Behold the Mountain of the Lord
in latter days shall rise
on mountain tops above the hills,
and draw the wondering eyes.
No longer hosts encountering hosts
shall crowds of slain deplore:
they hang the trumpet in the hall,
and study war no more.
These words are from a well know paraphrase of Isaiah chapter 2:2-5. Verse 6 speaks prophetically of a time when: nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war no more… (Isaiah 2:4)
I have pondered that phrase ‘study (or learn) war no more’. By the time you read this the likelihood is that our UK government will have voted to carry out air strikes on the Islamic fundamentalists in Syria. So for the past few days, weeks, however long it took to reach this point, there has been ‘study of war’. Of course, as always, there are two sides in a war and the air strikes are partly in retaliation to the bombings in France recently and, it will be argued, that they are to help protect our UK citizens from the terrorist threat.
Now it’s hard to engage with all of this without thinking of the personalities and the political parties of those involved in the decision making. You will have to make your own mind up regards which party you support but we can hear the voice of God on the matter, in His Word. He is ultimately leading us towards a time when nations will not lift up weapons against one another…nor will they learn, or study, war. They will then, we presume, study peace.
So which voice do we hear? What shall we study? What can we do anyway? Do we hear the voice of the one crying out in the wilderness? Which says; prepare the way of the Lord! If we take God at His Word; then we should walk in his ways….prepare His ways…and speak His words…prophetically, to our nation, to all nations, just as John the Baptist did to his. Preparing for Him does not mean just sitting waiting for Him. For here, in His Word, we find a mandate for political engagement and of course for prayer.
I think I have stated my case regards my view, or study, of war, and I accept that some will be different than mine, however; may we in the days ahead, through study of His Word, and through much prayer; consider those who will be most affected by the actions which come through the study of war. May we pray for peace and for forgiveness of enemies; that evil will not prevail but evil will be overcome with good.
And may God guide us…in our studying!
Prayer for those displaced and affected by war
O Brother Jesus, who as a child was carried into exile,
Remember all those who are deprived of their home or country,
Who groan under the burden of anguish and sorrow,
Enduring the burning heat of the sun,
The freezing cold of the sea, or the humid heat of the forest,
Searching for a place of refuge.
Cause these storms to cease, O Christ.
Move the hearts of those in power
That they may respect the men and women
Whom you have created in your own image;
That the grief of refugees may be turned into joy,
As when you led Moses and your people out of captivity. Amen
(An African Prayer for Refugees)
 An African Prayer for Refugees, from: The Iona Community Worship Book (Glasgow: Wild Goose Publications, 1991), 59