Thursday, November 8, 2018

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Beating Swords into Ploughshares
Isaiah 2:1-4
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isa 2:4).
Many modern scholars maintain that Isaiah 2: 2-4 (compare to Micah 4: 1-5) dates to the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BCE, because of the analogy with the Akitu festival and the passage's many affinities with Second Isaiah (chapters 40-54). Like Second Isaiah, today's passage envisages peace among the nations who will recognize YHWH as the sovereign deity of all creation and the nations of the world. In the first verses of the second chapter of Isaiah, the prophet announces the preparations of Zion/Jerusalem for its role as the centre for YHWH's worldwide sovereignty. The portrayal of Jerusalem here as the site of the holy temple of YHWH, to which the nations would flock to learn divine instruction and bring an end to war, appears to presuppose the role that major temples played in Mesopotamian culture.
The Gospels draw heavily on the Book of Isaiah for a utopic view of the world. When Jesus told Peter to put his sword away, Jesus was affirming that God's reign comes by the cross and not by violent means. In the 13th century CE, St. Francis of Assisi attempted to counter the Crusades and the misguided agenda to eradicate Islam and expand Christendom through violence and war. His attempts were unsuccessful and the Crusades ground on to their bitter and bloody end; an end which did nothing to convert Muslims to Christianity or change the politics of the Middle East. The legacy of the Crusades has continued to our times when valuable resources are focused-on war and violence, especially in the Middle East, even as the world cries out for "ploughshares" that will provide food for the hungry millions in the process proving once again that the messages of Isaiah and Jesus hold the key for a just and peaceful order in our times.
Make me a channel of your peace, 0 God! Amen.
Justice and peace will secure a future for this world.
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church