What is God's Peace?
Psalm 37:34-40, Isaiah 26:1-4
by Cooper Abrams
Introduction: True peace is only found in the proper relationship with God. It is not found nor is available a part from God.
These passages contrasts the difference between the upright man or saved man and the wicked or the lost man. The wicked or lost man does great things on earth, but passes away unknown. There is no lasting result of his life. In the end he is cut off. (Psa. 37:38).
The end of the saved or upright man is peace. Peace here is used to describe salvation and heaven. The scope of the passage is peace in this life and peace in the end when we die.
Note that in Psalm 37:39-40, what is the source of salvation?
The Lord is the righteous man's salvation and strength in a time of trouble. This points us to the present life of saved man. The Lord shall help them, deliver them from the wicked, and save them because they trust in HIM. True peace is not the work or achievement of man it only comes when man is fulfilling the purpose for which he was created and finding that purpose begins by believing and putting one's trust in Jesus Christ.
First, what is biblical peace? Webster's Dictionary says, peace is 1. freedom from war or civil strife. 2. A treaty or agreement to end war. 3. Freedom from public disturbance or disorder; public security; lo and order. 4. Freedom from disagreement or quarrels, harmony concord. An undisturbed state of mind, absence of mental conflict, serenity 6. quiet; tranquility; . . .to make peace is to bring about reconciliation between two parties and to end hostilities.
Each of these definitions define peace in a particular context. For a nation peace, is not being at war with another country. There is civil peace when people are obeying the law and there are no public disturbances. Among individuals peace is when people are not having conflicts or quarrels among themselves. In one's personal life peace is a state of mind, where there is the absence of mental conflict and serenity.
Generally, people say we are at peace when there is no war. In other words after WWI and WWII, and Korean and Vietnam the United States was at peace. But after the World wars there really was no peace. For example in the Cold war follow WWII we were not shooting at one another, but there was certainly no real peace or harmony. The Russians had hundreds of missiles with nuclear warhead aimed at the United States and we had a many or more pointed at them. There was no reconciliation between the free world and the Communists countries. Even today since the fall of the Soviet Union we are not really at peace with Russia or the Soviet Block nations. They still have missiles pointed at us and because they are still at odds with us.
ILLUS: In the ole West suppose you had two cattle barons each seeking to rule the land. All their men were armed to the teeth. Guards stood watch over entrances to their ranches. The had to travel in number to keep from being bushwhacked. However, they were not shooting at each other. Would you say they were living in peace. Certainly not. Where there is peace there is an absence of conflict. Where there is peace there is harmony. There is security and not danger or threat from others. Where they is true peace you do not have to lock your doors or carry weapons to protect you. Where there is true peace you do not need police or a military.
The Bible reveals to us that the foundation of all true peace is a proper relationship with our God and Creator. Ultimate peace is the individual being reconciled to God.
There will never be world peace until all nations are reconciled to God. There will never be national peace without there being civil peace. There will never be civil peace until there is personal peace in each person's life. There will never be personal peace until each person is reconciled to God, by accepting God's truth, and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lets us also understand there can be no peace between us and the people around us unless the individual is at peace. The individual must be at peace if their is to be peace in the marriage, in the family, at work, among friends and acquaintances, in our contact with other people.
In the Old Testament, in Isaiah 9:6, God told Israel 700 years before the birth of Christ Jesus, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
Peace begins only with God and only God can give peace.
I. WHY DO WE NOT HAVE PEACE?
A. Why is there discord, anguish, conflict, disharmony, disorder, crimes in the world? The answer to that question is very simple. It is because of one three letter word. That word is SIN.
1. Because of sin there is little peace in the world. The Bible clearly shows us that sin is rebellion against God. God never intended for man to sin, but gave man a free will to chose his own course. God put man in a perfect environment called the Garden of Eden. In the Garden there was peace. There was no death, no conflict between living things. Animals did not eat other animals. It was a wonderful place.
Man had but one small commandment to obey....do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam, the father of us all, chose to disobey, that one small commandment and through Eve, he rebelled and sinned against God....he ate the fruit.
2. The moment Adam and Eve rebelled against God.....they lost there state of peace. They became afraid. They became aware of their nakedness and made leaves to cover themselves. Do you see what happened? They were in harmony with God, each other, and all around them all was a peace.....until they sinned! They were at peace....but no longer. Now there was conflict.
3. They, not God, caused the conflict with their Creator. Their sin not only effected themselves, but it effected the world and even all of the Universe.
4. If we stopped here, there would be no point to this message....no hope. Yet, in Genesis 3:15, God promised salvation and deliverance and the possibility of the restoration of true peace.
B. God's promise to provide the Savior.
"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Gen. 3:15)
1. God in the moment of man's failure, promised a Savior. He promised one who would undo the sin effects of sin and restore peace with God.
2. We, now as the Bible says and history confirms, we know the Savior to be Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God. Romans 5:1 tells us, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
II. Peace Shown through the Old Testament Sacrifices.
A. The verse we began with is Exodus 20:24. This is the first mention of sacrifices that God gave to the Nation of Israel.
1. Exodus 20:24 says, "An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee."
2. Note the offering is called a peace offering.
3. God taught through the animal sacrifices the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ for sin. There were burnt offerings, and peace offerings.
a. Burnt offering were totally consumed in the fire of the altar as a picture of the total substitutional death of Jesus Christ.
b. Peace offering were only partly consumed. The animals were offered to the Lord, and a part was consumed by the priests and a part by the one offering the sacrifice.
4. The lesson of the peace offering was to teach Israel that the coming Messiah was author of the peace for believers. In the New Testament the Messiah, Jesus Christ has come....He is the promise peace giver. . .the Prince of Peace.
a. Note what God says in Ephesians 2:11-18.
b. Speaking through Paul, God says to the Christian: "Do you remember what you were before you believed and God saved you?"
c. Verse 12, proclaims the hopeless state of the unbeliever and the lost man. Aliens from Israel, strangers from God's promises, having no hope, and without God in the world. This is a pitiful condition. Note what Eph. 2:2-3.
d. But Verse 13, says the lost man who was far from God, is made near (nigh) through the blood of Jesus Christ.
e. He, Christ Jesus, is our peace. (Verse 14-15). Jesus Christ has made the two that were at odds with each other one. Christ broke down the middle wall of partition between us.
f. This is a reference to tabernacle and the temple of the Old Testament. The temple was divided into two rooms. The outside room was where the priests enter daily ministering in worship to the Lord. They replaced the "shew bread" kept the Golden Lamp Stand (seven oil lamp stand) lit, and attended the altar of incense. The second room was the Holy of Holies, in the room was only the ark of the Covenant containing the stone Ten Commandments, Aaron's rod that budded, and a jar that contained manna. The High Priest once a year went into the Holy of Holies on the day of Atonement to sprinkle the blood of perfect lamb on the Mercy Seat which was between the two figures of Cherubim facing each other. The Holy of Holies was the physical place of God's presence. To enter the Holy of Holies at any other time, or contrary to God' s instructions brought immediate death.
g. But there was a thick wall between the two rooms which separated the people from the presence of God. This is the "wall of partition" that Eph. 2:14, says is broken down. It means for the believer, for the child of God there is free access and communion with God directly. At the death of Jesus, the Bible tells us that this wall called the veil of the temple was torn from the top to the bottom. Christ's death opened the way into communion directly with God through Himself.
C. Note Eph. 2:16. Jew and Gentile are equally reconciled "to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby."
1. "Slain the enmity" "Enmity" means deep rooted hatred or irreconcilable hostility.
2. Romans 8:7-8 tells us the lost man with his carnal mind is in total hostility to God and cannot please God. Between the lost person and Jesus Christ there is no peace....but only a state of rebellion.
3. God's will is stated in 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
4. God desires as 1 Tim. 2:4-6 states: "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
1. The lost man has no peace nor can he every find peace. He might find a degree of contentment, but never true lasting peace in his heart. The reason is that man's peace is based on his environment, his situation, the things he has, his security, whether things are going right for him, etc. He might not be actively fighting, as during a truce or peace treaty....but he has not peace. Inside their is confusion. Life is not satisfying. Man was made to be in communion with God. . .and when he is separated from God by his sin there is only confusion, emptiness, a frustration of always seeking contentment and peace and never being able to find it.
There is but one solution. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Accept him as your Savior, ask God to forgive your sins and make you reconciled to Him.
Romans 5:10, says " For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
2. For the Christian there also can be a lack of peace. The Bible says our sins break our fellowship with God. Often believers live defeated lives, miserable lives, because they disobey God by allowing sin to rule their lives. Believers can sin and in a state of hardness of heart, refuse to confess their sins. Most of the time when a believer will not confess or admit his sin, it is because he foolishly enjoys the sin. He is unwilling to surrender his all to the Lord. That is a miserable place to be.
3. Would each of you right now, honestly examine your heart concerning whether you are truly at peace with God and at peace in your heart. If their is unconfessed sin or unfaithfulness in your life in any form....there is no peace. The way to find peace is to admit our true circumstance....and then wholly put our faith in God. Confess the sin, and in doing so be reconciled to God.
4. What will you Jesus, that is called the Christ?