Conflict is very much a part of our world today, and it is responsible for causing many of the problems we face in the world. The Trade Center in New York was leveled as a result of conflict. The men who flew the planes into the Trade Center had a problem with our way of living; they had a problem with our culture. They believed that the way they lived was better than the way we live. And so by crashing into the Trade Center they sent the message that our way of living needed to be destroyed. We don’t see things the way Muslims do, and this, unfortunately, results in conflict. We can’t work out our differences. And because we can’t, conflict happens.
War is conflict. Both sides can’t reach an agreement, so war ensues. That’s what happened in WWII---and every other war, for that matter. The Germans wanted more territory against the wishes of a few other nations. Finally, those few nations took a stand against Germany, resulting in the death of millions of people. And for what? Simply because the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement. The one side insisted on its own way.
What about in the family? Don’t we experience conflict in our own families? Spouses don’t agree on something, and so some families are torn up as a result. Often times, spouses resort to divorce. They believe it’s the only option out of a hostile relationship. The children are hurt. They’re caught in the middle and often times are forced to take sides.
In the church conflict happens at times. Members can’t agree over an issue and so division appears. The sides involved insist on their own way instead of trying to find a Christ-like compromise solution. As a result, the church is hurt. Some churches actually split up.
I don’t need to say more. We all are well aware of conflict in our world. No matter where we go it bares its ugly head. It causes a lot of needless hurt and pain, just because people are bent on getting their own way.
I’m sure we are guilty of causing conflict in one way or another. We’re all sinful, and it’s our sinfulness that blinds us. In our eyes our way is the right way. Because we don’t want to consider another person’s viewpoint we’re bound to have conflict. We insist on our own way.
As long as this world is around, there will be conflict. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that’s reality. As long as sinful mankind continues to exist there will be disagreements that won’t be settled in a peaceful manner.
Imagine, for a moment, if we lived forever in this world. We would live forever with conflict and with sin. I realize that we don’t like to think of death. We wish we could live forever on earth, but if that wish were granted just think how awful life would be. Imagine living forever with sin and all the problems it causes. It’s a good thing that this world is going to come to an end. It’s a good thing we die. Now no one likes to think about death because it reminds us of the punishment we face because of our sin. But there is a good side to death, believe it or not. It takes us away from this world and allows us to be transformed into something new. And that is what we ought to be looking forward to.
The apostle Paul in the Letter to the Philippians says that our citizenship is in heaven and not in this world. We look forward to something much, much better.
Our text from Isaiah gives us a glimpse of what I’m talking about. It speaks of a time when there will be no conflict. Conflict won’t be a part of the reality of God’s coming kingdom. There will be peace. The implements of war will be turned into plowshares and pruning hooks.
Now some people think that Isaiah is referring to a time in this world. They believe that there will be a time in the world when there will be absolute peace, no more war whatsoever. The Jews believe that they will be at the center of God’s plan. All of their enemies will be defeated and they will occupy a privileged place in a new world order. But this isn’t at all what Isaiah is referring to. This world is going to be destroyed. Isaiah is referring to the new heaven and new earth that God is going to create for those who love Him.
Has there ever been a time of absolute peace in our world? Not really. The world has always experienced conflict. And it always will. In vain mankind hopes to make a better world. The only way to make a better world is by overcoming sin, but that’s impossible for mankind to do.
Scientists are attempting to change the genetics of people in order to get rid of diseases and physical imperfections. But science can’t change the condition heart. Our heart is sinful, and no manipulation of the genes can change such a sinful condition. We’re stuck with the consequences of sin until either we die or Jesus comes and destroys this world, which He intends to do.
Jesus intends to come and destroy this world and start over from scratch. It’s kind of like trying to remodel an old home and then deciding it’s better to tear it down and start from scratch. One can do only so much to repair an old home. If the foundation and frame are bad one can do all the cosmetic repairs one wants but one can’t get around the fact that the foundation and frame are no good. It’s better to build a brand new home. It’s the same with our world. The foundation and frame of the world are no good. They’re rotten with sin. The world has to be torn down and rebuilt with brand new materials. Jesus is going to build a new heaven and a new earth, where conflict and sin will not exist. That’s the only way to really deal with conflict and sin.
In our text we are promised a peaceful existence with God forever. I can’t wait. I hope you can’t wait either. A day is coming when we will no longer have to put up with this world and the conflicts that are so much a part of our human existence. I hope that you are looking forward to that day, the day that is spoken of in our text. "Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." And "He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many nations." That day is coming, everyone. I pray that all your hopes are set on Christ’s second coming and His heavenly kingdom.
Unfortunately, conflict and disagreement are present everywhere in our world. But there is something we can do. Our hearts have been transformed by the Gospel. We have been changed by God. This means that we have the power not to insist on our own way. We have the power from God to avoid potential conflict. I realize we can’t stop war right now but we can try to fix the conflict within our own families and maybe even in the church. God has given us the strength and desire through the Holy Spirit to work things out. So we are able to control, to an extent, what happens.
The Apostle Paul encourages us not to be quarrelsome. He tells us to try to get along with others. He exhorts us to be united in the Lord. He too realized the damage conflict can cause in people’s lives.
So until the Lord comes, I pray that we all will try to live peacefully with each other, that we will avoid conflict and make every effort to work out our differences. This is the best we can do with God’s help until our Lord comes and destroys this world with all its sin and conflicts. Then we will live with God forever, no more bothered with the problems of this world. What a wonderful thing to look forward to.