Day Three – The Prince of Peace

For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (HCSB)

Throughout the later elementary years, a group of us shared most classes together. As we moved into junior high and then high school, our lives began to diverge, but we remained friends nonetheless. Some of these friends were virtual angels; they studied hard and rarely got in trouble. Others went down a different path; trouble followed wherever they went. The rest of us were in between.

Having grown up in a difficult home environment, I sometimes flirted with delinquency. Many of us drank and partied, but a few became immersed in the drug scene. Life became focused on the next high, and trouble went from minor conflicts with school authorities to a continual concern about law enforcement. One of my lunch-table friends always complained about being “hassled by the cops.” Actually, think that the police officers in our community were mostly decent people. My friend was the problem. But in his eyes, the police were Enemy #1.

It is not uncommon for people to think of God as the “Chief of Police.” They view Him as someone who is always looking over their shoulder, just waiting for an opportunity to bring down the hammer of justice when they stray from the straight and narrow path. There is no doubt that people under the old covenant had reason to be fearful. Law breeds judgment, and the wilderness generation of Israelites experienced plenty of that. At the same time, the prophetic passages of the Old Testament point toward a new and better covenant—a covenant of grace instituted by Jesus Christ.

The Prince of Peace

Isaiah referred to Jesus not as the Chief of Police, but as the Prince of Peace. The original Hebrew words in Isaiah 9:6 are śar šālôm. The Hebrew word śar refers to a ruler who commands respect and exercises authority.

Many more people are familiar with the Hebrew word šālôm (shalom), which is also used as a greeting. The Hebrew concept of peace is holistic. Peace is much more than just the absence of conflict. Physical, emotional, and spiritual prosperity, along with wholeness, are embodied in this important theological word.

Pondering the nature of God, we realize that He is completely whole. There is nothing lacking, missing, or broken. This wholeness means that not only is God at rest, His presence is characterized by peace—at least for those who are at peace with Him.

Times of Refreshing

Not long after the Holy Spirit was poured out upon a group of Jews on the day of Pentecost, the previously fearful Peter, boldly preached a message about turning to God. Peter said:

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Acts 3:19-21 (ESV)

Times of refreshing? That sounds appealing to me, and probably to you as well. What is the source of this refreshing? The presence of God. Jesus came as the Christ—the anointed Messiah—so that we might find forgiveness of our sins. And having been cleansed by His sacrificial blood, Christians become a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit’s presence to rest.

The secret to rest, then, is learning to align our lives with God’s design so that we can abide—dwell—in that peace-filled presence.

Learning to Abide

Learning to abide in God’s presence does not come naturally for us—especially if we think of Him as the Chief of Police. So many areas of our lives are broken and out of sync with our Creator’s good design. Thankfully, that is not the end of us.

As soon as the Holy Spirit enters our hearts, He begins a “rebuilding” process through which He works to restore us to all that God created us to be. This process of becoming whole can be painful and frustrating at times (think of a highway construction project), but the end result is always to our benefit.

If we can grasp this truth—that the Holy Spirit is always working to rebuild our lives and make us whole—we are well on our way to understanding the concept of the Sabbath and the dynamics of rest.

Restoration and Wholeness 

We will consider the Old Testament concept of the Sabbath shortly, but when you think Sabbath, do not think rule. Instead, think restoration and wholeness.

Our Creator embedded our world with cycles of rest because He had our well-being in mind from the very beginning. And as we understand these concepts, we begin to realize that God did not rest on the seventh day because He was tired or weary. He rested because He was modeling something vital that every one of us would need.

Rest begins with God. He is our rock of security. And in Him we find refuge because Jesus has come to us as the Prince of Peace.

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

*This book post is drawn from an upcoming book by Bob Santos titled The Search for Rest.