FEW would criticize the ideals behind the efforts of the United Nations to secure peace. “‘Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares’ expresses the United Nations goal of world peace,” says “The World Book Encyclopedia,” adding, “The United Nations has two main goals: peace and human dignity.”
The inscription under the statue shown here paraphrases words of the Bible prophecy at Isaiah chapter 2, verse 4. They read, according to a modern translation:
“And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears.”
These majestic words should surely have inspired UN member states to secure lasting peace and disarmament. But, sadly, since its inception at the conclusion of the second world war in 1945, UN history has revealed otherwise. Why? Basically because the above words quoted from Isaiah cannot be taken in isolation, as they have been by human governments. The context of the words is all-important. Consider why.
Isaiah was a prophet. He speaks of a glorious vision of harmony and peace for people of all races. For this vision to become a reality, people have to do something. What? Consider the import of Isa 2 verses 2 and 3 as they relate to Isa 2 verse 4.
“ And it must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it all the nations must stream.  And many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion law will go forth, and the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem.  And he will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”
First, we must acknowledge that our Creator, Jehovah, has the right to instruct us “about his ways,” which, as Isaiah later recorded, are ‘higher than our ways.’ (Isaiah 55:9) Many people, especially self-important world leaders, find this a difficult thing to acknowledge. Only their own ways are right in their own eyes. Still, the fact that their ways have not led to world peace and disarmament surely shows the futility of continuing to pursue such a course.
Second, note the needed earnest desire of individuals to conform to God’s laws: “We will walk in his paths.” Only on that basis will swords be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning shears on a global scale. How can such a longed-for goal ever be attained?
Many people have a copy of the Bible, the book that contains Jehovah God’s instructions, but more is required than the mere possession of it. Isaiah says that Jehovah’s law and words emanate from “Jerusalem.” What does that mean? In Isaiah’s day, the literal city was the source of kingly authority to which all faithful Israelites looked. (Isaiah 60:14) Later, at the time of the apostles of Jesus Christ, Jerusalem was still the focal point for instructions that came from the Christian governing body in that city.—Acts 15:2; 16:4.
What of today? Notice that Isaiah prefaces his message with the statement: “It must occur in the final part of the days.” Other translations say: “In the last days.” (New International Version) Evidence is regularly presented in the pages of this magazine to support that we have been living in the last days of this present world order since 1914. So, what should we expect to see, according to verses 3 and 4?
A great multitude of people who no longer learn war and who have already beaten “their swords into plowshares.” And see them we do! Well over 3.5 million men, women, and children of all races in over 200 lands joined in common accord, living at peace with one another and preaching the Bible’s message of peace to their neighbors. They are known throughout the world as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
They have a modern Governing Body of older Christian men from various parts of the earth who give needed oversight to the worldwide activities of God’s people. These men, like the apostles and older men in Jerusalem in the first century, are anointed members of the faithful and discreet slave class designated by Jesus to care for all of his Kingdom interests here upon earth. History has proved that they can be trusted to follow the direction of the holy spirit and that they do not rely on human wisdom in teaching the flock of God the ways of genuine peace.—Matthew 24:45-47; 1 Peter 5:1-4.
More than head knowledge or even a desire to live according to divine instructions is involved in living at peace. Heart devotion and worship of our Creator, Jehovah, are essential, as Isaiah also makes clear.
The prophet states that “the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains” and “lifted up above the hills.” In ancient times, some mountains and hills served as sites for idolatrous worship and for sanctuaries of false gods. When King David brought the sacred Ark to the tent he had pitched on Mount Zion (Jerusalem), some 2,500 feet [760 m] above sea level, he was evidently acting upon divine direction. Later, when the great temple of Jehovah was built on Mount Moriah, the term “Zion” came to include the temple site, so the temple enjoyed an elevation higher than that of some surrounding pagan locations. Jerusalem itself was also called his “holy mountain”; thus, worship of Jehovah remained in an exalted position.—Isaiah 8:18; 66:20.
So today, the worship of Jehovah God has become elevated like a symbolic mountain. Its prominence is for all to see, as it has done something that no other religion has been able to do. What is that? It has unified all worshipers of Jehovah, who have gladly beaten their swords into plowshares and are learning war no more. National and racial barriers no longer divide them. They live as a united people, a brotherhood, even though they are scattered throughout the nations of the world.—Psalm 33:12.
Time of Decision
How does all of this affect you? The words of another Hebrew prophet are most appropriate: “Crowds, crowds are in the low plain of the decision, for the day of Jehovah is near in the low plain of the decision.” (Joel 3:14) It is an urgent time of resolution for all mankind, either to learn the ways of true peace at God’s hand or to continue to give support to a weapons-oriented life that will soon end.
Jesus foretold that a great preaching work would be accomplished in our day. That preaching concerns the “good news” that the Kingdom of God will bring peace to this war-torn earth. (Matthew 24:14) Last year well over three million regular home Bible studies were conducted by Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the world. Some of these weekly studies were with individuals, but many were held with family groups. Millions of children are thereby being given a sure hope for their future, and their parents gain reassurance that wars, like the ones they have witnessed and maybe even shared in, will be no part of the new world of Jehovah God’s making.
What a world of mutual trust and peace that will be! There will be no need to worry about disarmament, as weapons of war will be things of the past. And all thanks to Jehovah, “the God who gives peace,” who lovingly instructs us now that we may prepare to live life to the full under his Kingdom of righteousness.—Romans 15:33.