When will there be peace on earth good will toward men? Every year around Christmas, certain local companies put up signs quoting Luke chapter two declaring “Peace On Earth” and “Good Will Toward Men” (Luke 2:13,14). Most people take this to mean that the Lord is going to literally bring peace to this earth and that nations will no longer rise in war with one another. Bing Crosby and David Bowie famously sing together about a time when men will live in peace again, the day of glory. But is this what Jesus was describing?
Before Jesus left this earth He told His apostles, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Later Jesus told them “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus promised peace to His apostles. Just what did this mean?
Certainly it will not be denied that as Christians we enjoy blessings that no others do. All spiritual blessings are in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). Peace is among those spiritual blessings afforded Christians (Gal. 5:21-23). We are allowed to partake of the divine nature having escaped the pollutions that are in the world through lust (II Pet. 1:4). The Lord of peace Himself gives us peace always by all means (II Thess. 3:16).
Indeed, there is a peace that passeth all understanding (Phil. 4:7). It is the kind of peace that allowed Paul and Silas to sing in the face of persecution (Acts 16). In nearly everyone of his epistles, the apostle Paul began by addressing the letter with “grace and peace from God the Father” (cf. I Cor. 1:3; II Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col.1:2; I Thess. 1:1; II Thess. 1:2, etc.). We are enjoined to follow peace with all men (Heb. 12:14) and live peaceably with all men, as much as lieth in us (Rom. 12:18).
But this calmness of soul and lack of conflict with our fellow man derives from a deeper source of peace. Before we can have any real, meaningful peace of mind, we must first have peace with God. In describing the sinful condition of man Paul quoted Isaiah and affirmed that the way of peace we have not known (Rom. 3:17; Is. 59:7,8). Both Jew and Gentile fall under this condemnation for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). This puts us at enmity with God (Rom. 8:7; 5:10).
But Jesus is our peace and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us–that is, between man and God (Eph. 2:14). The middle wall of partition refers to the curtain that separated the holy place from the most holy place in the tabernacle and in the temple (Ex. 26:31-33). The ark of the testimony with the mercy seat was in the most holy place (Ex. 26:34).
Thus, the most holy place, or the holy of holies, represented Heaven and God’s throne (Heb. 9:24) and no one but the High Priest could go in and approach God (Heb. 9:7). Now, Jesus, our High Priest, has broken down that wall so that the way into the holiest of all has been made available by our forerunner, providing us a sure and steadfast hope (Heb. 9:8; 10:19; 6:18-20). By His own blood He entered once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:11,12).
Therefore, Christ has slain the enmity and reconciled both Jew and Gentile unto God in one body by the cross, so making peace (Eph. 2:14-17). God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself (II Cor. 5:19). Being the Prince of Peace He came and preached peace with and reconciliation to God. Peace always comes after belief in and obedience to the Lord (cf. Luke 8:42, 8:48). Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1).
The United States and, indeed, every other place in the world is experiencing great unrest and lack of peace. Politicians and those other persons who occupy the halls of power may claim and give assurances that they can secure peace through treaties and agreements among men or through legislation but they have yet to prove it. From the beginning of time, peace has not reigned on the earth, at least not for very long and only in local situations. The longing for peace is real and it is also illusive. The world may be able to give a temporary cessation of conflict, but it cannot give the kind of true, lasting, inner peace that the Lord gives. The world has tribulation; Jesus gives peace. The world will continue to have conflict and it will only get worse and worse (II Tim. 3:13). Because we have been reconciled to the Father and because Christ has redeemed us by the blood of His cross, we can have peace with God and our fellow man. No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.
Eric L. Padgett