6 For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
– Isaiah 9:6-7
Just about every epic story from Braveheart to Star Wars centers around the same theme: Freedom and Peace for beloved people. Every human heart longs for peace. Even when we attempt to portray a sense of peace, it is often a façade or fleeting. In the words of Alistair Begg, “Tranquility on the outside can be a disguise to the raging torment on the inside.”
We long for calm in the midst of life’s storms.
We need reconciliation where relationships have fractured.
We hope for harmony among our quibbling kids or siblings.
We pray for quiet hearts when we’re anxious about test results.
If you are a Syrian refugee displaced from your home you wish for the end of war.
No matter who you are, or where you’re from, you long for peace. After all, you were created to be in harmony with God and Creation. But ever since the fall, peace has been fractured. The Hebrew word that describes our original condition and the condition we long for is Shalom. The Biblical understanding of peace involves so much more than just the absence of strife. The peace Isaiah refers to means completeness, tranquility and welfare.
Adam and Eve lived in a state of Shalom before ‘The Fall’ in Genesis 3. Adam didn’t patronize or “mansplain” to Eve. He delighted in doing the dishes and holding Eve’s hand for long walks in the Garden. Eve felt no shame about her body, or any need to compare herself to anyone. She was co-ruler of a world that worked perfectly.
But it didn’t last. Sin took so much away from mankind, including peace and we’ve wanted it back ever since.
John Lennon and The Beatles artistically described our heart’s desire for peace in their 1965 classic, Help!
When I was younger so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone and I’m not so self assured
Now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors
Help! I need somebody
Help! Not just anybody
Help! You know I need someone Help!
We all need help. No amount of education, charisma, success or money can acquire the shalom our hearts long for. This is why Christmas matters so much.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.”
How does this child born to us bring us the peace our hearts need so desperately? Isaiah answers,
5 But he was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.
6 We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished him
for the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
The Baby born in a manger would one day bear the burden of our peace on His shoulders. He would embrace the war, strife and wrath our sin deserved. He would take that war to the grave. The war would stay in the grave, but He would not. Peace with God would again be possible.
And one day, The Prince of Peace will come to wage one final war. When He has finished, a new shalom will spring forth. What is broken will be mended. What is lacking will be made whole. Strife will give way to tranquility. There will be Glory and Peace on Earth.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the gift of true peace. Give me faith to receive it and the strength to share it with the world. Amen.