What would it feel like to not only have peace, but a Prince of Peace, one who would provide shalom. One who would bring a constantly expanding peace, that grows, puts out tendrils and takes new ground? One who could give a sense of wholeness that isn’t static, but growing so that it begins to cover all your cares from personal to national to international?
When Isaiah describes his vision of the Coming One, he announces him not only as “a child … a son,” but as the One whose broad shoulders will carry every executive responsibility needed to govern God’s people. “And the government will be upon his shoulders,” repeats Handel’s setting of this text. News this wonderful must be sung: passed back and forth from sopranos to tenors, from altos to basses, up and down, down and up, as they spread the news about Messiah’s broad shoulders.
After that, his four titles line up like so many Christmas presents. “And his name shall be called…”:
Today we’ll explore the fourth and final one: Prince of Peace
These are not mere honorary titles, like an honorary doctorate bestowed instead of earned. No, Jesus earned them all. He even displayed them all during his earthly life. But it’s the final title that I hope will capture our imagination today: The Prince of Peace.
That title in itself is wonderful, but listen to this:
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.Isaiah 9:7a
Read it again. One more time. This government won’t be static, stuck in a holding pattern that consumes the taxpayers money without producing anything. No, this government will be productive, increasing in effective leadership and everlasting peace.
Do you wonder how this title could relate to our everyday life? I did too, until the other day.
The other day I got into a funk. The Pilates classes I was teaching that morning didn’t go quite like I’d expected. In fact the harder I tried, the worse it got. By the end of my shift I felt not only defeated, but deflated.
As I put equipment away, I kept rethinking the morning. When did it go wrong? What could I have done? Maybe I could have fixed it if I had ….
My mind kept circling, looking for a place to settle.
That’s when another instructor came in the door. “How are you?!” she exclaimed. As I unloaded my distress, her eyes widened and then she laughed. “You’ve got to shake it off, girl!” She encouraged me first, and then proceeded to coach me with the wisdom she was learning from her Buddhist guide.
Her obvious concern for me was very comforting, but I realized I have a better counselor. I even have a Prince of Peace, who brings me at least three kinds of increasing peace.
The Prince of Personal Peace
Once I was in my car I pulled up my Bible app and searched for “peace.” Isaiah to the rescue!
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in in the LORD forever,
for the LORD God is an everlasting rock.Isaiah 26:3, 4
This promise of personal peace is more than a mood changer; it is a fact. Trusting in the Lord means shifting the weight of my confidence from myself (or another person) onto God himself. It means that I entrust not just all that I have, but all that I am to him.
The preceding verse (Isaiah 26:2) spells out exactly who can come into God’s presence: “Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in (Isaiah 26:2).” This refers, not those who call themselves righteous, but to the ones whom God has counted righteous because of their faith in his means of salvation. As Alec Motyer explains in a footnote to Isaiah 26:2–
The ground of admission is their status of righteousness, of being right with God, and the evidence of that status is fidelity (or faith).Alec Motyer, (Isaiah by the Day, p. 127) my emphasis
“Where sin is present, there is no Shalom,” said our preacher. Which is why repentance and faith in the Prince of Peace is the only path to peace. This is how we enter his Kingdom.
The Prince of National Peace
Isaiah was addressing not just individuals, but the nation with his call to peace. Though the nation was in turmoil, they were not looking to God for help. The northern kingdom, Israel, was seeking safety by forming alliances with Assyria and Syria. While the southern kingdom, Judah, was simply hunkering down behind reinforced walls and a newly built water access.
Some of them were even consulting mediums and necromancers. They thought the dead could give counsel to the living (Isaiah 8:19)!
But could they?
Not. at. all. Isaiah scorns this behavior and urges God’s people to consult God’s Word instead: “To the teaching and the testimony (Isaiah 8:20)!” He also pleads with them to “Trust in the LORD forever” and gives them good reasons “for the LORD God is a everlasting rock (26:4).”
We, as the New Testament people of God, hear this as a call for his Church. During such trials as the COVID pandemic and our national division–which has progressed to the point where secession is being threatened–believers can both trust God and function as emissaries of the Prince of Peace. We can seek to tone down the rhetoric by listening with an ear tuned to their words and a heart tuned to God’s word.
Then we can point them to the One who was “pierced for our transgressions;” who was “crushed for our iniquities;” to the one “upon whom was the chastisement that brought us peace and with his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).”
Instead of stirring up political war, we can become bearers of God’s message of peace, with the expectation that He himself will be at work.
And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.Isaiah 32:17
Expanding His Peace
I remember that as a child, the thought of eternity terrified me. I would try to imagine time going on and on and on and on until…. That’s when I would realize there was no “until.” It would just keep going.
I shuddered with the enormity of that thought. Endless anything seemed more of a curse to me than a blessing in this fallen world.
But this King changes the equation. This Kingdom will never stop growing. How? “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this (Isaiah 9:7).”
The LORD of the heavenly armies isn’t simply prepared to make war on his enemies, he’s primed to bring peace. And that is a much bigger task, as the peacemakers in any global conflict can attest. Why? Because the warmongers are more determined than the peacemakers.
That’s why it takes the LORD of hosts himself with his everlasting zeal to do it. He will establish and uphold this peace. But even better he will cause it to increase. To grow, to develop, to expand, to surge…. Eternity will be, not just an endless thing, but a growing thing. That is what he promises:
“Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”Isaiah 9:7
Amen and Hallelujah!