Summary: A vision of Kingdom peace is the hope for which we wait in the future and work for in the present.
Title: A Vision of Peace for a World at War / A Hope for Peace for a World at War
Text: Isaiah 2:1-5
Thesis: A vision of a kingdom peace is the hope for which we wait in the future and work for in the present.
I am reading a new book by Bobby Gross titled: Living the Christian Year. It was published by IVP in 2009. It is a devotional guide for the Christian Year which begins with the Season of Advent. Today is the First Sunday of Advent. I intend to read the book slowly, focusing on the devotional thoughts and biblical readings for each week throughout the coming year as we make our way through the seasons of Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost.
Advent is a time of anticipation. It is a time in which we identify with the ancient Jews who longed for the coming of the Messiah who would bring an end to all the injustice, conflict and chaos in the world. Perhaps it may be said of any time but this feels like a time ripe for the coming of the peaceful reign of Christ.
This week I read about a story in Time Magazine that told of how the Afghanistan people are preparing for peacetime… weapons are going for bargain prices and the prices of knives, Kalashnikov rifles, and rocket-propelled grenades have dropped some 50%. One weapons dealer who identified himself as Abdul said he wouldn’t need his weapons anymore. “Peace has come to Afghanistan,” he said, “The King is coming home, and people are sick of fighting.” (Simon Robinson,”Today’s a Great Day to Buy a Used AK,” Time.com (4-9-02)
That was in April of 2002! And now, nearly 9 years later, we still identify with those who long for the coming a peace.
We also identify with the Season of Advent on another level. We all identify with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and her waiting during her pregnancy for her time of deliverance.
Just a couple of months ago I noted on my FB page that I was finding it impossible to concentrate on my work that afternoon because my heart and my thoughts were on hearing news of the birth of our seventh grandchild. For 9 months we had waited and waited and waited and now the time had come for the announcement of the Ethan’s birth.
Mary, like every other expectant mother in history, may have been living in a world of chaotic frenzy but she waited quietly for the coming of her child. We too quietly wait for the coming of the Christ despite the chaotic frenzy and warring ways of the world in which we live.
This week I asked a young woman in our congregation if she could remember a time in her life when we were not involved in some kind of military conflict in the world. She could not… And while Pearl Harbor looms as a most vivid reminder of a chaotic world in many of our minds, 9/11 is the harbinger that reminded her generation that the world in which we live, is not a peaceful place.
So it is that as we mark the Season of Advent, we hear the pronouncement of the angel of the Lord, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Then the angelic chorus sang to those humble shepherds on the night of Christ’s birth singing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 4:8-14
The hope for peace is no new longing. And it would seem that on those occasions when we become hopeful that peace might come to this world at last… that hope is dashed. But yet the hope and dream of peace lives on in every generation.
This morning we turn with renewed hope to an ancient text written approximately 800 years before the birth of the Christ… it is an eschatological prediction of a time when the peaceful reign of Christ comes to this world.
Meanwhile, I would suggest that Christians ought not wait until Christ comes to begin acting in accordance with the will of God and God’s plan for the peace that will come then… we need to begin doing now what will usher in the peace that is to come then.
Isaiah says there will be peace when:
I. People turn to God
“Many people will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.’” Isaiah 2:3a
There will be a day when the Temple of the Lord will be established in Jerusalem. That time is not yet… Jerusalem is a divided city at war with itself. The Israeli /Palestinian conflict rages on with the collapse of peace initiative upon peace initiative. And if that were not of enough significance… there is such hatred and animosity in the Middle East and such determination to deny Israel even the right to exist that the building of said temple and a lasting peace initiative in that part of the world seems – hopeless.