WHEN PEACE GOES TO PIECES
During Christmas time, usual Biblical prophetic recitation, which comes to our mind, is "For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6). In churches all over the world, even with terrorists striking with impunity and disturbing continuity, numerous Pastors read this Scripture portion with much authority and conviction during Christmas time. As long as this prophecy is properly "qualified" while quoting it, there is nothing wrong; otherwise, it would lead to many a rationalist taking potshots at it. I would be coming to the need of "qualifying" this prophecy, in due course.
I want to focus upon the captioned italic section of this Scripture, which heralds Christ as the "Prince of peace." On the subject of peace, we have two "apparently" (this word has been used advisedly) contrasting statements of the "Prince of peace." One is recorded in Matthew 10:34-38, which reads thus: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me" (also see Lk. 12:51-22) and the other in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." Now, how do we reconcile this prophetical affirmation and Jesus' promise of peace to His followers with firstly:
a) His own "thunder and brimstone" statement recorded in Matthew10:34, "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" and then with b) All the chaos, anarchy in this world for over 2000 years since the First Christmas? Do not the numerous wars, genocides and a spate of terror strikes (as I am punching the words of this article, I am overhearing an emotional anchor of a News Channel describing the devastation left behind by terrorists in the iconic Taj Hotel in Mumbai) stand testimony to the extent of suffering caused by human selfishness and greed? In these circumstances, is not a rationalist justified in wondering "What has the Prince of peace achieved in the matter of establishing peace in the last two thousand years since the First Christmas"?
Let it be said at this juncture in no uncertain terms that God's Word is inerrant and that Scriptures never contradict, but only complement each other.
At this stage, it has to be noted very clearly that just as there are several Old Testament prophecies regarding the birth (Isa. 7:14, Mic. 5:2), Ministry (Isa. 61:1-2), death (Psa. 22, Isa.53), resurrection (Psa. 16:10) and ascension (68:18) of Christ Jesus pertaining to His 1st Advent, there are just as many prophecies regarding His 2nd Advent, when He would come to take His Bride (read Church) away before seven years of Tribulation, which would culminate with the Battle of Armageddon and establishment of the Millennial reign (2 Sam. 7:16, Psa. 2:7-9, Ezek. 37:22-24, Dan. l 7:13,14). Isaiah 9: 6 IS A PROPHECY PERTAINING TO THE SECOND ADVENT. Even while reading this prophecy during Christmas, it needs to be "qualified" suitably!
It is when the Millennial Kingdom is established that the Government would be upon His shoulders and He would usher in universal peace. Meanwhile, His 1st advent which was not as much about establishing His Earthly reign as it was about establishing a Spiritual Kingdom in the hearts of men (Jn. 18:36), would bring about PEACE INDIVIDUALLY. Let me reiterate that the overriding purpose behind His 1st Coming was to give His life as an atoning sacrifice, so that all who are the seed of the fallen Adam on appropriating His vicarious sacrifice on the Cross-to their lives, would be at peace with the Holy God (Rom. 5:1). It follows, like day follows night, that ONLY when a person is at peace with God would he/she have the peace of God.
As soon as one in this Grace period (before the Judgment) accepts Christ as his/her personal Saviour, the Holy Spirit (the third person of the triune God) would indwell him/her (Rom. 8:9), enabling that blessed soul to now enjoy among other elements of His fruit, THE PEACE THAT TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING (Gal. 5:22, Phil. 4:7), in effect giving one a foretaste of Heaven itself, right on Earth (Eph. 1:14)!
Even as one, after receiving Christ as his/her personal Saviour, begins that joyous journey with the Redeemer which would lead to the Everlasting Kingdom, the realisation all is well between him/her and the Creator (Rom. 8:31), would produce that calming effect even when adversity strikes. Now, coming to the exposition of Matthew 10:34-38, if the saved individual hails from a genuine and mature Christian family, nothing QUITE LIKE IT, otherwise the spiritual incompatibility with those around would lead to all kinds of strife and dissension, though the redeemed person would now be enjoying personal peace and joy in his heart. Imagine the reaction of family members in a Hindu family, the moment the new Christian therein refuses to join in their religious rites, ditto the same in a Muslim home or any non-Christian home, for that matter. Taking it further… in a nominal Christian home also, a bubbly new child of God, would be like a fish out of water, as his/her family members would take quite some time to come to grips with the saved soul's new priorities.
Then again, Christ-given peace (now we come to John 14:27) is not like the peace the world gives. While the peace the world gives depends on outward favourable circumstances such as good physical or financial health, faithful spouse, obedient children, no terror attacks etc, the Christ-given peace, on the other hand, reigns in one's heart EVEN WHEN THERE IS CHAOS ALL AROUND, stemming from the realisation that all is well between me and my Saviour (Rom. 8:31); so is anything more critical to worry about!
Let us be fair and throw in the Church atmosphere also into our study. In a fellowship too, vis-à-vis relationship with other believers, despite differences (I Cor. 11:19), it is again the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which would make us "WORK" (Matt. 5:10 NLV… note, it entails a genuine, sacrificial effort) for peace at all times, in order there is a smooth on-going relationship between us, who are at different stages of spiritual growth. While different levels of maturity may inevitably result in some of us not seeing eye-to-eye, it is once again the common reconciliatory spirit that we share which makes us walk hand in hand. Talk of porcupines driven by survival instinct huddling together, on a chilly wintry night for mutual warmth! We smile…but isn't this true at least some of the times…in our churches?
Let us go back to the prophecies of Christ's Second Advent, which would usher in peace for thousand years and also focus upon Christ's resolute response to Satan's III temptation (a related subject) while being in the Judean wilderness. Even as the Ruler of the World (Jn. 14:30, Eph. 2:2) paraded the world with all its enticing splendour and offered to give it ALL to God's Son on his wicked terms aimed at destroying Christ's relationship with His Father (Matt. 4:8-9), the Son of God who would anyway inherit the world's throne one day at God's appointed time (Psa. 2:7-9) did not fall for the slippery fast-forward option placed before Him, instead, preferring to wait for the Divinely-ordained time of coronation (at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom). This would lead us to the subject within a subject… waiting patiently for God's timing. Let's look at two contrasting examples. While the world is still reaping the bitter fruit of Abraham's haste in having an heir, without waiting for God's appointed time (Gen. 16:1-12), it is so reassuring to see the patience of anointed David (1 Sam. 16:1-13) when it came to ascending the Throne of the nation of Israel. Not once, but twice, he would spare the murderous incumbent Saul, who was at his mercy (1 Sam. 24 and 1 Sam. 26). Christ's earthly ancestor was keener on getting glory in a way which would please God (waiting for God's appointed time), rather than plump for any fleshly fast-forward mode.
Any message is like a website with hyperlinks (read related subjects). So, within the broad subject of Christ's Second Advent, let us now hyperlink to yet another paramount incidental subject… the 7-year tribulation period, which would precede the onset of Christ's Millennial Kingdom. Now in the recent Mumbai terror strike wasn't there a lot of bang-bang, boom-boom action before NSG Commandos took control over the places, which were in terrorist's bloody hands?
The terrorists who were in no mood to give-up control over the places, they had taken over so lawlessly, were softened and then done away with by relentless Commandos' onslaught. Would the Lawless one (Jn. 8:44), who usurped Adam's dominion (Gen. 3:1-7), now along with his hard-core earthly followers handover earth's possession gently to the Final Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), were He to come today to reclaim what is rightfully His (Col. 1:15-16)? NO! Hence the boom-boom and bang-bang action of consecutive 7 seals, trumpets and bowls judgments (Rev. 6-19) with cascading effect culminating in the Final Armageddon War to soften and then terminate Satan's dominion! Was not Almighty forced to toe the similar line of "softening and routing" a stubborn Pharoah, when he refused to handover God's prized possession (the descendants of Jacob-Exo. 5-12) to God-ordained Moses? So it emerges that the tribulation period portrayed in Revelation 6-11 is not without TRUE, HISTORICAL, BIBLICAL PRECEDENT, after all! It is as if the Egyptian woes during Moses' time have foreshadowed the bitter cup of woes, the hard-hearted would have to drink from during the imminent Tribulation time. Even as I wind-up, I reiterate that in this period of Grace, before the horrors of tribulation arrive, there is still that Divine, loving invitation from the Saviour to receive Him (Rev. 3:20). Should we not all have the "blessed hope" (Tit. 2:13) of being part of that raptured Church (1 Thess. 4:16-18)?
Meanwhile, Bravo NSG commandos and, most importantly, COME LORD JESUS… (Rev. 22:20)… piece together the shattered peace of the world!