For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
The Greek word for “peace” (pronounced as “eirene”) is rooted in the Hebrew concept of shalom. The Hebrew word “Shalom” (peace in English) means to bring completeness or to restore. Israel as a nation was chosen by God to be the harbingers of God’s shalom throughout all of creation. God called the people of Israel were called restoration and hope as they stood as a testament to God's reconciling work throughout the world. However, with Israel's history of judges, kings, and rulers, they were far from bringing such a ruling of God's kingdom. This is why the prophets, particularly the prophet Isaiah, looked forward to a future King–a Messiah–who would be known as a Prince of Peace (i.e., "shalom”).
The birth of Jesus, then, was the beginning of a transformative peace that would be brought into the world. Peace was no longer just a concept or idealized civilization but became incarnate and dwelt among humanity. As Jesus set out to proclaim the Good News about the Kingdom of God throughout the surrounding regions, He brought a message that said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
This Advent season, the peace of Christ is available to us all. While the holiday season can oftentimes seem like anything but “peaceful” (with errands to run, gifts to buy, deadlines to meet, meals to prep, and travel plans to book), Paul writes that an essential part of the fruit of the Spirit is “peace.” That is, peace is something that is initiated and given solely by the Holy Spirit. The peace of God shouldn’t be understood as a sort of care-free attitude or apathy towards anticipating the future. Instead, the peace of God is knowing we are safe and secure within God’s care. It’s knowing that whatever difficulty might come our way, God is aware of our situation and holds us tightly within His loving arms.
Advent is a time for us to be reminded: to know God is to know peace. With no God, there is no peace. In addition, while the peace of God is for us, it is also meant to be shared with our neighbor. Reflecting on the mission of Israel in bringing shalom to their foreign neighbors, our calling today is to be harbingers of that wonderful kind of “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), which is from God. Let us consider then, together, how we might share the peace of Christ with our neighbors this Advent season:
- What would it look like for you to embody shalom, or “God’s peace,” during this season of Advent?
- Take time today or this week to pause and pray, “God, what areas in my own life are marked by anxiety?” Then spend some time asking God to replace the fear and anxiety with His peace and truth.
— Lane Craig
Family Ministry Resident