Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Ploughshares and Pruning Hooks

on 25 March 2010

Today in Precept class we talked about war. Joel 3:9-10 talks about the very end of time, around the time of the events taking place in Revelation 19. (If you’re not familiar with Revelation 19, please take a few minutes and refresh your memory. This post will make more sense!) The nations are at war, the soldiers are gathering. In these verses in Joel, the Lord tells them to “Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears.” (NASB)

This is the ultimate call to war, a call to take your means of growing crops for food and life and turning them into weapons of war. The implication is clear—if you do not prepare to defend yourself, then you will not need to worry about growing food. You won’t be there to eat anymore.

Matthew 24:6-7 warns us that the end of time will be bloody and violent, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars…For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” Revelation alone details 10 wars that take place in about 7 year’s time:

1. First seal, the rider on the white horse who comes conquering and to conquer (6:2).
2. Second seal, the rider on the red horse, who comes to take peace from the earth (6:4). Well, war will take peace from the earth.
3. Fourth seal, rider on an ashen horse name Death, who had Hades following him (6:8). They kill a quarter of the earth with sword, famine, pestilence, and with wild beasts.
4. Sixth trumpet, fire and brimstone come out of the mouths of 200 million horsemen (9:16-17). Read that number again: 200 million. 200,000,000. Wow. Moving on….
5. The beast makes war with the two witnesses (11:7).
6. The dragon makes war with the archangel Michael and his armies (12:7).
7. The dragon makes war with the followers of God (12:17). (The beast and the dragon are other, prophetic terms for Satan, just so you don’t think I’m trying to write the plot of a fantasy novel and pass it off for Biblical truth!)
8. The beast assembles armies to make war against Christ and His followers (19:19). *spoiler alert* This does not go in the beast’s favour.
9. 10 kings of the nations go and destroy Babylon (16:19).
10. Gog and Magog gather for war by the order of the beast (20:8). Fire comes down and destroys them. By the way, this is the only battle that does not take place in the 7 year time frame, this happens after the Satan is bound and Christ rules for 1000 years. We’ve a while yet to wait for this battle.

It’s a lot of war, a lot of fighting, a lot of death. Right now I can hear you all thinking; “What kind of God would bring this destruction to people? What is the point? What good does this all do?” I don’t want to get into the first two points because they are vast and deep subjects to explore. If I were to go there now your eyes would glaze over and your head would nod and you’d start snori….

Ahem. Basically, suffice it for now to say that God would not be true to Himself if He didn’t bring judgment at some point. However, it’s been almost 2000 years since Revelation was given to John, longer for the other prophecies. God intends for man to know what is going to happen so we can make an informed decision: will we trust in Him or not? We know the future, we can control our fate. Do you want to be on the winner’s side, or do you want to experience the punishment dealt out by the victors? It’s your choice, but I choose to be on God’s winning side.

The last question is worth examining. What good does all this do? For the answer, let me take you to one of my favourite prophetic books, Isaiah (though Joel’s a favourite too). There? Good! In 2:4 there’s a very interesting verse describing what life will be like after God establishes His kingdom for good; “and 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 learn war.” It’s the exact opposite of the verse in Joel.

What a wonderful thought! In these days of war and uncertainty, it’s nice to think about peace. It may be hard in these modern time to understand all this business about ploughs and pruning hooks, so I’ll try to update it for you. Imagine an Air Force bomber being unarmed and turned into a mail carrier. Envision a tank rolling through neighbourhood streets playing “Turkey in the Straw” and selling ice cream. Things normally meant for military combat are instead converted for peaceful, everyday use. Can you imagine how secure these people will feel? Just the sheer amount of peace and lack of fear that allows you to turn your weapons into tools blows my mind.

More than this, they won’t even learn war. No sane nation, even a peaceful one, goes without some sort of combat training. There are always people learning to fight, just to be prepared, be ready, be safe. These people will not learn war—they will not fight nation to nation. This is absolute, utter peace—a peace the world has not known since sin entered the world, and death through sin (Rm. 5:12). It is just a wonderful, hopeful picture.

That is why I believe. This is what I live for: ultimate peace that comes from the ultimate source, God. One day, in His time, it will happen. Until then, I just hold on preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter the gates into the city…He who testifies to these things says “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. –Revelation 22:13-14,20 NASB

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