Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? (James 4:1, NKJV)
Is your life defined by constant skirmishes with others? If so, there is a war taking place in you. Your desire for personal pleasure and satisfaction fuels these contentions and fights with others (which you deem necessary in order to obtain your self-defined happiness). Hedonism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the belief that pleasure or happiness is the most important goal in life.” A good life, according to this philosophy, is fulfilling your personal pleasures, desires and sensual delights. Invariably, this leads to selfishness and ill treatment of others, instead of kindness and love. In contrast to the hedonistic pursuit of worldly fulfillment (by which one becomes an enemy of God, James 4:4), Christians “pursue peace with all people, and holiness” (Hebrews 12:14). James previously advised that “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17). If you want to achieve peace with others and with God, then do not think and act like fulfilling your ambitions is the true course to happiness. A good dose of humility helps us win the battles in our war against the devil and be at peace with others (James 4:6-7). (Reprint, #920, edited)
He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4, NKJV)
As Isaiah lifted his eyes to gaze into the heavenly realms of God’s kingdom (ruled by Christ and announced to the world in the gospel), the prophet turned his attention to the effects the gospel would have when it was preached to the world (Mark 9:1; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 36-41). The gospel of Christ pronounces God’s judgments and rebukes against sin and error (John 16:8-13). The result is glorious when sinners are convicted of sin and converted to Christ by the gospel of the kingdom. The house of God, the church, is a kingdom of peace with God and among men (Ephesians 2:14-22). Swords and spears – weapons of war used due to animosity and hatred – are turned into plowshares and pruning hooks – instruments of cultivation and harvest. Isaiah’s prophecy is not predicting a futuristic paradise earth. It is a portrait of enemies reconciled in the church, the kingdom of Christ. Instead of war, peace reigns as the Prince of Peace rules. In Christ’s kingdom we plant the seed of the gospel into hearts for a harvest of souls (Luke 8:15; Matthew 9:35-38; 1 Corinthians 3:6).
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, And your princes feast in the morning! 17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes feast at the proper time— For strength and not for drunkenness! (Ecclesiastes 10:16–17, NKJV)
When a country has an inexperienced, self-indulgent leader, its people suffer. Foolishly ranting and raving, instead of wisely serving the best interests in the nation, such a leader brings ruin to his realm. Conversely, the leader who learns from the experience and counsel of others in positions of rule, are more likely to manifest propriety and decision-making that brings a blessing to his people. We live in dangerous times. Rumors of war are heard around the globe. Let us pray for leaders here and abroad who wisely defend justice while refusing the oppressive, destructive dictates of self-indulgent hearts. “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15, NKJV)
From heads of state to lowly peasants, pleas for peace are heard around the world. God, in the gospel of Christ, has sent the world a message of real and lasting peace; a peace that is formed between God and sinners. Peace requires at least two things. First, removal of the adversarial conflict must occur. The fighting must end. Paul draws from the prophet Nahum, who saw the feet of the messenger who announced that God was about to remove brutal Assyria from the scene; God judged and destroyed the adversary (Nahum 1:12-15). Even so, sin has put us at war with God. The oppressive yoke of sin must be broken in order for peace with God to exist. The enemy of sin was defeated at the cross of Jesus. Secondly, sin’s conflict must be replaced with the tranquility of divine fellowship. Even so, Paul calls upon Isaiah 52:7, as Isaiah spoke of the beautiful feet that proclaim salvation to Zion, because, “Your God reigns.” The gospel of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness, replacing alienation with peaceful harmony between God and those who are saved in the Son. What beautiful news of peace we proclaim!