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Child of Promise: Prince of Peace December 8, 2013

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Isaiah 9:2-7

Second Sunday in Advent

December 8, 2013

 

Paraphrased from an Advent sermon series: Child of Promise, by Dr. David Peter and CLK

 

Child of Promise: Prince of Peace

 

            Every year, countless beauty pageant contestants, state or national, echo the same refrain.  What is the one thing you wish for?  “World Peace.”  Peace is a fabulous concept, and one that we’re fascinated by the world over.  Just outside the United Nations building in New York City, there’s a large bronze statue of a man beating a sword into a plowshare.  He’s turning a weapon of destruction into a tool for growth and life.  The statue is emblazoned with the words “We shall beat our swords into plowshares.”  It’s a goal of the UN to bring about every Miss Americas’ dream of world peace.

            But what often goes unsaid about this statue is that it’s a Biblical illustration.  The prophet Isaiah foretells of a day of peace among all nations, when “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”  That’s a wonderful image of peace.

            But the peace Isaiah is talking about goes so much deeper than that.  It’s not simply a time with no war, where nations are at rest.  The peace of God is truly as Paul tells us, a “peace which passes all understanding.”  The peace of God, the same peace prophesied by Isaiah, comes to us through the Messiah, a Messiah that Isaiah saw coming over 600 years before it happened:

            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.

 

            The arrival of the Promised Prince of Peace was not like fire from heaven or a wall of chariots storming Rome.  Instead, the Messiah came as a newborn baby, just as the prophet said.  He would be born a child.  He would be born a Son.  But this Child is not just any Son, He’s the very Son of God.  All authority in the heavens and on earth is His.  He is the King of all creation.  His names are glorious: Wonderful Counselor, a King of wisdom; Mighty God, a divine and all powerful King; Everlasting Father, an eternal King.  This King, this Messiah, is no ordinary man!  He is God incarnate, He is God dwelling among us. 

But the reason this Messiah comes waits for the last name: He is Sar Shalom.  He is the Prince of Peace.  He has come to bring shalom, God’s peace into the world.  He has come to bring peace into a once peaceful creation, one that is now filled with violence and chaos.  And Isaiah tells us that His peace will increase without end.

When the Prince of Peace came, born of the virgin in Bethlehem, Yahweh’s angel army rejoiced and said: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”  God came and dwelled among us.  In doing so, He gives us His peace.  From God, for us.  That’s what the angels had to say.  God’s peace is a peace between God and His creation.

This is good news.  This is good news because we are a creation disrupted by violence and chaos.   We are, by nature, enemies of God.  Isaiah talks about this: “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”  To a holy God, sin is chasm.  As sinful creatures, we are separated from God.  And if He executed justice, being just, He would have no choice but to condemn us.

That’s the good news of Sar Shalom, of our Prince of Peace.  By coming and dwelling among us, our King took God’s justice, His wrath, upon Himself.  By His death on the cross, He’s experienced God’s wrath against sin.  Isaiah saw it all coming: “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”  His punishment brings us peace.  We are at peace with God once again.  The Apostle Paul saw this clearly:

Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Since therefore we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.  – Romans 5:1, 9-10, ESV.

 

This is the ultimate peace which Christ, the Prince of Peace brings to us.  He brings us peace with God through the forgiveness of our sins.  Sar Shalom, our Prince of Peace, brings us to everlasting life.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding does not limit itself.  As peace rains from down on us from God, it splatters.  It gets all over the place.  God’s peace helps us have peace with one another.  Unfortunately, as we continue to wrestle with our sin, we often struggle to live at peace with one another.

A common joke illustrates this pretty well.  A woman is stuck between two men on a passenger train.  One man is complaining that he’s going to die of heat stroke if they don’t open the window.  The other is complaining that if the window doesn’t stay shut, he’ll die of pneumonia.  The fight got so heated the conductor himself was called in to settle the dispute.  After his failed efforts, the woman stuck in the middle offered a solution.  “First we’ll open the window.  That will kill the first man.  Then we’ll close it again, and that’ll polish off the other one.  Then we’ll all have peace!”

That kind of peace is what we’re most familiar with.  It’s the worldly peace, the kind men and women fight and die for.  But it really isn’t peace.  It’s like the bumper sticker that says: “I have no problem loving the world; but it’s that worthless fellow next door who’s the problem.”  We all have those “problem” people in our lives.  Maybe it’s someone in your family, or your boss or a coworker.  Maybe it’s a classmate or a former friend.  We all know someone that’s difficult to love, difficult to be at peace with.

But Paul writes in Ephesians 2: “For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility.”  The fall of the Berlin Wall has nothing on Christ, the King who destroyed the barriers between Jews and Gentiles, brothers and sisters, workers and bosses. Even that worthless problem person, we can love them and be at peace with them because of the merciful love that God has showered upon us.

In World War 1, the bloodbath between the Germans and British was one of the most tragic in human history.  But in the midst of it all, on Christmas Eve 1914, things were a little different.  As the soldiers were lying in their trenches and fox holes all along the Western Front, suddenly the German forces broke out into song.  The British looked across No-Man’s Land in surprise as the Germans joined together in harmony, singing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht.”  As they began to realize what was going on, the British joined in one after another, “Sleep in heavenly peace.” A former officer, Gerald Shepherd, reported the scene:

The British sentries…saw what appeared to be small lights, raised on poles or bayonets, waved above the German trenches, and although these lanterns clearly illuminated the German troops, the British held their fire.  Even more startlingly, British officers saw through binoculars that some enemy troops were holding Christmas trees over their heads with lighted candles in their branches!  Then occurred one of the most unusual incidents in military history.  One by one, soldiers on both sides laid down their weapons and ventured into no man’s land – too many of them to prevent their superior officers from objecting.  They traded chocolates and pictures of families.  They played a flare-lit game of soccer.  An Englishman brought out an accordion, a German a violin.  (“The Night the War Came to a Halt,” by Catherin Foster, The Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 24, 1986, http://www.csmonitor.com/1986/1224/rtrench.html)

 

For one night, the bitter enemies sang Christmas carols and celebrated the birth of their Prince of Peace.  For one night, swords became plowshares.  This Advent season, may the Prince of Peace continue to pour out His peace upon our violent and chaotic world.  May our Sar Shalom bring that peace to you and your families, that you may know the peace and forgiveness that have reconciled you with our Father.  And I pray that you may also share God’s peace with everyone you meet, that the Prince of Peace, our King’s peace, will continue to increase without end.

 

 

 

 

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