Monday, August 8, 2011

The Pursuit of Peace

We have seen peace mostly as a river; some of us have no problem seeing it as a protective wall. Very, very few of us, however, see it as a blessing that holds all the other blessings of God in place. Notice that the vital requirement of prosperity is peace. It is almost inconceivable for us to have prosperity without peace. A nation at war, for example, is stuck in the present with all its resources struggling to stay above critical level. Conflict has the power stagnate a nation. Note the United States, however, after  World War 2: an unexpected prosperity flooded the nation that influenced a sudden unprecedented growth in the population, the generation being called the Baby Boom era.

Peace is the consolidator of all natural elements for the blessings of God to come together. It is best to view peace as the strap that wounds around a sheaf of grain during harvest time.

We can also say that peace is the table upon which our meals are set upon. I spoke with someone before who told me: "Dude, God loves you! God loves you so much, in fact, that He gives you everything you ask for in prayer! But if you ask for something, make sure you've got somewhere to lay His blessings on!" I didn't get the specific gist of what he was telling me until I got hold of this concept of peace. Back then, I was a zealous Christian who went for every opportunity for God by heart, but with not much brains to back it up. I never took time to consolidate and thank God for many things. I just wanted to go. One day, I got a hold of the Book of Genesis in my devotions where it said, a lot, that "he saw that it was good" after completing a step of His project of Creation. God could have created the heavens and the earth in one day, no problem! But He decided to do it with the light first, then the separation of night and day, and then, this, then that. Notice, however, that after one creation, the Bible said that He looked at what He made and "saw that it was good." It did not take Him one entire day to make, say, the light. He just spoke it, and it was so. Then after that, He looked at His creation for one whole day and "saw that it was good." God celebrated each step of His work with rest, with peace. Some of us just need to learn to relax!

For prosperity to enter, there must be peace. For healing to come, there must be peace. And it is not difficult to find peace since we can find it in Jesus. He promised us: "Peace I leave you; my peace I give you" (John 14:27). He already had given us His peace. All we need to do now is use it. And in using it, we must preserve it, for He entrusts this peace in stewarding hands.

There is an interesting story in 2 Kings 23:29 that invokes the question as to why did not bless the godly King Josiah with success when he decided to come against the Pharaoh Neco of Egypt. The story is given more detail in 2 Chronicles 35:20–21:

"Neco, king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, 'What quarrel is there between you and me, O king of Judah? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God who is with me, or he will destroy you."

Just a thougt: Did God really speak to Pharaoh Neco? During this time, Egypt was allied with Assyria. This battle would later be called The Battle of Megiddo, an important encounter that delayed the Egyptians in aiding the Assyrians against the Babylonians. The Battle of Megiddo later led up to the Battle of Carchemish that wiped out Assyria and the Egyptian army against, mainly, the Babylonian force. Because Egypt and Assyria were allied, the first one adopted the latter's style of how it intimidated and blackmailed their victims into surrendering. Notice how the Assyrian king Sennacherib tried to threaten Judah into surrendering:

National Geographic Society/Corbis

"...have I come to attack and destroy this place without word from the Lord? The Lord himself told me to march against this country and destroy it" (2 Kings 18:25).

See any difference in the way the Pharaoh Neco spoke to King Josiah?

But King Josiah stood his ground. He refused a peaceful transit of Assyria's ally. The King knew that the Assyrian empire was now in its downfall and was greatly impelled towards a dream of reuniting all Israel once again. It was, however, God's decision to send the ten tribes of the North to exile a little more than a century before this, and that it was God's will for Judah to remain still while the transition of world power was at its most turbulent. Josiah would not keep off his saddle. It was a rude realization for all Judah and her king to find that God was not in the battle to give them the victory.

Gianni Dagli Orti/CORBIS
God wanted Josiah out of the war. Judah during this time was experiencing a tremendous time of peace and prosperity following a wonderful revival of Judaism after the Law of Moses was rediscovered in the holy Temple. Spiritual truths were beginning to take root once again; significant festivals like the Passover last celebrated during the time of the Prophet Samuel back in the tenth century was once again being held. The Word of God was prospering in the land, so much in Judah that outreaches were already being made to the lands of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel.

The aftermath of the Battle of Megiddo, however, left a wide gaping hole of opportunity for Pharaoh Neco to seize. King Josiah's mistake caused the people to wiggle out of the security of the peace of God and into the feeble comfort of their own ability. King Josiah gets mortally wounded and dies (2 Kings 23:29); his twenty-three-year-old son Jehoahaz is placed on the throne. Neco makes an appearance in Jerusalem, carries Jehoahaz away, appoints Judah the king he wished, and imposes a heavy tax levy on the holy kingdom. The subsequent kings were no longer like Josiah was "did right in the eyes of the Lord." Four kings after Josiah, in 586 B.C., the Kingdom of Judah is carried into Babylonian captivity.

Francis G. Mayer/CORBIS
King David said it many generations before in Psalms 34:14, and Saint Peter, centuries later, seconded it in 1 Peter 3:11: "seek peace, and pursue it."

   1. ©Owain Kirby/Illustration Works/Corbis
   2. ©David Arky/Corbis
   3. ©Darren Kemper/Corbis

1 comment:

  1. Jesus Christ claims, and it is not appropriate to quote it in past tense, for one who understands the imperativeness of this truth that He is truly peace, the Prince of Peace, would attest to the reality of Christ as Who He truly is. Isaiah 9:6