Thursday, March 01, 2007

Isaiah 26: How to obtain peace

One of my favorite verses of scripture is John 14:27

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The peace of the gospel is not as the world sees (and gives) peace.   Worldly peace is the absence of tumult, violence, persecution, etc.   I.e.: We are at “peace” when no one is trying to kill us, hurt us, or rob us.  We feel “peaceful” when it’s nobody is bugging us, we have plenty of cash, our health is good, etc.     Those of the world try to achieve worldly peace through the “securing” of it.   This security is obtained through wealth, arms, defenses, and other physical means.   Some icons of security I can think of are: tall fences, alarm systems, guard dogs, armies, super-weapons, spy satellites, insurance, retirement accounts, savings plans, private schools, gated communities, diets, health plans, etc.    The security these items promise is only an illusion.  In the end, these things cannot provide true security, true peace. 

As the Savior says, his peace is of a different kind than what we get from the world.   Indeed, by worldly standards those disciples who received the words in John 14:27 did not fare well.  Most were harangued and tormented until they were finally martyred.  Yet, we say they had peace.   How can that be?   

I think Isaiah is talking about this peace in chapter 26, where he mentions it by name and gives some interesting details.

  1 In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.

  2 Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.

  3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

  4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

Isaiah speaks of a “perfect peace” and compares it to a city with walls and bulwarks- familiar symbols of security.  But this city is not a city of bricks and mortar- it is a fortress of spirit made strong by the Lord and knowledge of His salvation (v1).  Only the righteous may enter in to this fortress (v2).  Only those who trust in the Lord and “keepeth the truth” may enjoy that peace (v2). 

Let’s continue this line of thought with a subtle point found in the following verses:

  12  Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

  13 O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.

  14 They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.


  5  For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust.

  6 The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy.

Certainly, there is a literal component to these verses.  The Lord has and will continue to bring down the lofty.   However, for most of God’s children, the lords of the earth do indeed have physical dominion over them.   More often than not, God does not literally (physically) bring down the tyrants that reign with blood and horror. And when they are brought down, it is after they have had plenty of time to work their iniquity.   It also is a rare event to see despots tread down by the very poor and needy that they oppress. 

These verses are better understood in the context of the spirit and the battle for dominion that goes on in the mind.  Though a man may have dominion over my body, he cannot have dominion over my spirit unless I give it to him.  I can defeat Babylon in my mind.  By choosing to give up my selfish desires- directing my attention to the meek, downtrodden, poor in spirit, naked, and hungry- I can quite literally fulfill these prophecies in my own mind.   The lords of Babylon will become dead to me, trodden under the foot of the poor, the memory of their despotism fading in the light of the everlasting gospel. 

The physical world in which we live, the thing often referred to as “reality”, is really an illusion.    According to our best scientific understanding of matter, the desk upon which I compose this email is made almost entirely of empty space!  One day, as we are promised in the scriptures, all that we see around us will “melt with fervent heat” as all the earth is rolled together as a scroll.  What will be left then from the old world?   Perhaps it will be our thoughts, our spirits, our memories of what went on before.     As a man thinketh, so is he.  In this mortal life, what we think is the only enduring reality.   What we say and what we do for the benefit of others will become the monuments of our souls. 

Remember what Isaiah says:

  12  Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

The peace of the Lord is a peace of mind, a peace of the spirit.  It is a gift to those who submit their will to God that He may do His work through them.   Let us submit our will to the Lord and let the needs of the poor and needy tread upon the lofty institutions of man, that we may have the true peace that is given by the lord Jesus Christ.


Ashutosh Kumar said...

Thanks for the way you mentioned .God is Great !No need to comment on that .His way is also .But i think in the new world full of technology we need some different way for peace .

Micky said...

bout 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staffs were very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You

getkryative said...

Ah Micky what a gut wrenching and yet freeing experience - thank you so much for sharing it. It gives even note practical weight & evidence to the REALNESS and love of a very alive and vibrant God.