Advent Reflections: Peace
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV
These days peace is generally thought of as a state of quiet time or a time without conflict, i.e. after a war has ended. However Biblically, though Peace meant the absence of conflict, it also meant having something better in place of conflict; making something that is complex with lots of moving part, whole or complete. The way the birth of Jesus made our broken, sinful selves, whole once more, helping to repair our relationship with God. Helping us draw nearer to Him.
That’s why Christmas is one of my favourite times of year, not just because of the general festivities and great food, but also because Christmas time genuinely feels like such a peaceful time. the running around and partying isn’t peaceful, and sometimes it can be quite stressful, but the time spent with family, the story of Jesus, the time off work, the carols (including the slower ones – O Holy Night being one of my faves) the hope of looking back on a long year and looking forward to a new one. There just generally feels like communities/families come together, Christian or not, around this wonderful time full of love, happiness and hope – they have been united, made whole, made stronger.
Today’s reflection by the Bible Project asks us to read Isaiah 9:6-7 and then ask the following questions:
- What words or phrases stand out to you as you observe this passage?
- Based on this passage, how does the Prince of Peace govern his Kingdom?
- How can you cooperate with God to expand his peaceful rule in the places where you live?
I’ll share my thoughts on these questions and it’d be great to hear your thoughts/comments/questions too.
What words or phrases stand out to you as you observe this passage?
I find it quite hard to answer this because essentially every line speaks to me or intrigues me:
‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder…’ The fact that Jesus was born an innocent child always surprises me. He could have been an angel or created as a man much like Adam was. But he was born an innocent child with such humble beginnings. I wonder if God did this so we could relate to Him more; we could see parts of ourselves in Him. But more so, the fact that He had such a great expectation on Him even as a child, blows my mind. It reminds me of Neo in The Matrix (bear with me, I was and still am obsessed with this series of films and very excited for the next one in Jan). Neo was just a person, living his life and then one day he is told he’s the one. The one to save Zion and humanity. Imagine how confusing that must have been. Similarly Jesus grew up as a normal boy, who at some point was told He was born with such a great purpose; to save us all. And when the time comes for the new world, He will govern us with His generosity, love and peace, without wanting or looking for anything in return.
‘His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ As explained here, these aren’t His actual names, these are more His character traits and personality, who He is:
- The Messiah is Wonderful: The glory of who He is and what He has done for us should fill us with wonder. You can never really look at Jesus, really know Him, and be bored. He is Wonderful and will fill your heart and mind with amazement.
- The Messiah is our Counselor: Jesus is the One fit to guide our lives and should be the Christian’s immediate resource as a counselor. Jesus can help you with your problems. He may use the presence and the words of another Christian to do it, but Jesus is our Counselor.
- The Messiah is Mighty God: He is the God of all creation and glory, the LORD who reigns in heaven, the One worthy of our worship and praise.
- The Messiah is the Everlasting Father: The idea in these Hebrew words is that Jesus is the source or author of all eternity, that He is the Creator Himself. It does not mean that Jesus Himself is the Person of the Father in the Trinity.
- The Messiah is the Prince of Peace: He is the One who makes peace, especially between God and man.
‘Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end…’ He will rule for all eternity. He will govern us not just for a short period of time, and then abandon us, but He will be here forever.
‘The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.‘ Though it all might sound too good to be true, it is His passion, His enthusiasm, His love that will make it true.
Based on this passage, how does the Prince of Peace govern his Kingdom?
It is through His character traits that we know how He will govern. He will guide us and help us through our troubles, He is wonderful, mighty and strong and therefore trustworthy and sturdy. At the same time He is our Father who is to encourage and love us for exactly who we are. Lastly He is peace; He not only makes us whole but He makes peace between every single one of us and God. He is the perfect King/Prime minister who genuinely cares about His subjects/ward, ruling with a firm but fair, loving hand.
How can you cooperate with God to expand his peaceful rule in the places where you live?
I believe it is our job to get to know those who live around us, to be neighbourly and friendly, to spread the love of Jesus to each and everyone we know and come into contact with. But also ensuring we show humility, patience and love to all.
“We need to keep our unity through the bond of peace”Ephesians 4:3
On Sunday we had our last monthly and during worship a woman joined us to just to listen and she seemed to get quite emotional. One of our church family members, Sue, went over to her to pray with and over her and offer comfort. The woman seemed to really appreciate the love that was shared by Sue.
That to me is the epitome of expanding God’s peace where we live: by taking time out of our day to support others, to pray with them, to lift them up both in their time of need or want, but also in their times of celebration and happiness.
I pray that God blesses each and every one of us to be able to embody His sense of peace to all those we come into contact with, not just at this Christmas time, but for the rest of our lives. Amen.