“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 anymore.”
As we approach Christmas day one cannot help but be reminded of the great promise surrounding the birth of Christ. The prophet Isaiah declared the Messiah would be a prince of peace, the angels filled the skies with exuberant praise as they sang “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace toward men.” Later we read that kings came from distant lands to crown the young Child as heaven’s gift and earth’s highest king.
It may seem quite striking to note that Christ’s life seemed to be marked by anything but peace. Hundreds of children were murdered on the day of his birth, his family was forced to flee to Egypt to escape the tyranny of Herod the king, by all accounts it seems that Jesus lost his father at an early age, and grew up in poverty. Once His ministry began he faced constant conflict from spiritual forces, religious leaders and even infighting among His own disciples. As much as his life was marked by turmoil, his death was more so; He was betrayed, arrested, beaten, condemned and killed. Even after his body lay lifeless in the tomb people still fought over Him and a band of soldiers guarded the burial site of Christ.
Over the last two thousand years the world has known very little peace. A history of humanity is a history of war. Rome fought to keep the appearance of peace within the empire, while leaders vied with one another for power and external forces sought to overthrow the kingdom. Battles, conflicts, invasions and wars have been going on around the world ever since. Some of you are old enough to have lived through WWII, the Korean war, Vietnam, The Gulf war, and a continual conflict we call the war on terror. Mixed in with all of this are social conflicts that include school shootings and constant occurrences of domestic violence. One has to wonder where the peace is that was promised.
Let’s keep two vital things in mind when we considered the peace that Jesus promised. First it is an inner peace that is greater than any circumstance we will ever face. Jesus was a realist who declared that in this world we will face conflict but that He would give us a peace that apart from Him we could never find. Paul called it a peace that surpasses understanding and works as a guard on the heart and mind. As long as men live in rebellion against God the world will be marked by conflict, war, hate corruption and violence but in the midst of the chaos the child of God is promised a heavenly peace.
Micah declared that this peace will one day rule well beyond the heart of the child of God. The same Christ who was born in a barn outside of Bethlehem will one day return in glory and reign in peace. When heaven’s king sits on earth’s throne the world will finally experience the peace that God intends. Weapons of warfare will be discarded and energies once spent on developing implements of war will be given to agriculture.
Oh how our hearts long for the day when Christ will come and reign. Demonstrations taking place around the globe remind us that God has created us for peace. Scripture tells us that this peace will only be found when we allow Christ to sit first on the throne of our hearts and finally upon the throne at His return.