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.

Isaiah 2: 4

 

The Prophet was certainly seeing some future time and events that were not a part of the world that he knew. Judah, the nation where Isaiah lived, was continually in a state of readiness to defend itself against attack that came from all sides and was carried out by every other nation that surrounded it. They even had been at war with the other half of the Hebrew nation, Israel. When and how this peace was to come is something that Isaiah does not clearly reveal. It just might be true that God did not tell him, as He wanted each of Isaiah’s readers to consider our personal response to this promise of peace. Otherwise it is our tendency to focus on the future, defer responsibility for the sad condition of our world to God and His timing, and become promoters of conflict as necessary for the defense of our faith.

 

It is true that strife, conflict, and war are direct results of sin. Creation, especially its people, was not intended by God to oppress, torture, rape, and kill. Yet, set free from the restraint of God’s hand, this is exactly what we have done. Over our history we have become very good at it all, too. The soil of every nation on this earth is saturated with the blood of those who we have been sacrificed to our greed and ambition. Although there have been many people who have worked for peace and numerous efforts put forth to bring about that peace in our world, they have all failed. They were and will continue to be doomed from inception. There is no peace to be found in the hearts of humans. We are a war-like band for whom killing is a sacrament. Yet, it doesn’t need to be this way.

 

Christ is the answer to the question of who is it that Isaiah is saying will cause the great restorative changes in our world that are mentioned in this verse and elsewhere in his narrative. I would submit that this is not solely a future promise. Rather, it would seem that Christ’s life depicts that He sought to live as a man for whom peace was the sacrament. He engaged peacemaking as a form of worship to the Father, and Christ brought the holy touch of the Kingdom of God as a blessing upon the lives of people. As the Spirit of Christ lives within us, so we should be people who bring His spirit of peace to all of our interactions. For each and every child of the Living God, today should be the day when we submit to Christ and lay down our weapons of war in every form that they may exist. Now is the time to seek peace with our neighbor, to reconcile with our enemy, and to demand that our nations do likewise.

Encourage the exhausted, strengthen the feeble.

Isaiah 35: 3

 

The water is rough and the shore is far away; the darkness is oppressive, and coldness has soaked the soul. This is a picture of exhaustion. In these times life is relentless and nothing provides relief; everything is hard to accomplish, even the most familiar task is too intricate to understand. This is a picture of people who were once strong, now weak; once mighty and confident, now feeble. Time and process and frustration and defeat come to influence us all; for, no one is spared from their inevitability. None of us remain strong forever or in all ways.

 

The Lord has promised to stay with us through everything that comes. As the breath seems to be leaving us, He breathes in new life. As the muscles tie into useless knots, He takes us on his back and swims us to shore. So, as Christ does, he calls upon His people to do. Christ was quick and ready to step into the lives of people, and He was willing to go to the least desirable in society, and He would reach out to touch the most unclean. How can we who know Him and who have been saved by His blood do less?

 

We are to be the ones who cheer on our worry worn brothers and sisters. We are to be the ones who lift up the load of life when its weight becomes too much to handle. None of us can make it through this life alone; all of us need help and assistance; and everyone needs to be a helper. The Lord tells us that we are to accept support when we need it, and we are to be strong when others are weak. Christ wants each of us to open our hearts to the weariness of others. He wants each of us to be receptive to the life struggles around us. A warm smile, an encouraging word, an ear that hears, a genuine offer of help; these are among the ways that we become the face of Jesus that brings light out of darkness to the people around us.