PEACE. What is it? Was it when Armistice was declared in 1918? Was it when World War 2 came to an end? Is it the time when noisy neighbours quieten down? Is it when all the visitors finally leave? Have you your own definition?
A). WHAT PEACE IS. In the Old Testament “peace” is used in a number of ways.
i. National peace. The absence of hostility. For example we read of a peaceful period in the kingship of Asa, king of Judah. 2Chronicles 14:2 “And King Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. … And the kingdom had rest under him. 6 He built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest. He had no war in those years, for the LORD gave him peace.” The king’s obedience to God helped bring peace to the nation.
ii. National peace. There was often peace when a nation was in the will of God. However when a nation was not in the will of God there could be disaster. Jeremiah brought the word of the Lord against the people of Jerusalem who had rejected the Lord. (It could be a prophecy against modern-day Australia in its rejection of the Lord.) Notice the rejection of God by the people in the underlined words. Jeremiah 6:13 “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. 14 They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. 15 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the LORD. 16 Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.‘ 17 I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.‘ 18 Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what will happen to them. 19 Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it.” There can be no lasting peace when a nation rejects the God of peace!
There could have been peace if the people of Jerusalem had repented of their sin, Jer 6:26 “O daughter of my people, put on sackcloth, and roll in ashes; make mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation, for suddenly the destroyer will come upon us.” They rejected this offer of God’s grace as well. They forfeited God’s peace. Punishment came.
The people of Jerusalem didn’t learn the lesson from their history of Jerusalem. Later Jesus came as the Messiah and the Prince of Peace. We read how the people of Jerusalem responded, Luke 19:41 “And when Jesus drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Jerusalem means “foundation or city of peace” but they did not recognise the visit of their Messiah, of their prince of peace and consequently they suffered for their rejection of Him.
iii. Individual peace. There can be peace in the sense of tranquility. Eg., in (Psalm 4:8) “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” The Hebrew word here for “peace” is Shalom. You can have a real sense of peace knowing that the Lord is protecting you.
B). WHAT PEACE IS. IN THE NEW TESTAMENT OUR GOD (YAHWEH, JEHOVAH) IS THE SOURCE AND GIVER OF TRUE PEACE
1). OUR GOD (Yahweh. Jehovah) IS THE SOURCE OF PEACE
He is called the “God of peace” on 5 occasions. He brings peace to human situations.
i. Rom_15:33 “May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” A prayer that the God of peace would keep the Roman believers in peace.
ii. The One Who brought Jesus back from the dead is able to bring us His peace as we do His will. Heb_13:20 “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen”.
iii. He protects from satanic attack. Rom_16:20 “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” He wants us to experience His peace.
iv. He changes us to be like Jesus. 1Th_5:23 “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”
v. He remains close to those who are faithful to apostolic teaching and practice. Php_4:9 “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
God’s peace is different to human peace. Jesus said, Joh 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” God’s peace can be experienced even when there is tension and strife.
There is a deep peace in knowing that God’s smile is on you, and His protection is around you as you seek to live for Him.
2). OUR GOD, THE GOD OF PEACE INVITES US TO BE AT PEACE WITH HIMSELF
i. The Fall of humans in Genesis 1-3 brought hostility between God and humans and between fellow humans.
• Human Rebellion by creatures against their Creator God. The human race beginning with Adam and Eve wanted to do their own thing, to be independent of God. Doing our will, not His.
• It brought God’s displeasure against human wickedness. Ezek 18:20, God said, “The soul that sins will surely die.” Separation, Spiritual death is the result of sin.
• All humans are guilty but can be forgiven, Rom 3:23.“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” BUT Rom 3:24 adds that they were “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
• All humans are guilty, spiritually dead BUT they can be forgiven and live. Rom 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”, BUT when they trust in Jesus they are forgiven and become spiritually alive, Rom 5:17 “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”
• All humans are spiritually dead, Rom 6:23, “the wages of sin is death.” Sin pays wages to those who do it. Death! BUT God gives us eternal life as a free gift when we receive Jesus as Saviour, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
ii. God brought the possibility of peace through the coming Messiah, Isaiah prophesied this of the Coming Messiah, Is 53:5. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus took our place, bore our punishment, so that we might have peace with God through Him. It was costly for Him. BUT it is free to us in Him!
iii. As we trust in what Jesus did on the cross, we are made right with God. A peace relationship is established. He is at peace with us. We are at peace with Him. Rom 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” By His grace we can know peace with God and have access to Him at all times.
3). OUR GOD (Yahweh. Jehovah) GIVES US HIS PEACE
There are some wonderful truths in Philippians 4 that can help us learn to experience the peace of God.
i. God can enable us to be at peace with one another. He has reconciled us to Himself and to one another through Jesus’ death on the cross. As 2 Cor 5:17-20 puts it, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” We have to work out that unity in practice.
However in Philippi two female leaders were not in unity. Paul wanted them to be at peace with each other for the sake of the gospel message. Php 4:2 “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” To “agree” is to be of the same mind (τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν), to think the same thing, to have the same attitude. In other words Paul was reminding them that Christ has made them one. Now they had to live out that unity in practice. If they failed to do so it would be a serious denial of the gospel message of reconciliation.
The mention of Euodia and Syntyche is a reminder that if believers don’t live in unity with each other, they will have no ministry to offer in reconciling others to God or to one another. It is remarkable that these two women are mentioned in the eternal word of God together with Paul’s admonition to them to get their act together! The lives believers live must match the reality of the word they preach! Otherwise it has not power or authority.
ii. God tells us to hand our concerns over to Him in order to experience His peace. Php 4:6 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. “Guard” is (φρουρέω , phroureō) from φρουρός phrouros, a guard. The peace of God can act like a sentry on duty to protect the hearts and minds of believers in Christ. (The same word for “guard” is used in 1Peter 1:5 to describe the Lord’s protection of our salvation, “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”) It is interesting to note that Philippi was a Roman Garrison town. It was always protected by sentries. The citizens of Philippi could always live in peace. Paul was emphasising that God’s peace would always protect them like a sentry when they passed their concerns on to Him.
iii. Paul tells us in Phil 4 how to maintain our peace so that the God of Peace will remain with us. He reminds us that we must focus on the positives in life, Php 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (logizomai = keep on considering, focussing on, dwelling on). To keep focusing on the negatives in life is to give them power over us and lessens our peace.
He also taught that they needed to follow apostolic teaching and behaviour. Php 4:9 “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice (prassō= keep on practising, putting into practice, make it your habit to keep on doing ) these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Paul was seeking to live by the truth of God’s revelation in His word. In this way we remain open to His guidance and direction for our lives.
The God of peace with whom we can have peace (Romans 5:1) can impart His peace in the lives of all those who trust in Him.
So we come to the end of our 3 part series on Love. Joy. Peace.
As we have seen, these are the characteristics we share with Jesus as we live in close fellowship with Him.
• Jesus said, “Abide in MY LOVE.”
• Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you that MY JOY may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
• Jesus said, “MY PEACE I give to you, not as the world gives, do I give to you.”
The first three parts of the Fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22, “love, joy peace.” Qualities we can show forth continually as fruit in our lives as God keeps on filling us with His presence by Holy Spirit. Such fruit (singular) will be ALL these qualities, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Gal 5:22-23.
A Suggested Prayer:
“Father we ask You to fill us with Your Holy Spirit. We want to show forth for every moment of every day, Your love, Your joy, Your peace in our lives. We want those around us to see You in us and come to submit to You as their Saviour, Master and Lord. We ask this in Jesus’ name, and for His sake. AMEN!”
Blog No. 201. Jim Holbeck. Posted Sunday 4th December 2016