Peace with God

"So they answered the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees and said, 'We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth is peaceful and quiet.' Then the angel of the LORD said, 'O LORD of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years?'" (Zechariah 1:11-12, NASB)

This scene from Zechariah is striking. God's ministers, the horsemen, have gone throughout the earth to verify its tranquility and harmony. Peace is generally defined as the absence of conflict and the presence of cooperation. World peace--isn't that what we often hear people praying for? The world was at peace in the time of Zechariah. However, this peace was not a good peace since God was not the author of it; not all peace is good: God's people had been trodden under foot by their oppressors. Although it had been God's will that his people be taken into captivity, it was not his will that they be crushed beyond hope.

God's peace passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). This is not the same peace that the world knows. We can readily understand the peace of the world that comes with accepting godlessness and unrighteousness. That peace is attained through the rejection of Christ, refusal of his word, and obedience to the idolatry of self. In the time of Zechariah, God was in the process of a work that would rock the foundation of the world's peace: reestablishing his people to their city in preparation of the Messiah. The world's peace must be shaken in conflict in order for God's peace to emerge; those who would come out of the world and into Christ must also be shaken (cf. Mat. 10:34). The saying, "No justice, no peace" is a ready description: where God is not honored, where his authority is disrespected, where his word is not treated with delightful service in the denial of self by those who take up their crosses daily (Luk. 9:23), there is not God's justice, and therefore God's peace is not to be found there. We are to be at peace with all men (Rom. 12:18) but through God's peace.

Let us apply this to the local church: if injustice is allowed to take root due to false doctrine, bitterness, or spiteful practice, do not be fooled into thinking that God's peace will prevail. Yes, God's people are to be found at peace (1 Pet. 3:11; 2 Pet. 3:14), but only in the peace of God. Do not accept any counterfeit peace that comes at the expense of the faith, hope, and love that comes from a sincere devotion to God through Christ in obedience to his commands. Some conflict is inevitable, since it is through trial that justice is established and that God's peace prevails (1 Pet. 4:12; Jam. 1:12).

Brethren, are you now at peace with the world or at peace with God?

By Sam Stinson

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