Mercy Street Church of Christ
Abilene, TX
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They shall beat their swords into plowshares

They shall beat their swords into plowshares. (Isaiah 2:4)

Sparks fly with each strike of the hammer. Heat billows from the furnace. The sound of metal against metal clangs in the air. A blacksmith, applying the tools of his trade, takes a sword and slowly, painstakingly reshapes it into a plow blade.

Is this what advent looks like to you? It’s the image Isaiah used when he prophesied about the coming Messiah. He described a kingdom where swords were no longer necessary. Instead, these obsolete tools of war and instruments of death would be turned into instruments of life and peace.

This is how God asks us to prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas; it’s what Advent is all about. We all have swords in our lives, “tools” that we use to hurt one another. Maybe we have a short temper. We might be moody and hold grudges, or maybe we’re quick to insult or condemn. The Lord wants to take those biting words and teach us how to speak with compassion and understanding. He wants to take our anger and re-form it into mercy. He wants to help us take steps toward making peace in our relationships.

This image of swords turning into plowshares is one way to explain Jesus' mission—to turn us from the destruction of sin so that each of us can become a tool for peace. This is what the Messianic Age looks like—an age when people are more concerned about building each other up than tearing them down.

Experience tells us that this beating of swords into plowshares doesn’t happen automatically. We need to cooperate with the divine Blacksmith. We need to surrender our swords to him so that he can help us reshape them.

So take the time to examine your conscience before Christmas. Don’t be afraid to look for those swords, the ways you have injured yourself or the people around you. Then go to God in prayer. God is ready to forgive, heal, and strengthen you. He is ready to make you an expert in the art of peace, not war. He can take every act of repentance, every bit of time spent in prayer, every sacrifice or act of generosity, and fill it with his grace.

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