Yes and Amen: The Promise of Peace

Yes and Amen: The Promise of Peace

Yes and Amen: The Promise of Peace.

“In Christ is found the Yes! to all God’s promises, and therefore it is through Him that we answer Amen! to give praise to God. As His Yes! and our Amen! ascend to God, we bring Him glory.” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

YES: the answer in the affirmative.

AMEN: (Hebrew, related to the root word for truth); Yes! That’s right! We agree; This is absolutely truer; This is certain; This is trustworthy and assured; So be it; Let this be true; We heartily approve; We believe this with all our heart and soul.

“I will listen to what God the Lord will say; He promises peace to His people, His saints – but let them not return to folly.” (Psalm 85:8).

SHALOM = The ancient Hebrew word translated as peace and means much more than absence of war: completeness or wholeness, as in the joining together of opposites; integrity, as in the effective holding together of separate pieces; to give/restore harmony; fulfillment; health; security; abundant well-being; tranquility; freedom from disquiet and disorder; reconciliation; resolution of conflict; healing of division; to flourish; prosperity.

 If the peace of God is beyond human understanding (Phil. 4:7), how do we define it? We can start by referring to the Old Testament Hebrew word shalom, and the New Testament Greek word eirene, which both mean pretty much the same thing. When we study those biblical terms, it’s clear that peace is not merely a negative, and is so much more than a fragile truce, an absence of conflict, or the removal of strife. Peace is instead a dynamic positive rather than a passive negative. Peace is much closer to the idea of flourishing, of abundant well-being.

“Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of Yahweh; and Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Yahweh Elohim! For now I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face.’ But Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die.’ Then Gideon built an altar there to Yahweh, and called it, Yahweh-shalom, the LORD-is-peace.” (Judges 6:22-24).

Shalom (peace) ranks the highest of all values in the Hebrew Bible, according to Jewish scholars. Shalom is the most important goal in all of life. “Rabbinic teaching describes it as the only vessel through which God’s blessings can flow into this world.” (Rabbi Arthur Green, These are the words: A Vocabulary of Jewish Spiritual Life).

By naming that altar LORD-is-peace, Gideon made a powerful statement of faith in Yahweh, that Yahweh would bring peace to him and to his people in Israel:

  1. Peace of Heart. Gideon needed immediate reassurance that he wouldn’t die after seeing Yahweh and His angel. He needed to know that he was not doomed after seeing them face-to-face. Gideon was afraid of Yahweh’s holy presence, and he needed a heavy dose of courage from heaven.
  2. Peace to Israel. After seven years of judgement and intimidation. God will bring victory over their enemies. God will help Israel flourish once again. God will resolve this painful conflict by overcoming the Midianites and bringing peace to the land.
  3. Peace with God. After surviving through these years of trouble, Gideon needed to know that he and Israel was at peace with God. Gideon needed to confirm that God had not abandoned them, that Yahweh would be with them. After Gideon’s conversation with Yahweh and His angel, there was a strong sense of reconciliation with God.
  4. Peace of Mind. Gideon was at first very uncomfortable with being the lead warrior in Israel’s rescue. He had been at loose ends for seven years, and was certainly feeling unsure of himself, scattered and unsettled. Gideon was living a life of fearfulness after all this time of being bullied by their enemies. God’s promise of His presence and strength started to bring to Gideon a measure of tranquility and contentment. He started to ease into trusting God despite his skepticism. Gideon wasn’t fully there yet, but he was on the way to trust and faith.

In other words, peace is one of the greatest gifts that God can give us. With the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), we are able to enjoy a taste of heavenly shalom now… full reconciliation with God; flourishing in mind and spirit; an inner harmony that heals us and joins together loose ends in our spirit; an outer harmony with others that enjoy resolved conflicts; a tranquil heart of contentment and trust; an inner assurance that all will be well.

The Father Promised Peace:

1.  Source of Peace: God’s Hand of Blessing – “May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26, NLT

2. Source of Peace: Worship – “When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he cried out, ‘Oh, Sovereign Lord, I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!’ ‘It is all right,’ the Lord replied. ‘Do not be afraid. You will not die.’ And Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and named it Yahweh-shalom, which means the Lord is Peace.” (Judges 6:22-24, NLT).

3. Source of Peace: A Gift of God – “The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.” (Psalm 29:11, NLT

4. Source of Peace: Single-Minded Pursuit – “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Ps. 34:14, NIV).

5. Source of Peace: Meekness – “But the humble of heart will inherit every promise and enjoy abundant peace.” (Ps. 37:11, TPT).

6. Source of Peace: Blameless Behavior – “But you can tell who are the blameless and spiritually mature. The godly ones will have a peaceful, prosperous future with a happy ending.” (Ps. 37:37, TPT)

7. Source of Peace: Love of Scripture – “Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.” (Ps. 119:165, NLT)

8. Source of Peace: Living a Life that Pleases the Lord – “When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them.” (Prov. 16:7, NLT)

9. Source of Peace: Tranquility at Home – “Better a dry crust eaten in peace, than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Prov. 17:1, Tanakh).

10. Source of Peace: Faithfulness – “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT

11. Source of Peace: Righteous Lifestyle – “And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17, NLT)

12. Source of Peace: Obedience – “Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.” (Isaiah 48:18, NLT)

13. Source of Peace: Redemption – “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV).

14. Source of Peace: God’s Promise – “Though the mountains be shaken and hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV).

15. Source of Peace: The Word of God – “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace.” (Isaiah 55:11-12, NLT).

16. Source of Peace: God’s Healing – “I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far, says the Lord who heals them.” (Isaiah 57:18-19, NLT

17. Source of Peace: The Presence of God – “And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And he will be the source of peace.” (Micah 5:5, NLT).

Jesus the Son Promised Peace: 

So when Jesus offers His peace to us as a gift, He is telling us many important things: He is offering our reconciliation with God through Him; He is desiring that we flourish in mind and body and spirit; He is trusting that we grow in an inner harmony, blending together those loose ends within each of us; He is pushing for an outer harmony as well, between people at battle with each other; He is granting us untroubled hearts and minds. When Jesus offers His peace, He is opening the door to a soul-satisfying contentment in each of us. That is the gospel of peace, a deep, fearless peace that defies easy description, a life-long heavenly experience on earth that is not comparable to anything else we can experience.

  1. Peace is a Blessing. Peace is both a greeting and a farewell in customary Jewish tradition. When said thoughtfully, this is not a casual greeting that merely involves positive thinking or good feelings. When you say shalom to someone, you are prayerfully hoping that she or he will flourish in wholeness and well-being. Jesus often used shalom as a greeting, and when the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6) says to you “Peace to you!” there can be no greater gift. He says that to each of us right now.
  2. Peace is a Kiss. The kiss of peace on each cheek was a traditional greeting in the Middle East. The Christian Church continued that tradition, and it continues to this day in  the Eastern Orthodox Church. When someone offers a kiss of peace, that person is saying that she or he has a clear conscience with that other person, that any division has been healed, any wrong has been forgiven, any bitterness is in the past. When Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss of peace, his betrayal was grotesque and doubly hurtful (Luke 22:48). The kiss of peace in the Orthodox liturgy is done just before the Eucharist, for Jesus clearly stated that peace with others takes priority over the duties of worship (Matt. 5:23-24).
  3. Peace is a Sigh. We live in a noisy world, in both an auditory and visual way. We have machines, phones, screens, billboards, the chattering of people. Noise has been linked to high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, stress, and even cognitive impairment. What do we do when we get just a minute of “peace and quiet?” We take a deep breath and exhale with an unhurried sigh. When Jesus breathed into His disciples after the Resurrection, it was a breath of peace (John 20:21-22). The tranquility of heart that comes with that sigh is a loving expression of peace. When possible, seek prayerful silence when you can get it, and you will experience that thoughtful sigh, the fresh breath of the Holy Spirit, the very peace that Christ offered His disciples in the Upper Room.
  4. Peace is a Sword. This is a paradox, and is no doubt an aspect of peace that may be beyond human understanding. But Jesus said at one point that He is bringing not peace, but a sword. (Matt. 19:34). He indeed brought the righteous sword of His Holy Spirit, rightly dividing good from evil, a judgment on sin. Some will accept this sword, and some will not, at least for the time being. So Jesus saw division as being the immediate result of His work, division between people especially. But the eventual purpose of His ministry was to divide in order to unite, to bring peace, between people and between God and mankind. Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker. He wants to confront these deep differences and conflicts that inevitably come in His presence, and He earnestly wants to be the bringer of peace and healing and justice.
  5. Peace is a Gift. Peace is clearly a gift offered by Jesus to us, and is in fact a sign of His presence. We can’t manufacture peace on our own, it comes to us from heaven, from His Holy Spirit. Peace is a quality that is seeded into our hearts and minds, and then grows, and becomes an eternal fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The world is not capable of giving us this kind of peace. Peace is a gift that we live into, a confident assurance that we are in harmony with the God who has claimed the ultimate victory. This puts our hearts to rest.

There is no doubt that Jesus took great joy in fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah 52:7:  “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’!”

Shalom is a full banquet of peace, but we are given by God a taste of that peace now, an hors ‘doeuvre before the full meal. Peace is something promised to us this side of the wedding banquet. God offers to give us a measure of peace now, a foretaste of our life in the New Jerusalem. This earthly peace is all a taste of the soul-satisfying peace awaiting us, a nibble of the eternal fruit of the Holy Spirit. This is the peace that goes so deep it is beyond human understanding. (Phil. 4:7). “I leave the gift of peace with you – My peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace.” (John 14:27). “Everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you, and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must cheer up and be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33, TPT). In heaven, there will be peace in the valley, a valley no longer in the shadow of death, but shining in the light of life.

The Song of Simeon as an Evening Prayer. 

“Lord, you now have set your servant free, to go in peace as you have promised;

For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, whom you have prepared for all the world to see.

A light of revelation to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.”  (Luke 2:28-32).

This Song of Simeon provide the concluding words of the Compline, the nightly service of prayers before retiring for bed. This prayer is recited or sung faithfully on a nightly basis by Christians around the world. Simeon was an old saint who was promised by the Lord that he wouldn’t die without first seeing the long-awaited Messiah. He patiently prayed to that end, and finally the Holy Spirit led him one day to the baby Jesus in the Temple. Simeon cradled the baby Messiah in his arms and spoke these inspired words of blessing over Him.

Simeon’s words at the end of his life are also our words at the end of the day. For we have seen the light and glory of Jesus in our day. We have seen His power and His presence. Thus we can also pray these words of Simeon before our head hits the pillow… We can rest in peace knowing the Messiah has been revealed to all the world. Our spirit has been set free just like Simeon, and we can depart this day, if not this world, in peace.

Night Prayer.

“Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace. Amen.”  (concluding prayer of the Compline).

“Night Prayer” is another name for the Compline, a service of evening prayers said before going to bed. It was probably first officially formed by St. Benedict of the 6th century when he established his monastic communities in Europe. The Compline is a part of the formal prayers in most liturgical churches, including Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican.

And asleep we may rest in peace.

We all need rest in many different ways. Sometimes we need mental rest, other times physical rest. We also require emotional rest at times. The rest that puts it all together is blessed sleep. To rest in peace is probably on everybody’s lips as the head hits the pillow. When we sleep, the metabolism slows down, our brain activity decreases, our body gets a needed break, our emotions can take a step back. God designed our bodies to require that kind of complete rest at regular intervals. And sleeplessness will always lead to complete breakdown sooner or later. For those unlucky enough to find sleep elusive, a solution to that dilemma needs to be found before long. The first thing to do if sleepless is to pray about finding a peaceful rest. And then the sleepless party needs to discover what is causing the sleeplessness, whether it’s diet, or lifestyle, or a restless mind, or a troubled heart, or even a biochemical imbalance in the brain. But first pray for the peace that passes understanding. Pray for the grace that is rest. “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.” (Psalm 62:5). “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  (Psalm 4:8).