THE PROMISE OF PEACE 12-9-18
The Promise of Peace
December 9, 2018
“But you promised!” How many times has a parent heard those words from their child. We don’t mean to break promises. But we can’t always live up to our good intentions. Jobs, finances, illness, or other unforeseen circumstances often get in the way of that special trip or toy that we promised. And anyone who has ever been through a divorce knows that the promise of “’til death do us part” doesn’t always hold either. Throughout our lives we are programmed to doubt, to disbelieve, and to come to the understanding that a promise is not the solemn oath that it was meant to be.
And so it is no surprise that people doubt God’s Word as well. Admittedly, it can seem at times like His promises are no better than those of people who have let us down. On the surface, it sometimes even seems as though the Bible blatantly contradicts itself. In our first Scripture reading (Isaiah 9:6-7), Isaiah prophesied that the coming Savior would be the Prince of Peace. In our second Scripture reading (Luke 2:8-14}, the angels told the shepherds that there would be peace on earth. And then Jesus himself tells his disciples in our third Scripture reading (Luke 12:51-53 & Matthew 10:37), that he did not come to bring peace, but rather to divide households. He also said to his disciples in Luke 21, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away”. So how do we make sense of this? The key in that passage are the words “the end”. It was not Christ’s first coming that will bring peace on earth. It is Christ’s second coming.
In the Bible, prophecies often are misinterpreted. Even the most dedicated Bible scholars have made great errors in their interpretation of prophetic Scriptures. How many Jews have failed to see the fulfillment of the Scriptures in regards to the first coming of Jesus almost 2000 years ago, even though many could easily recite the passages that point to it? And even this itself was prophesied, as the apostle Paul said in Romans 11:25, “I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ”. This verse also points to the time of the end - the time when the last Gentile like us accepts Jesus as His Lord and Savior, and God again turns His face toward his chosen people, the Jews. For seven long, hard years He will deal with them directly and then He will return, Satan will be bound, and Christ will establish the promised peace on earth.
In hindsight, believers today clearly understand the many prophecies that pointed to the first coming of Jesus as a baby born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem. One site I researched said there are 353 such prophecies in the Old Testament - (https://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/353prophecies.html). But as the saying goes, “hindsight is always 20/20”. The promised second coming of Jesus has fueled many debates, disagreements, and doubts. The apostle Peter warned of this as well when he wrote, “Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created’”. (2 Peter 3:3-4)
Don’t be one of those people that Peter warned us about. The promise of Christ’s return, and the promise of peace, will be fulfilled, just as every promise of God ever made. The Bible declares that “For no word from God will ever fail." (Luke 1:37 NIV) and that God’s word is truth (John 17:17). We can depend on God’s truth. He will never lie to us. Satan, the father of lies, will however. He will do all in his power to get us to doubt and to disbelieve. He even tried to use Scripture itself to get Jesus to doubt. Of course, it didn’t work. And don’t let it work on you either.
Peace on earth will come one day. In the meantime, we can have peace within in spite of war all around us, in spite of division within families, and in spite of those who mock our faith. Jesus promised us this peace through the Holy Spirit, the peace that passes all understanding, for he said, “I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)
There will be times in our lives when even inner peace seems impossible. Times of immense stress or grief. Times when God’s promises seem like a distant dream, not something that will manifest any time soon. Even the most faithful believer has times of doubt, times of frustration and even anger towards God. Times they think God doesn’t make any sense, and His promises mean absolutely nothing. But it is during those times that God is working within us. He has not forgotten us or His promises. The apostle Peter wrote about these times, too. He told us “don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad - for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” (1 Peter 4:12,13,19)
“He will never fail you!” - so keep trusting, keep praying, and remember that when Jesus returns, everything will make perfect sense, the earth will finally have the peace that He promised us, and we will share in Christ’s glory forever. Amen.