Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Peace and Shalom

Have you ever noticed that it is much easier to talk about big-picture peace than it is to describe our deep desires for personal peace? No matter our circumstances or life-stage, we all struggle with peace at one time or another. During Advent it's less complicated to read the Christmas story and say, "I understand the peace announced by the Angels." But it's another thing to look at the rest of scripture and say, "I understand that peace."

What is peace anyways? The dictionary describes it as a state of tranquility or quiet. But the Bible’s Hebrew word shalom gets us closer to the feeling we yearn for. Accord to Strong’s Concordance, shalom means “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.” That’s a lot of things to strive for. Yet God knew that the only way for His people to achieve all this was for Him to pave the way.

So many of the references to peace in the Old Testament have to do with the Israelites presenting the Lord with peace offerings, motions of the sacrificial system. These were not an act of appeasement, but a thankful response to God’s favor. Yet even this was an imperfect system at the hands of men. So God sent His son to be the ultimate sacrifice, sealing His favor and covering our sin. The Old Testament peace offerings were a picture of the Lord’s future provision of Jesus’ shalom.

Passage after passage of the New Testament speaks to this. Here is a word study on PEACE that goes a bit beyond the heart-felt greetings and benedictions that are common bookends in the Epistles:

Luke 1: 76-79: And you, child [baby John the Baptist], will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,  because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

John 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.

John 16:33: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Ephesians 2:14-16: For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility  by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:19-20: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

2 Thessalonians 3:16: Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

Hebrews 12:11-14: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

James 3:17-18: But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.