Blessed are the Peace-Makers
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
This verse in Isaiah follows a description of war and strife. It is a picture of Israel (The Northern Kingdom) coming under attack and being destroyed and many of its finest carried off into Assyria.
Isaiah 8 - 9:5 provides such a picture of war and strife. But this section makes it clear that whatever enemy force (Assyria specifically) comes now against Judah, even the mighty torrent of Assyria, it will not overwhelm Jerusalem. It will the Northern Kingdom (Israel) but not the Southern Kingdom (Jerusalem). Tiglath-Pileser III was too come in and take captive Israel.
In this context of future doom for the Northern Kingdom, Isaiah couched his prophecy of the Coming of a Messiah Savior. This passage that you have no doubt read and heard many times at this time of the year was written in the midst of a decaying Kingdom doomed for destruction. God rolled up the curtains; open the veil and gave Isaiah a peek inside the future when on that grand and glorious day over 2000 years ago when our Savior was borne.
"The everlasting Father" — In Scripture God is often likened to a father who cares for his children (cf. 63:16; Psa. 103:13). In that sense, this person will perpetually care for his people (Young). Prince of Peace. He will not be a tyrannical ruler. But He will usher in a great time of "Peace" to His followers.
Blessed are the Peace-Makers.
Early on in His ministry in the Sermon on the Mount uttered words that ring true for the Christian and that is just as He came to bring peace, so are we to continue that ministry of bringing in peace. He said, ""Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
There is an ascending slope to Christian maturity within these Beatitudes. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." This truth is unthinkable without understanding of the preceding beatitudes. There can be no peacemaking without the experience of the other virtues mentioned in the preceding beatitudes. Only as we have traveled through the areas of the other beatitudes are we ready to enter into this one:
I. The Need for Peacemakers
A. Jesus certainly recognized the need for peace.-
1. Peacemakers are those who actively work to bring about peace and reconciliation where there is hatred and enmity.
2. God blesses peacemakers and declares them to be His children (Matt. 5:9).
3. Those who work for peace share in Christ’s ministry of bringing peace and reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19; Eph. 2:14-15; Col. 1:20).
B. Definition: Greek - eirene - unity, concord; Hebrew - shalom; -- peace, health, whole, complete -
1. This term is used in different senses in the Scriptures.
2. Frequently with reference to outward conditions of tranquility and thus of individuals, of communities, of churches, and of nations (e.g., Numbers 6:26; 1 Samuel 7:14; 1 Kings 4:24; Acts 9:31).
3. Christian unity (e.g., Ephesians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:13).
4. In its deepest application, spiritual peace through restored relations of harmony with God (e.g., Isaiah 9:6-7; 26:3; Luke 2:14; John 14:27; Acts 10:36; Romans 1:7; 5:1; Galatians 5:22; etc.). See Atonement; Faith; Pardon; Adoption; Holy Spirit.
Barclay, "The Hebrew 'peace' is never only an absence of trouble. In Hebrew peace always means everything which makes for a man's highest good. So, in the East when a man says 'Shalom' to someone, he does not just mean the absence of evil but the presence of all that is good. In the Bible peace means not only freedom from all trouble; it means enjoyment of all good."
C. There is strife among nations - radical Islam; economic war; water wars are coming.
1. Has not your heart been troubled by the terrorist attacks happening now in India? Radical Islamic terrorism is here to stay for many years to come.
2. What about the Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia? Centuries ago Pirates oft found retreat in the North Carolina coast with the many tributaries. Now, Pirating is renewed in the 21st century.
D. There is strife among neighbors.
1. Sometime back I read in the newspaper about a 4 year old child being beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend.
2. Such occurrences has become the sad normal.
3. Our courts are packed beyond capacity to take care of the cases involving bitter accusations of man against man.
E. There is strife in families - do I ever know that.
Case Study - Robert the Person Who Stutters
You should listen in on some of my therapy sessions. As an example, let's talk about Robert. Robert (Fictitious name) has been a client of mine off and on for three years. Struggling since a child with the speech malady called stuttering, Robert sought me out after learning that the type therapy I do can be effective with people who stutter.
Early on we learned that a major driver behind Robert's fears and insecurities that triggered his stuttering lay within the imprints he received by growing up in the home of an alcoholic. Though a very successful man, Robert's father always drank heavy (and still does).
Robert experienced no love from his father. Being unable to express love himself, Robert's father could not express love to his own children. Robert's mother was the traditional "enabling" wife. Her life focused on Robert's father trying to keep him satisfied. However, as anyone in the field knows, keeping an alcoholic happy is a need that no human being can provide. Focusing on their father, Robert's mother neglected her children. Being a victim of a dysfunctional family herself, she was ill equipped to provide the bonding that the children needed.
This lack of bonding that Robert experienced both from his father and from his mother has had a profound effect on his life. The hurt and pain from childhood has wrapped itself around Robert's stuttering and serves both as a cause and, importantly, as a trigger for him to block and stutter.
Approximately 3 weeks ago I received the following email from Robert. In the subject line Robert had written, "Cutting off dad":
"Yeah, I'm aware of the dangers of depression and will be trying to make an effort to get out of the apartment.
"It doesn't feel like it right now, but I think/hope
this one can be a prelude to another big jump. I've become aware that I need to
make some more deliberate changes. My Dad has never made amends for
anything he has done, he hasn't even acknowledged it, and these rules
whereby he can evade accountability don't do me any good. I've made the
decision to cut him out of my life."
We continued with a couple sessions working on Robert's issues surrounding his parents. The last session included a session both with Robert and his mother. His mother lives in Ireland and Robert lives in Los Angeles. All of our therapy sessions have been by phone. This last week I received the following email from Robert. The subject line stated: "A little update":
"I'm cutting my Dad off from me. I've danced around the issue for a while, but it's time for me to be proactive and truthful to myself. The fact of the matter is that the way he has treated me and my family is unacceptable, and the fact that he is incapable of recognizing this has got to be his problem and not mine. My entire family is structured around not giving offense to him and as much work as I've done I've not fully broken free of this dynamic.
"The break isn't quite total - I'm okay with the prospect of meeting up with him the next time I go home (probably next year some time), but other than that I really don't want to deal with him, and therefore I'm not going to. I haven't told him yet and am not sure whether I will for a while yet because of the Holidays, but at a certain point I'm going to let him know.
"It's early days yet with my mother (and of course she's not as dysfunctional as my Dad), but I'm optimistic that that will relationship will grow healthier. At least now I'm beginning to feel like my voice is being heard (that's an interesting metaphor, isn't it?) and family counseling can only help.
(His mother is being more cooperative - we had a 3 way call: Gastonia-Los Angeles - Ireland . Our sessions are by phone.)
"Have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving."
How sad it is. Robert's father in no way would consciously "choose" to be an alcoholic just like his mother would not have consciously "chosen" to neglect her children's emotional needs. Like all of us, they did the best they could with what they had. Both of his parents came from dysfunctional families and they were fulfilling the Scripture where the God says, "...he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation" (Exodus 34:7b NIV). Is it fair? No! Is it a fact? Yes! Children most certainly do suffer from the sins of the father and the mother. I love hearing what I heard from Robert, "The dysfunction stops with me."
The Reward of the Peace-Maker: "for they shall be called the children of God."
A. What our Lord is saying in this verse could be stated accurately as "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be doing a God-like work."
B. Let's not let our "yesterdays paralyze our today's." Hill
Every child of God is a
Peace-Maker in that he has made peace with God for himself and is engaged in
bringing the Peace of God through Jesus Christ to others.
D. May God grant this trouble world the knowledge of "Peace" and may it always be in me.
Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D.Min.