This is post #11 of a series entitled Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace. We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here you’ll find very practical and biblically-sound advice on building bridges instead of walls, offering hope instead of despair. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Click on the link below to listen to the podcast version of this blog!
Truth #4: Peacemakers Embrace the Biblical Power of Peace.
Today’s Lectio Divina: “Don’t make idols for yourselves; don’t set up an image or a sacred pillar for yourselves, and don’t place a carved stone in your land that you can bow down to in worship. I am God, your God. Keep my Sabbaths; treat My Sanctuary with reverence. I am God. If you live by My decrees and obediently keep My commandments, I will send the rains in their seasons, the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. You will thresh until the grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting time; you’ll have more than enough to eat and will live safe and secure in your land. I’ll make the country a place of peace—you’ll be able to go to sleep at night without fear; I’ll get rid of the wild beasts; I’ll eliminate war. You’ll chase out your enemies and defeat them: Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand and do away with them. I’ll give you My full attention: I’ll make sure you prosper, make sure you grow in numbers, and keep My covenant with you in good working order. You’ll still be eating from last year’s harvest when you have to clean out the barns to make room for the new crops. I’ll set up My residence in your neighborhood; I won’t avoid or shun you; I’ll stroll through your streets. I’ll be your God; you’ll be My people. I am God, your personal God who rescued you from Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians. I ripped off the harness of your slavery so that you can move about freely.” Leviticus 26: 1-13 (MsgB)
I’m guessing that you’ve been following along with our blog/podcast series thus far because you are desiring, like me, to offer your life to Jesus, serving Him as a Christ-centered peacemaker in these turbulent times in which we live.
So far, we have addressed these three key truths:
Truth #1: Peacemakers Understand the Times in Which We Live.
Truth #2: Peacemakers Find Themselves in Christ.
Truth #3: Peacemakers Take an Honest Inventory of Themselves.
But, before we go much further in our discussions, I feel it only right to take a step back for a moment and ask one very simple question…
So, what is peace, anyway?
In English, the word “peace” conjures up a passive picture, one showing an absence of civil disturbance or hostilities, or a person free from internal and external strife. But for those of us who want to be peacemakers for the cause of Christ, that means we now need to define peace, not just using our earthly definitions, but we must open up the Holy Scriptures and find what God’s Truth has to say about peace. And, as you most probably know by now, the Bible certainly has a lot to say on the subject!
Actually, there are well over 400 references to “peace” in the Scriptures, with the Old Testament using a Hebrew word: shalom, and the New Testament using a Greek word: eirene.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, allow me to introduce you to a wonderful 4-minute video put together by The Bible Project. I suggest you click on the attached link (below) and watch this overview of biblical peace before you keep reading (or listening). I’ll wait right here for you.
*This is the fourth in a variety of practical suggestions/resources we will make throughout this blog/podcast series. We call these exercises:
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 9 (NIV)
Tool #4: What is Peace?
So, now that you’ve watched the video, let’s do a bit of follow-up today by starting with the Old Testament. To better understand the fullness of the Hebrew word shalom, here’s how Glenn E. Schaefer, from the website Bible Study Tools, describes it…
The biblical concept of peace rests heavily on the Hebrew (word): shalom, which means “to be complete” or “to be sound.” (As a) verb, shalom conveys both a dynamic and a static meaning “to be complete or whole” or “to live well.” The noun has many nuances, but can be grouped into four categories: (1) as wholeness of life or body (i.e., health); (2) as right relationship or harmony between two parties or people, often established by a covenant and, when related to Yahweh, the covenant was renewed or maintained with a “peace offering”; (3) as prosperity, success, or fulfillment and (4) as victory over one’s enemies or absence of war. Shalom is used in both greetings and farewells, and it was meant to act as a blessing on the one to whom it was spoken: “May your life be filled with health, prosperity, and victory.” As an adjective, it expresses completeness and safety.
The first time the word shalom appears in the Bible is Genesis 29: 4-6, where Jacob inquires about his father-in-law, “Do you know Laban, the son of Nahor,” asks Jacob, “Is it well (shalom) with him?”
And while the word shalom is not found any earlier in the Book of Genesis, certainly the core definition (completeness, safety & soundness) could easily describe Adam and Eve’s original home in the Garden, where God’s peace, protection, and presence rule and reign. Sadly, as you know, it’s only after our ancestors decide to take their lives into their own hands (Genesis 3) when that absence of shalom becomes obvious to all.
From Genesis all the way through to Malachi, there are over 200 occurrences of this ancient Hebrew word, with most references expressing the hope of God’s peace and presence as it prevails over life’s trials and hardships. Today’s Lectio Divina (from Leviticus 26) is a perfect example where a merciful, loving God promises His shalom to those He has just delivered from bondage into freedom.
In truth, God’s shalom is more of a dwelling place than it is a feeling, a thought, or an emotion. You see, thoughts can come and go, emotions and feelings can change at the drop of a hat. But God’s shalom has a permanence or reality that stays or remains with a person or on a people. In truth, shalom is so thick and rich, God commands Aaron, as leader of the Israelites, to speak this heavenly substance over God’s people (Numbers 4: 24-26 NIV) in a prayer of blessing.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace (shalom).
But wait…there’s more!
In the Old Testament, shalom is not only a present-day reality, but it’s also a hope, and a future promise that God gives His people: a coming shalom that will go even further and deeper than ever experienced before. Look at this prophetic utterance found in Isaiah 32: 15-18 (NIV)…
(There will come a day when) the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, His righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.
And, as you and I, living 2,800 years later, have now found out, that coming shalom Isaiah talks about here made its first appearance on planet Earth when Jesus of Nazareth arrived on the scene, changing all of human history both now and forevermore.
More on that next time.
My Prayer: Father God, as one who desires to be a peacemaker for the cause of Christ, I realize the vast history of Your shalom. In the beginning there was shalom, and in truth, in Your presence, shalom dwells both now and forevermore. Holy Spirit, the in-breaking of God’s presence brings shalom, and apparently, those who serve this High God, may speak a blessing of God’s peace upon Your people. In humility, Father God, I ask for Your shalom to surround me, and that I may speak Your blessing of shalom on those around me. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
A Few Questions to Ponder: So, in these turbulent times, what might it look like for God’s shalom to be manifest in our midst? Am I asking for God’s blessing of shalom to be evident in my own life? And, am I willing to step into the role given Aaron, blessing those around me with the prayers of shalom found within the ancient Scriptures?
Here’s another example: May the Lord give strength to His people! May the Lord bless His people with peace! (Psalm 29: 11 ESV)
So, how are you experiencing God’s presence as you are becoming a peacemaker for the cause of Christ?
Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace.
We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!