“A little health, a little wealth, a little house, and freedom.” (Popular Victorian motto)
“He said to them ‘Is it well with him?’” (Genesis ch29 v6 RSV)
“He said to them ‘Is there peace to him?’” (Genesis ch29 v6 AV)
An Englishman’s greeting asks about health (“How are you?), a Frenchman’s greeting asks about activity (“How goes it?). As a young man briefly
working in Scotland, I was sometimes asked “How’s your Christmas?”
But the Hebrew speakers were greeting one another with “Is it peace?” or “Is there peace with you?” (This is the kind of cultural detail which
tends to get lost in paraphrase translation)
“Peace” is one of the most important words in the old Testament. It suggests an ideal state of living in contentment and free from trouble. This
is very different from the American ideal, “the pursuit of happiness”. The latter implies being active and acquisitive, always looking for
something “more”, in some sense. “Peace” implies a passive resting in what you’ve got already. It is the picture of “every man under his
The classic state of Peace must have been the period spent in the Garden. Peace, in the form of Eden, was lost when the relationship with God was
broken and the “curse” was imposed.
Peace is at the heart of what people want from God, so it is prominent in his promises;
“I will give you peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid” (Leviticus ch26 v6).
So one of the most natural ways of blessing someone is to pray that God will give them Peace, as in the blessing of Aaron;
“The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers ch6 v26).
Inevitably, “Peace be to you” is a very common shorter blessing.
That is what the Psalmist wants from the Lord; “May the Lord bless his people with peace” (Psalm 29 v11).
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122 v6).
Peace is promised, but there is a condition; “He will speak peace to his people, to those who turn to him in their hearts” (Psalm 85 v8).
Or in the words of Isaiah; “Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee
” (Isaiah ch26 v3).
That’s where Adam and Eve went wrong.
After Eden ,the accepted ideal condition of Israel was the kingdom of Solomon. It’s no coincidence that Solomon’s name or throne-name is derived
from the word for “peace”. “He had peace on all sides round about him” (1 Kings ch4 v24).
In Chronicles, there is a more circumstantial promise; “He shall be a man of peace. I will give him peace from all his enemies round about, for his
name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days” (1 chronicles ch22 v9).
In practice, and in daily life, a man’s peace will be suffering from constant disruption. Moth and dust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and
steal. There will be diseases, hail, drought, and locusts, even before human malevolence comes into play. In the last days of the kingdom of Judah,
the prospects of peace were undermined because God had withdrawn his protection, allowing them to fall under the sway of their enemies.
“I have taken away my peace from this people, says the Lord” (Jeremiah ch16 v5).
“O that you had hearkened to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea”
(Isaiah ch48 v18).
This was the message of the true prophets of that time. There were false prophets, adjusting their message to suit their audiences, who were “saying
‘Peace! Peace!’, when there is no peace” (Jeremiah ch6 v14). That is, they were promising immunity from danger, without the irksome condition of
repentance and righteousness. They were forgetting God’s basic principle; “There is no peace for the wicked” (Isaiah ch48 v22).
Nevertheless, God was able to promise for the future a “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah ch9 v3) and “my covenant of peace” (Isaiah ch58 v10). Of
course this means that
the precondition has been fulfilled;;
“The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness quietness and trust for ever” (Isaiah ch32 v17”.
If true peace was lost when mankind fell away from God, peace can only be restored when mankind returns to God in righteousness.
The message at the birth of Jesus is “peace on earth” (Luke ch2 v14).
In Hebrews, Christ is identified with Melchizedek, with a reminder that Melchizedek was king of Salem, which means “Peace” (Hebrews ch7 v2).
When Jesus leaves the disciples, he is able to promise “Peace I leave with you” (John ch14 v27).
This is only possible because the atoning work of Jesus strikes at the heart of the problem. He has dealt with sin, the falling away from God, which
was the original disturber of the peace. The peace which was lost in the Garden has been restored.
Therefore the gospel may be called “the good news of peace by Jesus Christ” (Acts ch10 v36).
Because, as Paul says, “We have peace with God with Christ Jesus” (Romans ch5 v1).
We are blessed with peace by the God of peace who restores us to righteousness;
“The God of peace be with you all” (Romans ch15 v33)
“And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians ch4 v7).
edit on 21-2-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)