And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares…
I. HUMAN INDUSTRY IS A FEATURE IN THE BRIGHT PICTURE OF FUTURE HAPPINESS. The inhabitants of the earth throughout the millennium, when the globe is to be covered with its first beauty, are not to subsist without some measure of labour. They are to use the ploughshare and the pruning hook; and this use is sufficient to show that the ground will not then yield its fruits, except in return for the toil of the husbandman. It seems to indicate how accurately the world will be put back into its condition before defiled by sin — that a necessity for toiling should be alleged or implied; though all that is painful or exhausting in labour must be supposed to have ceased. We are greatly struck by the carefulness displayed throughout the Bible, to put honour on industry, and to represent labour as in the largest sense an appointment of God. The too common sup. position is, that labour was a curse which disobedience provoked, whereas labour was appointed unto man while yet in the full enjoyment of the favour of his God. We are so constituted, that labour is indispensable to our happiness, to the strengthening of our faculties, and to the preservation of a wholesome tone in our spirits. We know not whether the going to the armouries, and ransacking them for the materials of the implements of agriculture, may not mark such increase in the number of the inhabitants of the world, as would require continued effort on the part of the husbandman to keep pace with the growing demand, so that ploughshares and pruning hooks are not furnished fast enough, and swords and spears must be made to do their office. But we now proceed to consider what seems given as the reason for this conversion of the instruments of war into the implements of husbandry.
II. THERE WILL CERTAINLY BE NO FURTHER USE FOR THE ARMS OF WAR — "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." It is Isaiah's assertion, that the cessation of war is to result from the general diffusion of Christian principles. And there is no difficulty in tracing the necessary connection between the sovereignty of Christ and the extinction of war; for the tendency of the religion of Jesus is to bind the whole world in brotherhood.
III. WAR SHALL NOT ONLY CEASE AS AN EMPLOYMENT, BUT ALSO AS A SCIENCE — "Neither shall they learn war any more." They shall not only enjoy the liberty of peace — for peace may be, and too commonly is a season in which war is studied, and preparations are made for future battles; they shall be so secure of peace being permanent, that the arts of attack and defence will fall into oblivion, and the whole array of military tactics pass from the world like the science of the necromancer, or any other exploded and reprobated study. We find no hint in Scripture, but altogether the reverse, that the profession of a soldier cannot harmonise with godliness. The angel sent to the Roman centurion bore no message as to the unlawfulness of his calling. But these admissions are quite in harmony with what we have stated as to the condemnation of war, which is wound up in the sentence that war is a science. That men should not merely have been roused by sudden passion into the doing violence to one another, but that they should actually have studied how best to effect the butchery of thousands, having their schools and establishments in which numbers may be trained in the art of destruction — this, of itself, presents such a picture of human depravity as would serve for the painter who might desire to exhibit it in the darkest possible colours. There is a great difference between a prophecy which should assert the termination of war as an employment, and another which affirms its termination as a science; since the former might only show the existence of a restraining power, whereas the latter indicates such a forgetfulness or renunciation of everything military as requires the supposing the human race universally changed, and all the elements of discord eradicated from every bosom.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: He will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning 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 any more.