Jerusalem, which had come to mean to the Jews, “Place of Peace,” would be the place where peace would be made eventually between God and men, through the blood of Jesus, Son of David. Peace was made possible by the slaying of the Prince of Peace. The earthly Jerusalem is the place where a spiritual kingdom of peace was established by Jesus sacrifice of Himself as the Lamb of God to make peace between us and God. The new Jerusalem will be a place where shalom is finally set in place as a socio-political system, when Jesus finally returns to rule and reign on earth.
David, the king Israel requested to replace God, refuses to lead without God. He recognized God’s right and sole ability to lead us into peace. David hid under the covering of God. David recognized God’s grace and goodness as the only thing that could bring him forgiveness and peace. David viewed worship as central to life and leadership. One day, God allowed Him to perceive, there would be a replacement for this earthly king that would restore the rule of God (Psalm 110:1-4). Just as the line of Jewish kings replaced the rule of God for His people, this promised one, if accepted, would eternally replace our need/desire for an earthly king to rule us.
In the city of David’s birth, Bethlehem, the Prince of Peace was be born, the skies overhead opening up as angels proclaim “Peace on Earth! Goodwill to Men.” The very fields where David used to tend his flock now celebrate the birth of the good shepherd who would one day lay down his life for His sheep. This “peace” bringing the sword of pursuit and oppression or Herod who seeks death of the newborn God-King, he lies with his mother, in perfect peace, temporarily. Soon He would face the selfishness, spite, violence, injustice, and jealousy that greets every human born since the Garden.
The Jews were expecting a King who would bring their world into shalom—that is, communal harmony, wholeness, and well-being (we’ll be exploring this idea all week). The Jews expected this would happen through a political victory, finally bringing peace to the region. If Jesus had done that, become a great king like David by fighting the Romans, He would have fulfilled our great expectations, but not our greatest core need. Instead, He humbled himself and became our shepherd servant, our sacrifice, our provider, our living water, our resurrection, our healing, our hope, our burden bearer, and yes, our peace.
Isaiah 53:5 “The punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
HE took the punishment that brought us peace. He is the one who made peace possible. Before that, it was just a dream, a distant memory of a barely remembered past in a garden, where we last had peace with God. He brought us back. When we choose Him we choose God’s rule of peace in our hearts again, but this is also a relinquishing of our own authority. Once again we are faced with a choice. Will we choose him?
Handel’s “Messiah” was always one of my favorite musical works. Amazingly, Handel allegedly wrote the music in 24 days inspired by the scriptures collected by a man named Jennens, an Anglican Christian. Jennens was writing against Deism, a movement which denied the interaction of God with humanity. Deists basically believed that God set up the world and then left it alone to run itself. What Jennens saw in scripture, in contrast, was a God who was passionately involved with people and the best evidence was in the prophecies of the Old Testament—namely in the promise of a coming Messiah, who would bring peace. What emerged as the libretto (lyrics) of The Messiah is actually just a collection of psalms and prophecies that told the foretelling of Jesus on earth, and what that would mean to us. Isaiah 9:6 is one of those prophecies. If we expand this out to verses 2-7, we can see how this portion of Scripture is a prophecy foretelling the coming of a new King, a prince of peace, who would break the yokes that burden us and end all wars:
2The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
3You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
It’s no surprise that people were expecting a warrior king instead of a servant. After all, the government would be on His shoulders. Jesus came into a culture that was expecting political salvation from the Roman oppression. While his followers were looking for a king who would bring a physical political reign of peace, Jesus came humbly and softly with uncontainable power to give us something even greater—peace of mind and heart, and early admission to His kingdom of peace, which he has “already, not yet” established!
Prophecy is a funny thing because time is not the same thing to God as it is to humans (2 Peter 3:8). This prophecy has been fulfilled because Jesus has already come, but it has NOT been fully realized because we have not seen the earthly peace of God’s kingdom yet as described in the first part of the prophecy that speaks of the redemption and peace of the whole world. No, the peace Jesus gives us now is an in-between peace, a tide-me-over, an appetizer of the lived reality of the future. And that internal, in-between peace would look very different that the peace and freedom that the Jews imagined.
Very few knew Him this way on earth, as a giver of spiritual freedom, and many of those who did were women. Think about the woman at the well, the woman with the issue of blood, the accused adulterer, Mary Magdalene…Why do you think that is? Why did the leading men of the culture misunderstand His mission?
Women were, at the time, completely uninvolved in religion or politics. Is it possible that they were not tied up in the same expectations of Messiah and so when they met Jesus they saw Him as He was, a prince of peace who could bring peace to the soul first, then through THEM to the world? I think this is what the men were missing—what the stories of the women who experienced the grace of God tell us—Jesus would bring peace from the inside out, by repairing the relational, individual breech between us and God. He is the only one able to govern us into SHALOM—peace with others, but also with Himself. Jesus came to speak peace into our lives. But this often looks different for each of us depending on our past experiences and choices. If you took this prophecy and applied it to your life personally, what would it mean that Jesus has come to repair our world from the inside of you outward?
Here’s the thing about Jesus, He was offering true shalom—that is, true spiritual peace is only made possible by the repairing of our relationship with God through complete, total trust in Jesus Christ and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. By extension, I am also pretty convinced that true world political peace is impossible until the kingship of Jesus is recognized and established in our broader social reality when He returns—when our communal trust is restored to God once more as it should have been from the beginning.
Not only are we missing peace internally but right now we live in a world where relationships and bodies are broken…and peace/wellness/shalom remains elusive. But Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted and heal those crushed in spirit—to save/heal/deliver/restore the world. This healing Jesus gives us personally allows us to be together well with others too. In fact, maybe peace means “being together well”—a perfect world one day realized because he has given us perfect love. The world one day will be without hunger, because we know true peace. The world one day will be devoid of injustice because we have His peace ruling in our hearts. Aching for a world without war? One day we will have it, because he is our shalom and He will rule over us, by our choice AND His, in a kingdom of peace.
Jesus has come and is coming back to scatter darkness, to restore our honor, to move us from a land of darkness to a land of light (verse2)! He is coming to enlarge us and give us joy—joy like farmers harvesting a good crop or like warriors returning from a victory (verse 3). This is explosive joy, not mere contentment. He came to break the yoke—the weight of life (verse 4)! That is just such good news to us right? We will NOT be slaves anymore to oppression and bondage of fear, worry, and death (verse5)! He will remove the need to fight because He has ended the war! God promises that one day we will live in a new Jerusalem where people will turn their weapons into farming equipment! He will shoulder the world’s cares on our behalf. He will counsel us. He will be mighty enough to fix our brokenness, from the inside out (verse 6). He will be a Father for us giving us the rights of royalty—eternally (verse7)! He will be OUR prince of peace if we will let Him.
There is no other way to experience true peace until we enter now into His rule—into His kingdom of peace. But until then, we can seek the Prince of Peace, who is even now breaking barriers and healing our woundedness. Even now, he is inviting us to peace—to Himself.
And what’s better than this? HIS reign will have NO end. That’s right—it’s not built on the shaky sand of human military and world economy? His kingdom is firm, unshakable, and eternally established, even now in the “already not-yet.” When we come to intimately know the prince of peace and we truly trust him, we enter into His kingdom early!
And what will accomplish this according to verse 7?
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end…The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
He reigns on the throne over His kingdom of peace. He establishes it and holds it up with justice and righteousness (all on his own, with no help from me), when? From that time (that’s already happened) on and forever!
So jumping off of that you’re probably wondering—What will accomplish the reign of peace in our own lives? That would be the logical next step is to make a plan of action.
But wait…case in point.
How is it that I am still trying to identify action items on my part! No! I keep telling myself…stop it!
It is the zeal of the Lord Almighty—not our effort, but God’s! The zeal, passion, fervor, ardor, and intense desire of almighty God. Not sure about you but I’m so thankful the success of His reign of peace in the world and in my life plan does not depend on my own ability to initiate a good idea, maintain momentum, or follow through.
It’s the zeal of the Lord that will accomplish this in us, not our intentionality or personal discipline. My efforts to bring my life into order can backfire when I think that it’s more expedient to make my own strategy than rely on His strategy of just staying in constant relationship with Him and pursuing Him. He establishes His reign of peace—I only have to enter into it!
What a relief that my peace of mind does not depend on me getting organized or more focused or more capable. It only requires a refocusing of my heart on Jesus. He desires peace for us. He desires for us to trust in His governance over our lives, like David did. He wants to fight our battles for us just like he did for his people in the Old Testament. And He wants to create in our sphere on influence, a city of peace, His Jeru-shalom. But can you really trust Him to do this? I mean trust Him so much that you relinquish the burdens, the weights? Come meet this man, the prince who came to give you peace—so you can live easy and light!
Where are the places He needs to heal so you can step into His kingdom of peace.
What would you say to Jesus, the Prince of Peace, if you had Him in the flesh right next to you today? Because He is…here with us…more real than the lies that hold you in bondage and brokenness. God help me to stop seeking a solution to wars inside and outside of me. Seek Him. The zeal of the Lord will accomplish everything else.
8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity”