And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares…
1. When it is said that He should "judge among the nations," we must observe that the term is continually used in the Old Testament of the rule of a chief magistrate. Under the theocracy those who ruled the nation, as we read in Judges 2, and in many other places, were termed "judges." Of one of these it is said — "The Spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel, and he judged Israel, and went out to war," — acted as their supreme ruler. And the same language is employed continually of those who ruled in Israel, under God their King. The prediction is very nearly parallel to one in the seventy-second Psalm respecting the Messiah: "He shall judge" — or rule — "the people with righteousness, and the poor with judgment." Accordingly, in our text it is declared that the Messiah should be a Ruler "among the nations." This rule was to take place, according to the language of prophecy, when the Redeemer came into this world. Hence when our Lord was upon earth, He Himself proclaimed that "the kingdom of heaven was at hand." He directed His disciples to preach the same truth. And we know that a time is to come, when "the kingdoms of the world are to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ." When our Saviour was upon earth He allowed the expression used by Nathaniel — "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel." When He came in triumph into Jerusalem, and the people shouted out — "Hosannah! I blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord," our Lord did not repress the exultation. All believers, then, have already become subjects of His Kingdom, and He is stated in Scripture to be their King. He has a dominion, indeed, far more extensive than that of the Church; He has "all power given Him in heaven and earth." But the passage before us does not refer to this universal dominion, which He exercises in providence, but it speaks of the dominion of grace, His dominion limited to His Church — because it is a dominion that was to result from the promulgation of His Word out of Zion, and a dominion to be co-extensive with the exaltation of His Church of Zion. "Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations."(1) Since this dominion was to be established by the promulgation of the Word of God we may learn that no other ways are legitimate for the extension and establishment of Christ's Kingdom than this weapon of truth.
(2) Till He establishes His dominion over any man's heart that man is not a Christian.
(3) Christ has a right to rule. (Romans 14:9.) But it is here said, not merely that He shall judge among multitudes, among His universal Church, but, "He shall judge among the nations," by which we learn that He means still to multiply the numbers of His people, till nations are born in a day, and irreligion and rebellion against Christ on this earth shall be as rare as they are now general.
2. It was added, as a contemporaneous act of His sovereignty, "He shall rebuke many people." By that word "rebuke" is evidently meant, He shall reprove them for their sinfulness.
(1) Wherever He sets up His dominion over any heart He first makes that heart to feel bowed down by the load of its guilt.
(2) Nations shall also be rebuked for their sinfulness. The Gospel tends to rebuke all abuses and evils among mankind — in Churches, governments, etc.
3. The effect of the Saviour's reign is further described; it is to be universal peace. "They shall beat," etc.
(B. W. Noel, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
WEB: He will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and 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.