And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. (Jeremiah 29:7, NKJV)
Judah was in Babylon, exiled by the Lord God because of her sinful rebellion against Him (Jeremiah 29:1, 4). In this letter to the elders of the people, God’s prophet instructed them to build houses, plant gardens, maintain their families, and be at peace with those who ruled over them. Like them, we live in a strange land as we live for heaven. In times of societal distress we are tempted to become militant against unrighteous governing powers, forgetting that God rules over every nation (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:17). During times of peace as well as turbulence, Christians supplicate heaven, giving thanks and praying “for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:2). While the mobs gather, we live for a better country, a heavenly one. Instead of repaying evil for evil, “have regard for good things in the sight of all men” so that, “if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:17-18). In His time, God rights every wrong with just vengeance (Romans 12:19). We are to promote peace in righteousness. That is what sojourners do while living in a foreign land (1 Peter 2:11-12).
34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ (Matthew 10:34–36, NKJV)
The Prince of Peace brought spiritual warfare to the earth (Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, 1 John 3:8). His gospel marks the dividing line between truth and error, good and evil, right and wrong. Truth has that effect; it divides the closest of relatives. Our adversary the devil uses our earthly relations (parents, children and spouses) to slander our loyalty to Jesus and tempt us to choose family over faith. Will you compromise truth and abandon your faith for the sake of your father, mother, child, spouse or in-law? Not everyone the Christian loves will love God. Borrowing from Micah 7:6, Jesus strips away the illusion that we can follow Him without fighting the good fight of faith. Your faith must not be in other people, no matter how closely related you are to them. Your first allegiance is to Jesus and His truth. He is our means of peace with God and with those who follow Him (Ephesians 2:14). Jesus preached peace, but every day He battled the forces of unbelief. He expects you, dear Christian, to wage the same fight (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 Timothy 6:12; 1 John 5:3-4).
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27, NKJV)
Peace is an integral part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Peace is not merely the absence of conflict (a cease-fire), it is also the abiding presence of tranquility and harmony. Peace is to be the umpire that rules in our hearts over matters of real or potential conflict. Paul wrote, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Christians are called to “live peaceably with all men” (as much as it depends on you, Romans 12:18). The peace we have with God dispels antagonism toward others. We cannot be at peace with God while at war with members of His “one body” (the church). So, our spiritual development demands that we cast off every attitude and deed that spawns and spreads strife (which God hates, Proverbs 6:16, 19). “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19). Take the initiative and make peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, (2 Peter 3:14–15, NKJV)
The coming day of God will be a day of divine wrath and reward (2 Peter 3:10-13). In today’s passage, the apostle exhorts us to look forward to the events of the Lord’s return with anxious anticipation. By doing so, we will diligently live holy lives, to be found by God in peace when He comes. The fact that the Lord has not yet returned is no proof He will not return (He has promised to return, 2 Peter 3:4). Instead, it is proof of His longsuffering toward us. The Lord is giving us opportunity to repent of our sins to be saved (see 2 Peter 3:9). Christians must avoid negligent apathy, and instead, be careful to be holy every day. We are looking for “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Lives filled with worldliness are completely out of harmony with the hope of eternal life. God wants your salvation. Repent, and live a holy life, “to be found by Him in peace without spot and blameless” when He returns.
“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22, NKJV)
At first glance, it seems counterintuitive that the wicked have no peace. On the surface, it often appears not to be so. But, what appears to be so is not always the truth of the matter. The psalmist began to envy the wicked when he saw their prosperity. It appeared to him that they live and die in abundance, without experiencing life’s pain or suffering (Psalm 73:4-9). It appeared the wicked were at ease, while the righteous struggled to survive (Psalm 73:10-14). But, looks can be deceiving. When he contemplated their end, his eyes opened to see their demise (Psalm 73:15-20). He remembered the Lord was His comfort, strength, and counsel (Psalm 73:25-26). And so, he resolved to continue to put his trust in the Lord God, and declare all His great works (Psalm 73:28). He rightly judged that “those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert you for harlotry” (Psalm 73:27). Truly, there is no peace for the wicked. Living in the selfishness of sin leads to eternal agony. Come to Jesus, and have rest for your soul (Matt. 11:29).
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14, NKJV)
Peace without holiness is a facade that quickly falls away when rattled by the stresses and trials of life. Just as buildings crumble under the force of an earthquake, peace is shattered where holiness does not hold it together. Peace is much more than brokering a truce between enemies. Genuine peace is not merely the absence of conflict. Lasting peace includes the presence of tranquility and harmony. For peace to exist and thrive, Christians must inject the purity of holiness into every situation and relationship. Our text says to chase after peace with everybody. Another inspired text says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). So, let us couple our pursuit of peace with the pursuit of holiness. Allowing holiness to direct our words and deeds will promote the peace we pursue. Unholy anger, bitterness and resentment will only sabotage the peace we intend to seek. Furthermore, without holiness, we will not see the Lord, who is holy (1 Peter 1:13-16).
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, And your princes feast in the morning! 17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes feast at the proper time— For strength and not for drunkenness! (Ecclesiastes 10:16–17, NKJV)
When a country has an inexperienced, self-indulgent leader, its people suffer. Foolishly ranting and raving, instead of wisely serving the best interests in the nation, such a leader brings ruin to his realm. Conversely, the leader who learns from the experience and counsel of others in positions of rule, are more likely to manifest propriety and decision-making that brings a blessing to his people. We live in dangerous times. Rumors of war are heard around the globe. Let us pray for leaders here and abroad who wisely defend justice while refusing the oppressive, destructive dictates of self-indulgent hearts. “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).