Peace on earth. (Were the angels wrong?)
Christmas brings with it many traditions and memories, and music is a big part of those. Because of the abundance of Christmas carols sung throughout the season, most people have heard the resounding proclamation of the angels to the shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14
Do you feel it?
Silence from the chaos.
A calm that abides even during the storm.
What is peace? The dictionary defines it as follows:
1 : a state of tranquility or quiet: such as
a : freedom from civil disturbance
b : a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom
2 : freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
3 : harmony in personal relations
4 a : a state or period of mutual concord between governments
b : a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity
5 —used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell
“peace,” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peace. Accessed 12/13/2022
What is Peace?
The connotations of peace infer an absence of tension and restlessness, while providing freedom from strife – both internal and external. However, due to our inherent sin nature, we must realize that we cannot achieve a state of peace, internally or externally, by our own abilities.
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to describe the condition of the sinner’s heart.
But the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud. There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”
Isn’t that an accurate picture of how we feel when we lack peace? Even though there is no peace for the wicked, there is hope for those who turn away from evil and submit to God. God really does desire us to have peace, so He made it possible by sending the Messiah, the Christ, to reconcile us to Himself. Look at the promise given to us in the Old Testament.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace…
There are those who misunderstand God’s promise of peace and think that it is about all of humanity living at peace with one another; however, Jesus was pretty blunt in disproving that belief.
Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;
Is Peace Possible?
So who can have peace in their heart and mind? Is it even possible?
“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.
“Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.
Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV
This passage gives us a big clue. He promises perfect peace to those who trust in God, our everlasting Rock, our foundation. If we fully trust Him, He will give us peace. This speaks of faith that goes beyond what we can see, to what we know is true because we know who God is.
…His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
And He will arise and shepherd His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God.
And they will remain,
Because at that time He will be great
To the ends of the earth. This One will be our peace.
Micah 5:2, 4-5ESV
God’s Promise of Peace
Not only did God promise peace, but He prophesied that the Messiah whom He was preparing to send to the earth to save us would BE our peace. How does that work?
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off
have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For He Himself is our peace…
For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself,
having made peace through the blood of His cross;
through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Let’s look at another definition of peace – from the Greek word used throughout the New Testament.
(from Strong’s G1515)
Εἰρήνη eirḗnē, i-ray’-nay;
probably from a primary verb εἴρω eírō (to join); peace (literally or figuratively); by implication, prosperity:—one, peace, quietness, rest, + set at one again.
I love the last portion of that definition from the Greek! “quietness, rest, set at one again” This speaks of ceasing to strive against God and becoming united with Him, giving our souls rest. That brings true peace.
What Did Jesus Say?
In the New Testament, we find more promises of peace from Jesus. He promises peace in the middle of difficulties, a supernatural peace that the world cannot offer. He alone can give that kind of peace.
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
Jesus wants us to live in peace, free from anxiety. He offers it as a gift and instructs us to NOT ALLOW our hearts to be troubled or fearful. It is our choice to embrace His gift.
When we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord, we are changed. The sin that formerly separated us from God is gone and our minds are renewed. Our desires change. Our priorities are different. Let’s look at the contrast between our former selves and our renewed selves.
For the mind set on the flesh is death,
but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God;
for it does not subject itself to the law of God,
for it is not even able to do so,
When we are at peace with God, we have hope. When we hand over our cares to God, He gives us peace. His peace will help us face anything that comes our way. Look at this amazing promise to those who reject anxiety by trusting God implicitly.
Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Peace and faith go hand-in-hand. Faith is more than believing in God’s existence, although that is a good starting place. Faith is believing God. Faith is learning to take Him at His Word and trust Him no matter what is happening around us.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org