The Peace Conundrum
Don’t you just love the idyllic scene where the shepherds are warming themselves by a cozy fire on a crisp frosty evening lovingly and attentively protecting and caring for their sheep? What excitement when the starry night sky fills with light from a great company of angels singing praises to God. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” echoes from the angelic choir overwhelming and frightening the simple workmen on the hillside. But the news that accompanies the praises, a Savior is born in Bethlehem snuggly wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger! Hurrying off the shepherds found Mary and Joseph just as the angel said and they spread the word throughout the whole area telling everyone what happened to them.
This story of peace coming to earth is the account of Jesus’ birth that we love to read at Christmas. There is another story going on at the birth of Jesus that we can never forget. In Revelation 12 we find a woman ready to give birth to a great and mighty king that will rule the whole world. In this depiction of Jesus’ birth Satan in the guise of a dragon is hovering over the mother in labor impatiently waiting to devour the child before it takes it’s first breathe. This incident causes a war in heaven where Satan and a third of the angels are flung to earth; banished from heaven forever. In verse 17 it reads “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony.”
I have wrestled with the statement made by Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 10:34 where he declares “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” How do you reconcile the coming of Jesus bringing peace to those whom God shows favor but the coming of Jesus also brings with it a sword, or literally war? Jesus’ birth did set off a war. Think abut the families who lost their children because wise men from the east inquired about the new king. The Roman appointed King of the region was so jealous he had all of the children in the Bethlehem area from the age of two down slaughtered. Where Satan is involved good is attacked and war is waged relentlessly and with no quarter or mercy.
Do you think the angels singing to the shepherds knew one-third of their clan was deceived by Satan and was being swept to the earth? What are we to think and believe Jesus brought; peace or war? Jesus’ birth as the Bible says, brought both. Satan is now roaming this world working to trip up, discourage and destroy those who follow Jesus. He will fervently pursue this cause directing his minion of fallen angels to disrupt, destroy and corrupt anything good and of God. As followers, though, we have the words of the angels recorded for us – there is peace on earth, right here in the midst of the devil’s waging war, for those whom God’s favor rests. His favor rests on His followers, the very ones that Satan in his rage is pursuing. This brings even more significance to the name of the newborn baby lying in the straw filled manger – Immanuel, God with us. Rest in this fact, Jesus will never leave us or forsake us.
Immanuel brings us peace in the midst of a spiritual war that was precipitated by his birth. Because He brought this sword will we take some blows from the enemy? Without a doubt. Will we waver at times and grow weary of the corrupt, dishonest and distorted evil that surrounds us? Yes, we do at times get discouraged. But think of the peace Jesus favors us with, it is “ the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, (and) will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
Every one of us will experience diverse trials, an array of sicknesses and inevitably death in this world as a part of the temporary war of revolt against Jesus. He can give you peace through it all if you know him as your savior. He will lead you, encourage you and even carry you when needed. We have the peace to know that when the dust settles and the battle is concluded, Jesus wins! He wins with one great final battle waged with a sword. Then there will be peace, not temporary like the war, but eternal everlasting peace in heaven where all things sad, evil, corrupt and impure are defeated simultaneously with Satan himself. Perfect peace!
Do you rest in God’s favor? Have you trusted Him and acknowledged Him as your Savior? Satan is waging a war all around me because Jesus came to earth to save me. This Christmas I am going to read the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2 and celebrate this account of His arrival on earth because I am a favored one of His, and I have chosen to rest in His peace.
This daily devotion is written by John Key