Poor Lot! He’s taken in a couple of strangers (actually angels in human disguise) who showed up in town needing a place to stay overnight. And now at his door is a howling mob intent on gang-raping those angels. When Lot refuses to allow this, they accuse him of being intolerant and judgmental: “…he dares to judge us!” (Does this sound familiar now?) God was about to destroy Sodom for their wickedness, but first He had to get Lot out of there. So the angels grabbed Lot, his wife, and their two daughters by the hand and dragged them out of town before calamity hit. (Genesis 19.)
And Noah—another divine evacuation. “Yahweh observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So Yahweh was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.” (Gen. 6:5-6) So He decided to wipe clean the earth and start from scratch. But first He had to get Noah and his family to safety. Once they were in the ark, God shut the door before calamity hit.
This earth is ripe for another catastrophe as human wickedness reaches the point of no return. When will it happen? Based on these two examples from Genesis, we can speculate about what might happen, and what will become of the godly minority. Peter does have some appropriate words about this:
I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he … destroy[ed] the ancient world with a mighty flood.
And by the same word, the present heavens and earth …are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.…The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief…On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.
And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. (2 Peter 3:3-14 NLT)
Within a half hour of reading in the minor prophets (those short books at the end of the Old Testament) I came across these two verses that seem to contradict each other:
“Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears..” (Joel 3:10 NIV)
“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks..” (Micah 4:3, also Isaiah 2:4)
I am told that in that day, people could and actually did convert these tools into weapons and vice versa, depending on whether it was a time of peace or war.
With that insight and looking at the context of these two verses, we see that Joel is warning Israel’s enemies to get ready for the war that God will wage against them.
On the other hand, Micah is describing the state of eternal peace that will be inaugurated when God finally rules all nations and hearts without rival.
God’s arrival can mean disaster or peace, depending on whether we’re on His side or not. Which side are you on? Are you looking forward to His direct intervention in world history or dreading it?
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.
Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. (2 Peter 3:9-13 NLT)
Jeremiah has a lot to say about peace. He pens the word “shalom” 31 times in the book that bears his name. But it’s mostly about false hopes of false peace based on false prophets’ promises of peace for people rebelling against God, refusing to listen to Him, and plotting against their neighbors (6:10, 14; 9:8; 23:16-17 et al.).
Of course they hoped for peace, especially protection from the threatening Babylonian and Egyptian superpowers (e.g. 14:19) which were playing tug-of-war over them. But what God promises them instead is destruction and devastation. In fact, this is what happened and is mourned by the same writer in his book of Lamentations which mentions “shalom” only once: “Peace has been stripped away!” (3:17)
In the end there is hope—but only under God’s conditions. After all the judgment and devastation, God will heal, restore peace, rebuild the ruined nation, cleanse his people of their sins and forgive their rebellion. This is the only positive reference to peace in the book:
“Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.” (Jeremiah 33:6-9)
When I read about the people of that day, I want to shake those deluded peace-dreamers awake and help them get a grip on the source of true peace. But no, they had to suffer excruciatingly for their willful blindness. How about us today? I pray God will have mercy on us, opening our eyes to see the way to true peace. And most of all, I look forward to the rule of the Prince of Peace on this earth.
Your kingdom come! Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! Amen!!!