Advent Week 2: Peace

This second Sunday of Advent is the Sunday we celebrate Peace.  This word means more to me today than it did before I ever had children.  Keep in mind, I love my kids with all my heart.  However, there is a time of each day after they’ve all gone to bed and I can sit in my chair, in the quiet, sometimes in the dark, and know the first moment of peace that I’ve had all day.  Some of you know what I’m talking about.  I just love my quiet time.  I never knew how much I loved it until I didn’t have it like I did before kids.  Peace in this world is fleeting and we are going to talk a little about that here today.  Follow along with me to Isaiah 9:6-7 if you will.

6 For a child has been born for us,

    a son given to us;

authority rests upon his shoulders;

    and he is named

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 His authority shall grow continually,

    and there shall be endless peace

for the throne of David and his kingdom.

    He will establish and uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

    from this time onward and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

This Sunday we are talking about Peace.  That can be a difficult subject in today’s world when Peace is so often ignored for power.  Every day we turn on the news and can watch countries at war and people fighting against people.  It has become culturally acceptable to make our first reaction to anything we see, hear or even think is happening, to fight it with everything we have.  Peace has taken a backseat to War. 

Just like last week, I want to really spend time this week focusing on what the world was like for the Israelite people during the time of the coming of Christ.  Where they had been and what they had gone through, really help to shape the understanding of why the coming of Jesus was so important to this culture.  This passage in Isaiah is another prophecy about the coming of their Messiah and it talks about his rule.

You see, throughout the history of the Old Testament, the Israelite people craved a ruler.  They wanted a king.  God told them that they didn’t need a king and that if they listen to and live by the rules and commandments that God had already given them, they would be fine.  Well they didn’t and they weren’t.  Time and again they turned their back on God and God was forced to guide them back to Him.  Eventually, God gave them David and Solomon to rule the united Israelite kingdom.  However, that didn’t keep the people focused on God and soon, that line of rulers was put to an end with King Zedekiah being killed by the Babylonians about 600 years before Jesus. 

So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that when the Israelite people think about a savior and a Messiah, they would think of a King.  They wanted the world to return to the glory that they had experienced during the time of David.  They wanted a ruler that would bring them into a world of peace and prosperity. 

The Israelite people also had quite a history with war.  They had basically been fighting for the right to have their own nation for as long as they had been in the Promised Land.  Midian, Jericho, Ai, Palestine, Benjamites, Ammonites, Philistines, Amalekites, Gibeon, Sheba, Babylon, and Persia, just to name a few.  Most of those conflicts lasted many years each.  We are looking at nearly 1000 years of war for God’s people.  They were tired.  They were exhausted.  They were searching for a reprieve.

Can I be honest with you all for just a minute here?  These last few weeks for me have been exhausting.  I’ve been being pulled in about 6 different directions and all of them demanding more time than I can muster.  I believe that it has a lot to do with the end of the year looming ahead of us and everyone wanting to get everything done before the weather sets in.  Keep in mind that I enjoy all of the things that I do and if they were overall painful to me, I wouldn’t do them.  However, even the most pleasure-filled experiences come with not great moments.  Losing Wayne this week is a perfect example of that.  I feel like I have been fighting a battle and it’s getting exhausting.  I have been looking for a reprieve.  I believe that it is coming and that soon, I will get to have a day when I can just rest and recover myself.  I have the same Hope (remember we talked about Hope last week) that the Israelites had.  I’m Hoping for Peace.

That’s why I love this time of year so much.  Although it is a busy time of year, the Christmas season has a way of bringing about a measure of peace to our lives.  There will come a day soon when all the decorations are up, all the presents will be purchased, all the duties performed, and we will all just get to enjoy the season and celebrate the birth of our Savior. 

That feeling that the Christmas season brings is a direct correlation to who Jesus the Messiah was supposed to be in the eyes of the Israelites.  Not only was Jesus the hope of the Israelite people all those years ago, but he brought with him Peace.  Isaiah tells us that, “he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace.”  What Isaiah didn’t know, nor did any of the Israelite people know, is that this gift from God wasn’t going to make the world peaceful, but he was going to ensure our place in heaven, a place of perpetual peace, forever and ever.  He was the key to Peace.  His authority will grow and there will be endless Peace.  That endless Peace is ours to have. 

Let’s talk about these names for the Messiah real quick, while we are at it.  He is a Wonderful Counselor.  He is the Mighty God.  He is our Everlasting Father.  These are the roles that God continues to play in our lives today.  When you are struggling to get through something and someone tells you to pray about it, they aren’t just giving you lip-service to make you feel better.  They are giving you the best advice any of us can receive.  Go talk to God about it.  He will help you figure things out.  He will counsel you and help you.  Remember when I told you all how big and powerful God is and how I never have trouble imagining that Creator God-figure?  What I do have trouble remembering, and I believe that many of us have this same trouble, is that the same Mighty God, Creator God, All-Powerful God, the one that created and rules the world, is also our greatest friend and closest confidant.  He doesn’t just rule over us.  God loves us as a Father.  He loves us as a Creator loves what he has created. 

But all of that wasn’t enough to ensure that us broken, shattered human beings would be able to find our way into heaven on our own accord.  God wanted us to join Him in eternity, but we aren’t able to do it on our own.  That’s why the Israelites needed a Messiah and we still need a Savior.  Jesus is the way that we can finally make our way back to our Creator and thus into heaven.  Without Jesus, there is no Peace. 

So this week of Advent, we celebrate Peace; Peace that is brought about by a true relationship with Jesus.  Because just like the Israelites 3000 years ago, we crave Peace in our lives.  With a true relationship with Jesus Christ, the toils and difficulties of this world will one day all fall away and be replaced with nothing more than Peace.  I want to encourage you this week to seek Peace.  Find that Peace among the chaos of the season.  Seek Christ in your life.  If you don’t think that you have that type of relationship with Jesus, this is the time to start it.  If you have fallen away or forgotten Christ because of the chaos of this world, it’s time to turn your eyes back to Him.  There will never be true and everlasting peace in this world.  We have to seek it from the one that is truly everlasting, our Savior and Messiah, Jesus Christ.