This month we observed the 75th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The American involvement in the war that began that day ended in the horrific holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Second World War claimed over 80 million lives. We would think that the world would once and for all have given up trying to solve their problems with war, but that wasn’t the case. Since 1945, America has been involved in wars in Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. And these are only a few of the conflicts between nations in the past 75 years. Tragically, the best efforts of international alliances, statesmen, and diplomats have failed miserably to bring peace on earth. The problem, of course, is that peace is first a matter of the human heart. Mankind cannot live at peace with each other because they cannot live at peace with God.
Scripture locates the basic problem in the broken relationship between mankind and their Creator. The Apostle Paul puts it this way: “. . . the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Rom 8:7). Sinful humanity is wicked to the core, and Isaiah writes: “‘There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked’” (Isa 57:21). As the present age moves to its climactic conclusion, says the Lord Jesus, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. . . For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Mt 24:6-7). The Psalmist asks: “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’” (Psa 2:1-3). The nations want nothing to do with God’s authority! So of course, there can be no peace in the world.
At the Christmas season, however, we celebrate the birth of One whom Isaiah calls “the Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). “This One will be our peace,” writes Micah, and centuries later, Zacharias the priest, anticipating Messiah’s birth, said that He will “guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk 1:79). On the night of His birth, the message of the angels was, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Lk 2:12-14). Clearly, however, this was not world peace. Jesus would later say, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division” (Lk 12:51). So what did the angels mean?
The Lord Jesus came to bring peace to men (lit.) “of His good favor.” These are those whom He has chosen,” as Paul would write later, “from before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4). Through faith in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus, we are justified—declared righteous by God, who then “pours out within our hearts” the gift of the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5). Once we have been justified by grace through faith, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1).
Make no mistake: world peace is coming when the Lord Jesus returns to reign over the nations. In fact, says Isaiah, “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace” (Isa 9:7). That is the believer’s blessed hope. But for you today the issue is, are you at peace with God? If you’re not, believe in Him today; receive Him as your Savior, and you can begin to enjoy the matchless peace of God that overcomes anxiety and fear, and surpasses all human understanding. Jesus told His disciples: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (Jn 14:27). So have a blessed holiday, and peace to you and your loved ones throughout this Christmas season!