Many nations will go and say,
“Come, let’s go up to the Lord’s mountain,
to the house of Jacob’s God
so that he may teach us his ways
and we may walk in God’s paths.”
Instruction will come from Zion;
the Lord’s word from Jerusalem.
God will judge between the nations,
and settle disputes of mighty nations.
Then they will beat their swords into iron plows
and their spears into pruning tools.
Nation will not take up sword against nation;
they will no longer learn how to make war.
As the shadow of “this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12) swept across the United States on January 6, 2021, this passage from Isaiah came quickly to mind. Let us never forget that God’s ultimate desire for us is not death, but life. Before swords and spears can bend into plows and pruning hooks, however, there is a process of seeking, learning, and walking to which God has called us. The words in Isaiah offer a guide:
“Let us go up” indicates that we have finally grown weapon-dropping weary of trying to fix the problem ourselves and are ready to seek God’s help;
“teach us” opens the door to prioritizing God’s wisdom over our own, and
“walk in God’s paths” is the hope and heart-cry of God since the Garden of Eden, when humanity truly walked in covenant love and humility with our Creator.
Plows and pruning hooks are meant to remind us that God created humanity for more than mere striving and surviving. God formed us for flourishing and thriving, like a beautiful garden. In these days ahead, may we pause to remember that we were created for beauty and hope, and to care for each other in life-giving ways.
Rev. Kimberly C. Orr serves as the publisher of The Upper Room.
For further reflection, read "Bringing a Sword to a Garden" by Kimberly Orr here, or join with us in prayer for the United States and our world using Psalm 7 in the video below.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.