The LORD will settle international disputes. All the nations will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. All wars will stop, and military training will come to an end. - Micah 4:3
In 1919, at the end of the First World War, the League of Nations was formed with a view toward preventing further hostilities. Sadly, the project failed to stop the outbreak of World War II in 1939—and the League collapsed. At the end of World War II, the United Nations was created, with much the same purpose—“to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.”28 While the United Nations still exists and has done much good work, it, too, has failed to achieve its stated goal. When the Soviet regime collapsed—an event which President George Bush said heralded “a new world order”—it was only a matter of months before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the Gulf War broke out. Human history shows that even with the best intentions and the strongest will in the world, it has been impossible for man to stop war.
In light of this, the words of the prophet Micah take on special poignancy: “All wars will stop, and military training will come to an end” (Micah 4:3). Micah was pointing to a time of unprecedented peace, which would take place after God’s people had suffered a time of desperate suffering and shame in exile. He was speaking about the restoration of a despised remnant, the rebuilding of the destroyed city of Jerusalem, and the establishment of a new kingdom.
In the time of Jesus the people of Israel were still looking forward to this restoration. Before Jesus’ crucifixion, his disciples were confident that Jesus would go about fulfilling Micah’s prophecy by ridding Israel of the Roman occupation and bringing them peace and prosperity. But their hopes were dashed when he died. However, after his resurrection from the dead, the disciples quickly resorted to their earlier hopes and asked Jesus, “Lord, are you going to free Israel now and restore our kingdom?” (Acts 1:6). Jesus made it clear in his response that his kingdom was not that kind of kingdom. Instead, he indicated that Micah’s prophecy would be fulfilled when his eternal kingdom, populated by the redeemed, is established.
This is the kingdom for which Christians pray repeatedly, “May your kingdom come soon” (Matt. 6:10) and about which Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Wars will cease one day, but only when Christ’s eternal kingdom comes. Until then, Paul’s words speak loudly: “Do your part to live in peace with everybody, as much as possible” (Rom. 12:18). We may not be able to stop wars. But by God’s grace we can obey this command and, “as much as possible,” live in peace with others.
For Further Study: Micah 4:1-13
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