Our Wednesday evening Bible study has just completed the book of Joel. He's one of the so called minor prophets. I'll let you look up the others if you have a mind to. Suffice it to say, Joel is written rather late, perhaps one of the very last of the books written in what we call the Old Testament. It's an apocalyptic themed prophecy with lament and plagues of locusts, It concludes with a blessing for Israel approximating "happily ever after." The book includes a passage that causes us to take a second look, as it is so unexpectedly jarring to our ears. "Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears." (3:10a) This is the exact opposite of what Isaiah records in his text: "...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks." (2:4b). What's more, that sentiment is repeated in Micah 4:3b: "...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks." Twice is the text as we expect it; and we love the way it sounds as a clarion call for "happily ever after." But there is that verse in Joel which give us pause. It might suggest all that beating and forming and re-purposing weapons of war into farm implements isn't necessarily the exact future in store for here and now. We might need to wait for God to intervene at the end so that the peace surely promised in Jesus will come to pass. All this is to say we need to read the sacred text with great care and with a broad vision and take the entire Biblical witness into account. There are, after all, hidden treasures through out and they are worth finding and savoring and keeping close to our hearts. So, which shall it be? Swords and spears? Or plowshares and pruning hooks?
Keep Reading >>