“…nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4.
When the angels announced to Bethlehem shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” they were declaring a state of peace and good will between the Creator God and the human race. They were not announcing a state of peace among humans.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, warned his people, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars…” (Matthew 24:6) The state of warfare among humans will last until Jesus returns in glory.
If it were not so, no nation would need armed forces. America would need no Department of Defense. Troops would not need to train for war. We could cancel basic training—and all the training that follows. In the words of a ‘60s song, “And peace will rule the planets.”
But the history of the world since the Garden of Eden can be traced by going from one war to another, and that includes the history of our country.
That makes some people question the validity of Bible passages that talk about nations at peace, of swords being turned into plowshares, and nations no longer threatening other nations. Since preparation for war is one of the greatest deterrents against war, it is difficult to envision nations not even training for war. Is this the same kind of wishful thinking that marked a Hippie generation?
God does not speculate with wishful thinking. He does not promise something that he will not deliver. There will be a time of perfect peace among nations. Peoples of different cultures and languages, people who once fought against each other, are already now living in peace. Peace may not rule the planets, but it shows itself in Christ’s Church and it does reign in heaven.
Within the Holy Christian Church, made up of people of God in heaven and on earth, stands a peace that neither laws nor armies can make; that neither cultures nor customs can break.
This does not mean that sin does not appear in the lives of these people, or that they never quarrel or fight. It does mean that they are forgiven. It leads them to proclaim together, “In the peace of forgiveness, let us praise the Lord.” Inner peace with God spreads toward outward peace with others.
Evil still exists in this world, and evil must be opposed—with force, if need be—otherwise it will spread. We are still in the Church Militant.
But most in the Holy Christian Church have already been transferred to the Church Triumphant. For them, perfect peace reigns. Right now, Arabs and Jews are united in joyful faith in heaven. Alongside of them are Germans and Russians, Africans and Italians, Japanese, Chinese, and Americans.
Before God’s throne of glory gather those who have placed their faith in the Christ of Christmas as the only Lord, and Savior, and King.
There is no war in heaven. There is no need to train for it.
We pray the words of the hymn:
Savior, again to thy dear name we raise
With one accord our parting hymn of praise.
Once more we bless thee ere our worship cease,
Then, lowly bending, wait thy word of peace.
Grant us thy peace throughout our earthly life,
Our balm in sorrow and our stay in strife.
Then, when thy voice shall bid our conflict cease,
Call us, O Lord, to thine eternal peace. Amen.
–Hymn 321 in Christian Worship
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military
For the week of December 11, 2016