zechariahs-song

Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

A prophecy from Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus of Nazareth whom we know as Christ. (That’s some family!!). The prophecy comes from about 6 or 7 BC…about 6 months before Christ was born. So yes, Christ was born about 6 BC or so. What can I say, the calendar is a little off…

The prophecy of Zechariah comes at the circumcision of his son John, after he had just regained his speech following a period of being struck mute by an angel of the Lord for not believing what had been spoken about his son by the angel.

john-the-baptist

“And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” Remember how Mark’s gospel begins with that prophecy from Isaiah 40 about the coming of Messiah – “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”” ‭Mark‬ ‭1:2-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬. John was sent ahead of Christ to prepare the way, to begin the work of softening the hearts of the people of God for the revealing of God right before their very eyes. He will prepare the way by telling the people they will find salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Remember, under the law people had their sin nature revealed to them by just how difficult it was to live under the law, how impossible it was to follow every command, every food law, every law of the sabbath, every rule and regulation governing every part of their lives. To find salvation through the forgiveness of sins, rather than through punishment and trying not to do that thing anymore, was a radical shift.

morning-light

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us…Now that’s a beautiful prophecy!! Because of God’s tender mercy…I’m not sure people at this time thought of God as particularly merciful. They had been through exile, returned from exile, through war with surrounding nations, waited and waited and waited for God’s elusive Messiah, 400 years of just waiting between the testaments, no word from God, many would-be Messiahs coming up, great warrior Messiahs like Judah Maccabeus, the kind of Messiah we are still waiting for today, the Messiah to come kick ass, take names, give it to our enemies, and make the world right. And by making the world right, we mean making the world come under our control, under our will, because after all we are the chosen people of God, right? But no…no word from God, no Messiah, just 400 years of false hopes and waiting under someone else’s rule and control. No tender mercy…

morningsun

But….the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us!!! The morning light from heaven, the Messiah, the one true king is about to break into the world!! This is the message John the Baptist came to bring, and it’s the prophecy of his father Zechariah his son coming into the world.

sitting-in-darkness

And just why is that morning star breaking into the world?? He is coming to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. Amen and amen. Jesus came to bring light to we who live in darkness, and to guide us in the pathway to peace. John will tell people how to gain salvation through the forgiveness of sins. Jesus will be the morning star breaking into the world, bringing light and guiding us on the path of peace.

Yes, Jesus came to bring salvation to the world. In fact, Jesus IS the salvation of the world. And a huge part of that salvation is peace.

All the way back to the beginnings of humanity, we know what happened. Adam and Eve lived in the garden, ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (maybe we should call it the tree of judgement??!! Good, evil, evil, good. I’m good and you’re evil. This is evil but that’s good…). They were expelled from the garden, had children and gave birth to a murderer.

We know this story too. Cain kills his brother Abel, moves east of Eden and founds the very first city on the earth. Our very first city, the very beginnings of our civilization, was started by a murderer based on the murder he committed. And if you look at the long story of world history ever since, it is really nothing more than the long history of wars. It is the story of one nation, one empire after another, each one beginning with the conquest of another, each one founded by violence against another. Each and every one somehow founded and begun based on and because of the murder of others.

prince-of-peace-jesus-11425887-400-500

But now that morning star is breaking into the world, and he will guide us in the path of peace. He is guiding us now, if we will follow. Jesus does not force peace upon us. The Kingdom of God is without coercion. It comes one invitation at a time, one act of forgiveness at a time. Jesus does not force peace upon us, but IF we follow Him, He WILL guide us there.

pathway_to_peace_and_tranquility_by_estruda-d6tur06

Peace is not a destination. Peace is a path. Peace is not where we arrive, it’s how we walk. We find peace by walking in peace, we walk in peace by following Jesus. Jesus is the Way. Jesus is “…the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬. There is no hope for peace in the world apart from Jesus. If the way is not peaceable, it is not the way of following Jesus.

Jesus gave us the Sermon on the Mount, we could call that our Christian Manifesto. In this sermon Jesus taught His disciples, then and now, to love their enemies. Dying on the cross, he modeled the forgiveness of His enemies. Upon his resurrection, He offered the first words of the new world – “Peace be with you.”

peace-be-with-you

Of course, all this does not mean Jesus life was without conflict. Far from it. To advocate for peace in a world convinced peace is impossible is always controversial. If we assert peace is a path and not a destination we will be called many things. Naive, foolish, and many other more derogatory names we will be called.

peacemakers

There is a reason the seventh beatitude is followed by the eighth. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are the peacemakers. According to Jesus, they will be called the sons of God. After all, they are about the family business. This is followed by “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what us right. These two go hand in hand, blessed are the peacemakers, and blessed are those persecuted for doing right.

jesus-christ-with-pharisees-1138108-print

Jesus showed us the path of peace with much conflict and opposition. Still, He forgave His enemies and did no harm. Then He called upon His disciples, again then and now, to take up our cross and follow Him. It is the way to life and peace.

U.S. Marines from Lima Company 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines aim their weapons during a shootout with Taliban fighters in Karez-e-Sayyidi in the outskirts of Marjah district

Those who walk in darkness say that war is the way to peace. Ever heard that one? They simply can not see any other way. They can not imagine any other way upon which this world can be ordered. But very simply, war is not the pathway to peace. Even in our modern times, we’ve had two great world wars, both touted as the war to end all wars. How did that work out?? Trace all these wars back to their roots, and keep following the string, you wind up finding Cain. War is not the way to peace. War is just the way to the next war.
We live in dangerous times. We all know the physical dangers, we feel the physical dangers. We look around and wonder just what are we to do to feel safe again. But really, what I’m talking about here is a dangerous time for the church.

During these dangerous times, the church has been and will be tempted to react, and the world is watching. We are tempted (by Satan) to react with fear, bigotry, hate, scapegoating, and revenge. We must remember that satan is always on the side of fear and hate. We must also remember that satan always appears as an angel of light.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬. We live in a time of temptation for the church. The world is watching us during this time of fear, hatred and violence. People will be looking to the church. If we can overcome the temptation and walk in the path of peace, we will gain a new credibility for the gospel, a new hearing for what we believe about Jesus Christ. We will be light in the darkness. As Jesus said, “”You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

jesus-at-peace

We are the people of Jesus. Even non Christians know that Jesus taught us to love our enemies. It is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning and forgiving others that we are forgiven. It is in taking up our cross and dying that we are born into eternal life.

jesus-whipped-485

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭60:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬. It is advent, the season of celebrating the birth of our savior. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. We are called to be the light in the darkness. The world is in deep darkness, and we are so tempted to react to the darkness with more darkness. As my pastor closes every sermon on Sunday, we do need to “go be the church.”

 

The world is looking to us to be the church that is the light of the world, and lead people out of the darkness and onto the path of peace.

Because there is no way to peace. Peace is the way.
“Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

“And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:67, 76-79‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/luk.1.67,76-79.nlt

“”Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/mat.5.9-10.esv

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/1co.10.13.esv

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭60:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/isa.60.1-3.esv
John Lewis

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8 thoughts on “Walking in Peace

  1. Here in Jersey, and probably where you live, Christmas season seems more hectic. Thanks for the reminder of what’s important.
    You know who came to mind when you wrote about the Church being the Church like Jesus? Our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria. Churches there are providing meals and help to Christians and Muslims. It’s beautiful and real.
    Two verses came to mind while reading: “For He himself (Jesus) is our peace” from Paul’s letters. And from Matt. 11, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, and you shall find rest for your soul.”
    Wishing everyone a peace filled holiday!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s awesome Alan, thanks!!

      I love that about the church in Iraq and Syria. We feel like the church is dying here, and in many ways it is. But it growing like mad in Africa and the Middle East, especially in the Islamic world. God is moving in a mighty way RIGHT NOW, and we are too self absorbed to see it.

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      1. You might like this. Some professor studied movements to Christ in the Muslim world. He defined a movement as having at least 1000 baptized believers and at least 100 new worshiping fellowships. The first such movement did not occur till the 19th century, 1200 years after Islam began. By the end of the 20th century, 11 more movements occurred, mostly in the 80’s and 90’s. From 2000 to 2012, 69 more such movements to Christ have occurred in the Muslim world. How crazy is that! If interested, he wrote a book titled “Wind in the House of Islam.”

        A more awesome resource to how crazy great Christ is in his people in the Muslim world is the book,and now DVD, “The Insanity of God.” A Christian did relief and missions work in Somalia in the 90’s which almost broke his faith. Afterwards, he and his wife visited Christians in places of persecution asking “Is Jesus worth it?”; how they experienced Christ and maintained faith in the persecution. The book has more stories but the DVD is moving and incredible.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you so much for the references Alan. Will look up those books, ‘sure I can find them on Abe books. I think my pastor may have been referencing that study on movements to Christ, he was referencing something along those line in his sermon this past weekend

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  2. I went to Bible class this morning where we got a new teacher who really knows his stuff. We actually LEARNED stuff today. That is saying a LOT for a Sunday school class!

    Anyway, I thought of you. Wished you were there.

    The text was from Luke 2 where Jesus is 8 days old and presented at the temple. We talked about Simeon and Anna, and the teacher took us to the OT to talk about another Simeon there and another Anna, however in English the other Anna is spelled Hannah. Anyway, these two characters brought truck loads of theological significance to bear on the story in Luke 2.

    Simeon was the son of Jacob – whose other name was ISRAEL. And he gets featured in a couple of important stories in Genesis. He is part of the party of brothers who sells Joseph into slavery in Egypt and then lies to their dad, ISRAEL, about it. And one of the first things to note between the two stories??? In Luke, Simeon is told by the Holy Spirit that he will not die until he sees the Consolation of Israel. In Genesis, when Israel finds out his son is “dead”, he “refuses to be consoled”. Hmmm…

    And back in Genesis, when the story moves forward to that day that the brothers meet Joe and ask for food, but they fail to recognize him, AND Joe sends all the brothers back to their father to get the last remaining son in an effort to “prove they are not spies”, it is Simeon who waits this gig out in an Egyptian dungeon! But Simeon knows, based on previous interactions with his father, that dear old dad aint gonna send Benjamin back! Simeon sitting in jail, knows in his bones, that his goose is cooked! And it is only after the famine gets soooooooo bad, that Jacob acquiesces to the demand.

    Simeon, who knew in his bones that he was done – this after helping build a world and a life of lies by which he now was going to die, would have been shocked at the arrival of his baby brother! The boy has come! Believe it or not! But not only that, Jacob, of course, learns the truth that his fav son Joe is not actually dead! It is LIKE a resurrection as far as he is concerned, and IT CONSOLES the old man – ISRAEL!

    But get this!!!

    All these generations later, when Jesus is presented at the temple, another Simeon – bearing the name and the spirit of the first – is told he will see the CONSOLATION of ISRAEL! And here is the kicker, it means that when Benjamin was presented and Joe revealed, and all the healing that family experienced after that… was NOTHING compared to the OTHER boy being presented on this day and NOTHING compared to the consolation of Israel to be found in THIS BOY!

    But then there is Anna.

    Now, the teacher explained a couple of key exegetical moves he made which are too complex for me to type with a baby in my arms tonight, but his case was highly plausible, and for me convincing, that Anna here represents (or bears the name and spirit of Hannah, mother of Samuel.

    Luke’s Anna was 84 years old, a widow who HAD BEEN married 7 years in her youth. In Bible math (which does not work by the same rules as mathematics, but does have symbolic significance throughout the Bible), that makes twelve sevens. Seven is a symbol of perfection. 12 frequently represents Israel.

    Samuel’s mamma was barren for a long time before she had her boy. She lived in ridicule and shame and prayed to God for a son and promised to give him to God if he gave him to her. She of course lived up to her promise.

    The story of Jesus’s birth, though dissimilar in key ways is also alarmingly similar in key ways. The two stories bounce a lot of sparks off each other anyway, but when you factor it that Anna, standing in for Hannah is going to see the Son of God that blows away even her deepest desires, her prayers were answered in Samuel and MORE THAN ANSWERED in Jesus!

    Jesus, this lowly boy born to a manger setting is God incarnate! And when God does his special thing, it resonates at these levels!

    It reminds me of something C.S. Lewis said, and I cant quote it exactly, but it went something like… Heaven is retro active. When youre there, you realise you sorta always were there. Hell too is likewise. And When heaven comes, it goes into the past too and restores and fulfills even the past!

    Simeon and Hannah both had longings that even centuries later, God is going above and beyond! They had their desires met in their lifetimes, but now it is going even above and beyond their wildest dreams.

    Benjamin was merely a foreshadow of the real boy to come. Samuel was merely a foreshadow of a far richer blessing that Hannah could not have dreamed..

    crying baby, gotta cut loose…

    X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate it brother, I’ve been thinking about you in our cold snap up here.

      Sounds like you found a fantastic Sunday bible teacher there!! It is simply amazing the symmetry to be found between the Old Testament and New Testament. Almost like somebody planned it that way, isn’t it?

      Merry Christmas brother!!

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