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Peace The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before you as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing the spoils. For you have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, For every trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire. 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. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the LORD of armies will accomplish this. the staff of their oppressor, just as you did on the day of Midian.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the words to I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day amid significant personal and national turmoil. Shortly after the start of the Civil War, Longfellow’s wife tragically died when her dress caught fire. Their son ran away to join America’s bitter war between brothers and was wounded. The tension of this time is felt when we hear the words,

“And in despair I bowed my head; ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said; ‘For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’”

As in Longfellow’s day, despair may threaten to overwhelm us; internal and external chaos may attempt to drown out the truth of God’s promised peace. We can give thanks that Longfellow’s words continue and, more importantly, that they are thus— “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.’” God is not dead! This truth is made more magnificent by the fact that the Incarnate God did die once. His death and resurrection ushered in a most glorious peace now and the promise of peace eternally. Most importantly, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This necessary reconciliation was provided by the blood of Jesus (Colossians 1:20) while we were deep in enmity with God (Romans 5:10). Our glorious peace with God then extends into peace with others through Christ. Ephesians 2 speaks of an incredible unity amongst believers, whether Jew or Gentile. This unity is only possible because of Christ who “is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility” (v 14). This united family is called to peacemaking as only sons and daughters of God are able (Matthew 5:9) – by living and preaching the good news of peace with God through Christ. Christ’s blood also provided access to the throne of God where we can receive peace from Him. As we present our circumstances, decisions, desires, and fears to the Lord, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Even as relationships may fracture, losses will occur, and earthly wars persist, the peace we have now – with God and from God because of Christ – will give way to perfect eternal peace. When the Prince of Peace returns, the weapons of war will be unnecessary (Isaiah 2:4, 9:5-6) and His united people of every nation and language will proclaim His worth together (Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9 10). God is not dead. Therefore, the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on the new earth.

Isaiah 9:2-7

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