The events of the last few weeks have brought some truly heart-wrenching scenes and stories into news headlines and radio shows and even personal conversations all around the world. Sometimes it feels hard not to get discouraged and depressed when we see so much war and bloodshed being carried out by the hands of wicked tyrants who seem to be able to do whatever they want. At such times, we almost cannot help echoing some of the Psalmist’s imprecatory prayers for the Lord to break the teeth of cruel oppressors, or to justly turn their violent doings back on their own heads. I can tell you that I have been praying some of those sentiments over the last few weeks.
Ever since the Fall, our world has exhibited much degradation and misery; and sadly, a vast amount of its wretchedness has been produced by the actions of some of its own inhabitants. Even as far back as Adam and Eve’s family, people have hated and oppressed their fellow human beings.
Where can a hurting world find healing and hope?
In the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.
The prophet Isaiah wrote these words by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, 2700 years ago:
“It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Perfection and true blessedness and happiness will never be fully experienced by any of us, this side of heaven. Yet the great Creator of all things has made a way in which our world may be reclaimed from its state of degradation and misery, and experience a certain degree of harmony and happiness! This takes place when unholy passions – which cause so much sorrow and bloodshed and destruction – are subdued in people, and the principle of love to God and men becomes delightfully predominant within their hearts.
But how is this happy transition accomplished? The prophet speaks of swords and spears being beaten into farming tools, and a cessation of the study of war. And he speaks of many people coming together and saying to one another, “Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and the house of the God of Jacob, for He will teach us His ways.” Hence it appears that the blessed change is produced by the agency of the Gospel! There may be other instrumentalities that are brought into operation, such as the commercial interaction of nations with each other, and the knowledge which they may acquire of their mutual interests and dependencies. But the Gospel of Jesus is the principal cause of the termination of hostilities in this world, and the introduction of peace and felicity.
The Gospel informs us of the source from which all our enmities and contentions proceed – namely, from the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of our hearts. The Gospel, first of all, reconciles man to his God; and then it works within him the dispositions which lead him to be reconciled to his fellow human beings, and to love them fervently. The Gospel inculcates the principles of peace and goodwill, composes differences, softens resentments, inspires hearts with forgiving feelings, and prompts people to deeds of beneficence.
Moreover, it is the testimony of experience that nothing except the Gospel of Jesus has ever opposed the system of war, nor diminished any degree of the amount of the evil which it causes. Ancient philosophers spoke of the unholy passions from which war arises, and dignified them with the names of virtues. Poets of olden times made war the theme of their highest admiration and their sweetest praise. The classical heathenism of Greece and Rome had its gods and goddesses of war, and represented them as mingling in the fight and delighting in the bloodshed of the battlefield. But Jesus appeared in our world as the Prince of Peace! And one of the most delightful precepts of His meek and gentle Gospel is, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
Nothing except the spirit of true Christianity will bring an end to the cruel oppressions of the tyrants that rule in this world. Let us pray that the Gospel of Jesus may go forth with power, subduing the fierceness of bloodthirsty people, and transforming them into soldiers of the Cross and followers of the Captain of our salvation!
All for the glory of our King and the Prince of Peace,
Many of the thoughts in this article were based on the writings of W. M’Kerrow on Isaiah 2:4, published in 1900.
photo by Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash