How many of us this morning would say that our weeks could be summarized by the word peace? Has the past week been a week where you had peace? All of us determine our level of peace by looking at the circumstances that we are in. Some of us in this room would say this week has not been peaceful because our level of peace is determined by the external circumstances. The house is a mess, work is crazy, the kids need so much of our time. I don’t seem to get a minute to myself. Many of us determine our level of peace by the quality of our relationships. Things are peaceful because there is not emotional conflict with those closest to me.
The reality that most of us walk around and believe we would have peace… If I could get rid of such and such a circumstance then I could experience peace. If I could just have this relationship healed, I would be at peace. If I could have my finances under control, then I would find peace. If I could have “me” time, then I would have peace.
I know that given my stage of life, those moments after the kids go to bed and the house is picked up are moments of peace.
But the truth of the matter is peace should not be determined by external circumstances. Why is it that we look to a better day to experience what the bible says we can and must experience now? This morning we are going to anticipate the birth of the Messiah by looking at how he is going to bring peace. Will will look at how we now can find the internal peace that comes from believing in and walking with our Messiah, Jesus Christ.
READ: Isaiah 11
When I begin to think about peace, I start typically with setting the back drop of what the most peaceful situation would look like. I may begin dreaming of a peaceful lake surrounded by woods with a cabin next to it. Now that is a setting where someone can find peace. No cell phone reception, no email, none of the normal distractions or stressers that seem to eat away at us.
Isaiah’s vision of peace coming to us actually begins with a forest being ravaged by the Lord. In Isaiah 10:33-34 there is a picture given of judgment and punishment. It reads, “Behold, the Lord God of hosts will lop the boughs with terrifying power; the great in height will be hewn down, and the lofty will be brought low. he will cut down the thickets of the forest with an axe, and Lebanon will fall by the Majestic One.”
Picture a larger than life Paul Bunyan coming to pronounce judgment on the nations. God is coming to take down nations like a lumber jack does a tree. Is this really the image that we want to start with. Is this the ideal back drop for peace? A forest being torn down in judgment! Sounds like great stress relief but not a peaceful story.
Then we come to verse 1 of chapter 11, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.”
What a minute? So destruction is giving God a clean slat with which then to paint a picture for us and Israel of what He is going to bring into this word through the coming of the Messiah.
What is the big deal about this shoot coming out of the root of Jesse? Glad you asked.
There is a story in 1 Samuel 16…
This is the story of the prophet Samuel going to anoint the next king of Israel. Saul, the first king of Israel, has been rejected by God. Saul did not follow the commands of God and as a consequence was going to be sacked and a new king brought in.
Samuel was lead by God to anoint one of the sons of Jesse. Let me quickly read you a summary of this story from the Jesus story book bible.
INSERT THE STORY FROM JESUS STORY BOOK BIBLE.
You may have noticed that God was establishing his kingdom through David, the son of Jesse. The reality of the covenant God made with David was this, that his kingdom would stand. God promised that the Kingdom of God would come and be established by a successor of David. The people of Israel then were being called in Isaiah to look for the greater David. And the kingdom of David’s successor would not look like the kingdom that David ruled.
We see in verses like:
Ezekiel 34:22-24, written after the life of david, “I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.
You see that the hope for the nation of Israel was found in the promised restoring of God’s kingdom through a David to come that would be greater than Israel’s King David who was their greatest king to date. The hope of restoration should and must be found in the coming Messiah.
Israel was just like us, they were seeking peace through a king, and a government that would be safe, and peaceable. Just like we enjoy calm circumstances so too Israel was seeking peace in their external circumstances.
So in Isaiah 11:1 we find that David’s father Jesse is mentioned and that a shoot will grow out of the desolation that the judgment of the Lord will bring to all nations. The greater David that has been promised is what we are looking to. This greater David and His Kingdom of Peace are at the focus of Isaiah 11.
Coming out of devastation, there would rise one who would usher in a new kingdom. Let’s tie this passage to a familiar set of movies made after the J.R. Tolken series, the Lord of the Rings. You see that in the movies, the great line is that there would be one ring to rule them all, and in the end there is one man called to destroy that ring and the kingdom of darkness that ensued from the creation of that ring until it’s destruction.
In the closing moments of the trilogy Froddo carries the ring and it is destroyed in the place where it is forged. In the same way sin and the kingdom of death was forged in a garden here on earth. So the one, the greater David, our Messiah, came into this kingdom to destroy it and establish the true kingdom, the Kingdom of God.
The rest of this passage in Isaiah 11 goes on to describe what this kingdom would be like. And in very poetic form gives the readers of this passage a picture of the kingdom to come. The characteristics of this great king, the shoot coming out of the stump of Jesse point us to the peace and serenity of the kingdom to come. It is through examining what this leader will be like that we will see how we can experience peace by being apart of this kingdom. The peace of this king and his kingdom is rooted in the leader, the Messiah himself.
Let us examine the source of this kingdom of peace, and how we can experience the peace of this kingdom in our lives today. The reality is we can experience this peace because we live in the gap between the ages, where the kingdom of God is here, but not fully here. In the same way I have my son Malachi and I know him, there is more to be revealed and know about him as he grows into the man God is going to make him. So we too are in the growth process of the kingdom of God to where we can experience it, but it is not fully here.
Let us look at Isaiah 11:2, “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”
In the same way the spirit of the LORD would rest on this shoot, the Messiah, we read that the Spirit of God descended on Jesus after John the Baptist had baptized Jesus. Coming down from the sky in the form of a dove, the Spirit descended and empowered Jesus for His ministry and calling. We can also see that in Colosians 2:9, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” In the same way, the Spirit comes to reside in those who place their trust in Jesus.
Look at what Jesus said to the disciples while He was with them. John 14:15-31 tells us that the disciples walked with Jesus without the Spirit, but that the Spirit of God was coming to give life (vs. 19), knowledge of God (vs. 20), to teach (vs. 26), and to bring peace (vs. 27) The same way that the Spirit rested on and empowered our great Messiah, we too have that Spirit resting on us.
Look then at what happens at the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2. People are united and hear the gospel message in their own language. Thousands were added into the Kingdom of God and their lives where changed. They were transformed. They shared what they had, they spent time together, they were a picture for everyone to see. To see exactly what this kingdom of peace would look like.
Then we turn to Romans 8 to see how the Spirit gives us peace. Let me read you Romans 8:1-6. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
Let us break this down practically. There is no condemnation. There is no conflict in your relationship with God. Do you get that? There is no reason for you not to spend time with God. Your sin has been paid for. There is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the love of Christ. Loosing your temper doesn’t separate you. Not feeling as though you are good enough to spend time with God does not separate you. You are not condemned. You are redeemed.
You have been set free because of the Spirit. There is nothing holding you back from leaning on and walking through life with Jesus. Sin does not have the same power it once did, death is not a reality. You will not die in vain. Your physical death gives way to the life you were created for.
You must walk according to the Spirit. Peace from external circumstances and from the internal strife you feel comes by walking in step with the Spirit. Now what does that look like? If you want the peace that God has for us, then we need to know how to pursue that peace. And if the Messiah was coming to bring his peaceful kingdom, then we need to look to the Messiah. If you want to know how to experience true lasting peace, look at the life of Jesus.
I want us to notice how what Romans 8 is laying out for us is what is laid out for us in Isaiah 11:3-5.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
Scripture points out that when you delight in the right one, you have peace. Verse 3 points out that the Messiah’s delight will be in the fear of the Lord. Tell me if this reality is true for you. When you are delighting in something or someone other than God that is when your peace and joy are stolen. For instance, when you are finding your peace in the quality of your relationships it means that if you and those close to you are friendly and living in true community things are good in your life. But the moment there is a break in a relationship there is a peace that is stolen from you and me. This is a reality.
What should we do when we see the pain of a broken relationship and our peace is stolen? The gospel speaks clearly to this. The coming Messiah had the Spirit resting on him and found his delight in the fear of the LORD. When the peace we seek avoids us, it is because we have begun to worship creation rather than the creator. When the peace leaves, and you notice it, this is the Spirit calling you back to Jesus. It is in moments like these that we have the opportunity to repent of worshipping creation and focus our heart and emotions back on the Messiah who is coming and came to bring us peace.
So what is that relationship that you’re are worshipping more than God? What circumstance is taking the peace that has been promised to you in Christ?
He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
A judge and jury come to mind when one begins to think about the different ways we can experience peace. And what is told to us here is that the Messiah will come and judge. He will bring judgment by his methods of judgment. He will not judge like any of the judges of this world because all they can see is the external. But the Messiah is coming to bring his judgment which will be perfect.
A PICTURE OF PEACE: LET US SEEK THIS PICTURE
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Look at what the kingdom to come is to be like! See the picture of what is to come! Can you see a world where the lion and the lamb snuggle? Where a baby leads leopards, wolves, and lions? Can you imagine a world where the youngest among us can play around the nest of cobras? The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord. No one will doubt, all will know our Heavenly Father. And this is not simply an acquaintance type of knowledge. This is a deep intimate knowledge. We shall know the Lord in the same way that we wish we could be known. It will not be awkward or difficult to discuss deep heart seeded issues. We will not try and cover up who we are or what is going on in our lives. Along with this open relationship comes our renewal. The only way that the lion and calf can lay down together is for the sin of this world to be taken away, to be eradicated from our presence.
Now this is a coming reality. This picture of perfect peace is not here yet. BUT, the reality is we can now begin to experience this peaceful reality in our midst. We are in what is known as the gap between the ages where the kingdom of God has come, but is not fully here. Just like actors begin to memorize their lines, and preparing for a performance, the kingdom of God is in the rehearsal stage where the play is a reality but not fully here. The night of the performance is still to come.
What this means is that we can begin to experience the lion laying down with the calf, and the wolf snuggling with a lamb. We can begin to see that a child can and will play over the nest of a cobra.
Let’s start with a community wide perspective on how we can see this peaceful reality now and move towards personal peace. As far as our community goes, we can begin to see the peace of God transform it because we his people are in it. We are the hands and feet that bring the kingdom of God. For an example…a few weeks ago we spent a Saturday morning raking leaves on St. Rose Court. That was a beautiful picture of what the kingdom of God coming in a real way. What was once choas and disorderly, was left clean and ordered. There was a visible picture for the residents of what the kingdom of God will be like. We even had the opportunity to share that message of hope with a few of the families that were home. What did those families do to deserve such a great gift. Nothing, just like we don’t and can’t do anything to enjoy the gift of salvation we enjoy. Jesus accomplished it all for us.
Let’s think a little closer to home. The peace we are seeking is Jesus flourishing in our lives through the Spirit. Ultimately the peace we are looking for is found in learning to live with Jesus and love like Jesus. Peace comes to those who pursue Jesus above all.