Friday, October 23, 2009


Joel 3:10-12
(10) Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, "I am a warrior."
(11) Hasten and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves there. Bring down your warriors, O LORD.
(12) Let the nations stir themselves up and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.

This is at the end of the book of Joel as the Lord pronounces judgment on the nations. Basically, this tells them that they will be in serious trouble. And, for what it's worth, judging in the Valley of Jehoshaphat is kind of a play on words because the name "Jehoshaphat" comes from the word that means "to judge."

Verse 10 is what got me when I read this today. Frankly, until I read the note in my ESV Study Bible I read it backwards because I am used to seeing that imagery in terms of the final peace that will come when Christ returns in glory. While God's people will be able to turn their swords into plowshares, those who are not His will need to do the reverse. Of course, it won't help them, but they're going to want to put up as much of a fight as they can. The long and short of it is that you want to be on the winning team at the end.

This verse also makes me think of a basic hermeneutical issue. My school teaches a Dispensational hermeneutic. That means that they take every passage literally unless there is a very good reason to see it otherwise. But what to do with these plowshares and swords? Two hundred years ago it would have seemed perfectly reasonable to take this literally. Now we might see it as a general metaphor that we will not need weapons of war anymore. I think that is a perfectly valid interpretation, but isn't it conditioned by the culture? If we could have taken this literally 200 years ago and now realize that we don't need to do that, then weren't folks reading it wrong 200 years ago?

I'll have to bounce this off some friends.

No comments: