Micah 4:1 And it will come about in the last days
That the mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established [a]as the chief of the mountains.
It will be raised above the hills,
And the peoples will stream to it.
2 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.
3 And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, [b]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 [c]train for war.
So, we enter again into this text in Micah 4 and Isaiah 2. Part of what we have been laboring to demonstrate is that with the first advent of Christ the things spoken of here have come to pass. With the advent of Christ, we arrived in Micah and Isaiah’s latter days.
We have labored to demonstrate that the Lord Christ is the Mountain of the house of the Lord that the Prophet’s speak. We have sought to show that the Kingdom of Christ is indeed now and has been since the coming of Jehovah’s Mountain Kingdom the chief of all Mountains.
We have leveraged history to illustrate how it is that with the first Advent of Christ the nations streamed into the Kingdom of Christ. Likewise, we have introduced the Emporer Justinian and his consort Theodora as well as Alfred the Great and then later English common law to put meat on the truth that it has been the case that the nations have desired to be taught God’s law that they may walk in God’s paths.
We have done this because we are convinced that the Church is asleep on the already-ness of the Kingdom. The modern Church, too often, acts like it is living in the times of Micah and Isaiah — as if we only have this to look forward toward. The Church is stuck in the “not yet.” The modern Church has an OT eschatological vision. While it is true that we expect a further blossoming of these Messianic promises, (The Kingdom being seen chief among all competitors, the Nations streaming in, the petition to be taught God’s law, the presence of peace) we have neglected to emphasize the immediacy and presence of these truths as already true.
True it is, that the full existential / experiential impact of the “not yet” still lies beyond us in the future for our children and grandchildren to know and experience, yet it is the driving home of the “now”/ the “already” of these truths that Micah and Isaiah could only anticipate — as preached to the saints now living — that serves the ends of breaking the enslaving bonds upon the people of God’s thinking that the “this present evil age” status quo seeks so earnestly to keep them in thralldom to.
The “coming age” that Micah, Isaiah, and the prophets spoke of has come!
And this Definitively so!
Now its realization continues to be worked out progressively. BUT, you see, if there is NO definitive reality of these things as grasped firmly by faith in the here and now, there cannot and will not be the progressive out-working of these truths. The intensification of these truths over time depend on the reality of these truths being true NOW.
If the embrace of these anticipated prophetic realities is neglected the Church will remain enslaved mentally in the sin and death of “this present wicked age” as it lies in Adam. But the fact remains, definitively, that all the saints are presently “in Christ”, NOT “in Adam,” and what is true for Christ is true for His people who are united to Him.
(Note — Gratitude to Kim Burgess for a conversation that crystallized the above 6 paragraphs. The language is mostly mine but I could not have gotten there without my conversation with Kim.)
This morning we turn to the issue of war and peace and how with the arrival of Christ, swords have been hammered into plowshares and spears for pruning hooks, which is to say that Christ brought peace.
This promise of peace as connected with the Messiah is found everywhere in the Scriptures. But before we turn to those passages do keep in mind that the Hebrew “shalom” (peace) is a word that is of much richer and fuller significance than the English word “peace.” Whereas we sometimes limit the idea of peace to the absence of conflict, shalom includes far more. It comprises notions of wholeness, completeness, soundness, as well as the presence of righteousness, justice, and prosperity.
It is that kind of Peace that is sung in Handel’s Messiah, every year from Isaiah 9:6
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Zechariah also envisioned the Messianic ear as an era of Peace,
10I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.
Upon the Birth of Christ, we hear the singing of the Angelic hosts
Luke 2:14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests!”
Jesus said to His troubled disciples on the cusp of His Exodus,
27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;
Paul in Ephesians 2 could speak of Christ as Himself being our peace and as His finished work on the Cross establishing peace. We learn that Christ preached peace to those gentiles who were far away, covenantally speaking, and peace to those Jews who were near covenantallty speaking.
Peace thus becomes a major theme throughout Scripture. Micah and Isaiah join that chorus to speak of the latter days… what we call the first advent … would find one consequence as the bringing in of peace.
Of course as we begin to examine this peace we say as we have noted before that nation cannot have peace with nation until nations have peace with Christ. Nations which are at war with Christ will war with one another. This is so because nations (and men) who are at war with Christ inevitably take themselves as God. As gods tend to demand that everyone bow to them, the consequence is that varying nations who have taken themselves as god will insist that all other nations who have taken themselves as god bow to their godhood. If everyone is a deity who expects all to bow, conflict is going to arise, conflict of interest will be the norm, and so peace will not be present.
Men who are at war with God will invariably have no peace within themselves, nor as among others.
But the latter days have arrived and Christ has come. And the consequence of that is to have witnessed how it is that nations who have come under the authority of the Gospel have themselves exchanged war for peace so that so far as it depended upon Christian people, they were at peace with all men.
That this text was understood has having a fulfilled import to it is something that the early Church Fathers taught. Here are only three,
Tertullian (155 – 240)
“Even from this, you may know that Christ was promised, not as one mighty in war, but as a peace-bringer. Either deny that these things were prophesied, since they are plain to see; or, since they are written, deny that they are fulfilled. But if thou mayest deny neither, thou must own that they are fulfilled in Him, of whom they are prophesied.”
Athansius (296-373) could write,
“Of old Greeks and Barbarians, being idolaters, warred with one another, and were fierce toward those akin. For through their implacable warfare no one might pass land or sea, unarmed. Their whole life was passed in arms; the sword was to them for staff and stay. They worshiped idols, sacrificed to demons, and yet from their reverence for idols they could gain no help to correct their minds. But when they passed into the school of Christ, then, of a truth, pricked in mind, they wondrously laid aside their savage slaughters, and now think no more of things of war; for now all peace and friendship are alone their mind’s delight. who then did this, who blended in peace those who hated one another, save the Beloved Son of the Father, the common Saviour of all, Christ Jesus, who, through His love, endured all things for our salvation?
Chrysostom (349 – 407) could chime in saying,
“Before the Coming of Christ, all men armed themselves and no one was exempt from this service, and cities fought with cities, and everywhere were men trained to war. But now most of the world is in peace; all engage in mechanical art or agriculture or commerce, and few are employed in military service for all. And of this too the occasion would cease, if we acted as we ought and did not need to be reminded by afflictions.” : “After the Sun of righteousness dawned, so far are all cities and nations from living in such perils, that they know not even how to take in hand any affairs of war. – Or if there be still any war, it is far off at the extremity of the Roman Empire, not in each city and country, as heretofore. For then, in any one nation, there were countless seditions and multiform wars. But now the whole earth which the sun surveys from the Tigris to the British isles, and therewith Lybia too and Egypt and Palestine, yea, all beneath the Roman rule, – ye know how all enjoy complete security, and learn of war only by hearsay.”
See, the point here, is that many of the Church Fathers could speak of this prophecy being fulfilled. Of course, not perfectly or completely, but fulfilled in principle so that the impact of Messianic age was being seen. Those early Church Fathers in their evangelism could urge against the Jews — those whom they were often engaged with — that the fulfillment of these Old Testament prophecies had come to pass.
But instead what we get today is that these prophecies are only future as tied to the 2nd advent of Christ, which means in turn, that we can not expect this peace to be characteristic of this world until Christ returns, which serves a pessimistic eschatology. Or failing that, what we get is that these prophesies are only fulfilled spiritually…. whatever that means.
But the prophecy is fulfilled, in that the Gospel is a Gospel of peace and makes peace for those who come under its sway and authority. And being fulfilled we anticipate it going from fulfillment unto fulfillment.
Yes, we who are familiar with the 20th century find this preaching hard sledding. We have seen untold bloodshed this century. But remember our illustration on the way that the Kingdom comes in.
Ill. — Tide coming in and out. / Not steady linear progress.
So, we can say that this is fulfilled when men, as far as they united to Christ, are at peace both in themselves and with one another. The Gospel brings peace. The Gospel stills the selfish passions that make for war. The Gospel quells disputes arising from pride. Where overcome with the Gospel there we find a banishing of contentions, a removing of errors, and a soothing and repressing of pagan anger, both in individuals, and nations.
Again, I appeal to History,
There is the account of John Williams missionary to the South Island seas in the early 19th century. Williams work for Christ went forward. Eventually, God was pleased to convert a Samoan chief named Malietoa. Prior to Malietoa’s conversion, he was a feared warrior. Upon embracing Christ Malietoa used his warrior ability to be a force for peace among the tribes.
There is the Don Richardson account in the 20th century among the Sawi tribe in Papua New Guinea. God was pleased to use Richardson and his wife to see conversion among the Sawi tribe and the consequence was Peace among formerly cannibalistic tribes. Indeed the book that Richardson wrote, which I highly recommend, is titled “Peace Child.” The book tells the story of how the Father’s giving of the Son brought reconciliation and Peace to warring tribes throughout the world. This message was highly effective given that the Sawi and area tribes retained a “Peace child” concept in their culture, as a means to make and ensure peace among warring tribes.
Because of Christianity, even the pursuit of war was about bringing peace. Augustine taught that for a war to be a “Just war” the war must be waged under the authority of the prince, and it must have as its object the punishment of injustice and the restoration of peace. Where there was gross injustice there could be no peace. Christianity created a doctrine of war that was about the restoration of peace.
Obviously, then, the kind of peace that is characteristic of the Messianic age is not the peace of the pacifists and the anabaptists. The Messiah does not seek peace at any cost. The cost of peace in the Messianic age is kissing the Son, lest He be angry, resulting in perishing. Men and Nations who will not have the Messiah’s peace will know that the Prince of Peace is also a warrior Prince.
The Messiah’s peace is a peace that will wage war for peace against those who would wage war against the Messiah’s peace.
Because this is true, we have to say, that the anabaptist and the pacifist are working against the Peace of the Messiah when they prattle on about peace at any cost.
New Sermon — 25 December 2016
Christ is the Prince of Peace.
Last week we sought to build the case that the consequence of the arrival of Christ with the first advent was the ushering in of a Peace. It really has been the case that swords have been beaten into plowshares and spears turned into pruning hooks.
We have noted that Peace has been characteristic where the Gospel has been successfully planted. Christ remains, in the words of Isaiah 9, “the Prince of Peace.”
Yet we must briefly deal with these words of Christ and ask whether or not in them we find contradiction.
Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
This gives us insight into the kind of Peace that Scripture has in mind when it speaks of Christ as the one who brings peace. It is most certainly a peace that intends to triumph through conflict.
Usually, the kind of Peace that you hear “Christians” talk about is the kind of peace that means that Christians surrender their convictions in order to have the cessation of hostility. This is not the kind of Peace that Christianity offers when it talks about swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. The kind of Peace that Christianity is talking about is a Peace that arrives via total conquest against those enemies which rise up against Christ as the Prince of peace.
The reason that Christ, who is the Prince of Peace can talk about bringing a sword is that Peace is not gained except through vanguishing all Kingdoms which would rise up against Christ and His Kingdom. This is why Christ can talk about friction within a household. Until the whole household surrenders to Christ there will be variance in that household.
Ill. — Illustration — War against Japan
During the war against Japan, most Americans undoubtedly wanted peace. Peace was the thought that comforted mothers whose sons were in danger on distant battlefields; peace was the word which sustained wives, lonely and anxious without their husbands; peace was the goal that motivated servicemen who knew the boredom, the loneliness, and the danger of war. Had they been asked to define peace, they would doubtless have described it as the termination of hostilities in the defeat of the enemy by the allies. Not under any circumstances would victory by Japan have been termed peace. To the American people, peace meant only one thing– American victory.
The Christian believes they are at war. They desire “peace” with all their hearts. But to us, peace is that great hope for the time when the Kingdom of Christ totally overwhelms all enemies and climaxes in conquest of the world by Christ. By definition , “peace” is Christian world conquest.
As we saw last week where Christ has conquered there you find peace. Where those who yet resist Christ remain there you will find it to be true that there is no Peace, as Christ words from Matthew 10 indicate.
So Christianity brings Peace but it is Peace on its terms and its terms mean that people bow to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
And as we discussed that is what you find in this passage when it talks about the Nations desiring to learn God’s ways so as to walk in His paths. This is what the passage means when it talks about God’s Mountain being larger than every other Mountain.
This is the kind of peace that we, as Christ’s vassal-subjects are committed to. We are not committed to some peace that would leave those who hate Christ and His Kingdom in the ascendancy. We are for the kind of peace that has removed all pretenders to the throne, via conversion.
So Christ has come and brought peace to those who have bowed the knee to Him as the Prince of Peace. Where those remain who are in revolt against the authority of Christ there the absence of Peace is characteristic.
Because we are committed to the Peace of God, as God’s people, we are a people who take up our Cross and follow Christ. One of the ironies of the Christian life is that because we pursue the Peace of Christ as we have spoken of we are a people most pilloried and so must cling to the Cross.
Remember Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan’s Character’s “Christian” and “Faithful” enter into Vanity Fair, which is for Bunyan a metaphor for the wickednes of this world as it lies outside of Christ. “Christian” and “Faithful” refuse to enter into the lusts, adulteries, and vanities of the antichrist culture whereupon (paraphrasing Bunyan now)
“a crowd gathers to taunt and revile them, “some calling upon others to smite them,” which leads to a great hubbub and the arrest of the Pilgrims for disturbing the peace. After being questioned, they are severely beaten and locked up in an iron cage to be made a spectacle to the multitude, being for some time “the objects of any man’s sport, or malice, or revenge.”
By being lovers of Peace “Christian” and “Faithful” are accused of disturbing the Peace and so it must be until Christ’s enemies are converted and so defeated.
One of the ironies of the Christian life is that Christians who are so committed to the Peace of Christ will, like Bunyan’ “Faithful” and
“Christian” routinely be accused of being disturbers of the Peace.
We see that in our culture today. Christians are the homophobes. Christians are the sexists. Christians are the racists. Christians are the ones who are disturbers of the Peace.
And yet, we as Christians remain confident that as Christ has triumphed those who are enemies of God will be converted so that the Peace of God that is present among those who know Christ will cover the globe as the waters cover the sea.
Before we move on to round off we must note here that as Children of God and so lovers of Peace that for the modern state War is the health of the state. We note this because the modern state, in order to feather its nest, wants Christians to hate those who they propagandize us to hate. The modern state would have us replace the Pax Christi (Peace of Christ) with the Pax Lamech, Pax Nimrod, Pax Pharaoh, Pax Babylonia, Pax Romana, and Pax Americana.
As Christians, our enemies are not necessarily who the State tells us. Our enemies are those who are haters of Christ and His Kingdom. As Christian we must keep in mind that The Chief End of Man is the Glory of God, not the Glory of the “Fatherland.”
II.) What is the basis of this Peace promised?
So, here is this promise of Peace among the Nations and we must pause to ask ourselves, “On what basis is this peace achieved.”
And the answer to that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ holds that God is at warfare with man because of man’s rebellion against God. Because of man’s defiance of God, there is and can be no peace between God and man. God is implacably opposed to rebel man.
For those outside of Christ, God hates. That hatred is reciprocal as those outside of Christ are at war with God.
Peace can only be sued for on God’s terms and God’s terms are the demand that those who want to be free of God’s hostility towards them and have forgiveness for their rebelliousness against God is the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Christ came to be the peace child between God and man. By His work on the Cross Christ quenched the anger of God and so, as a substitute, became the appeasement of God as sent by God for those who would sue for peace.
God could not offer peace to rebellious man except on His terms. And His law terms required that His violated law be satisfied and so Christ came in His first advent to be God’s sacrifice for the sins of His people.
And so God Himself makes the peace. We do not have peace because of our repentance though certainly, repentance is a necessary consequence of our having peace with God. We do not gain peace by our obedience to God’s law though obedience is a necessary consequence of having peace with God. The only sufficient and necessary means to having Peace with God … the only way we can be delivered from God’s active warfare against us … the only way that a nation will ever beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks is by placing themselves under the protection of the Lord Christ who gave Himself up as the substitute for warmongering rebels like us.
Then having Peace with God we can wage peace for God with our fellow man.
But having this kind of peace will be incredibly threatening to those who are outside of this peace. Those outside of this peace still desire to be their own God and so will be at war both with THE God and those who champion His peace.
But we fear not, for Christ has overcome the world.