Advent Peace

advent candlesFor 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

One of the many titles the Son is known by is Prince of Peace, peace being the focus of the fourth Sunday of Advent. Isaiah 9:7 specifically says Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end and it goes to describe him sitting on the throne of David. Part of the Isaiah prophesy has been fulfilled in the first Advent of Jesus Christ; the child was born, the son was given. He was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) to a virgin mother (Isaiah 7:14). But he has not yet sat on the throne of David, and during his earthly ministry he even said “I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) There is prophecy yet to be fulfilled in the second appearing (advent) of Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of Lords.

We are part of the story. We live in the age of grace, which I would argue is the most exciting time period in which to live. It may have been great to see Moses lead the Hebrews out of Egypt but that generation died off in the wilderness and never entered the Promised Land. Meeting Jesus during the first century would mean living under not only Roman occupation but under Old Covenant Law. If you had joined the first century Christians (Acts 3) you would have been persecuted by Jews and later the Roman empire. The Kingdom of God is being built in this present age; now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:2) We are the dwelling place of God’s Spirit and still hold a great treasure in jars of clay (see 2 Cor. 4:7). We are the living stones that Peter describes (1 Peter 2:5) being built into a spiritual house.

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility  by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,  and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:14-22

Speaking to believers in Ephesus, Paul says he himself is our peace. We can have peace in this world even as it crumbles around us. Our hope is not in political institutions, armies of this world, the police, the economy or what have you. Our hope is in the eternal things of God, in his coming Kingdom over which Christ will rule – when the government will rest on his shoulders and there will be no end of his peace. We have peace now, the world will have peace later. The first appearing of Jesus Christ fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies but to use a colloquial expression of our day “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” The next time Jesus comes it will not be as a baby in the manger, and he will not enter Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:11-16

The paragraph preceding this one in Revelation 19 describes the wedding supper of the Lamb. In the section following Jesus rides into battle and destroys the beast and false prophet. Good stuff, check it out sometime. In verses 11-16 we see the one who is called Faithful and True, The Word of God, riding down from heaven on a white horse accompanied by the armies of heaven. Recall that the sky above the shepherds was filled with the heavenly host in Luke 2. That was not an angelic choir but God’s messenger/warriors. They were saying, not singing, Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, goodwill toward men. Jesus came that night humbly, taking the form of a servant. He will return in power and glory.

 

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