Peace is fragile. A sad example of the fragility of peace is seen in the life of Abiy Ahmed, the Prime minister of Ethiopia who in 2019 won the Nobel Peace Prize, and who in 2020 has taken his country to civil war.
Peace is an important theme in the bible. Recalling the stories of the bible, which do you think gives the best example of peace. Is it the tranquillity of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden? Perhaps the 23rd Psalm being led by quiet streams to green pastures. Could it be on Lake Galilee when the disciples feared for their lives until Jesus commanded the storm to be still, and all was at peace.
Thinking of peace, my attention was drawn to these verses in Isaiah, “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4) This is a wonderful picture of peace. It is an ideal picture of a future time. It is peace, based on God justly settling disputes between nations and people. It is hard to have peace if there is no justice. Injustice is like an open wound that never heals unless it is recognised and treated.
In Isaiah 9 we read, “Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.” “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:5–7) Notice again how this rule of peace is connected to justice. Often we jump straight to the words for to us a Child is born, without noticing the destruction of the warriors boot. Such is the coming of the Prince of peace, every warrior’s boot, every battle uniform is destined for destruction.
Prince of Peace is one of the great titles of the Messiah, who Isaiah looked forward to and who we now know is Jesus Christ. Joe Warton wrote of the peace given by God, It’s peace brought about by Jesus, who became a small baby in a small family in a small home in a small town in a small nation on the fringe of a huge empire. Our Prince of Peace does not struggle to make time for our small in the midst of his big. Our great king delights to work out his big peace in and through our small. It never ceases to amaze me, that God is interested in my small life, lived for such a short span of time on this tiny planet in such a large universe.
As we go through advent towards Christmas, how are you preparing your soul? Do you have open hands ready to receive God’s peace or are your hands clutching and holding on to resentment or grudges? Are you forgiving others or holding their sins against them so there is no room in your heart for the forgiveness and peace God offers you? As far as it depends on you, will you be a peacemaker? Will you live as a representative of the Prince of Peace and help share his peace with others?
The Apostle Paul said, “As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15). What can you do (put on) to be prepared to proclaim the gospel of peace this Christmas?
Rev John Malcolm