Hello and welcome to Renaissance Woman as I continue in my study of Isaiah 45:7: “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.” I am moving on from my study of the word “make”. The Hebrew word translated make, asah, is one I do want to look at further but, for now, I am content with what I have already discovered. God is an artist, The Artist, and He pours His very self into everything He makes. In Isaiah 45:7, the thing He is making is peace. What does that mean? What is peace?
I looked at peace a bit when I was conducting my study on the Fruit of the Spirit. In that study, I saw peace as something that belongs to Jesus and can only be given by Him. It is given to each individual believer as we come to see ourselves in Him and Him in us through the Holy Spirit. It is not something that can be imposed on us from without rather peace becomes our way of being as His life is formed in us. The peace of Jesus Christ is not something we can impose on others but flows out from us as the springs of His life in us overflow. Such were my conclusions during that study and, while I still wholeheartedly believe what I wrote, I did not define what peace is.
As I try to answer that question, some of my favorite scriptures on peace come to mind. There is John 14:27: ““Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” There is Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You.” I especially like the Isaiah verse as it states “whose mind is stayed on You” and I have been meditating a great deal on the importance of my thoughts. Since peace is an aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit, I define it as something internal, something that comes from the life of Jesus Christ within me. The verse in John does quote Him as saying, “not as the world gives do I give to you,” which tells me His peace is different than the peace I find in the world. Is the difference between Jesus’ peace and the peace of the world that His is part of the flow of His life and, to the world, peace is something external?
I looked up peace in my New World Dictionary and find the answer to that is yes and no. The first entries under “peace” are, 1., freedom from or a stopping of war, 2., a treaty or agreement to end war or the threat of war, and 3., freedom from public disturbance or disorder; public security; law and order. This series of definitions can be summed up as “peace is the absence of conflict” which I admit is how I used to think of peace. This idea of peace is fragile. An argument escalates, or a law is opposed and this peace is broken. This kind of peace is imposed on people from without and such imposition often breeds resentment.
Of course, the peace defined in the dictionary is not always imposed. The fourth entry under peace says, “freedom from disagreement or quarrels; harmony; concord” and then under “make peace” I read, “to effect a reconciliation with, to end hostilities, settle arguments.” Two individuals or disparate groups of people can choose to make peace with other, to cease from hostilities, and to settle conflicts. And yet, there is no need of a heart change for this kind of peace. It is not imposed from without but neither does it infer those parties ceasing from hostilities are now of one accord or that any restoration of relationship will follow. This too is an absence of conflict but, just because they may not be acted on, does not mean resentment and bad feeling ceases to exist.
In entries five and six in the dictionary, I finally find peace defined as, “an undisturbed state of mind; absence of mental conflict, serenity, calm, quiet, tranquility”. These definitions are certainly closer to what I think the peace of Jesus is and yet this peace too can be found in the world without Jesus being mentioned anywhere. There are religions where the practices are meant to lead to serenity and a tranquil state of mind. I have met some of the practitioners of these religions and they do seem more calm and confident-more peaceful-than I have ever dreamed of being. I once watched a documentary where different religious leaders were interviewed and all of them spoke of life being good, peaceful, and blissful. I listened carefully and Jesus as the source and giver of peace wasn’t mentioned once, even among those leaders who professed to be Christians. If this is so, if this kind of internal peace can be achieved without Jesus, is He even necessary in our day to day lives? Is the only bonus to a Christian life that belief in Jesus means you get to escape hell? What is this peace He promised to leave with us and just how does it differ than that given by the world?
I looked up the Greek word for peace used in the John passage in the Strong’s concordance. It is eirene (G1515) and means, “peace, prosperity, one, quietness, rest, set at one again.” The entry in Strong’s Concordance suggests eirene comes from the primary verb eiro which means “to join.” This same Greek word is used in the Septuagint in place of the Hebrew word translated peace in Isaiah 45:7 which is shalom. The Strong’s gives a similar definition for shalom (H7965): well, happy, health, prosperity, rest.
I see these definitions in Ephesians 2:14 where, speaking of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul says; “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation”. Here, peace is unity; being set at one again with no divisions or separations. I feel this passage sums up most of the definitions of peace I’ve come across but it all happens within the peace that Jesus Christ Himself is. What is this peace? I’ve looked up definitions, compared and contrasted, and still don’t feel I have a grasp on it.
In Isaiah 45:7, God declares He is the One who makes peace and then in Matthew, Jesus declares, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt. 5:9). I feel there is more to this peace than a lack of war, conflict resolution, or a tranquil mind. Just what more there is, I do not know. I need to know because I cannot make peace if I do not know just what it is. My prayer is that in the upcoming weeks the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation will open my eyes to see what this peace is that God makes, this peace that is Jesus Himself.
Until next time…
Unless noted otherwise, all scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible Old and New Testaments, The Authorized King James Version, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Printed in Colombia, 2003
Guralnik, David B., Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, William Collins + World Publishing Co., Inc., Cleveland • New York, 1974, 1976
Strong, James, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990