God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
"Give peace a chance!" It's the cry of so many human hearts. We celebrate peace treaties brokered between warring parties. We appoint ambassadors to represent our country abroad & maintain peaceful relationships with our allies. The Nobel Peace prize comes with a million dollar prize & world recognition.
On a personal level, we jump at almost any chance that might allow us to have some peace. We book spa retreats. We meditate, practice yoga, & recite mantras. We garden or paint. We journal. We change our diets. We focus on what we can control. We perform random acts of kindness. We go to church, serve at soup kitchens, donate money to those in need.
Are any of these things necessarily bad? For the most part, I think we could all agree that they are mostly good things. But all of this toiling & striving continually leaves us bereft of peace. All of our efforts fall short.
Why? Because true, lasting peace can only be found in God. And today, we're going to take a walk through the Bible together to learn a little more about this peace "which surpasses all understanding."
The word peace is used around 350 times in the English Standard Version of the Bible. From greetings of peace to treaties to offerings to God, the word has many uses, especially in the Bible.
Today, I want to take a look at the word in a spiritual sense - the peace that God gives His children & that grows out of us as we bear fruit in Him. I think we all long to feel that perfect peace in our deepest soul. We long to be so connected to our Father that His peace flows through every action at every moment of everyday. We'll also see some references to the peace between God & man that Jesus' death on the cross allowed. We'll also see how peace is one of the characteristics of God that we can reflect.
In a world that's characterized by anything but "peace," let's learn how believers can access the peace that only God gives.
Numbers 6:22-26 -"The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and five you peace."
This is often referred to as the Aaronic blessing. I read these words & instantly hear it set to music. (It was even sung at Megan Markle's wedding to Prince Harry!) Just a beautiful blessing for Aaron & his sons to speak over the people. A great way to start our word study.
(And because I can't just leave you hanging on the song, here is a link to the video from the royal wedding!)
1 Kings 2:33 -"So shall their blood come back on the head of Joab and on the head of his descendants forever. But for David and for his descendants and for his house and for his throne there shall be peace from the LORD forevermore."
This promise is made at the beginning of Solomon's reign & will see its ultimate fulfillment when Jesus comes back to reign!
1 Chronicles 22:9 - "Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days."
God would not allow David, warrior king that he was, to build the Temple, but He promised that David's son would complete this task. Here, David is communicating this promise to Solomon. This peace is a gift from God in order that this work could be accomplished.
1 Chronicles 22:18 - "Is not the LORD your God with you? And has he not given you peace on every side? For he has delivered the inhabitants of the land into my hand, and the land is subdued before the LORD and his people."
After David's conversation with Solomon, he turns to the leaders of Israel & charges them to help Solomon in any way they can. He reminds them of the God-given peace in the land, compelling them to obey His commands.
2 Chronicles 14:6 - "He built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest. He had no war in those years, for the LORD gave him peace."
During King Asa's reign over Judah, God gave the land peace.
Psalm 4:8 - "In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety."
This might be a good one to memorize with my kids, especially when they are dealing with fear at night. David starts out this psalm with a plea for God to answer him. But it ends with this peaceful confidence in God's protection.
Psalm 29:11 - "May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!"
A psalm that meditates on God's glory in His creation, leaving David confident in God's sovereignty over all. A great pattern for us to follow.
Psalm 85:8 - "Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly."
This whole psalm looks back over Israel's covenant relationship with God. And this verse peeks ahead to the ultimate fulfillment of that covenant when Messiah will reign.
Psalm 119:165 - "Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble."
I think this verse explains itself! Get into God's Word - study it, learn it, memorize it, meditate over it. Ask God to help you fall in love with His Word!
Proverbs 3:1-2 - "My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you."
Devoting time to study & memorize God's Word is foundational to a life of peace.
Isaiah 9:6-7 - "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."
Prince of Peace! How excited were the people to hear this part of Isaiah's message from God?! They'd been hearing about some pretty dark things (destruction, invasions, desolation), but sprinkled throughout are these reminders of the Rescuer who is coming to make everything right.
(Again, I can't help but sing this when I read it. My kids are studying Handel this term in school & they thought I was a little weird for getting so excited about listening to his Messiah.)
Isaiah 26:3 - "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."
Perfect peace is possible & available. "Stayed" has the idea of steadfastness, being fixed in place. When I think of a mind that is stayed on God, I think of not being easily distracted or drawn away from Him. And trusting in God definitely brings peace because I'm acknowledging my inability to help myself & acknowledging His ability to do above & beyond what I could ever ask or think!
Isaiah 48:22 - “'There is no peace,' says the LORD, 'for the wicked.'”
Here we see the opposite - the absence of peace outside of God. True peace will never be found away from God. Just won't happen.
Isaiah 54:10 - "'For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,' says the LORD, who has compassion on you."
That covenant between God & Israel? It WILL be fulfilled. The Prince of peace WILL reign forever. No matter how bad things might get - mountains & hills moving - God's steadfast love will never end.
Isaiah 66:12 -"For thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees.'"
Again, Isaiah is looking ahead to the reign of Jesus. I love this picture of the baby who is at peace while being cared for by his mother. I can't help but think of those sweet times when my babies were little. Their bellies would be full & they'd settle down to rest in my arms. That's the kind of peace we can look forward to, but it's also the peace we can have right here in the middle of this world we're living in when we rest in our Father.
Jeremiah 16:5 - "For thus says the LORD: Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament or grieve for them, for I have taken away my peace from this people, my steadfast love and mercy, declares the LORD."
Jeremiah had the unenviable task of warning Israel about the impending consequences of their sin. Their lack of fidelity to God will result in God withdrawing from them to allow other countries to come in & run over their land & people. Like the Isaiah 48 passage, we see what happens when we seek for peace outside of God's plan.
Lamentations 3:17 - "my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;"
Ever been here? Jeremiah was definitely in the very depths of despair. He was looking at the transgression of Israel & the destruction that was the result. Life looked hopeless. Lamenting is definitely a spiritual practice. God gave us emotions, but we need to let them turn us to Him. (And that's exactly what happens a few verses later! Go look for yourself & be encouraged, dear friend.)
Ezekiel 34:25 - "I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore."
Another look ahead at the return of Jesus & the everlasting covenant of peace. God will gather His scattered, care-worn people & they will enjoy His blessing & peace forever. (I'm sensing a recurring thought in these OT passages...)
Micah 5:5a -"And he shall be their peace."
I encourage you to go look in your Bible at the beginning of this chapter, specifically verses 2-4. Who is this verse talking about? Yep, Jesus again! The coming Messiah who will BE PEACE for those who believe in Him. Jesus is peace personified. All these verses are getting me so excited for Jesus' return!
Zechariah 6:13 - "It is he who shall build the temple of the LORD and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both"
Zechariah is talking about the Branch (another name for Jesus) & His second coming when He will reign as Priest & King, ushering in peace. So many of these OT prophets encourage us to look forward & find peace in knowing the end of the story!
Luke 1:79 - "'to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.'"
Different Zechariah speaking here, and this is part of his prophecy after his speech is restored upon the birth & naming of his son John (the Baptist). He tells of the "Horn of Salvation" who has been spoken of for all those years. He tells of how his son will be the forerunner of the Messiah, preparing the way. And that the Messiah ("the sunrise" in verse 78) will give light to those in darkness & guide them in the way of peace.
Luke 2:14 - “'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'”
"He's here! The long-awaited Messiah has come!" That prophecy we read about in Micah about Bethlehem? Here we get to see the fulfillment! Don't you love being reminded of the promises of God & how He ALWAYS keeps them? And "peace on earth" is not just a catchphrase or a beauty pageant answer. It is a promise attached to those who believe in this Savior who was born in Bethlehem that night.
Luke 12:51 - "'Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.'"
OK, hold on. We've seen that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, yet here He is speaking of division. (In the cross reference in Matthew 10:34, Jesus says He has brought a sword not peace!) How can we reconcile this seeming contradiction? Those of us who trust in Jesus will ultimately have peace when all things are fulfilled. We also will have peace as we trust in Him & fix our minds on Him in this world. BUT, that doesn't mean that our lives will be easy or smooth. The Gospel divides those who believe from those who don't, resulting in conflict, strains on relationships, & even persecution. So, yes, Jesus will still ultimately rule in peace, but until that day, we must expect to be an outcast & pilgrim in this fallen world.
Luke 19:41-42 - "And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying 'Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.'"
Jesus has just been received into Jerusalem with shouts of "'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!'" (v.38) Seems like an odd time to weep over the city & talk about how things are hidden from their eyes, right? What to humans looked like a "triumphal entry" actually revealed the utter blindness of the people. They still did not understand that He did not come to reign but to redeem. They could not see the truth that would lead them to peace. And He wept for them because He knew the consequences of their unbelief & what horrors lay ahead for the great city.
John 14:27 - "'Peace I leave with you; my Peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.'"
These chapters of John that lead up to Jesus' death are so very powerful because they record Jesus' final instructions. The truths He left until the very end so that they'd be fresh in the minds of the disciples during the dark days ahead. He contrasts the peace that the world offers with His peace. We've already seen that there is no true peace outside of God. And because we know that He's the source of true peace, our hearts can rest & be unafraid.
John 16:33 - "'I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.'”
These are the last recorded words before Jesus begins what is called His "High Priestly Prayer." And then right after that, He will be arrested. Jesus knew what was coming. His disciples had just a few verses before had realization dawn on them that Jesus was exactly who He said He was. (v.29-30) So, He's leaving His friends with a reminder of the peace they have in Him. Yes, they'll go through terrible times, but they can rest in the fact that Jesus has overcome.
Acts 10:36 - "As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all),"
We're going to see another recurring idea in these New Testament verses - "gospel of peace," "good news of peace," & "way of peace." Jesus' work on the cross made peace between God & man. Jesus became our peace. Here, Peter has just learned in a vision from God that this good news was not only for the Jewish people, but also for the Gentiles. That Jesus' redemptive work unites the Jews & the Gentiles & also both of those groups with God.
Romans 3:17 - "and the way of peace they have not known.”
Paul is quoting multiple Psalms in this passage describing the absolute lack of righteousness among men.
Romans 5:1 - "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Our justification allows us to be rightly related to God. We are no longer His enemies but His children.
Romans 8:6 - "For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace."
An unbeliever is still spiritually dead. But a believer is alive & at peace with God.
Romans 14:17, 19 - "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit...So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding."
This chapter has been instructing the Romans on judging others & "stumbling blocks." Paul encourages them to stop causing division over the nonessential elements of Christianity. Rather, they should focus on the essentials. By focusing on these things, they can pursue peace with each other & seek to build each other up.
Romans 15:13 - "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
In the previous verses, Paul quotes from some Old Testament prophecies about Jesus' return. He's reminding them that these hope-filled prophecies aren't just for the Jewish believers but for all who believe. We look forward to the fulfillment of those prophecies & are filled with joy & peace. Because our God is a God of HOPE.
Romans 15:33 - "May the God of peace be with you all. Amen."
He is not only a God of HOPE but also a God of Peace. The only source of true peace.
Romans 16:20 - "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you."
This closing thought, this benediction. Again, Paul emphasizes that God is the source of peace. Why? Because Jesus has paid the penalty of sin. And He will ultimately defeat Satan SOON! And then we will have peace from his attacks! Even so come, Lord Jesus!
1 Corinthians 14:33a - "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace."
Paul instructs the Corinthians about the orderliness of God-honoring worship. Worship should reflect the character of God & He is a God of peace not confusion.
2 Corinthians 13:11 - "Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you."
Some of Paul's closing words to this church, he encourages them to be characterized by peace - eager to restore, comfort, & find agreement. Also, we have another reference to God being a God of peace. As Christians, our character should reflect His.
Galatians 5:22-23 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
Peace is a mark of a Spirit-filled Christian. Peace that is not dependent on our circumstances. Peace that is founded in the knowledge that we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus.
Ephesians 2:14-17 - "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near."
Before salvation, we were not just outside of God's kingdom. We were literally at war with Him. We were His enemies. BUT Jesus made a way for us to not only be brought into God's kingdom, but to be adopted as sons & daughters. Jesus is our source of peace because He ended this hostility between us & God. And this was the message that He preached while He was here on earth.
Ephesians 4:3 - "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
If you read the verses before, you'll see that Paul is describing the characteristics that should mark us as we walk out our calling as children of God. We are already unified by the Spirit, and we should be eager to nurture that bond we have with other believers.
Ephesians 6:15 - "and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace."
From the "Armor of God" passage, we see another reference to the "gospel of peace." And, if you've been hanging with me through this, you'll know why the Gospel is full of peace - peace between us & God, peace knowing that our salvation is secure, peace knowing that we are not doing this life on our own.
Philippians 4:7 - "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
If you start back in verse 4, you'll see Paul's encouragement to rejoice in the Lord & have a grateful attitude & a consistent prayer life. Working to maintain these things allows us to "not be anxious for anything" (v.6) & be at peace. Again, true peace - the peace that only God can give - doesn't depend on our circumstances. It is widely agreed upon that Paul wrote this epistle while in prison, so he knew a thing or 2 about bad circumstances. Yet, even in the most difficult of times, Paul encourages believers to rejoice & be at peace!
Philippians 4:9 - "What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
Similar to Romans 16:20 & Ephesians 2:14, we have a reminder that God is characterized by peace - peace achieved by Christ on the cross & peace in the midst of the wildest of storms. And we can reflect His peace to others.
Colossians 1:19-20 - "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Another look at the change in status a person undergoes when he accepts Christ as Savior. We are reconciled - no longer enemies but at peace with God. And this peace was achieved through the blood of Jesus.
Colossians 3:15 - "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful."
The peace that Christ gives is true peace because it is lasting peace. We don't have to be at odds with Him or with our fellow believers because of what HE did for us on the cross. Meditate on that truth! Be thankful! Let your heart be at peace!
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 - "We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves."
As believers & members of the Church, we need to make sure we're working to have a proper relationship with our Pastor(s). Getting to know them in order to serve them & pray for them & encourage them. And acknowledging their authority & responsibility before God. With all of that, we submit to them & help maintain peace in our local body & the Body of Christ as a whole.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 - "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Closing this letter, Paul acknowledges that the only way to accomplish all that he's encouraged in them is through God. God is the One who sanctifies us. We are unable to make ourselves more like Christ, more holy, more blameless. That is the work of God in us.
2 Timothy 2:22 - "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."
When we look at the context of this verse, we see that Paul has been instructing Timothy in how to continue in ministry and how to keep himself from being distracted by false teachers. Instead of following such dishonorable people, he should be determined to remain honorable & fit for use by God. In order to do this, he should be following hard after righteousness, faith, love, & peace.
Hebrews 7:2 - "and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace."
These verses are referring to Melchizedek who blessed Abraham. He was a priest & king. He was not a priest by right of birth (like the Levitical priests would be). These, along with many other things that I don't completely comprehend, parallel him with Jesus. (Some even claim he's a pre-incarnate Christ, but many dispute this theory.)
Hebrews 12:11 - "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
Discipline from God means that He is treating us as His children. Discipline is never "fun." However, because God is who He is, His discipline brings about righteousness. It also is a reminder that we are secure as His children. These things definitely bring peace into the believer's life.
Hebrews 12:14 - "Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."
One of the marks of a Christian should be peace - with EVERYONE. Interesting that peace is listed next to holiness here. And that these qualities are helpful in pointing others to Christ! (For more encouragement from Hebrews 12, read this post!)
James 3:17-18 - "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."
This book has a heavy emphasis on the spiritual fruit born out of true faith. Here, James contrasts wisdom from God against the description of wisdom that is "earthly, unspiritual, demonic." (v. 15) One of the evidences or fruits of Godly wisdom is this peace-loving attitude. In a world that thrives on drama & controversy, believers should be markedly different. I encourage you to read this passage as you deal with conflicts in your world. It's a humbling reminder of what God expects of us.
1 Peter 3:11 - "let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it."
Peter quotes from Psalm 34 & gives a list of characteristics that should mark believers--even as they are living in a less-than-friendly environment..
2 Peter 3:14 - "Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace."
This chapter has been talking about the Day of the Lord. This was a topic causing that was causing some division & strife in the church (& still does!). But Peter encouraged them to be at peace as they wait for the Lord's return. Why can we be at peace when we don't fully understand what that is going to look like? Because His promises are sure. We can be confident that He will do just as He said He would do.
Peace is possible! We were enemies of God, but we are now at peace because of the precious blood of Jesus. This is the peace that matters because it is the only peace that lasts into eternity. If you've never received the free gift of salvation, please reach out on my contact page. I'd love to answer any questions you might have.
And how can we have peace in this world? When everything seems out of control & we feel like we are at odds with everyone & everything, how can we have peace? We saturate our minds in the truths of God's Word (Psalm 119). We call to mind the unending mercy of God (Lamentations). We remember Jesus' sacrifice & victory (John). And we look forward to the day when our Perfect Prince of Peace will reign!
We also see that as Christians, we should be characterized by peace, just as God is characterized by peace. We should reflect His peace in our life. We should be eager to seek peace with others & far less eager to enter into an argument or debate. We should be seeking to make peace between disagreeing parties & not seeking to cause division.
As always, I encourage you to dig into these passages for yourself! If you feel like peace is seriously lacking in your life, take some time to do your own word study. It is amazing how reading what God has to say about these things can transform your mind. His Word is truly alive & powerful!
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