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Everlasting Shalom Peace
As we look around, we see a world that is in desperate need of peace, as we have a war between Russia and Ukraine that has roped in just about every nation on this earth. We also see China and North Korea testing their limits as well. But the type of peace we desire will never materialize.
And if we hear that it has, the Bible says in the end of times people will say “Peace and Safety,” but also it will be at this time that destruction will come, so instead of embracing such a peace, we need to be running the opposite direction, because it is a precursor to the coming Antichrist and the Great Tribulation.
But there is peace that is all encompassing and a greater peace than the world can offer. And this peace is for everyone, and it’s God’s Shalom Peace.
To get a visual of what this peace looks like, picture, if you would, a massive hurricane raging over the ocean. Violent winds are whipping the water into a frenzy, and giant waves are creating havoc and chaos everywhere. Ship crews fight desperately to anchor down their vessels to prevent them from being beached or sunk.
The towns and villages that dot the shoreline are in full tilt panic. People are rushing around trying to ready themselves and their homes for the coming onslaught. Many are packing their cars and families and heading inland trying to escape the coming storm.
This is not what you would call a peaceful and serene picture.
But twenty feel below the surface of the water it’s a totally different picture. The waters are clear and calm, and the fish go about living their lives completely unaware of the turmoil that is raging over their heads.
Now, there’s a truism or moral to all of this, but I want to share it with you later.
But peace is at the heart of what everyone wants. Peace in this world, peace in our lives, and peace in our relationships, not to mention peace of mind.
Have you ever noticed that when families go on a long distant trip how everyone wants to listen to different kinds of music? And nobody likes what the other person listens too.
I recently read about one family and their creative solution to this problem. Each person would take a turn and choose to listen to whatever they wanted. And the deal was that no one was allowed to complain or comment about the other person’s choice. When it got to the dad, however, he would play the same tape over and over again. It was blank.
All of us want peace in our lives, and we’ll do just about anything to get it. But before we look at what peace is, let’s take a look at What Peace Is Not
Peace is Not Avoidance
Peace is not avoiding a problem. Many think that just because there’s no conflict they have peace, but in reality, all they have is an avoidance issue. Peace isn’t running away from a problem, ignoring an issue, or pretending it doesn’t exist.
Unfortunately, this is what’s at the heart of many relational problems. What I can say is that avoiding the problem is a lot like having termites. If you don’t deal with the problem, it’ll bring the house down.
Peace is Not Appeasement
Often for the sake of peace one person yields to the other person’s demands at the expense of their own or biblical principles. When this happens, it really isn’t a true peace; rather it’s a false peace that’s going to blow up in our faces. Peace at any price isn’t true peace.
And so, while peace is our greatest hope, it is far too often the most elusive.
I read a story about a young man named Tommy. His life was one long quest for peace
As we watch the news, we see this world is in desperate need of peace. There are wars, coups, uprisings, kidnappings, slave trade, terror threats and bombings around the world. In our own nation we are also seeing children killing each other, or like Tommy ending their lives before they even have a chance to live.
Even in the city known as the city of peace, Jerusalem, there’s been continual conflict. Here’s a city claimed by most every religion out there, and none of them can arrive at a true and lasting peace. How sad is that!
Shalom peace, however, is what the world needs, but it’s what the world never fully achieves, and that’s because we fail to go to the real source of Shalom, that is, the real source of peace, and that is God.
Real peace, Shalom Peace is a gift of God who is Himself peace personified as the writer of Hebrews identifies Him as “the God of peace.” (Hebrews 13:20) And in the high priestly prayer the Lord taught to priests to bless the people with, it says, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:21-27)
In 2 Thessalonians 3:16 the Apostle Paul gives the same blessing. He said, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16 NKJV)
But this peace is conditioned upon several things:
First, it’s conditioned upon a Love of God’s Word
“Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” (Psalm 119:165 NKJV)
The Psalmist is saying that those who love God’s word will have great peace. This is the exact same picture given by David in Psalm 1.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV)
The picture the Psalmist paints is what peace looks like: A tree firmly rooted right next to a gently flowing stream, whose leaves remain green year-round, and it always has fruit upon its branches. And this peace is available to all those who love God’s word, and who ponder on its meaning for their lives throughout the day.
Second, peace is conditioned upon Obedience to God’s Word
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:17-18 NIV)
If God’s people had only obeyed His commandments, then He would’ve fulfilled His promise and given them a river of peace. Not a stream, but a river, a deep flowing river that flows year-round and that doesn’t dry up but is sure and steady.
When we honestly evaluate ourselves, we can trace our lack of peace to one thing, and that’s disobedience, which generally stems from an unrepentant heart, that is, a heart and life that refuses to turn towards God but will turn more and more to the ways of the world.
Now, as we look at these first two conditions of love and obedience to God’s word, what we find is that truism I talked about earlier that while there was turmoil above the waters, there was complete calm just a few feet down.
And the truism is, “Where there is depth, there’s peace”
This is why there is so little peace in Christian’s lives; and that is there is no depth of God’s word. They are a mile wide with opinions and experiences, but only an inch deep in their understanding and knowledge of God’s word.
And the third thing that peace is conditioned upon is a person’s Trust in God
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV)
Eric Barker was a missionary during WWII. The situation was so critical in Portugal where he was stationed that he sent his family back to England where they could be safe while he wrapped up some matters and would join them later.
The next Sunday he announced that that his family was safely home. Only later did they find out what he meant. Prior to the service he received a wire telling him that a submarine had torpedoed the ship and everyone on board had drowned.
It was with the knowledge that his family was home in heaven, because they had trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, that allowed him to live in peace despite the awful circumstances and overwhelming grief.
The peace God promises is not the absence of problems; rather it’s a sense of security, direction, and the presence of God in the midst of the turmoil and tragedies of life.
The Peace God Gives
There are two aspects about the peace that God gives.
Peace With God
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27 NKJV)
Here Jesus contrasts worldly peace with God’s peace. The peace of the world is the cessation of war, that is, an end of hostilities. It’s the calling for peace pacts, and peace treaties. But as we have seen, this sort of peace is short lived.
There is a story about a retired couple who was worried about the threat of nuclear war. So, they studied and traveled around the world trying to find the safest place to live. One Christmas they sent a card to their pastor from their new home, the Falkland Islands. Unfortunately for them, Britain invaded these islands over a dispute with Argentina.
No place is safe from conflict, and it’s tragic, to see and hear about people moving to different places and cities to find a little peace only for find the same problems and conflicts. You see they’re looking for peace but in all the wrong places.
There’s no real peace outside a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul said, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1 NKJV)
Peace never depends upon our circumstances. Rather it depends on our getting with and tapping into a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Or we could just say, “Peace is Not the Absence of Trouble, But the Presence of Christ.”
Those who place their trust in Jesus Christ and what He did for them upon the cross now have their sins forgiven resulting in peace with God. What does that peace look like?
It’s also a peace that helps us understand that this life is not all that there is to life, and that life continues from here into eternity.
Peace Of God
There are some things that we’ll never understand on this side of heaven. The Apostle Paul says, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV)
In other words, our vision of the way things are, is not fully clear. We’re not going to know the ‘why’s’ we desperately long for, and there’s going to be things that happen in our lives that are going to bring pain, grief, and sorrow.
But through it all God’s peace will keep us, and that’s because the peace of God knows that God is in control and will give us the peace we need.
In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul said, “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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)
Notice this peace surpasses all understanding, that is, it transcends all human wisdom and knowledge. Our intellect is limited, and we’ll never fully comprehend the infinite peace of God. And while it goes beyond our human capability, it will change our lives forever.
There’s an old hymn entitled, “Peace Like a River.” It was written by a wealthy businessman. He had lost his whole family at sea. He sent them ahead to Europe, and he would follow. But their ship went down. After he heard of the tragedy, he booked the very next ship taking the exact same route. He asked the captain to show him the exact place the ship went down. Standing over the site he wrote these words
How is it with your soul today? Is it well with your soul? Do you have God’s peace despite the turmoil and tragedies of life? If not, then give to God your sorrows and pain, and in return He will give you His peace.
As the old adage says, No God, No Peace – Know God, Know Peace
If you don’t have that personal relationship with Jesus, that is, if you haven’t ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart to be your Savior and Lord, then you’ll never know true peace. But when you know Jesus Christ then you’ll know that the everlasting Shalom Peace of God.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study