The Conditions for Peace

The Conditions for Peace October 6, 2022

Scripture:        Esther, chapters 9-10; Luke, chapter 19

Luke 19:41-44 (NASB) – When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known on this day, even you, the conditions for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will put up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground, and throw down your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Observations: Almost each day, we hear news about the war in Ukraine. When I was a child, we heard every day about the war in Vietnam. I realize that the United States was directly involved in Vietnam by sending troops, which is not the case in Ukraine. Today more than ever, we live in the information age; we are bombarded by information practically all the time. As is true with almost every subject of public interest, everyone is expected to have an opinion on “the situation in Ukraine.”

But the reason that is on my mind this morning is because of Jesus’ phrase: the conditions for peace.Some people think that Ukraine should accede to the Russian annexation of territory in order to achieve “peace.”  While that might buy a short-term ceasefire, history tells us that there can be no lasting peace that is based on surrendering to bullies. In 1938 Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the UK, claimed to have achieved “peace for our time.” That “peace” came by surrendering Czechoslovakia to Hitler.  “Our time” turned out to last less than a year; Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, which began World War II.

Surrender to earthly power and might never brings “peace.”  It’s ironic that Jesus talks about the conditions for peace when the Roman Empire was known for the Pax Romana – the “Roman peace.”  That “peace” was achieved through the military might of Rome and its occupation of other countries.  In Jesus’ day, Jerusalem was under the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.  Rome stationed soldiers in the city to “keep the peace.”  And when the Jewish leaders gathered to decide what to do about Jesus, they were afraid that Jesus and his public support would lead the Romans to crack down.  “If we let Him go on like this, all the people will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take over both our place and our nation” (John 11:48 NASB, emphasis added). So they arranged for Jesus to be crucified to “keep the peace.”

The conditions for peace:

If you had known on this day, even you, the conditions for peace!  But now they have been hidden from your eyes.  Jesus came to declare the kingdom of God. His teaching and his miraculous works demonstrated God’s power among the people. Jesus had come to bring peace:  “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:10-11, 14, emphasis added).

There is no peace that is based on surrendering to bullies; peace is grounded in our surrender to God. The truth has been hidden from people’s eyes. I don’t think Jesus meant that God was hiding the truth; why would God hide the truth that Jesus had come to proclaim?  Instead, I think Jesus was confirming that Satan was hiding the truth from them – just as he hides the truth from people today.

When we think that we can achieve “peace” or “fulfillment” or “justice” apart from God, we’ve fallen for Satan’s lies.  Unfortunately, the people of Jerusalem would realize the truth when the time came – about forty years later – that your enemies will put up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground…because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.

Application:  Satan directs his efforts to hiding or distorting the truth. He has been quite successful in this work. Our culture proclaims such “truth” as “Biology doesn’t determine gender; people can choose their gender” or  “Men can become pregnant.”  Behind those specific examples, however, is a much more dangerous claim: that there is no such thing as “truth” at all, that “truth” is whatever we decide we want it to be.

In response to that, we hear the words of Jesus: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  “If you continue in My word, then you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).  “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

The conditions for peace are that we acknowledge truth.  As long as we’re trying to redefine it, or run away from it, we won’t find peace. When we know the truth, and acknowledge the truth, the truth sets us free.  Those are the conditions for peace.

Prayer: Father, thank you for reminding us that in the midst of a world that thinks that it can redefine anything and everything, Your word is truth. Thank you for the peace that we find in you. Help us to reflect that peace in ways that draw people to You, that they too may find the peace that only You can give.  Amen.

 


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