Too many of us think “peace” is a promise to the entire world.
Welcome to the second week of Advent and its theme: peace.
A few minutes of news from the Internet, TV, radio, or friends/family will quickly remind us we need peace. The night that Christ was born, the angels praised God and said, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:12).
And this verse falls into the categories of Bible verses some misquote–or at least misunderstand. The promise was never peace for the world. It was to those “on whom His favor rests”.
Now if the entire world accepted Jesus as King, then there would be global peace. But like the bumper sticker reads, “No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace.”
Truer words have scarcely been spoken…and on a bumper sticker of all places. Our Lord does work in mysterious ways.
On this second Sunday of Advent, let’s turn our attention to the words of the prophet Isaiah.
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 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. 3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 40:1-5, New International Version
Verses 3-5 were also John the Baptizer’s purpose as given 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 Baptizer’s birth foretold by the angel 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 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 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”.
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
Child of God, be at peace. He who calmed the storm is still walking on the waves of your life.
Peace be with you all!
1 John Randall Dennis, The Book of Worship: 365 Inspiring Readings Based on Worship Songs and Classic Hymns (Bloomington, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishing, 2007), 8.