When knife crime rose across the United Kingdom, the British Ironwork Centre came up with an idea. Working with local police forces, the Centre built and placed two hundred deposit boxes around the country and ran an amnesty campaign. One hundred thousand knives were anonymously surrendered, some still with blood on their blades. These were then shipped to artist Alfie Bradley, who blunted them, inscribed some with the names of young knife-crime victims, plus messages of regret from ex-offenders. All 100,000 weapons were then welded together to create the Knife Angel—a twenty-seven-foot-high angelic sculpture with shimmering steel wings.
When I stood before the Knife Angel, I wondered how many thousands of wounds had been prevented by its existence. I thought too of Isaiah’s vision of the new heavens and earth (Isaiah 65:17), a place where children won’t die young (v. 20) or grow up in crime-breeding poverty (vv. 22–23), a place where knife crime is no more because all swords have been reshaped and given more creative purposes (2:4).
That new world isn’t yet here, but we are to pray and serve until its arrival (Matthew 6:10). In its own way, the Knife Angel gives us a glimpse of God’s promised future. Swords become plow shares. Weapons become artworks. What other redemptive projects can we conjure up to glimpse that future a little more?
Against the backdrop of gross injustice, moral failure, and spiritual unfaithfulness, Isaiah warned a guilty Judah of God’s judgment (Isaiah 1–12) through the Babylonian exile (39:6–7). Isaiah also prophesied of God’s grace (chs. 40–55) and a future restoration for Judah (chs. 11, 56–66). In Isaiah 12, we’re given a glimpse of Judah’s glorious future. Jerusalem will become the world’s most important city and in the midst of the city will be a magnificent temple. World peace will become a reality. Instead of fighting the Jews, the gentile nations will stream to Jerusalem to seek God. God’s people will be “a light for the Gentiles, that [His] salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (49:6). Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah (735–725 BC), prophesied a similar vision in Micah 4:1–3.