Advent 2013…Peace: Isaiah 40.1-11
As I reflected on this passage, the season of peace is one of the most stressful times of the year for most of us. Gifts to be bought, family to entertain, parties to be attended, too much food to be eaten, painful memories to be relived… we, like the exiled Jews, feel beat down, abused, worn out. We proclaim a peace that we desperately long to experience for ourselves.
I shared a tweet this past week, “The peace the world offers is a peace of avoidance, a peace of denial, a temporary, fragile peace…don’t you long for something more?” It reminds me of what Hezekiah said when Isaiah revealed that the Babylonians would come and ransack Jerusalem… “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good.” For he a thought, “For there will be peace and truth in my days.”
The peace of Hezekiah is too often the only peace we know…fleeting, empty, selfish. We get so distracted by trying to maintain our own peace now. If I can make it through the holidays, If I can make it to payday, I can retire when…, if I can get my kids through college, if I can keep my spouse happy. A peace like Hezekiah’s – “at least I’ll know peace”. The only problem is, maintaining peace is hard work. If you find yourself always trying to keep the peace, know that you don’t have it.
But the peace that the coming Davidic King would bring is as everlasting/eternal as the word of the LORD, never fading, never failing. Isaiah paints a landscape where all war has ended. Peace has been established. And that is true, our peace has come. Our peace is here – here and now, in this moment, today. And our peace is coming, advancing every moment, we are anticipating our bridegroom. And again, to be clear, Jesus is the Davidic King who came to bring that peace. It is the peace of the kingdom…peace with God and peace with our neighbor.
The relationship between peace with God and peace with men parallels the relationship between loving God and loving your neighbor. You can only love people when you are loving God. When you are loving God, you can’t help but love people. We saw that in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said that loving your neighbor as yourself is the law and the prophets. So also, you can only be at peace with people when you are at peace with God. When you are at peace with God, you can’t help but be at peace with people.
Where is our peace today? As I read these verses, Isaiah seems to offer comfort to the Jewish refugees returning from Babylon by reminding them who they were, or maybe better, whose they were. They were God’s – the Lords’ – The Lord God’s – Zion – Jerusalem. When people under Babylonian captivity, in the distant future, would read these words, they would recall whose they were. The present realities of suffering could not be ignored, but neither could the fact that they were God’s chosen people whom He loved, whom He had made a covenant with. I think that is our comfort. We are His. He chose us, died for us, lives for us. Paul prayed that his readers might know peace by understanding the depths of God’s love for them.
This story challenges us to pursue true peace…the peace of the kingdom. Knowing that we have peace with God frees us up to pursue peace with others. And as we learn to live more and more fully in God’s perfect peace, then we experience more and more fully peace with others.
My prayer for us this week is that we might more fully realize Unbelievable Peace because we have an Unbelievable Savior.
Until next time…stay salty.