The First World War was meant to be the war to end all wars. The world was shocked by the extent of cruelty and suffering experienced. Organisations like The League of Nations and later the UN were meant to bring war to an end. Sadly history tells us that human efforts to bring World peace end in failure.
For many in our community, the question isn’t theoretical but very much a live, personal one. At my last church we had members who served in the armed forces, our local hospital treats people injured in conflict, many people in our community are here because they have been displaced by ar, terrorism, civil war and gang war.
So, the question “Will peace ever come?” is real. The good news is that the Bible says “Yes.” Peace will come.
When will peace come?
Isaiah 2: 1-4 tells us that peace will come when God’s house on God’s mountain is established. It will come when people look to God to teach them his rules, his ways. It will come when God is the one who settles disputes
When does all this happen?
The Back story
Well, it’s helpful to know that Isaiah gives us the back story to Israel’s expectation. The Jewish nation as they read Isaiah saw this as pointing to a time when God would re-establish them as a free nation, a son of David would be on the throne and the nations would look to Israel as a world leader. That’s what they were expecting when Jesus came.
The Arrival of the King – Advent part 1
When Jesus arrived, people saw that this was the answer. This was the “when.” A young maiden, her husband to be, shepherds in the fields, an old man and a prophetess at the Temple, wise stargazers in the east. They saw that it was “time.” Peace was coming and peace was coming in the person of this baby.
How was peace coming Peace was coming because in Jesus, the World was being reconciled to God. We saw in the last talk that peace starts when our relationship with God is right. The cause of war is not a shortage of resources or that we are so incredibly different. The cause of war is greed, selfishness and bitterness. So, it is only when human hearts are made right, it’s only when people stop trying to be King and recognise that this is God’s earth that peace will come.
Peace on Earth started with the baby in Bethlehem. The solution to war is found at the Cross of Calvary.
The Return of the King – Advent part 2 (cf Revelation 22)
But that’s only the first part of the story. We need the sequel too. Or, as well as Christmas Past, there is Christmas Future. Advent points us forward to the return of Jesus. He will come again and every knee will bow at his name. That means that world rulers and powers will have to acknowledge him as King. That’s when war will cease.
What do we do now?
This means we are living in the now and the not yet. We know God has dealt with the problem of sin and evil to bring peace but we also know that it has not been fully realised. We look forward to the consummation.
So what do we do whilst we wait. Well here are some things we can be doing.
- Praying for peace
- Supporting policies and leaders that promote peace
- Working for peace and reconciliation in broken communities
These are all good things but is this really what we are asked to do. I’m not saying “don’t do them.” However, be aware that these things are limited.
For example, if I pray for peace in Gaza and Israel, well one day another war will start in another place. And it’s okay to support peace policies when they are obvious but what about when they are not. You rarely have a General Election when the choice is between a government offering lots of peace treaties and the opposition saying “Let’s go invade France next week.” Furthermore, because of the complexities of world diplomacy, the answers are not always that straight forward. Who would I have supported in the 1930s? There was Chamberlin offering “Peace in our time” and Churchill who spent much of that decade warning that war was coming. Was it because Churchill was anti-peace and pro-war? No, it was that he saw a coming threat and knew that lasting peace would come at a cost. So, these things are good but don’t always coming easy answers and…
If the church focuses exclusively on them then it misses the point. What was God’s solution to the problem of war? What does that tell me about the real problem?
The root cause again (remember last week’s sermon) is the human heart – sin. The Bible’s greater concern is cosmic war not earthly war. That’s why much of the New Testament talks about Spiritual warfare.
So, the important priorities for us today, living between Christ’s first and second coming are
- To make sure that our own hearts are right with God, that we have peace with him
- To tell others how they can find true and lasting peace with Jesus.
One day full and lasting peace will come. It will come when Jesus returns
BUT now as we find ourselves living in and between storms – the key thing is peace in the storm of conflict. We can only find that in Christ.