Sunday, January 21, 2018

"Ain't gonna study war no more"

The Olivetree Bible app, which I highly recommend, includes a lot of different daily reading plans. One of them is a 14-day "teachings of Jesus" plan, which I started yesterday. The first entry is chapter 1 of Luke.

Luke 1 ends with Zechariah's song. He sings about his newborn son, John, and about the one who will follow John, the one for whom John "prepares the way." It is John who will bring to his people an understanding that salvation is available through the coming on. That coming one, called the "Dayspring from on high" in the KJV, will "give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death." (v.78a)

This is pretty great, is it not? This is a promise of relief from the ultimate curse.
The years of our life are seventy,
    or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away. (Ps. 90:10)
This wonderful promise of God is not the end, though. The promise comes with a purpose. There is a reason God wants to save his children from "the shadow of death." It comes at the last, and it is a momentary vision of the restored kingdom of God, given to Zechariah at that moment when his tongue was loosed after months of enforced muteness.
. . . to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78b)
I repeat:
. . . to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78b)
I take this to mean a comprehensive kind of peace: peace with God and peace with one another (both of which were broken and lost at the Fall). So then, the word "peace" is nutshell summation of the restored creation. The peace of the Garden was lost, but will be restored. In this nutshell insight into the nature of the restored kingdom, it is the concept of peace that Zechariah chooses to highlight.

In chapter 2 of Luke the angels who come to the shepherds in their fields sing a blessing of peace as they announce the birth of a savior. And what does Simeon say when Joseph and Mary bring Jesus to the Temple?
. . . he took [the baby] up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word." (Luke 2:29)
And let us not forget Isaiah 9, which lies behind much of this that we read in Luke. Isaiah's prophetic song in that chapter begins, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." This sounds familiar, does it not? And a little bit later, speaking the coming savior (the same that Zechariah would later prophesy in song:
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. (Is. 9:6)
The pattern is pretty clear. Jesus, the Christ, is going to be all about the restoration of peace. This simple idea is always among the first thing said about him, whether it is angels speaking, or prophets, or simple Christians testifying about their own salvation.

I'll make a bold statement here: we don't talk enough about peace. Peace is a kingdom attribute. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Peace is the promise of the Father. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God," but we live in a world that does not know "the way of peace (see Romans 3:17)." Interpersonal conflict began with Adam and Eve at the Fall (see Gen. 3:16 in particular), and the first generation to be born outside the Garden was marked by interpersonal bloodshed. Click over to any reputable news site, check out the local news from any city or state or nation you like, and you will see that what started between Cain and Abel continues apace.

My point: I pledge to be a seeker of peace. I pledge to dig into the Word for all that God has to teach me about peace, and I will try to be an ambassador for Jesus' coming kingdom of peace.

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