in the region (Micah) and shall even grow higher than all mountains (probably worldwide, Isaha). The nations of the world ‘come’ to it….*g*
| Christian Republic
Rome completely razed Jerusalem in AD 70. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus declared that there was no evidence that a city had ever been there. The stones were even carted away. What remains today of Fort Antonia’s western wall is wrongly assumed to have been part of the temple mount, but this is false.
(note Ben: No, it isn’t. I embed a video here for you to explore)
The term “last days” or “end times” refers to the *last days* of Jerusalem before the siege and sack of the city, the last days of the Law of Moses, the temple, the sacrifices, etc. It is not in our future.
In this case the hill of zion is already larger than the Mount Everest or at least larger that all other surrounding hills. No. The entire description of events does not fit any historical period. I understand that some Christians avoid that realization by declaring everything that doesn’t fit to be a symbol that stands for something that fits into their agenda. But this is not an objective reading of a text. Of course, you are free to believe it still.
Very few Christians see the prophecies of the end times as a happening of the past. But it is an interesting thought.
I say above that zion grows. This is true for the part that pertains to the peaceful prophecy. Shortly before we learn that, we learn that it is razed down and ‘plowed like a field’ in the war prophecy for the final days. This, of course, does not necessarily mean that the hill shrinks, but the religious sites on it are destroyed and it is now plane enough for agricultural usage. I can really hear the different voices coming through the prophetic texts. In any event they give little moral guidance or clues about actual historic events. To turn ‘swords into ploughshares’ isn’t a command, it is a hope. And I think that it was first a phantasy of dominance and establishing the own law over the surrounding nations.
| Christian Republic
The golden rule that you quote is a rule of thumb. It isn’t mentioned directly in the bible…
(note: quote Ben, This was in a discussion and related to another participant).
“Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
One would think that the utter destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 would have been prophesied in the Bible, momentous event that it was. Where is this prophecy?
The international standard version ISV of the bible translates it with:
Therefore, whatever you want people to do for you, do the same for them, because this summarizes the Law and the Prophets.
So it somehow summarizes the law. It is a nice rule of thumb. I didn’t know that Jesus was indeed saying it.
I don’t believe in prophecies at all.
The correct translation of the quote is “Is the law” not ‘summarizes the law.’ But there seems to be an error on how this was preserved. I also checked Martin Luther’s translation and the phrase is ‘it is the law and the prophets.’ It makes grammatically no sense. So …. it’s a rule of thumb.
The golden rule reminds us of something important and yet neglected: Moral should not have double-standards. The tension between the primate of the “tribe” and the universality of the application of your morals is extreme when it comes to war. It means to judge an enemy soldier by the same standards one would judge a friend. Suicide bombers are then not cowards, but brave, beheadings don’t make ISIS worse than its enemies (who did the same – even some US troops), the Crimean annexation becomes just as legitimate as the recognition and de facto Western annexation of the Balkan states. Some, not many, but some, of your very mortal enemies act in good faith with the information available to them. They might follow your very moral system and be reasonably engaged to always find better information in order not to be misled. Christians often quote their prophet with ‘Love your enemy!’ They ignore that no logical interpretation of this phrase can mean that the enemy becomes anything else but an enemy. One sensible interpretation can mean ‘not to take it personal.’ One of the greatest weaknesses of the German right is its double standard and the overall intellectual weakness of the general discussion. They stomp on the ground and demand that Muslims “integrate”, i.e. do what they do. Most arguments for the right-wing course shrivel down to ‘we are here for longer’ and ‘we are the majority’. Both mottoes won’t fly when demographics change, so we better should change the line of arguments rather sooner than later.