Text: Isaiah 9:1-7
Theme: Shalom - perfect peace
INTRODUCTION: The Hebrew word Shalom refers to Peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, welfare, tranquillity, soundness, health, safety, and prosperity. For eastern religion, it means individual serenity. Peace is not based on an individual’s likes and dislikes, wish, and whims. Peace is defined by the dictionary as the cessation of hostilities and freedom from inner turmoil.
Rabbi Robert I. Kahn capsulate the distinctive of "Roman" peace and "Hebrew" shalom:
Roman Pax Vs Shalom
One can dictate peace; shalom is a mutual agreement.
Peace is a temporary pact; shalom is a permanent agreement.
One can make a peace treaty; shalom is the condition of peace.
Peace can be negative; Shalom is positive
Peace, absence of commotion; the presence of serenity.
Peace can be partial; shalom is whole.
Peace can be piecemeal; shalom is complete.
Peace within the Individuals
The human mind is made with the capacity to think, plan, and evaluate matters. It looks into the future; it looks back into the past. It brings a kind of fear, uncertainties, and a future as bleak. The fear of self-existence, the fear of future jobs, and the fear of the future of Children, etc., these kinds of fears lead to a wavering mind. The wavering mind gets nothing (James 1:6-8). Believing in God does the challenge to believe in His existence, in His justice, in His power, in His mercy, in His grace, in all His qualities, and in His Omnipotence. Trusting in God gives perfect peace.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusted in thee” (Isaiah 2:3). Such a person will be kept in peace; in perfect peace, the inward peace, the outward peace, the peace with God, the peace of conscience, the peace at all times, and in all events (Mathew Henry). The perfect peace is beyond all understanding, beyond all ups and downs, it is irrespective of health, wealth and life situations (Philippians 4:7), given by the Prince of Peace(Is 9:6), the peace which the world cannot give(John 14:27).
The perfect peace refers to the Shalom, Shalom. When we keep our minds stayed, settled, and established upon the LORD Himself, then we can enjoy this perfect peace. If our mind is stayed on ourselves, on our problems, on the trouble makers in our lives, or anything else, we can’t have this perfect peace. So, love the LORD our God with all of our minds (Matthew 22:37). We are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We must have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16, Philippians 2:5). We are not to set our mind on earthly things (Philippians 3:19), but to set our mind on things above (Colossians 3:2) (Enduringword.com).
Perfect peace belongs to believers: They have justified by faith and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ or in Christ (Romans 5:1, 8:1, and 16:7). “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). Personal, practical peace comes from the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t have to work up peace; it comes from Christ, directly, and is the fruit of the Spirit (Norman P Spotts).
Billy Graham once said, “Many of you are filled with a thousand anxieties. Bring them to Jesus Christ by faith…I am learning in my own life, day by day, to keep my mind centered on Christ; the worries and anxieties and concerns of the world pass and nothing but ‘perfect peace’ is left in the human heart.”
1. Regular Bible reading as per Psalm 119:165: “Perfect peace has those who love your law, and nothing causes them to stumble”
2. Then prayer and praise: Through prayer, we enter God’s presence and experience a deeper fellowship with Him, and praise allows us to express our adoration, and thanks to God (allaboutseniors.org).
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). Observe the words used by Paul: about anything, in everything and all understanding. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Thou wilt keep him in peace; in perfect peace, inward peace, outward peace, peace with God, peace of conscience, peace at all times, in all events (Matthew Henry).
We live in an age of Anxiety, all around us. There is a great discrepancy between what we believe and how we feel and think. Perfect peace must be found in mind, emotions, will, body, relationships, and circumstances. Perfect peace is a wholeness to mental health, emotional stability, volitional integration, and physical well-being. When this quality of peace reigns in us, it cannot be hampered by people or circumstances. Perfect peace cannot be broken by life’s storms, Untainted by care, untouched by the highest surges of sorrow, unstained by unforgiving sin, true peace is indefatigable and grows deeper with the challenges and trials of life. The quiet state of our heart depended on God and not on circumstances. The Lord desires to give peace in the emotional part of us (the heart), and also in the intellectual part of us (the mind). He will keep, means, guard (military term) our hearts and minds.
Then obedience required of us: Leviticus 26:3-6 describes a condition in which God guarantees He will keep our hearts in perfect peace if we will walk in His statutes and keep His commandments. Simply knowing that we are accomplishing His will for our lives and following His direction often serves as a source of perfect peace no matter what challenges we may be facing (allaboutseniors.org)
“Do you have a deep, consistent, abiding sense of peace?” What is the indicator of perfect peace? If you have an undisturbed and sound sleep, then you are at perfect peace. I lie down and sleep (Psalm 3:6, 4:8).
Perfect Peace in the community
Shalom is not the absence of conflict, but creative and nonviolent management of conflict within the context of a greater unity that respects and nurtures diversity. This perfect peace comes only from the Prince of Peace. The word used by Christ in Aramaic for peace was “Shalem”. It refers to the flourishing and prosperity of a community (psalm 122:7). Absence of sword and of insecurity (2 Samuel 3:21ff). It refers to Reconciliation between warring kings (Judges 4:17, and 1 Kings 20:18).
Peace in the community is achieved through the arrival of the Prince of peace. This concept is developed by prophets and Psalmists Psalm 85:10, Isaiah 32:17. Angels announced peace on earth at Jesus' birth (Luke 2:14). Jesus was born to bring peace through the triumph of good over evil in all societies. Christ’s peace cannot be separated from justice (Psalm 85:10).
In fact, peace can be attained only by confrontation with conflict and injustice. Christ brings a sword (Matthew 10:34), which means evil creates war and peace comes only by confrontation with evil and not by fleeing from it. Christ brings peace means includes reconciliation, safety, security, well-being, soundness, and freedom from the corruptive sorrowful heart. Ultimately he guarantees freedom from injustice.
The peace in the community is disturbed, destroyed by Satanic forces, ex., Job, Satan occupies the minds and thoughts of an individual and creates chaos and disorder and disturbs the peace. Community peace is the result of individuals who had committed themselves to Christ.
God’s initiative and guidance expect human ability and responsibility to maintain it. It is an individual responsibility. We understand that peace comes through individuals who commit themselves to the prince of peace. Everyone is important; their individual peace is an integral part of community peace. Rabbis taught that Shalom is primarily an ethical value that each person must seek to articulate in daily life.
Perfect Peace through Peace Makers
Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9). Shalom is the ability to treat each other with respect and compassion within the diversity of different people.
Joseph Albo, a Medieval Jewish Philosopher explains: “Each opposing element seeks to overcome the other, it will not rest until it has absolutely destroyed it, wiped it out of existence, and the composite (Object) will thus seek to exist, conciliation between these two opposing elements is called peace, and on its account being is sustained and the composite entity can continue to exist”.
Peace is not achieved by erasing the diversity of human thinking and expression but by managing non-violently the tension that arises from the natural friction in peaceful coexistence. Peace must be established within the realm of diverse and often conflicting forces by the peacemakers. Peacemakers are not people taking one side but making individuals take their proper positions in life. The community life is like a Puzzle:
No matter how many pieces the puzzle contains, and no matter how many are similar the pieces maybe, if even one piece is missing the integration of the puzzle is lost. Even if it is interchanged or misplaced the amalgamation is lost. Peacemakers play a vital role to confront one another justly, honestly, and move mutually beneficial to one another.
Now peace is a collective social and spiritual quality, that fostered by virtues of love and justice. We make peace. We make create it through our joint efforts. It does not happen just we cease fighting. Peacemakers have moral authority with love to reconcile the warring communities, warring individuals. Peace with God precedes peace with oneself.