“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:10-14:)
In ancient times (when I was in elementary school), we were taught a few words in various languages. Usually the first words in another language had to do with greetings. First we would learn to say “hello,” in Spanish, German, etc., and then “good-bye.” In some languages, the same word was used for both hello and good-bye. This was the case in the Hebrew language. People would greet one another with the same word, “Shalom” as when parting.
Years later I learned that Shalom meant “peace,” and realized that originally it was more than a greeting, but actually a blessing. “Shalom” means a bit more than “have a good day.” I guess you could say it means more like “have a good life!” Peace in Hebrew thought had to do with an overall state of well-being.
In America we think of peace-time verses war-time. We also think in terms of tranquility of mind. The angels here were promising the coming of the King of the Kingdom of God. He was one who would introduce to the world the same righteousness, peace and joy that has resided with God in heaven from all eternity. This peace would first come in the revelation of His life as a man among us.
Since Adam and Eve fell into sin, war and conflict has persisted in the earth. The people of God in the First Century knew of His promise to bring peace, but most failed to see the Divine Plan. The effects of the Fall must first be reversed before any lasting peace can come. A forced peace through a military victory would only be temporary. Jesus would engage in a different kind of warfare, against evil itself. He would triumph over evil with good.
Peace on earth begins with peace with God. The very forces of evil in this earth unknowingly cooperated with God in His plan when they plotted Christ’s execution. Through His death the world was reconciled to God!. Satan lost his ancient and primary accusation against the virtue and love of God. No longer could he suggest that God was holding back from us to protect His own interests, for the Father would offer His only Son in payment for all of our failures. He could give no more. He gave of Himself. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8, 2 Corinthians 5:19, John 3:16).
Jesus not only took our sins upon Himself at the Cross. By His resurrection His very righteousness was transferred to our account – if we believe in and place our trust in Him.
“But for us also, to whom it (righteousness) shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.
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.”
In the early chapters of the book of Acts, we begin to see the Kingdom of God come more fully into view. After witnessing His ascension to the heavenly throne, His disciples waited in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit, according to His command. His peace was among them to the extent that they came to a deep level of unity, during which the Holy Spirit filled them and transformed them all into flaming witnesses of His power and glory! (Acts 2:1-4)
Since that time there have been many ups and downs in the life of His Church. As Jesus taught in many parables, the Kingdom of God would sometimes advance in great measure, in other times the progress would be slow and gradual. There was much resistance, both from fallen humanity and the devil who in the beginning deceived the human race. When believers don the armor provided for them by God, they stand strong and united together in love. When they forget His weapons, they become divided and weak. At the time Jesus left His mission in the hands of imperfect humans, he must have known how often we would drop the ball. Thank God the final victory belongs to Him alone!
His peace is always with us, but we are also to become peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9). As we progress from childhood to spiritual adulthood, we grow in wisdom and discernment. We learn to exercise the power we possess in Christ to prevail against the very gates of hell!
There is power and authority in the peace of God.
And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” NASB
In the presence of the King, His holy, redeemed people become living proof that He has already begun His reign in the earth. Right living, peaceful and joyful fellowship are signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit within them and among them. (Romans 14:17) They fully understand this work in progress. They know that it is not all about them, for God has this whole world in mind. Creation itself is groaning in labor pains to see that which God plans to do in and through His people, His Church, the Body of Christ. (Romans 8:18-22).
The Lordship of Christ is tangibly manifested in the patience and compassion His children have for one another and the world. These and other fruits of the Spirit bear witness to the King of the Kingdom of God, Who already rules in the hearts of His own. Satan’s kingdom is doomed! Sometimes it is difficult to see that the reign of Christ has already begun. That is where faith and spiritual vision comes in. Consider the first Christian martyr, young Stephen, who in his last minutes of life saw the heaven opened and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:56). Paul prayed for the church that we too would have the eyes of our understanding opened to see Christ so enthroned. (Ephesians 1:15-23).
A church equipped with such a view of Christ can rise above the struggles of everyday life. From this position of victory in Him we can go forward in His eternal plan and see His rule extended over all the earth. He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25). Even now there is not one square inch of this universe that He does not already possess, but here we are talking about the culmination of all that has been planned by God from the beginning. There will be genuine peace on this earth, and it is coming through the Prince of Peace!
Since Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, the world has never been the same. Great changes took place immediately, but even greater things came as Jesus began manifesting the power of the Kingdom of God to save, heal, and deliver humanity from sin and death. The world began changing as people began to come into contact with their King. His Kingdom did not come as many were expecting. It is still coming in a manner many do not expect. What a great mystery! And yet how real His presence and the presence of His Kingdom truly is!
Anyone who truly knows and believes in Jesus as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords can see and experience Kingdom Life now, and their anticipation for the future of our world as stated by the angels in Luke 2:14 empowers them even more. While this future may at times seem very far away, they can know and possess a certainty that their participation in His purpose is not in vain.
And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they train for war.
In our immaturity we, your children have made so little progress in demonstrating your peace to this earth. Give us the faith to trust in you more, and to follow your every lead in this great cause. This is your universe, and it is your Kingdom, your power, and your glory that we desire to see revealed. Thank you for allowing us a small part in your glorious and loving plan.
In the Name of our wonderful Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.