And in order to really understand the significance of that announcement, it is necessary to see peace as so much more than the absence of conflict or a warm, calm feeling. I love the Old Testament word for peace. “Shalom” is an extravagant word that includes balance, wholeness and harmony. It is related to the great idea (and promise) of “rest.” It is integrity and coherence in every area of life.
The final words of the priestly blessing were, “and give you peace” (Numbers 6:26). Shalom is something that only the Lord can bless his people with (Psalm 29:11). Peace is promised to those who love God’s “torah” (Psalm 119:165) and those who trust in the Lord (Isaiah 26:3). The angels announcing the birth of the Messiah promised peace on earth (Luke 2:14). At the last supper Jesus declared, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27). After his resurrection, Jesus always greeted his followers with, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19, 21, 26). Peace is both a mark of God’s Kingdom (Romans 14:17) and a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). I am often reminded that Lynda’s favorite “breath prayer” up to and including her final days was, “Bring peace.” Peace comes as we are convinced that the faithful hand of the Lord is resting on us and that we can trust him to do the right thing in our lives.
When Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come as the Prince of Peace, he promised, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end” (9:6-7). Isaiah also prophesied, “The fruit of…righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever” (32:17), and “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death” (57:2). If there is anything our souls and our world needs it is true peace. May we find our way into God’s peaceful abode in the New Year.