Wednesday, on April 17th, the U.S. Senate voted against a bill that would have imposed stronger gun control legislation. It lacked seven votes to pass. President Obama had done much campaigning strongly in favor of the bill. And recent polls had shown that most Americans favored the bill’s increased gun control. It included stronger background checks, strengthening the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, and reducing the number of bullets in magazine clips for automatic weapons.
This American sentiment for stronger gun control has been building largely due to an increasing number of gun massacres by unbalanced people killing many innocents, especially children. It makes U.S. society seem so violent to the rest of the world. And we Americans do own more guns than anywhere else. The National Rifle Association has been such a lobbying force in our nation’s capital in favor of less gun control rather than more.
Gun advocates cite the Second Amendment in our U.S. Constitution regarding the right to own firearms. Of course, that takes us back to when our vast, largely undeveloped country was being explored and settled mostly by Europeans. Guns were important to that success. But the world has changed a lot since then, especially in our country. One wonders if our founding fathers would still view the right to bear firearms the same way now as they did back then.
Throughout much of history, the hope of much of humankind has been that Isaiah the Hebrew Prophet’s prediction about the annihilation of weapons would be fulfilled in the world-to-come. It says, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2.4; cf. Micah 4.3). But does Isaiah mean it literally? Would they previously have been fighting wars with primitive weapons? I think so.
This situation is further corroborated by the Hebrew Prophet Joel, yet he actually says the exact opposite. Joel announces on behalf of God, “Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare war, stir up the warriors. Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and pruning hooks into spears; let the weaklings say, ‘I am a warrior'” (Joel 3.9-10). What is Joel talking about, and to what time period does he refer? Well, he adds, “Let the nations arouse themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat ; for there I [God] will sit to judge all the neighboring nations'” (v. 12). This valley refers to the Kidron Valley between the eastern edge of the Old City of today’s Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. And Joel refers to the end of this age. He, as well as other Hebrew, biblical prophets, predict that at the end of the age the nations’ militaries will gather into the land of Israel to wipe Israel off the map, and then Israel’s Messiah will come to deliver all repentant Jews (cf. Zech 12.10; Romans 11.26).
But why will the nations beat their farm implements into primitive weapons to fight this so-called battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16.16), which is actually a misnomer? (It is the battle of the great day of God Almighty, and it is not fought at the Hill of Megiddo but mostly at Jerusalem. The kings gather at Megiddo to plan military strategy.) Here is an excerpt from my book, Warrior from Heaven (2009; pp. 12-13), which explains it in a journalistic style in the present tense, as if we were there:
“Why did these nations beat their plowshares into swords and their pruning hooks into spears? These weapons were in short supply for the troops, which consisted of many reserves. They needed more weapons because metals had become scarce throughout the world. Even iron and various other metals used in the making of steel were in short supply. It is because the use of metals had accelerated dramatically with the arrival of the industrial revolution and then the technological age. Demand for metals greatly increased as all of the world’s poorer nations became developed. The earth’s lithosphere did not contain an unlimited supply of natural resources necessary for the making of many types of metals. Prices for these metals therefore skyrocketed as natural resources necessary for making them dwindled and demand for them grew exceedingly. The result was a very serious scarcity of metals. That led to their conservation, recycling, and even government-imposed restrictions against some of their uses. So, primitive weapons such as swords and spears were not so abundant for all of the nations’ military forces.
“But why did these nations make primitive weapons with which to fight war? Many years ago, the world went through a period when advanced technology continually resulted in the development and production of the most sophisticated military armaments. The increasingly destructive power of these weapons became such an overwhelming threat. The nations finally arrived at a consensus, concluding that such military capacity for human destruction was, frankly, insane. Millions of people in large cities could be instantly annihilated by massive explosive devices at the mere push of a button. Many people argued that this buildup of advanced weapons threatened the very existence of humanity.
“The result was world disarmament. First, the nations joined together in an effort to restrict the testing and production of, and then eliminate altogether, what had become the world’s most dangerous problem: weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This disarmament movement began with bilateral agreements between the United States and the former Soviet Union to limit the testing of the most formidable WMD: nuclear weapons. During the so-called Cold War between these two superpowers, they agreed to gradually destroy most of their nuclear arsenals.
“Second, nearly all of the nations of the world signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It provided that signatory nations possessing nuclear weapons agreed not to proliferate them or to disseminate the technology upon which they were designed and developed; the non-nuclear signatory nations agreed not to seek either of these.
“Third, this disarmament movement resulted in the worldwide extinction of not only all nuclear weapons but all other WMD, such as chemical, biological, and radiological weapons.
“Fourth, all of the world’s nations went a step further by agreeing to eradicate all conventional weapons from the face of the earth, too. These weapons included bombs, fighter planes, helicopter gunships, armed tanks, heavy artillery, rockets, grenades, and other ballistic missiles. This worldwide banishment of conventional weapons eventually included handheld ballistic firearms, such as rifles and handguns.
“Of course, attached to these agreements was the commitment that nations could no longer conduct research, development, testing, and production of these weapons. And to accomplish such colossal disarmament, the nations (probably) implemented very sophisticated means of surveillance technology as part of a rigid inspections regime.
“Ever since this world disarmament was completed, the only weapons allowed on earth have been primitive ones, such as swords, bows and arrows, spears, war clubs, assault towers, catapults, and the like. And even their production has been restricted due to the scarcity of metals, so that there have not been large stockpiles of them.”