Beat your plowshares into swords

Yesterday the pastor asked if anyone had heard God speaking in worship, and someone said they had a verse from God. It was Joel 3:10. Read it carefully, it doesn’t say what you think it says at first:

‘Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare for war!
Rouse the warriors!
Let all the fighting men draw near and attack
Beat your plowshares into swords
and your pruning hooks into spears
Let the weakling say, “I am strong!”
Come quickly, all you nations from every side
and assemble there.
Bring down your warriors, O’Lord.’

Yes, it’s the precise opposite of the more familiar verses from Isaiah and Micah which speak of beating swords into plowshares.

So what does it mean for a Christian to invoke these verses and say they apply to us now? What are our plowshares and pruning hooks that we use for making a living which we are going to convert to weapons of war? ‘Turn your computers into bombs, your cars into tanks, we’re going to go kill our enemies’ – is that the intention?

And isn’t the Lord telling the nations that he is going to declare war on them, and they should get ready to fight? He doesn’t seem to be addressing the people of God at all.


4 thoughts on “Beat your plowshares into swords

  1. Hey Nathan,
    Why don’t you have the person who read it out over for dinner or something and talk it through? I don’t disagree with most of your sentiment (not sure about the bit about not letting people read the OT or even the NT becasue of misappropriation); it could be a great point of dialogue and one that contributes to the shaping of your faith community toward being a shalom-community.


  2. This is a very powerful scripture verse and only the Holy Spirit can reveal its truth to our hearts and lives. When I read these verses I think about receiving God’s commandments. First I think about Ephesians chapter 6 (armor of God) placed in relationship on us. In order to receive god’s commands we have to learn to learn and stand still.

    We have to be planted in him and him in us. His sword is the living word that became flesh (Jesus Christ) and is revealed, and proclaimed against our enemies through the Holy Spirit. We have a living relationship with Jesus (the Blood/word) through confessing him as our Lord and Savior.

    It is fundamental that God our Father is first (he is the head) and exercises his power and authority through his word and commandments to us. We need to receive his commandments, and then act (march on them). I think part of the amazing thing of these verses is his faithfulness. He says is his word that the least in his kingdom is the greatest. The least is watching everyone’s else’s back and rear guard.

    The Lord gives us meaning, value and significance in whatever place in puts us in his army. Notice he has no deserters in these verses. We all had overcome our fear and reluctance here. The battle belongs to the Lord and he will prepare us. He will fight the battle against our enemies through his will and word/commandments.

    The other cool thing here is that the Lord meets us where we are at. He comes to us and makes provision for us from what we have to use. I think this is to give us comfort and strength for the fight. When all comes against us he will raise a standard up for us.

    Sorry, if it seems like I’m ranting but I have a great love for Jesus and desire to know him. I think you have the same heart beating in you too. May the Lord richly bless and encourage you.

    Barbara Fernandez
    Toronto, Ontario Canada

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