UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF “PEACE” Part 1

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

Part 1: THE PEACE OF GOD


Everyone wants to experience total peace. Whether you're a student, a worker, a parent, a clergy, a national leader, a businessman facing the pressures and deadlines at the office, a homemaker trying to bring up the kids, a professor at a prestigious university or a nuclear scientist, everyone wants peace. Most people will go to whatever limits to find peace. But most of us, if we're honest with ourselves, have to admit that we experience stress more than we experience peace. I have come to realise that there is nothing that people talk more about and experience less than peace. For many the desire for finding peace has turned into a rat race. Our days are as in the days of Jeremiah where people cried, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace" (Jer. 6:14). So, where can we go for peace? Where on this earth can we discover lasting and fulfilling peace?

Many people live in comfortable homes yet domestic violence is at an all-time high. Most countries have modern cities yet the streets are unsafe. Our communication technology is high tech where we have migrated from analogue to digital yet there has never been more miscommunication and lack of understanding as now. Some people can afford to buy a golden bed yet they still don’t sleep well because of a lack of peace. They may go for a meal in the most expensive hotel but lack appetite, simply because they have no peace.

Let us look at the root meaning peace for better understanding of what it really is that we are chasing.

Definition

Webster defines peace as a ‘state (not just an attitude but a condition of one’s heart) of stillness and serenity, of freedom from disquieting, agitating, anxious thoughts and a condition of harmony in relationships’.

The Greek word for peace is eirene from the verb eiro which means to join or bind together that which has been broken, divided or separated! Eirene is the root of our English word ‘serene’ (free of storms or disturbance, marked by utter calm).

Eirene literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which has been separated, the result being that the separated parts are set at one again. Our common English expression ‘having it all together’ speaks of everything in place and as it ought to be. When things (or people) are disjointed, there is lack of harmony and absence of an inner sense of well-being. When things (or people) are joined together, there is a sense of harmony, well-being and freedom from inner turmoil.

The Hebrew word shalom means peace, and much more. It also mean:

  • experiencing God’s highest good,

  • enjoying the very best,

  • possessing all the inner good possible,

  • wholeness and soundness,

  • prosperity in the widest sense,

  • prosperity in the spiritual sense of having a soul that blossoms and flourishes.

Biblical definition of peace.

The most definitive discourse on peace in all of Scripture comes from the Lord Jesus on the night before He died on the cross. He knew what He was facing, yet He still took time to comfort His disciples with the message of peace: Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)

The peace that Jesus is speaking about is tranquility of the soul, a settled, positive peace that affects the circumstances of life. It is peace that is aggressive. Rather than being victimized by events, it attacks them and gobbles them up. It is a supernatural, permanent, positive, no-side-effects peace. It is the peace of God. I call it the ‘divine tranquilizer’.

The peace of God describes that state of inner repose and quietness, especially in adverse circumstances which would clearly indicate that this peace is not natural but the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, a truth that Paul affirms in Galatians 5:22, “the fruit of the Spirit is…peace…”

This peace is the heart's calm after Calvary's storm. It is the firm conviction that He who spared not His own Son will also along with Him freely give us all things, Romans 8:32. The peace of God comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of Christ.

This is the peace that Paul speaks about in Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." The peace of God is not based on circumstances like the world's peace, so it doesn't always make sense to the carnal mind. Paul says it is a peace that surpasses all comprehension. It doesn't seem reasonable that such peace could exist in the midst of the problems and troubles that Christians go through. But this is divine, supernatural peace that cannot be figured by mere human understanding. The peace of God is not like the “peace” that the world offers. The world bases its peace on materialistic resources, while God’s peace depends on your relationship with Him. To be right with God means to enjoy the peace of God. The world depends on personal ability, but the Christian depends on spiritual adequacy in Christ.

In the world, peace is something you hope and work for but to the Christian, peace is God’s wonderful gift which is received by faith. Unsaved people enjoy temporal peace when there is an absence of trouble where as Christians enjoy peace in spite of trials. The peace Jesus is speaking of enables believers to remain calm in the most dreadful and fearful of circumstances. It enables them to hush a cry, still a riot, rejoice in pain and trial, and sing in the middle of suffering.

The biblical concept of peace does not focus on the absence of trouble. Biblical peace is unrelated to circumstances; it is a goodness of life that is not touched by what happens on the outside. It is peace on the inside. In Hebrew it is called shalom. You may be in the midst of great trials and still have this kind of peace. This is the peace that enabled David to say, “ though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”.

When peace is on guard

This peace overrules all circumstances. Peace is the Hebrew word ‘Shalom’ which means wholeness, completeness, health, security and even prosperity in the best sense. When you are enjoying God’s peace, there is joy and contentment. The bible says in Romans 14:17For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost”.

6 Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. 7 And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. 8 Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. (Philippians 4:6-8)

The word for ‘guard’ in Philippians 4:7 is not the word that means to watch or keep imprisoned. It is a word that is often used in a military sense, meaning to stand at a post and guard against the aggression of an enemy. When peace is on guard, the Christian has entered an impregnable fortress from which nothing can dislodge him. The name of the Lord is a strong and a mighty tower, the righteous run to it and they are safe.

The name of this fortress or mighty tower is Jesus Christ, and the guard is peace. Jesus is the prince of peace. “6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. The peace of God stands guard and keeps worry from the corroding our hearts, and unworthy thoughts from tearing up our minds.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Do you want this peace?

This is the kind of peace that men really long for. Man wants a peace that deals with the past, one where are no strings of conscience dipped in the poison of past sins that tear at them and torture them hour by hour. They want a peace that governs the present, with no unsatisfied desires gnawing at their hearts. They want a peace that holds promises for the future, where no foreboding fear of the unknown and dark tomorrows threaten them. And that is exactly the peace through which the guilt of the past is forgiven, by which the trials of the present are overcome and in which our destiny in the future is secured eternally

I have learnt that the real challenge of the Christian life is not to eliminate EVERY unpleasant circumstance rather it is to TRUST in the good purpose of our infinite, holy, sovereign, powerful God in EVERY difficulty. Those who honour Him by trusting Him will experience the blessings of His perfect peace. The peace of God

When circumstances arise that try to pull our hearts away from God and His surpassing peace, the psalmist offers us a great prayer:

“...teach me your ways oh lord and I will walk in your truth. Give me an undivided heart, (give me “one heart” ~ peace) that I may fear your name”. (Psalms 86:11)

Let’s end this message by taking a moment to pause and meditate on what the Holy Spirit just taught us and then take a few moments to sing this great hymn to God…

When PEACE like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, IT IS WELL, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL


Shalom, Shalom !!!



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