Spirit & Truth # 204
“Plowshares and Pruning Hooks”
By Rev. Greg Smith
In 1959, the Russian sculptor Evgeniy Vuchetich crafted a muscular man with a hammer in his right hand, and a sword in his left. The industrious laborer is hard at work beating his sword into a plowshare. The Soviet Union gave this beautiful statue to the United Nations as a gesture of peace. However, when I notice that the hammer in the sculpture is the same kind that we find in the Russian flag, I wonder whether the intended peace was a mutual coexistence or one in which the Soviet hammer beat the world into a submission much like the Pax Romana. How ironic that in its desire to portray peace, this atheist government chose to utilize an image from the Bible, in its statue entitled “Let Us Beat Swords Into Plowshares.”
In his famous Christmas song, Longfellow writes, “And in despair I bowed my head. 'There is no peace on earth,' I said, 'for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.'” As we enter the season of Advent, we find a tension between the message of “peace on earth, good will to men,” and the reality of violence around the globe. Isaiah said, “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:4 NIV).” Many of us wonder, when will that day come?
Isaiah believed peace would arrive on the Day of the Lord, when the Messiah arrived and set up His kingdom. Christians know that Jesus came the first time as a suffering servant (Isaiah 53), and that at his second advent the Lord will return as the King who brings both judgment and peace (Isaiah 11). But do we have to wait until the return of Christ, in order to beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks?
The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns (4:3 NLT).’” Hosea said, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you (10:12 NLT).” This is something we can do today, to ready ourselves for the return of Christ. We can let God remove our violent, hateful thoughts from us. We can let Him plow up our hearts, to make them soft so He can plant His seeds of righteousness.
In John 15:1-2 NIV, Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Let Jesus prune away from your heart every thought of unpeace. Let Him use His pruning hooks in your life, trimming off all that is unfruitful. Then the words of Longfellow will ring true: “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.'”
Swords-Plowshares.jpg (607 × 451 pixels, file size: 70 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares, a sculpture by Evgeniy Vuchetich, given by the Soviet Union to the United Nations in 1959; my picture taken from UN grounds showing sculpture in front of the East River.
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