For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6
Dear members and friends,
In an English dictionary, the word peace is defined as either “freedom from disturbance (tranquility)” or “a state or period in which there is no war, or a war has ended.” Interestingly, this definition expresses that there are two different kinds or degrees of peace: one that is internal and personal, and another that is external and communal. Based on this definition, we may assume that peace could be achieved when we are free from disturbance both personally and communally. Meanwhile, disturbance is defined as “the interruption of a settled and peaceful condition.” What is the cause of the interruption? According to James in the New Testament, it is our own desire. “No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it.” (James 1:13-14) And human history tells us that it is full of disturbances and disasters caused by people, institutions, countries, etc.
In the Bible, the Hebrew word that is often translated as peace is shalom. However, the Hebrew word shalom can also be translated in several different ways: completeness in number; safety or soundness in body; welfare, health, prosperity; peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment; peace in human relationships and/or peace with God; peace from war. According to James Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the word shalom could even express a combined meaning of well, favor, happy, good health, peace, prosper, safe and salute. This is probably the reason why in Isaiah 9 one of the titles for Christ is Prince of Peace. Also, in Isaiah 26, we read “Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace-in peace because they trust in you (ver.3),” and “O Lord, you will ordain peace for us. (ver. 12)” Therefore, what the Old Testament is teaching us with the word shalom is that God has blessed us with not just a moment of freedom from disturbance either personally or communally, but a state of being that could last for eternity, and in which we are complete within the presence of God.
My brothers and sisters in God, in this season of Advent let us take a moment and deeply reflect upon the word and concept of peace. Let us pray that we all become peacemakers and instruments of peace.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee