The central figure of the restored kingdom is God’s Servant who fulfills the prophecy of 2 Sam. 7:12-16 and is introduced as “Immanuel” in Is. 7:14. However his entrance into the world would not have the pomp and circumstance or the power and fury of Assyria. Instead He would come as a child, yet His name in Is. 9:6 indicates that He is no ordinary child. Like many royal figures in ancient times, His name is made up of several phrases which describe His nature and attributes. His personal characteristics are also evident in the way He governs the restored kingdom (Is. 9:7). The final part of this compound name carries along with it the first three components: a counselor with remarkable wisdom (Wonderful Counselor), operating in and having the supreme power of God (Mighty God), and the author and owner of eternity (Everlasting Father). He is now identified as the “Prince of Peace”.
We all have a basic definition of peace as being a lack of struggle or strife- whether personal or inter-relational and in many Bible passages this would be true since this word is used over 200 times in the Old Testament! But the term “shalom” typically has much greater weight to it. It is not the result of a person’s decision or ability but is given to humans by God (Num. 6:26; Jud. 6:23-24; Is. 26:3). Peace does involve a lack of stress or unrest, but this is only a by-product of Biblical peace. Biblical peace is a state of total well-being, an inner calm, and a sense of security that does not rely on external circumstances. One is right with the world because one is right with God (Ps. 37:35-37; 119:165). It is therefore contrasted with the wicked many times since they have no peace (Pr. 3:2, 17; Is. 57:20-21; 59:8).
As the Prince of Peace, the Messiah brings peace to His realm in seven ways: there is no end to His government, His reign is marked by continual peace, He rules from David’s throne and firmly establishes His kingdom with justice and righteousness, and all these are accomplished by the Lord’s intense fervor to see His will accomplished (Is. 9:7). The world Isaiah lived in was the complete opposite of this kingdom. I must confess that although I’ve never experienced an international take-over, I oftentimes feel that our world is as topsy-turvy as the prophet’s. But the Lord declares through Isaiah that the Prince of Peace will firmly establish His kingdom and there will be no attempts to overturn it (the Hebrew word, kiyd translated as “establish” comes from a root word which means “to crush”). As with most prophecies the imagery here is layered. It is impossible for an infant to establish this kind of kingdom, but His name confirms it will come to pass.
The Messiah’s first advent was meek and lowly. It bore no resemblance to the kingdom prophesized in Isaiah 9:7. But the Advent season reminds us to look back on the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (His first Advent- Mic. 5:2; Lk. 2:1-7), and forward to His return (the second Advent- Mt. 24:29-31; Mk. 13:24-26; Lk. 21:25-28; Acts 1:9-11). In the meantime the Prince of Peace has made it possible for us to experience peace already. The angels proclaimed it to the shepherds (Lk. 2:14) and Christ has provided it by His work of reconciliation on the cross (Is. 53:5; Col. 1:19-21). When we trust in Him, He gives us peace to withstand external trials (Jn. 14:27) as overwhelming as they may seem. As the God of Peace, He sanctifies us (1 Thes. 5:23) and when we yield to His Spirit, peace is a result (Gal. 5:22-23).
Jesus once asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mk. 8:27-29). Who do you say that He is? Have you given Him any thought this Advent season while you are rushing around getting the shopping done and attending holiday concerts and gatherings? I don’t know about you but Christmas seems cluttered with anything but Christ these days. And the clutter leaves us frazzled and unfulfilled. The challenge for you and me is to give the season back to the One it is supposed to celebrate and let His peace fill the season rather than the clutter. May your Christmas be filled with the peace that comes from knowing Him (Phil. 4:4-7).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 12/25/2016