Peace is an inherent desire of the human heart. We do not like to be upset, or in constant conflict; we long for peace. While we tend to define peace as simply the absence of conflict, true peace goes much deeper than that.
The promise of peace – true peace, shalom – is woven throughout Scripture. When God’s originally-created peace was shattered in the garden, He promised one day to restore that peace. One of the most common commands in the Old Testament is “fear not,” which usually preceded a promise from God to be with His people, even though the situation they faced was far from peaceful. Israel experienced periods of relative peace as they obeyed God and faithfully served Him.
When Jesus came to earth, He brought a message of peace. In announcing His birth, the angels proclaimed “Peace, goodwill to men” (Luke 2:14). In His ministry, Jesus showed His ability to bring peace to the natural world, calming a storm with the words “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). And, when Jesus tells His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He said “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).
Christ-followers since that day can testify to the abiding peace of God even in the midst of difficult circumstances. And, while we know that “wars, and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6) will increase, we also look, with longing hearts, to that day when Jesus returns to make an end of all war (Isaiah 2:4), and restore His shalom once again.
Today, as we light the candle of peace, we celebrate the gift of peace, and look forward to the peace yet to come.
Hope, for the Christ-follower, has always been a treasured and unique aspect of our faith. From the fall of man recorded in Genesis 3, man looked forward with expectant hope for the one who would crush the head of the deceiver. While in bondage in Egypt, Israel hoped for the day when God would free them from their bonds. Then, as they wandered through the wilderness, those who were to enter the Promised Land had a hope that the God Who led them through the wilderness would lead them into the land of milk and honey.
While this hope was revealed to – and coming through – the line of Abraham, God foreshadowed that this hope was not just for the Jews. Rahab and Ruth, both members of nations defeated by Israel, were grafted into the line of hope. As Israel conquered and ruled the Promised Land, their need for judges and desire for kings had, at its heart, a desperate need for this hope of a Savior. As Israel was led into captivity, their hope was for a Messiah who would vanquish their captors.
We know how this hope unfolded; God sent His Son to this earth to free His people, not from their human captors, but from an even stronger bondage – sin. The hope that began with man’s fall had come to pass; God had kept His word! As we live in the light of this fulfilled hope, we have a new hope, also based on the promises of God. The object of our hope is the same – Jesus Christ, who will return, not as a baby, but in full glory.
Today, we light the candle of hope, praising God for the hope He has given us, both fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled.
Last year, I wrote 5 Advent readings for our church, which we read in our services just before we lit each candle. Each candle (before Christmas) points to an aspect of the prophesied Redeemer:
The center candle, which we light on the Sunday on/after Christmas, represents Christ, the greatest gift.
Over the next 5 Saturdays, I’ll be sharing each of these. My prayer is that they encourage you and focus your heart as we remember that, not only was a Redeemer promised, He was given; and, when He returns, He will bring each of these aspects to their perfect completion on this earth!
Daniel is a man who wants to be used of God however He sees fit.