Christ­mas Shalom

Activated - - NEWS - By Peter Am­s­ter­dam Peter Am­s­ter­dam and his wife, Maria Fontaine, are di­rec­tors of the Fam­ily In­ter­na­tional, a Chris­tian com­mu­nity of faith. Adapted from orig­i­nal ar­ti­cle.

One of the por­tions of the Na­tiv­ity story that I find most beau­ti­ful and mean­ing­ful is when the an­gel ap­peared to the shep­herds and an­nounced Je­sus’ birth, fol­lowed by a mul­ti­tude of heav­enly hosts prais­ing God. It’s such a fit­ting en­trance for the birth of the Son of God:

“That night there were shep­herds stay­ing in the fields nearby, guard­ing their flocks of sheep. Sud­denly, an an­gel of the Lord ap­peared among them, and the ra­di­ance of the Lord’s glory sur­rounded them. They were ter­ri­fied, but the an­gel re­as­sured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all peo­ple. The Sav­ior—yes, the Mes­siah, the Lord—has been born to­day in Beth­le­hem, the city of David!’”

1 The an­gel an­nounced the birth of the Sav­ior, but that wasn’t the end: “Sud­denly, the an­gel was joined by a vast host of oth­ers—the armies of heaven—prais­ing God and say­ing, ‘Glory to God in high­est heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’”

2

This con­nec­tion be­tween the Sav­ior and peace is seen in the Old Tes­ta­ment prophe­cies as well; for ex­am­ple, in the book of Isa­iah, where we are told: “A child has been born for us. We have been given a son who will be our ruler. His names will be Won­der­ful Ad­vi­sor and Mighty God, Eter­nal Fa­ther and Prince of Peace.”

3 In both the Old and New Tes­ta­ments, the Mes­siah—the Sav­ior—has a con­nec­tion to peace. Yet as we look at the world to­day, or at al­most any time

in his­tory, peace is of­ten the last thing we see. Wars and civil strife are en­demic to hu­man­ity. Sadly, last­ing peace through­out the earth hasn’t hap­pened, and it cer­tainly doesn’t ex­ist to­day. So why is Je­sus called the Prince of Peace? Why did the an­gels, when prais­ing God at Je­sus’ birth, speak of peace?

The word used most of­ten for peace in the Old Tes­ta­ment is shalom. While this word is some­times used in Scrip­ture to de­fine peace as the ab­sence of war, it has other mean­ings as well. The root mean­ing refers to be­ing whole or sound. It speaks of com­plete­ness, sound­ness, safety, health and pros­per­ity, con­tent­ment, tran­quil­ity, har­mony, peace of mind, the ab­sence of anx­i­ety and stress. It also refers to friend­ship be­tween in­di­vid­u­als, as well as peace and friend­ship be­tween in­di­vid­u­als and God.

The Greek word most of­ten used in the New Tes­ta­ment for peace, eirēnē, is some­times used to mean a state of na­tional tran­quil­ity and the ex­emp­tion from the havoc of war. How­ever, it is used more of­ten to ex­press se­cu­rity, safety, pros­per­ity, har­mony, and good will be­tween in­di­vid­u­als. It also refers to the tran­quil state of a soul as­sured of its sal­va­tion.

While the world will one day know peace in the sense of an ab­sence of war after Je­sus’ se­cond com­ing, the peace so of­ten spo­ken of in God’s Word refers to the over­all whole­ness of in­di­vid­u­als, both phys­i­cally and spir­i­tu­ally. Scrip­ture re­peat­edly states that such whole­ness, tran­quil­ity, and shalom comes through hav­ing a right re­la­tion­ship with God, a re­la­tion­ship made pos­si­ble through the Sav­ior, whom the an­gels an­nounced to the shep­herds that night over two mil­len­nia ago.

Je­sus’ life, death, and res­ur­rec­tion brought rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween God and man. Through faith in Je­sus, the Prince of Peace, we’re able to be at peace with God. “God showed how much he loved us by hav­ing Christ die for us, even though we were sin­ful. Even when we were God’s en­e­mies, he made peace with us, be­cause his Son died for us. Yet some­thing even greater than friend­ship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, we will be saved by his Son’s life.”

4 Through the Prince of Peace, har­mony and re­la­tion­ship can be re­stored be­tween God and all those who em­brace Je­sus as their Sav­ior. We can then pos­sess the full­ness of shalom: com­plete­ness, sound­ness, safety, con­tent­ment, tran­quil­ity, har­mony, and peace of mind, which is the source of in­ner peace in the midst of the storms and chal­lenges that we all face through­out our lives.

Je­sus, the Lord of peace, brings us peace that ex­ceeds any­thing we can un­der­stand—as it says in the orig­i­nal He­brew, shalom shalom. Re­peat­ing a word was the He­brew way of ex­press­ing a higher de­gree; in this case, not just peace but per­fect peace. We find peace in the Sav­ior, peace when we love God’s Word, peace when our ways please Him, peace through the pres­ence of the Holy Spirit, peace in faith, and peace when Christ rules in our hearts.

The an­gels prais­ing God on the night of Je­sus’ birth were herald­ing the peace that God was mak­ing avail­able through the birth of the Sav­ior—the peace with God that comes through sal­va­tion, the in­ner peace that comes from our con­nec­tion with God, the peace we have from know­ing that God loves us and has made a way for us to be with Him for­ever.

1. Luke 2:8–11 NLT 2. Luke 2:13–14 NLT 3. Isa­iah 9:6 CEV 4. Ro­mans 5:8,10 CEV

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