Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent. Let’s begin with a review. The first Sunday of the Advent season was Hope, and we lit the candle of Prophecy. The second Sunday was Faith, and we lit the Bethlehem candle. The third Sunday was Joy, and we lit the Shepherd’s candle. Today is the Sunday of Peace, and we will light the Angel’s candle.
Luke chapter 2 tells the story of the angels appearing to the shepherds as they watched their flock. On the third Sunday we focus on the joy the shepherds experience as they hear the good news and then find the baby lying in a manger. On this day, our focus is on the angels themselves, and their delivering the message of peace; specifically “peace on earth, good will toward men.” If you read Rethinking the Angelic Choir, it’s ironic that the angels singing about peace and were probably all holding swords. There are plenty of anti-war demonstratorsthat will quickly tell you peace cannot be brought with a gun; that peace is not brought with violence. In Scripture, however, peace is brought with violence. There cannot be peace as long as Satan is deceiving the nations. He and his demonic forces are the enemies of peace. God will cast Satan and all his followers, human and angelic, into the lake of fire. After His righteous judgement, death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire, and then Jesus will rule the nations… with peace. Recall the prophecy of Isaiah:
To us a child is born, to us a son is given; the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighy God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end… -Isaiah 9:6-7
At his first appearing (or advent) Jesus did not come to bring peace. He came to offer himself as a sacrifice, in order to reconcile us to God. Read Ephesians 2:13-22, which I saw tonight in a whole new light. This may be the best one paragraph summation of the Gospel anywhere in scripture. It explains the sacrificial work done by Jesus Christ and his relationship to the Father and Spirit perhaps better than any other single text. At his next appearing, however, Jesus will not come as a baby in a manger. He will be riding a white horse and wielding a sword. He came before to be our sacrificial lamb; He will back as a concurring king. At his first appearing, he became the savior to all nations; at his next, he will judge the nations.
Even as we celebrate the Advent of Jesus Christ, let us be found spreading the Gospel message and preparing for his second appearing. That is our hope of peace.