A few minutes of news from the Internet, TV, radio, or friends & family will quickly remind us we need peace.
From recent tragedies in France, Chicago, and San Bernadino, the plight of refugees across the world, presidential elections, and other issues here at home—peace seems to be the furthest thing from reality.
Yet, the night Jesus was born, angels praised God by saying, “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:12).
Too many of us think “peace” is a promise to the entire world, regardless of what they do with Jesus. However, that wasn’t what the angels said, is it? Where does God’s favor rest? On those rejecting His Son as Savior?
Hypothetically, if the entire world accepted Christ as Savior and Lord, then there would be global peace—at least in a far greater sense than what we experience today. I think the bumper sticker is true: “No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace.”
On this second Sunday of Advent, we turn our attention to the words of the prophet Isaiah in the first five verses of chapter forty.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
The last three verses were also John the Baptizer’s purpose as recorded in Matthew 3. When John came on the scene, most did not see the connection between John and the Messiah. But it was there.
Luke 1:5-25 provides the account of John the Baptist’s birth being foretold by the archangel Gabriel. He told Zechariah (John’s father), “He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:14-17).
Like the Christmas hymn says, “Oh come, Oh come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lowly exile here until the Son of God appear…”
May we find peace during this season. May God grant us the spiritual eyes to see that He prepared the world for the coming of His Son. Although few noticed and fewer came and worshipped, God provided a way to have “peace to men on whom His favor rests”. Child of God, be at peace. He who calmed the storm is still walking on the waves of your life.
Madeleine L’Engle said, “Possible things are easy to believe. The Glorious Impossibles are what bring joy to our hearts, hope to our lives, songs on our lips.”1
Peace be with you all!
Suggestions for reading and meditation through this week:
- Malachi 3:1-4
- Isaiah 11:1-10
- Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
- Romans 15:4-13
- Matthew 3:1-12
- Song: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”
- Song: “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”
- Song: “It is Well With My Soul”
- Song: “Lead Me to the Rock” (CompassionArt)
1John Randall Dennis, The Book of Worship: 365 Inspiring Readings Based on Worship Songs and Classic Hymns (Bloomington, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishing, 2007), 8.