And he shall judge among the nations, and rebuke many people. He who is thus to judge the nations and rebuke the people can be none other than the Lord, whose law shall go forth from Zion and his word from Jerusalem. He is the king who shall reign in righteousness, whose princes shall rule in judgment. His name is “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever.” The government shall be upon his shoulder; He shall reign King of kings and Lord of lords. All power in heaven and in earth is given unto him; and he shall rule in the midst of his enemies. The heathen are his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth are his possession, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces as a potters vessel. (Psalm 2:8,9; Revelation 2:26,27.) “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31,32).” Not only shall he judge among the nations, and decide who are and who are not his people; but he will judge of their standing, state and condition, plucking up, casting down, and utterly destroying such as despise and disown his government and oppress his people. He will judge when their cup of wickedness is full; and when to launch the bolts of his wrath for their extinction. He will judge and arbitrate their disputes, and decide all their controversies; and turn the wicked into hell with the nations that forget God. But in a special manner shall he judge his people, and avenge them of their adversaries. Vengeance belongs to him; he will repay.
And shall rebuke many people. And at his rebuke, the nations shall melt like wax before the flame. “The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:6-10).”
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not 4ft up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. By comparing this text with Micah 4, in which the prophecy is given in almost the same words; and from the context of the latter, we infer that this part of the prediction relates to the people of God under the peaceful reign of Christ, and when all nations of Jew and Gentiles, endowed by the spirit of his holy religion, should display the meekness and temper of the Lamb, and exemplify the spirit of the angel’s song, “Peace on earth, and good will towards men.” For notwithstanding the malicious and blood-thirsty spirit of the nations of the earth, when the mountain of the Lord’s house was established in the top of the mountains; or when the gospel church was organized, and the continuance and prevalence of that spirit waxing worse and worse, from that period to the present, it is nevertheless true that those who have come into the kingdom and under the government of Christ have ceased to learn carnal war. The spiritual nature of the kingdom, the purity of her laws, and the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of all her subjects forbids that Christians should fight, or shed the blood of their fellow men. It is demonstrated in the scriptures that nearly all the blood that has ever stained the earth has been shed by those who have professed to fight by the direction and authority of God. But it is equally true that all the human blood that has ever been shed under a religious pretense has been shed by those who not only are not the subjects of Christ; but by those who are the most violent and deadly enemies to Christ and his people, with perhaps the exception of what was shed by Peter when he cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest, for which he was severely rebuked by his Lord and Master. How is it possible for one possessing the spirit of him who went about doing good, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, raising the dead, and who even laid down his life for the salvation of his enemies, who when he was reviled, reviled not again; to assault a fellow man with intent to kill, plunder or injure him; when it is positively declared that if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. “And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27).” Can any man follow Jesus by going in an opposite direction from that in which he walked? In short: can we stir up the spirit of discord, strife, malice, and revenge, can we stain our hands in the blood of our fellow men and in so doing follow him who commands us to love our enemies, and do good to those who dispitefully use and persecute us? Let all who profess to be the disciples of Jesus think seriously on these inquiries, and answer each to his God.
However many there may be who profess godliness while their feet are swift to shed blood; we are compelled to believe “there is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:18),” even though they are so much infatuated as to believe they do God service by the indulgence of their cruel passions.
In the change wrought by grace in the hearts of God’s people, they lay aside all malice and convert their instruments of war into implements of husbandry; their swords into plowshares, and their shears into pruning hooks, and apply their physical and mental powers to the legitimate and original purposes for which they were given, to till the earth and procure bread by the sweat of their face.
Micah says, “They shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.” How desirable is such a state of things. Each under his own vine or fig tree, enjoying a peaceable possession of his own labor; without invading the conceded equal rights of others, or fearing any aggression of his own rights. But especially in regard to their religious rights and privileges; for the prophet predicts that in the prevalence of this state of things, as dictated by the spirit of the gospel, and under the reign of Christ as the Prince of Peace, that “All people will walk, every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.” Thus clearly showing that the people of the Living God, while enjoying for themselves the inestimable privilege of worshipping their God without molestation, are not at liberty to deny the same liberty of conscience to their fellow men; who walk every one in the name of his god. The saints having neither the right nor the desire to compel others are therefore not the keepers of other men’s consciences. If they were responsible for the sins of others, and were authorized to dictate the religion of others in the manner that Cain attempted to force his religion on Abel, or old Nebuchadnezzar his on the Hebrew children, or the papists upon non-conformists in the dark ages, or the New England Puritans upon the rest of mankind in general, then they would require to retain their swords and spears, racks and dungeons.
In the third chapter of Micah, the heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel who abhor judgment and pervert all equity, are charged with building up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. In doing these abominations, “The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money. Yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us.” How fully has this state of things been realized, not only in the last days of national Israel, but also in those of these last days, in which those of the modern anti-christ have assumed a supervision of ecclesiastical matters. For Peter predicted that, as there were false prophets among the people of Israel, even, or exactly so, there should be false teachers among those who profess to be the church under the gospel dispensation, “who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not (II Peter 2:1-3).”
But God will not leave himself without witnesses. Those of the nations redeemed from this delusion shall cease to build up Zion with blood; with cruelty and lies, and in the Mountain of the Lord’s house, they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and under the peaceful government of our Lord, they shall learn war no more. “Happy is that people that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord (Psalm 144:15).”
September 15, 1864.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 6
Pages 94 - 97